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The perfect test subjects

by Adam Kimelman /
What made it so easy for the NHL general managers in attendance to judge how potential rule changes and innovations could affect the game was the high quality of play from the top 2012 Entry Draft prospects used to try out the changes.

"I'm so impressed with the level of the play and the intensity these guys bring," said NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan.

Dave Tippett and Dan Bylsma, who coached the teams, both were struck not only by the talent of the players, but by their competiveness.

"We're standing back behind our bench and saying that when we were 17 years old, they're a long way  ahead of where we were at that age, for sure," said Bylsma. "Tip said it, these guys competed really hard. There was a lot of passion out there. At the same time they gave us a good look at a high-quality game and trying some different things."

Among the players that impressed Bylsma was goaltender Malcolm Subban.

"I think there's a skill level in a few players that's real evident," he said. "We saw three or four kids, and really I thought Subban in net played really well for his two games that he played."

Tippett was impressed by a few players, as well.

"The young Russian, (Nail) Yakupov, you can tell he's a dynamic player," he said. "You get to know the personalities … (Mathew) Dumba, the captain of the Hlinka tournament, he's got great enthusiasm, great passion for the game. It's great to see these kids. They get put in situations like this with a lot of eyes on them, and they still enjoy the moment. Those are fun times for young players."

The final session for the players featured a catered lunch and question-and-answer session with Montreal Canadiens forward Michael Cammalleri and Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog, the second pick of the 2011 Entry Draft.

"It's part research and development and it's part orientation for us to introduce them to what to expect in the NHL," said Shanahan. "After lunch they're going to have a Q&A with Mike Cammalleri and Gabriel Landeskog, talk about what it's like to be a pro player, what it's like to be a junior player in his draft year. They (the prospects) are giving us a lot and we also want to give them something back as well, an experience to prepare themselves for this big year for them."

Following lunch, there will be an all-star skills contest where the players will further be able to showcase themselves.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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