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NHL Combine

NHL Scouting Combine, Day 5: Nico Hischier quick with quip

Halifax center fast on his feet during interview with Devils

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- If there's one thing New Jersey Devils director of team and player development Dr. Aimee Kimball took away from her interview with Halifax center Nico Hischier, it's that the projected top-two pick of the 2017 NHL Draft is quite a comedian.

Kimball, a sports psychologist who did most of the questioning of the prospects this week for the Devils at the NHL Scouting Combine, gave Hischier a fictitious scenario to ultimately elicit a very funny response. The Devils have the No. 1 pick in the draft and Hischier and Brandon center Nolan Patrick are the projected top players available.

Kimball knew Hischier was headed to Bridgestone Arena to watch Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators on Monday with fellow prospects Patrick, Gabriel Vilardi of Windsor (OHL) and Casey Mittelstadt of Eden Prairie (HIGH-MN), and proposed a fake deal: "I said, 'If you throw a catfish onto the ice, we'll pick you first.' "

Hischier pondered the offer and a few more questions were asked before Kimball began winding up the conversation.

"I asked him if he had any questions and he said, 'Where can I buy a catfish?' " Kimball said. "That was clever."

The interviewing stage of the combine concluded Friday, as did the VO2max aerobic fitness bike test to measure endurance. The remaining eight tests will take place at HarborCenter on Saturday.

Here are the four other interesting takes from Day 5 at the combine on Friday:


1. First round feedback

Center Lias Andersson of Swedish Hockey League champion HV71 was interviewed by all but one team during the combine. His father, Niklas Andersson, serves as a European amateur scout for the Los Angeles Kings, the only team that didn't need to invite him for a 1-on-1 chat.

Andersson (5-foot-11, 198 pounds), No. 3 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters, recently signed a two-year contract with Frolunda of the Swedish League. The rugged, two-way left-handed center is effective on faceoffs and hard to knock off the puck, according to NHL director of European Scouting Goran Stubb.


2. Scouts honor

Devils director of amateur scouting Paul Castron has long stressed the need to closely watch underage players not yet eligible for the upcoming draft. That foresight is important, particularly in a year when Patrick, the projected No. 1 choice in the 2017 draft, missed 35 regular-season games because of an upper-body injury. Having a history of work becomes vital when making decisions at the draft table.

"You need to have a book on all these guys and not just for one season," Castron said.

A good example: Regina defenseman Joshua Mahura missed six months and played two games because of a knee injury last season but still was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the third round (No. 85) of the 2016 draft. Healthy this season, Mahura had 53 points (17 goals, 36 assists) in 73 games for Red Deer and Regina of the Western Hockey League.

Video: Prospect Profile: Nico Hischier


3. Top underrated prospect

Defenseman Cameron Crotty (6-3, 182), No. 89 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, had 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 41 games for Brockville of the Central Canada Hockey League. Crotty had 14 team interviews at the combine.

The right-handed shot, who will attend Boston University in 2017-18, has excellent mobility and is able to use his reach to force low percentage plays in all three zones, according to Matt Ryan of NHL Central Scouting.


4. Question of the day

Portland center Cody Glass (6-2, 178), No. 6 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, was asked a curious question during a team interview.

"I'm sitting in the car with swim trunks on and the temperature outside is 100 degrees," Glass said. "We're headed to the lake and as soon as you get to the lake I can either sprint and jump right in or put my foot in the water to test things out. I'm a person who would test the water, especially being from Winnipeg. It could be ice."

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