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NHL Combine

Bouchard, Dobson impress in fitness tests at Combine

Projected to be top two right-handed defensemen available at Draft

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Evan Bouchard and Noah Dobson are projected to be the top two right-handed defensemen available in the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center in Dallas on June 22-23.

Numerous scouts, trainers and general managers attending the NHL Scouting Combine watched how each performed during the fitness testing at HarborCenter on Saturday.

"There's a high value on right-handed defensemen because you can't sign them in free agency because the number is going to blow you through the roof," Chicago Blackhawks amateur scout Mike Doneghey said. "It's tough to trade for a righty, so the best way to get them is to draft and develop."


[RELATED: Complete 2018 NHL Draft coverage] 


Bouchard (6-foot-2, 193 pounds) of London led all defensemen in the Ontario Hockey League with 87 points (25 goals, 62 assists) in 67 regular-season games. He's the first defenseman to finish among the top 10 league scorers since Windsor's Ryan Ellis (Nashville Predators) finished tied for fourth with 101 points in 2010-11.

He excelled in the upper-body exercises, including a second-place finish with 14 pullups. Bouchard, No. 4 in NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, finished 16th on the bench press after generating 6.73 watts of power.

Video: Evan Bouchard performs at 2018 NHL Scouting Combine

"It was a good experience; you train for it but it was still tough," Bouchard said. "There was a little pressure but once you forget about who's watching, you work your hardest and everything is fine.

"I think pullups was something I was really comfortable with. I worked on it for a few years now so I was comfortable with that one. I'm not sure if 14 was the most I've ever did."

Dobson (6-3, 180) of Acadie-Bathurst was named a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League First Team All-Star after setting career-highs in goals (17), assists (52), points (69), power-play goals (11) and shots on goal (276) in his second season. 

"I think it's obviously lots of pressure and nerve-racking with all the eyes on you but I think you're just trying to enjoy the experience," Dobson said. "You know going in that the Wingate would be the hardest. You just have to leave it all out there, push hard. I enjoyed the whole week here."

Dobson reached 20 inches in the vertical jump and 110.3 inches in the standing long jump. Bouchard reached 19 inches in the vertical jump and 101.0 inches in the standing long jump.

"I did pretty good in the jumps," Dobson said. "My agility has always been pretty good, and the pro agility and jumps are usually my strongest tests, so I felt I did really good in those."

Dobson, No. 5 in NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, helped Acadie-Bathurst win its first Memorial Cup. He tied for the tournament scoring lead among defensemen with seven points (two goals, five assists) in four games. Josh Mahura (Anaheim Ducks) of Regina also had seven points in five games.

Video: Noah Dobson performs at 2018 NHL Scouting Combine

"I think I played well in the last two rounds of the QMJHL playoffs, especially the semifinals going into the final and playing Blainville-Boisbriand," Dobson said. "I had a lot of confidence from that and just wanted to go into the Memorial Cup and play my game. I felt I had a really good first game and things kind of just kept progressing from that."

Dobson, who can support the rush and has the ability to perform under pressure, had 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) and 75 shots in 20 playoff games to help Acadie-Bathurst win the QMJHL championship.

"You're competing against everyone out here so it just pushes you that much harder, which is good," Bouchard said. "You know what scores other players got since you see the television screen with the results, so you just do that extra push to beat that score."

Bouchard finished first in the Western Conference OHL Coaches Poll for hardest shot, second for best shot, and third for smartest player.

Video: Evan Bouchard answers questions at the NHL Combine

On the Wingate cycle ergometer bike test, which measures the explosiveness of a skater, Dobson finished with a peak-power output of 17.8, and Bouchard finished with a 14.9.

Next on the agenda for Bouchard and Dobson is traveling to Capital One Arena for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Vegas Golden Knights and Washington Capitals on Monday with fellow prospects Rasmus Dahlin of Frolunda (Sweden), Andrei Svechnikov of Barrie (OHL), Brady Tkachuk of Boston University in Hockey East, Filip Zadina of Halifax (QMJHL) and Quintin Hughes of the University of Michigan (Big Ten).

"I got to meet and talk to [Bouchard] a bit here at the combine and now we're going to Washington," Dobson said. "He's a great guy on the ice and he had a great year in London."

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