The 2019 NHL Scouting Combine is taking place this week at KeyBank Center and HarborCenter in Buffalo. The combine will allow NHL teams an opportunity to conduct interviews and provide physical and medical assessments of 103 top prospects eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. NHL.com will bring you all the sights and sounds.
BUFFALO -- Victor Soderstrom, who sustained a concussion playing for Sweden at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in April, said he's healthy and will be a full participant in testing at the NHL Scouting Combine.
"I'm good," Soderstrom said. "It was my first concussion so the doctors wanted to be a little more safe with it. I'm good. I was good one week after."
Soderstrom, a defenseman with Brynas in the Swedish Hockey League, is No. 3 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of International skaters for the 2019 NHL Draft.
After starting the season with Brynas' team in Sweden's under-20 league, he was promoted to the SHL team and had seven points (four goals, three assists) in 44 games.
The testing will take place Friday and Saturday. Before that he plans on meeting with some teams and relaxing in his hotel room and watching his favorite movie -- "Draft Day," the 2014 film starring Kevin Costner as an NFL general manager and the machinations leading up to the draft.
"I like that movie a lot, I've watched it five times," Soderstrom said. "I really like it. It's pretty similar (to what he'll go through)."
Forward Vasili Podkolzin, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of International skaters, said it's his dream to play in the NHL, but the earliest that dream could come true is the 2021-22 season.
Podkolzin has a two-year contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League that does not have an out clause for him to join an NHL team.
The 17-year-old made his KHL debut this season, playing three games. He had 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in 26 games at lower levels in Russia. He also helped Russia win the bronze medal at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship and a silver medal at the 2019 World Under-18 Championship.
"Podkolzin is a fantastic team player," director of NHL European Scouting Goran Stubb said. "He was the captain for the Russian U-18 team the whole season. ... He's a power forward, an excellent skater. He is a leader. He takes very good care of his defensive duties."
Peyton Krebs (5-11, 180) led Kootenay of the Western Hockey League with 68 points (19 goals, 49 assists) in 64 games. But Kootenay finished 21st of 22 teams in the league and dealt with fan disappointment over relocating to Winnipeg.
However the 18-year-old center had a strong finish to his season with 10 points (six goals, four assists) as the captain for Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.
He's No. 10 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, but John Williams of Central Scouting, who evaluates players in the WHL, said the gap between Krebs and two WHL centers ranked ahead of him, Kirby Dach (6-3, 197) of Saskatoon (No. 3) and Dylan Cozens (6-3, 180) of Lethbridge (No. 5), is a small one.
"I don't think Peyton is that far behind," Williams said. "He was the first overall pick in the [WHL] draft in that age group. He's a very good player in his own right. ... In Kootenay they had a tough year, not a lot of support for him. He was captain of the team, faced everybody's best player every night. He brings a little different element than those other two guys because of his size and skill."
Top underrated prospect
John Farinacci, a forward with Dexter School in Massachusetts, is the top-rated United States high school player, No. 35 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.
He played 16 games because of a bone contusion on his right knee that sidelined for him six weeks but had 33 points (12 goals, 21 assists). He also was Dexter's captain as well as captain for the United States at the 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup.
Farinacci said being in those leadership roles is important to him.
"I think take a lot of pride in pushing my teammates and getting the most out of them," he said. "The most important thing for me is winning so if I can get everybody around me to be playing better and elevate my teammates it gives us a better chance to win. Not only do I take a lot of pride in it but I think it helps the team out in general."
Question of the day
Podkolzin's most interesting interview so far was with the Washington Capitals.
"Washington asked if I know how to sing," he said via a translator.
Rather than jump into karaoke mode, Podkolzin said he'd showcase his musical talent at a later date.
"I said if they draft me I'll sing to them," he said.
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