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Portland center De Leo happy with Combine tests

by Mike G. Morreale

TORONTO -- Center Chase De Leo of the Portland Winterhawks didn't have much time to prepare for the 2014 NHL Scouting Combine after his season came to an end May 12.

But De Leo ripped through the fitness portion of Combine in good time on Saturday at The International Centre.

"All the hard work is over, there's nothing you can change now and I'm happy with the way everything went," De Leo said. "I had a lot of fun with it. Obviously it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience; I was told to enjoy it and have fun."

His best test was the pull-up station.

"I've had a pull-up bar in my room since I was little, so I'm glad they added that one," De Leo said.

De Leo acknowledged that his favorite part of the combine came immediately after he realized he successfully completed the VO2 Max bike test

"I was just dreading that test since I got the invite," he said. "I think it went well and I think all the other guys did well too, but I'm glad it's over. I didn't have a lot of practice time; just came in and pushed until I couldn't push anymore."

He said he enjoyed the motivation provided by the personnel at York University while on the bikes.

"They ask you at the start if you want to get fired up or work by yourself, but I told the guy to definitely get me going," he said. "He kind of screamed in my ear and [I] couldn't help but scream with him too. I think it really got your adrenaline going with everyone watching. It helped, for sure."

De Leo took his game to a new level in 2013-14 in the Western Hockey League. The native of La Mirada, Calif., was a ninth-round pick (No. 192) of the Winterhawks in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft after scoring 27 goals and 83 points in 28 games for the L.A. Selects Bantam AAA team that advanced to the national championship.

"One of the big reasons I picked Portland was the good coaching staff and the variety of players they have on the roster," De Leo said. "Having an opportunity to practice with and against guys like Ryan Johansen (Columbus Blue Jackets, No. 4, 2010), Nino Niederreiter (New York Islanders, No. 5, 2010) and Sven Baertschi (Calgary Flames, No. 13, 2011) in my first year was an incredible experience."

Ranked No. 36 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 draft, De Leo had 39 goals and 81 points in 72 regular-season games. He had 10 goals, 19 points and a plus-17 rating in 21 playoff games for the Winterhawks.

De Leo was asked when he expects to be drafted when the event is held June 27-28 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

"You can't look that far into it; it confuses you more," De Leo said. "Whatever happens, happens. I'm just going to enjoy it. Now that I look back [on the NHL Combine], I have no regrets and did everything I felt necessary."


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