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NHL Combine

NHL Scouting Combine, Day 4: Good times for Gabriel Vilardi

Windsor center looks to impress scouts after winning Memorial Cup

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

BUFFALO -- Windsor center Gabriel Vilardi has had quite a week.

He had two assists in Windsor's 4-3 defeat of Erie in the championship game of the Memorial Cup on Sunday, and then arrived here for the NHL Scouting Combine on Tuesday.

"Win the Memorial Cup, so coming off a big high," Vilardi said Thursday. "Was great hanging out with the guys in Windsor, and then getting here, meeting these teams, it's been fun so far."

Vilardi, No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2017 NHL Draft, said he'll interview with about 20 teams.

During medical testing, he revealed he had soreness in his right hip and back, so he'll skip the lower-body portion of the fitness testing, but was cleared for the upper-body and stationary bike tests.

Video: Sam Cosentino on the Draft and the prospect pool

Vilardi, 17, said he isn't injured, just tired after a long season. He had 61 points (29 goals, 32 assists) in 49 regular-season games and six points (two goals, four assists) in seven Ontario Hockey League playoff games. At the Memorial Cup he had seven points, all assists, in four games.

He missed time early in the OHL season because of a knee injury sustained during practice for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in August and had an appendectomy Nov. 21 that sidelined him for five weeks.

"I've been going since August and the season just ended for me five days ago," Vilardi said.

Here are the four intriguing takes from Day 4 at the combine:


1. First-round feedback

Regina center Nick Henry was a C-rated skater in Central Scouting's preliminary rankings in October, but when the final rankings were released in April, he was No. 25 among North American skaters.

Henry, 17, was second among Western Hockey League rookies in goals (35), assists (46) and points (81) in 72 games this season. It was his first in the WHL after playing with Portage of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League last season.

He said the low ranking was a motivating factor for him early in the season season.

"It's a little bit of that, little bit of not having a lot of views when I played [for Portage]," he said. "And then moving up to the [WHL] got me a lot more views from NHL teams and more people. … When you're put up a little bit you get some confidence, and then when you're confident, you're playing your best and everyone believes in you. That was a big thing."


2. Scouts honor

Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said he and his scouts will meet with about 85 prospects during the combine. There's more to get to know because of the wide range of thoughts about the players in the 2017 draft class.

"A lot of people are going to like different players in different positions," Cheveldayoff said. "You may like a guy, he may be fifth on your list, he may be 15th on someone else's list. You may like a guy at 15 that might be 50 on someone else's list. I think that's the kind of draft that it is."


3. Top underrated prospect

Ottawa center Alexander Chmelevski excelled on and off the ice this season. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound forward had 43 points (21 goals, 22 assists) in 58 games and is No. 43 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the draft.

Chmelevski, 17, also was named the CIBC Scholastic Player of the Year for the Canadian Hockey League with a 98 percent average in his six Grade 12 courses at Michigan Virtual Charter Academy, an online charter school authorized by Grand Valley State University.


4. Question of the day

During HV 71 forward Lias Andersson's interview with the Washington Capitals, he was asked what kind of animal he would want to be.

"I told them I'd be a lion for sure," Andersson said. "I said I wouldn't want to be a snake."

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