Centers Nolan Patrick of Brandon and Nico Hischier of Halifax will be among the 104 prospects taking part in the NHL Scouting Combine, running Monday through June 3 at Key Bank Center and HarborCenter in Buffalo.
The combine gives the prospects the opportunity to showcase themselves for all 31 NHL teams ahead of the 2017 NHL Draft, which will be held at United Center in Chicago on June 23-24.
"The NHL is pleased to be returning to Buffalo's HarborCenter where we know the facility and staff are excellent hosts who will ensure another successful combine," said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting.
The combine gives teams the chance for 1-on-1 interviews with players. The players also go through medical and physical testing.
"What the players have to keep in mind is that this will be their initial contact with many NHL teams so they have the chance to make that good initial impression," Marr said. "Some kids aren't that comfortable when they're in an interview environment, so it's important they be prepared to talk about themselves, which is something they might not be used to doing. The combine gives the NHL teams a chance to get to know the player away from the rink."
The combine will include 84 of the top North American prospects and 20 top international prospects. There will be 58 forwards, 36 defensemen and 10 goaltenders.
Among them are Patrick and Hischier, NHL Central Scouting's top two North American skaters, respectively, in its final ranking.
Despite being limited to 33 games because of injuries, Patrick (6-foot-2, 198 pounds) had 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) this season. He missed 34 because of an upper-body injury, and a lower-body injury kept him out of Brandon's four games in the Western Hockey League playoffs. Last season, he was fifth in the WHL with 102 points (41 goals, 61 assists) in 72 games, and was named playoff MVP of the WHL playoffs after tying for the league lead with 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 21 games.
Hischier (6-1, 176) led Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rookies with 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) in 57 games and won the league's Mike Bossy Trophy as the best professional prospect and the Michel Bergeron Trophy as offensive rookie of the year. He also led all draft-eligible players at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship with seven points (four goals, three assists) in five games for Switzerland.
Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School center Casey Mittelstadt (6-1, 201), Windsor (Ontario Hockey League) center Gabriel Vilardi (6-3, 201), and Tri-City (WHL) center Michael Rasmussen (6-6, 215), who follow Patrick and Hischier in the ranking of North American skaters, also were invited to the combine, as was center Klim Kostin (6-3, 196) of Dynamo Moscow (Russia), No. 1 on Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters.
Jake Oettinger (6-4, 212) of Boston University and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (6-4, 196) of HPK (Finland), Central Scouting's top-rated North American and international goaltenders, respectively, also were invited to the combine.
The expansion Vegas Golden Knights, who begin play in the NHL next season, also will be represented.
"We want to come out of there with a comfort level with the young players knowing that they have what it takes to be a Vegas Golden Knight," Vegas director of amateur scouting Scott Luce said. "We want high-character, low-maintenance type players. It'll be a good learning curve for the entire staff going to the combine and representing our organization."
The physical testing will take place during the final two days of the event.
On the first day, prospects will take part in a Functional Movement Screen, which requires players to perform seven specific joint tests that could reveal imbalances and symmetry deficiencies in movements of the body. They'll also have their grip strength measured; test their endurance on the VO2 Max bike test; and visit the Y-balance test station, which measures strength, flexibility and core control.
On the second day, they will have their height, weight and wingspan recorded, then be tested for standing long jump, vertical leap, bench press, pull-ups, a pro agility test, which is similar to a shuttle run, and the Wingate Cycle Ergometer test, which measures a skater's explosiveness.
"All players must be medically cleared by the NHL combine medical staff in order to participate in the physical testing," Marr said. "Any player that is not 100 percent able to perform an upper- or lower-body test [because of postseason surgery, current injury or rehabilitation or medical condition] will be classified as injury- or medically-exempt depending on the circumstances.
"Every year there are instances where players have declined the combine invitation, been medically ruled unable to test or have declined to test, but those instances vary and are rare."