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Hughes, Kakko among those in spotlight at NHL Scouting Combine

Forwards two of 104 2019 Draft prospects taking part in interviews with teams, fitness, medical testing

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, the projected top two picks in the 2019 NHL Draft, are among 104 prospects scheduled to participate in the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine at KeyBank Center and HarborCenter in Buffalo beginning Monday.

The combine gives the 31 NHL teams physical and medical assessments of the top prospects ahead of the 2019 Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22.

"The NHL Combine is the final showcase event before the NHL Draft and it's a week full of interviews, medicals and fitness testing where the players get to interact with NHL personnel and the NHL clubs get to learn as much as possible about the future stars of our game," NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr said. "It's a full schedule that is structured to assist the NHL clubs in their draft preparations and NHL Central Scouting always looks forward to hosting the prospects and making the Combine event a positive experience for everyone."


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There will be 56 forwards, 38 defensemen, and 10 goalies attending the combine. All are listed on NHL Central Scouting's final rankings of North American and International skaters and goaltenders.

Teams can have 1-on-1 interviews with the prospects at KeyBank Center from Monday through Friday. The medical examinations will take place Wednesday, and seven of the 11 fitness tests will take place at HarborCenter on Saturday (standing height, wingspan, standing long jump, bench press, pro agility test, pull ups, Wingate Cycle Ergometer test).

No player can test until clearing the medical screening.

Hughes (5-foot-10, 170 pounds), projected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, led USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team with 112 points (34 goals, 78 assists) in 50 games, and set the NTDP career record for assists (154) and points (228) in two seasons (110 games) at the program.

He played for the United States at the 2019 IIHF World Championship; he had three assists and averaged 13:52 of ice time in seven games, and was the youngest ever to play for the U.S. at the event. He joined the team in Slovakia after he led the IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Sweden with 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in seven games to help the U.S. win a bronze medal in April.

The 18-year-old is No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters and is expected to be chosen with the first pick of the draft by the New Jersey Devils. The New York Rangers hold the No. 2 selection, and the Chicago Blackhawks have the No. 3 pick.

Kakko (6-2, 194), a right wing with TPS in Liiga, had 38 points (22 goals, 16 assists) in 45 games despite being the youngest player on a club that averaged 25.43 years in age. The 18-year-old is No. 1 in Central Scouting's final ranking of International skaters.

He's playing for Finland at the World Championship and is tied for third at the tournament with six goals in seven games.

Other top North American skaters invited to the Combine are defenseman Bowen Byram (6-0, 193; No. 2 in NHL Central Scouting's ranking of North American skaters) of Vancouver in the Western Hockey League, center Kirby Dach (6-3, 197, No. 3) of Saskatoon in the WHL, Dylan Cozens (6-3, 180; No. 5) of Lethbridge in the WHL, right wing Arthur Kaliyev (6-2, 190; No. 7) of Hamilton in the Ontario Hockey League, and center Peyton Krebs (5-11, 180; No. 10) of Kootenay in the WHL.

Hughes will be joined at the Combine by 15 NTDP teammates, including forwards Alex Turcotte (5-11, 185; No. 4), Trevor Zegras (6-0, 169; No. 6), Cole Caufield (5-7, 162; No. 8), Matthew Boldy (6-1, 192; No. 9), defenseman Cameron York (5-11, 175; No. 12) and goalie Spencer Knight (6-3, 192; No. 1 among North American goalies), each a projected first-round selection.

Kakko is joined by 24 other International skaters at the Combine, among them right wing Vasily Podkolzin (6-1, 190; No. 2 in NHL Central Scouting's ranking of International skaters) of St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League, and defensemen Victor Soderstrom (5-11, 179; No. 3) of Brynas in the Swedish Hockey League, Ville Heinola (5-11, 178; No. 4) of Lukko in Liiga and Philip Broberg (6-3, 199; No. 5) of AIK in Sweden's second division.

Pyotr Kochetkov (6-3, 205), No. 1 on the final ranking of International goalies, is one of two International goalies heading to the Combine. The 19-year-old had a 2.13 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in 18 games with Ryazan in Russia's second division, and a 1.45 GAA and .953 save percentage in five games to help Russia finish third at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. Kochetkov was named the tournament's best goalie.


2019 NHL Scouting Combine player list



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