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At the NHL Scouting Combine

by Marc Ciampa & Nyki Scheuerman / Edmonton Oilers
The top 101 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.

In total, we interviewed 30 players as chosen by you, the fans on the Message Board.


Saturday is a much lighter day on the schedule with five groups going starting at 8:30 a.m. ET until 12:30 p.m. ET. We spoke to five players on Saturday. They were:

In testing on Saturday, Dalton Smith and Martin Marincin finished fourth and fifth respectively in the VO2 max. Marincin did outstanding in the Wingate on the bike with the best overall fitness level of any player in the entire draft class. Goaltender Mathieu Corbeil-Theriault, who also participated on day two, finished second. The netminder also had the largest wingspan of any prospect at 79.50 inches.

Swede Ludvig Rensfeldt topped Jeff Skinner in Curl-Ups with 40. Skinner had 38 to lead all day one participants.


Russian forward Vladimir Tarasenko speaks with us.
6:30 AM - Joe Basaraba, Brett Connolly, Zane Gothberg, Kevin Hayes, Matt MacKenzie, Julian Melchiori, Riley Sheahan, Vladimir Tarasenko


The testing got underway at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time at the Westin Hotel in Toronto. It took well over an hour before the first group of players started to finish their circuit. Among those of note in the first group were Brett Connolly - the third-ranked prospect in North America by Central Scouting - and Vladimir Tarasenko - the second-ranked European.

Tarasenko was accompanied by a translator for his interview but he did very well on his own, answering nearly every question in English. He had an interesting answer when asked which player he compares himself to - Devils forward Zach Parise.

Tarasenko squashed any questions that he might stay in the KHL over playing in North America.

"Playing in the NHL is my dream," he said. "It doesn't matter if other guys want to stay in Russia. I want to play in the NHL."

Tarasenko had an amusing description of his style of game.

"I think I'm a team player. I control the puck good in traffic. Good play around the net. I pass but if I have a choice to pass or score goal, I score goal,"  

Riley Sheahan came into the interview room wearing Brandon Gormley's #27 over top of his #141 to try and have a little fun with the media. He mentioned having spoken with the OIlers and said he would be honoured to be part of the organization.

Tyler Seguin on his way into the testing at the Scouting Combine
7:30 AM - Kenneth Agostino, Brock Beukeboom, Alexander Burmistrov, Jack Campbell, Derek Forbort, Brandon Gormley, Kirill Kabanov, Tyler Seguin


Tyler Seguin arrived with a contingent of photographers and cameramen at 9:30 a.m. ET. Right behind Seguin was Oilers GM Steve Tambellini who came in to take a look firsthand at the testing for the young prospect. 

Seguin did 39 pushups at one of the stations for upper body which was more than any participant before him. Seguin measured in at 6'1" and 185 lbs.

Seguin felt his testing went well but that doesn't mean he had a good time. 

"I did the test for 'fun' at the end of the summer last year. That was the last time I puked, before today."

Russian Alexander Burmistrov, who played this past season with the Barrie Colts of the OHL, looked a lot more filled out than the 6'0" 159 lbs that Central Scouting had him at prior to today. No word on his height/weight as of yet. Burmistrov is rated 11th in North America.

Kirill Kabanov cleared up any confusion about the fact that he was cut from the Russian U-18 team. The reason he was cut is because he was banned from Russian National Team play for three years (and KHL play for five years) as a result of coming over to play for Moncton (QMJHL).

"He said we don't need any Bubblegum Americans on this team," said Kabanov of the Russian head coach. He was also quick to apologize for abruptly leaving Moncton in the first round of the playoffs.

"They say smart people learn from other peoples' mistakes and stupid people learn from their own mistakes. I'm stupid people," he joked.

Mark Pysyk is interviewed by
8:30 AM - Cam Fowler, Stanislav Galiev, Erik Gudbranson, Patrick McNally, Jonathon Merrill, Brock Nelson, Mark Pysyk, Jordan Weal


Oil Kings defenceman Mark Pysyk got his turn at the Combine at 10:30 a.m. ET. The Sherwood Park native found the process a little unnerving - particularly with so many onlookers. 

"Not what I expected. You go down there to do sit-ups and there's 10 guys there staring at you, making sure you're working hard," he said. "I finished the wingate, 15 minute break

"I did, after the wingate. I was doing okay, I went over the garbage can just in case. There was already some in there and that put me over the edge," he laughed.

Pysyk had a good performance in many of the events. He was second in Peak Power Output at 15.4 watts/kg - tied with Seguin. He was also first in Mean Power Output at 11.7 watts/kg. Pysyk was first in hand-eye coordination at 35.5 seconds.

Cam Fowler had perhaps the most interesting story when asked what the toughest question he had during the interview process.

"The interviews are huge. Teams are looking for good people as well as good players," said Fowler. "Yesterday I was asked, 'if my hometown was invaded by North Korea and I had to leave a family member behind, who would it be?' I looked at them like 'Oh my God, I don't know what to say.' so I said that my Dad's a strong guy and would probably be okay on his own.

"I kind of got some blank stares and wide eyes after that. I didn't realize that I was supposed to leave myself behind," he laughed.

Jordan Weal may have his eye on getting selected by Edmonton since his junior linemate Jordan Eberle is already Oilers property. Weal was third in the WHL in scoring this past season with 102 points playing primarily on a line with Eberle. 

"Me and Ebs we really work well together. We think the same and have a lot of the same attributes," said Weal. "It's been a really good two years and to play with him in the future would be a real treat." 
Taylor Hall is interviewed by tons of media at the Combine
9:30 AM - Nick Bjugstad, Sam Brittain, Jacob Fallon, Taylor Hall, Ryan Johansen, John McFarland, Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Spooner


Taylor Hall did not participate in the fitness testing portion of the Combine due to a knee and back injury. He did height, weight and body fat measurement. Coming in at 7.4%. Tyler Seguin was tops among all prospects at 7.0% while the average was 9.0%.

"I got pretty banged up at the Memorial Cup. I played over 100 games this year and after talking to the doctors the said it would be a good idea not to participate," Hall said.

"It's not lingering stuff, just kind of painful right now. Rest is the biggest thing. Once I get some rest I'll be fine," he said.

"June 25 is going to be a pretty good experience for both of us. I'm getting pretty excited," Hall continued.

In a one-on-one with shortly after his media availability, Hall talked about coming to Edmonton in a couple of weeks to meet the owner and management.

"It's going to be a lot of fun. I haven't been to Edmonton in awhile. We're going to Mr. Katz's house to have dinner there. Hopefully I can show well there as well," he said.

"That's probably the most exciting thing when I think about the Oilers," Hall remarked. "This team's got a lot of good prospects and a really exciting future. I'd love to be a part of that future."

Nick Bjugstad had an impressive showing, bench pressing 18.5 reps to be tops in that category.

After an up-and-down year, John McFarland came here to impress and he did just that. McFarland jumped 9.5 inches in the standing long jump which was the best by far over the past several years in that category.
Finnish prospect Mikael Granlund addresses the media.
11:30 AM - Mark Alt, Connor Brickley, Emerson Etem, Max Gardiner, Mikael Granlund, Maxim Kitsyn, Tyler Pitlick, Austin Watson


The fifth group came out following a brief lunch break.  Emerson Etem was an interesting story coming out of this group. The centre actually started out playing roller hockey in California and commented that his roller hockey experience may have actually hurt his hockey game. The California native starred this past season with Medicine Hat and would welcome the move up north to Edmonton if the Oilers found a way to scoop him up.

"Edmonton has a great up-and-coming organization. It would be an honour. They have a pretty historic background," said Etem.

Another interesting story is Mark Alt, whose father played for the Kansas City Chiefs. Mark himself was a star Quarterback on his high school team.

"My dad's obviously a good football guy with his background. All my life he's pushed me to be a football player," said Alt. "I told him I want to follow my dream (to be a hockey player) and after quite a few heated arguments he finally accepted and let me play."

Rated 84th by International Scouting Service, Alt could be a steal for a team in the later rounds as a massive (6'5") bruising defenceman.He will attend the University of Minnesota next season.  

Tyler Toffoli was Tyler Seguin's linemate a the Ivan Hlinka Tournament last summer as Canada won the Gold Medal.
12:30 PM - Beau Bennett, Charlie Coyle, Justin Faulk, Justin Holl, Jaden Schwartz, Jarred Tinordi, Tyler Toffoli, Jason Zucker


Jarred Tinordi really impressed onlookers with not only his size but his reach and jumping ability. The son of former NHLer Mark Tinordi, Tinordi is 6'5", 205 pounds and is expected to go late in the first round.

"I liked the guys in there," Tinordi said of his interview with Oilers management. "It felt like the questions went well and the interview went well so we'll see."

Noted by some to have the hardest shot in the draft among all prospects, Toffoli was modest when asked how he got such a great shot.

"When you're in the right spots and you score, people can see you have a good shot," he said.

Toffoli, along with John McFarland, skated alongside Tyler Seguin last summer in the Ivan Hlinka tournament as Canada won the Gold Medal. He was asked if having the notoriety of skating with the top-ranked pick could help his standing - with the Oilers or otherwise.

"Having success with a guy like Seguin could help me with Edmonton but it could also help me with any other team," Toffoli noted.

Oil Kings netminder Cam Lanigan has shot up the charts.
1:30 PM - Bill Arnold, Danny Biega, Stephen Johns, Cameron Lanigan, Ryan Martindale, Calvin Pickard, Devante Smith-Pelly, Ivan Telegin


Cam Lanigan of the Edmonton Oil Kings went in this group along with fellow goaltending prospect Calvin Pickard. Lanigan has had a meteoric rise, skyrocketing up the chart from 23rd to 9th among North American goaltenders according to Central Scouting.

"I felt I had a good year and made some strides, got some consistency in my game," Lanigan remarked. He also talked about his fitness testing - his numbers were very strong in a number of categories.

"I got to practice the VO2 and the Wingate (a couple weeks ago) so I got a bit of a head start," he said.

Much like Oil Kings teammate Mark Pysyk, Lanigan had trouble keeping his lunch down following the rigorous workout.

"I did the same thing, too. Had a litte water come up in the Wingate and then in the VO2. Kind of cleared the tube on that one."

Lanigan did very well in the testing. He scored a 1.95 in the 4 Jump (Mat) Mode: Power Factor. The average was 1.00 and the next-closest prospect was Kevin Hayes at 1.69. He remarked that he patterned his game after Carey Price and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Jeff Skinner had 50 goals in the OHL last season for Kitchener.
2:30 PM - Joey Hishon, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Greg McKegg, Mike Pereira, Alexander Petrovic, Bradley Ross, Jeff Skinner, Mark Visentin


The final group of the day went at 4:30 p.m. ET. Jeff Skinner is one of the more intriguing prospects in this draft. Although International Scouting Service has him at 15, The Hockey News ranks him at 25 and Central Scouting has him at 34 some say he could be one of the top 10 players of this draft class when all is said and done.

"I had 25 interviews throughout the week but no interviews really were too tough. All the guys were pretty nice to me. I guess I can thank them for being easy on me. No horror stories from me," said Skinner.

Skinner did nothing but impress this past season, scoring 50 goals and 90 points in 64 games with the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. Drawing comparisons to Mike Richards, he upped his game even further in the playoffs where he scored 20 goals in 20 games through the Rangers' playoff run.

"You always like a Canadian city. That little bit extra - I don't want to say pressure - but hockey mentality," he said of the possibility of playing in Edmonton.


On Thursday, Bob Stauffer flew into Toronto to help participate in a series of interviews. We spoke to some of the draft's top prospects - including top-ranked centre Tyler Seguin - plus Oilers head scout Stu MacGregor, GM Steve Tambellini, Director of Central Scouting EJ McGuire and more. 




On Wednesday, Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall spoke to and each gave their case for why the Oilers should pick them first overall in the draft this coming June 25.

Oilers GM Steve Tambellini also spoke to Bob Stauffer on Oilers Lunch about how the interview process has been going so far.


Tuesday, Oilers head scout Stu MacGregor was on Inside Sports with Dan Tencer to talk in-depth about Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, the Scouting Combine and the interview process this week. writer Adam Kimelman also cornered Steve Tambellini in Toronto and tried to find an answer to the Taylor or Tyler question. He didn't get an answer but got some interesting tidbits from the Oilers GM.

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