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2011 NHL Scouting Combine Recap

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers
The top 100 prospects are currently at the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto as they are being put to the test in the form of interviews with the 30 respective clubs around the league as well as physical testing.

We are on location for and will be covering the event completely as the players are put to the test Friday and Saturday for physical fitness testing at the Combine.

Saturday is a much lighter day on the schedule with five groups going starting at 6:30 a.m. MT until 10:30 a.m. MT:


6:30 AM - Tyler Biggs, Rocco Grimaldi, Scott Mayfield, Mark McNeill, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jamieson Oleksiak, Logan Shaw, Nicholas Shore

Yesterday, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins talked about how his interview with Edmonton went (read article here). The projected first-overall pick by Central Scouting Service was a part of the first group to take part in fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto.

Today, following fitness testing he elaborated on those comments.

"I've talked to them a few times this year and every time's gone pretty good," said Nugent-Hopkins. "Especially a couple days ago at the Combine."

The slick playmaking centre then commented on the possibility of joining the Oilers.

"If I got to join that club, I'd really enjoy just being a part of the rebuilding stage."

Nugent-Hopkins did well in a number of tests. In particular, by mid-day he was still in the top-10 among participants with 28 pushups (ranked 8th) and held his own on the bench press with seven.

5'6" Rocco Grimaldi was impressive, leading in a number of categories through five groups. He had 39 pushups to finish first there and also 29.8 inches vertical leap to finish first there as well. Grimaldi was also among the leaders in hand-eye coordination.

Edmontonian Mark McNeill finished in the top 10 in a number of categories. He was fifth in vertical leap at 28.0. He talked to us about the possibility of playing for his hometown.

"It would be really special, hometown boy," said McNeill. "But you try not to think about the draft too much, just wait and see how things happen."

Sean Couturier
7:30 AM - Sean Courturier, Nikita Kucherov, Connor Murphy, Matthew Nieto, Zack Phillips, Brandon Saad, Tyler Wotherspoon, Mika Zibanejad

The second group of the day included one-time first overall projection Sean Couturier. Also, Swedish forward Mika Zibanejad among others. 

Zibanejad talked about a whirlwind tour next week where he'll be in Ottawa, Buffalo, Boston and New York (Islanders) as teams try and peg where he might be taken. He also talked about the infamous Wingate test where he lost his lunch.

"I'm not used to this. We don't have it back in Sweden. I don't think you have this kind of situation in a lot of places. It's kind of odd, but it's fun."

Couturier said that he felt his testing went well, though he did not rank in the top 10 in any category.

"I wanted to work hard in all the exercises, and that's what I did," he said. "I never did the biking test like that. For sure they were harder than I thought."

Couturier also talked about the Oilers and the possibility of going first overall.

"They're a young team and are going in the right direction. It would be fun to be a part of that team."

Connor Murphy had an outstanding day of testing, ranking in almost every major category. The 6'3" defenceman from Boston is expected to go around the middle of the first round.

Adam Larsson
8:30 AM - Jonathan Huberdeau, Tomas Jurco, Joseph Labate, Adam Larsson, Matt Mahalak, Xavier Oullet, Mike Reilly, Michael St. Croix

The third group included some top fitness performers. Jonathan Huberdeau ranked among the leaders in hand-eye coordination, Tomas Jurco dominated the VO2 max and Adam Larsson was first in test duration (14 minutes) - four minutes higher than the average.

Larsson is a real possibility to go first overall according to all major rankings. The Swedish defenceman could become only the second Sweden player to go first overall behind Mats Sundin.

"It's big for me, it's big for my family, it's big for older people back in Sweden but I won't be disappointed if I'm not (number one)," he said. "I'm just glad to be drafted."

Coming off a Memorial Cup win, Jonathan Huberdeau didn't have a lot of time to prepare for the testing. Some events he didn't do so well in - only two on the bench press - but others he excelled, ranking first in his group and top 10 overall in hand-eye coordination.

"I did well. I was a little bit tired. I didn't get a lot of rest but I did my best - that's what matters," said Huberdeau. 
Dougie Hamilton
9:30 AM - Seth Ambroz, Phillip Danault, John Gibson, Dougie Hamilton, Adam Lowry, Ryan Murphy, Brett Ritchie, Ryan Tesink

Group four included Dougie Hamilton, who Oilers fans covet as a big, hard-nosed defenceman. Hamilton tested well in a number of fitness categories.

He was top 10 in Peak Power Output (14.4 watts/kg), first in Mean Power Output (11.1 watts/kg), second in Test Duration, top 10 in vertical leap and standing long jump. He was also among the leaders in upper-body power and bench press.

"For me, it's a fun three days. It's just going to keep on getting more fun," he said. "I worked my hardest and I guess that's all you can do. You can't change anything now."

Hamilton added that his interview with Edmonton was one of his better ones.

"It was a really cool setting. They had a nice suite. A little webcam filming and a lot of guys you've seen before at the table," he said. "I think it was one of my top (interviews)."

Hamilton roomed together at Under-18s with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and mentioned that it was good to see him again.
Gabriel Landeskog
11:30 AM - Sven Baertschi, Joel Edmundson, Boone Jenner, Gabriel Landeskog, Mario Lucia, Joseph Morrow, Vladislav Namestnikov, Duncan Siemens

With 11 bench presses, Gabriel Landeskog was tied for 6th among all participants on the first day. The Swedish winger is pegged to go in the top five - as high as first overall by some.

"I tried to have a smile on my face as long as I could. Obviously the bike tests are a killer but other than that it was pretty good," said Landeskog.

Landeskog downplayed the importance of getting picked first in the draft.

"It's probably more important than fans than for players," he said. "It would be an honour to go first overall but I think, like Cam Fowler and Jeff Skinner showed last year, it doesn't matter what number you went it's what you do the next year that matters."

He added that he hopes his interviews with Edmonton and Colorado (first two picks) went well.

"I had a pretty good feeling after both of them. They didn't want to say too much but they showed some interest and asked a couple of interesting questions."

Landeskog added that it wasn't in his plans to visit Edmonton before the draft.

Big defenceman and Edmonton native Joseph Morrow feels he's exactly what the Oilers need.

"Growing up, hometown kid, I was always an Oilers fan. The meeting went awesome. The Oilers organization is a really friendly, positive organization. They treated me really well."

Ryan Strome
12:30 PM - Nathan Beaulieu, Philippe Hudon, Colin Jacobs, Lucas Lessio, David Musil, Stefan Noesen, Robbie Russo, Ryan Strome

One of two players at the Combine from Texas, Colin Jacobs was proud to be representing his home state today in Toronto. 

"I've worked so hard to finally establish myself as a player in this league. I want to be the best player I can be. Finally this day has come where I can be at one of these events where all of the top players are combined."

The interview process was one that Jacobs enjoyed overall.

"I've never been in that type of atmosphere. I thought it was pretty cool for myself," he said. "It was very awesome to see teams taking an interest in myself."

Jacobs added that he had only talked to 10 teams and Edmonton was one of them.

Ryan Strome felt the process went faster than he had anticipated.

"The process went a little quicker than I thought. I thought we'd have a little bit of time between stations but it was pretty much 'boom boom boom' get it done. It was a little bit tough but at the same time, it's good to get it out of the way quick."

Mark Scheifele
1:30 PM - Adam Clendening, Christopher Gibson, Scott Oke, Shane Prince, Matt Puempel, Jonathan Racine, Ty Rattie, Mark Scheifele

"I came to Oakville for a couple of weeks to train at the BTNL to prepare a little bit," noted Christopher Gibson. "There's people who push you to the max and I really appreciate the experience here."

Gibson is Finnish with an English father which explains the common name. He also speaks with a French accent after playing a season in Chicoutimi.

"I talked to 22 teams this week. I really like to get to know the teams. I think they'd appreciate getting to know me as a player and a person."

Ty Rattie was happy that the Combine week was over.

"Guys have been dreading this for the last three days but I'm glad it's over," noted Rattie.

Playing for the Portland Winterhawks, Rattie didn't have a lot of time to prepare but did well considering. He was third in Mean Power Output.

2:30 PM - Daniel Catenacci, Travis Ewanyk, Zac Larraza, Jonathan Miller,Reece Scarlett, Colin Sullivan, Vincent Trocheck, Zachary Yuen

Oil Kings forward Travis Ewanyk went in the final group of the day and put up some very impressive numbers.

Ewanyk finished in the top 10 in Peak Power Output, Mean Power Output, Pull Strength and Standing Long Jump.

He also finished second in Vertical Jump, was first in the four jump and first in pound-for-pound bench press.

"It's a grind. I was talking to other teammates, Mark (Pysyk) and such on what to expect. They all said to enjoy it, work hard," said Ewanyk. "You don't realize how hard it is until you go through it.

Ewanyk is projected to go at some point in the first two rounds. He now continues his preparation ahead of the draft later this month.

"It's been a crazy couple of days. Going to talk a couple of days off then get right back in the gym there and get ready for the season."


On Thursday, we set the table for the Scouting Combine as Tom Gazzola went one-on-one with Oilers GM Steve Tambellini and head amateur scout Stu MacGregor. We also spoke with six prospects before their testing.
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