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Prospects to undergo tough on-ice testing

by Mike G. Morreale
KELOWNA, B.C. -- Long before those top players from the Canadian Hockey League will hear their names at the NHL Draft, they'll undergo a series of on- and off-ice tests that will provide scouts and general managers an instant user profile of each player.

On Tuesday morning, those 2012 draft-eligible stars of the CHL will be put through those tests at Prospera Place, home to Western Hockey League's Kelowna Rockets.

The on-ice component, which will have 70 individual measurements extracted from 14 on-ice tests that break each player's game down into the essentials of skating, puck handling and reaction time, will be conducted by a representative from Next Testing. Next Testing, a provider of testing and reporting services for understanding athletic performance, has served as the testing provider for the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game since 2008.

Each NHL general manager will be given a binder with statistical data on all 40 players competing in the Prospects Game prior to the opening faceoff on Wednesday. It is done this way so that the scouts have yet another tool at their disposal to assist in their evaluation during the course of the game.

The Next Testing Index (NTI) ranges anywhere from 0-to-1,000 points and is based on four main categories -- forward skating, backward skating, puck control and reaction time. There are four sub-categories in each of those main categories. Next Testing, based out of Madison, Wis., but which also has offices in Canada, is a scientifically based, standardized, elite testing service designed to evaluate hockey-specific skills and athletic traits.

At the major-junior level, the players are somewhere in the mid-600's to low 700-range. The top NHL players are closer to the 820-830-point range.

The players will return to Prospera Place for the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Skills competition later on Tueasday.

Follow Mike Morreale from Kelowna all week on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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