Video: COMBINE | Jack Hughes
Video: COMBINE | Bowen Byram
SATURDAY'S FITNESS TESTING & INTERVIEWS
*** ALL TIMES MOUNTAIN ***
Players to be interviewed by Oilers TV in bold
5:30 AM / GROUP 1 - Tobias Bjornfot (D), Simon Lundmark (D), Isaiah Saville (G), Ville Heinola (D), Patrik Puistola (RW), Antti Tuomisto (D), Mikko Kokkonen (D), Antti Saarela (C)
Finland's Patrik Puistola played against men in the 2018-19 season. The right winger took the ultimate test when he suited up for Tappara of SM-Liiga, Finland's top division, picking up a single assist in 16 games. When he was loaned to LeKi of Metis, Puistola flourished, notching 15 goals and 26 points in 22 matches.
"The men were stronger and faster," he said Saturday at the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine. "It helped push me forward when I played against men."
Tabbed to be selected some time in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft, Puistola - who interviewed with 23 clubs at the Combine - says he improved his board strength this season.
"Board battles when you have to battle with big guys," he said. "That would be the biggest one."
Video: COMBINE | Patrik Puistola
6:00 AM / GROUP 2 - Hugo Alnefelt (G), Nils Hoglander (LW), Mattias Norlinder (D), Ryder Donovan (C), Albert Johansson (D), Victor Soderstrom (D), Albin Grewe (RW), Marcus Kallionkieli (LW)
There's no denying Nils Hoglander's skill. The Swede scored the SHL's Goal of the Year in January, picking up the puck lacrosse-style from behind the goal and roofing it into twine.
"I worked on it a bit and tried it," he told EdmontonOilers.com. "That was the first time I scored on it. That was fun."
Hoglander recorded seven goals and seven assists with Rogle BK Angelholm and spoke with 29 teams this past week at the Combine. There's also a need for speed with the Swede, who stated what he plans to do this off-season.
"Work out every day, I would say," Hoglander said. "Not much more than that."
Video: COMBINE | Nils Hoglander
6:30 AM / GROUP 3 - Egor Afanasyev (LW), Ilya Nikolaev (C), Marshall Warren (D), Domenick Fensore (D), Nikita Okhotyuk (D), Trevor Zegras (C), Spencer Knight (G), Cameron Rowe (G)
When Trevor Zegras finishes up his tenure with the United States U18 National Team, he will lace up with the Boston University Terriers.
"BU has done a really good job of bringing in high-end guys like (Clayton) Keller, (Charlie) McAvoy and (Jack) Eichel, developing them and then acclimating them to the NHL pretty quickly. That's the path I want to take."
The natural centre's passing is widely praised, with projected first-overall selection Jack Hughes claiming Zegras was the most creative player on NTDP. Five members from that club are in the NHL Central Scouting's top-10 North American rankings, so they've been going through the motions together.
"I spent the last two years with these guys on road trips, plane rides, going across the country," he said of his NTDP teammates, a squad NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr believes will break program records this year at the NHL Draft.
"Going through this by yourself is pretty cool but doing it with your 20 best friends is even better."
Video: COMBINE | Trevor Zegras
Another member of the standout NTDP club, goaltender Spencer Knight doesn't deny that life can get breezy when backstopping the U18 National Team.
"It's nice to have a really good team, right?" Knight, the top-rated North American netminder in the 2019 NHL Draft, said. "But you got to learn how to play on a good team, too, and play against less shots. It's a different dynamic."
Among the many positives of being on such a talented squad is that practices are fast and competitive.
"If anybody has a chance to watch an NTDP practice, they should go watch it," Knight, who had 15 wins and a .903 save percentage against USHL clubs this season, said. "People want to beat each other."
Knight, who spoke to the Oilers this week, was stumped by an interview question prompted by a club he couldn't recall.
"One of the interesting ones that I've gotten, I can't remember which team it was, but it was, 'Do you like to stop pucks or do you like to prevent goals?'
"I'm still going back and forth with that one," he laughed.
Video: COMBINE | Spencer Knight
7:00 AM / GROUP 4 - Ronald Attard (D), Taylor Gauthier (G), Trent Miner (G), Samuel Bolduc (D), Peyton Krebs (C), Ethan Phillips (C), Alexander Campbell (LW), Nathan Legare (RW)
Centre Peyton Krebs was a leader for both the Kootenay Ice (now known as the Winnipeg ICE) and Team Canada at the U18 World Championship. The 18-year-old donned the captaincy for both clubs.
"It's pretty special. During the season, I tried to be the guy that guys could look up to," Krebs told EdmontonOilers.com at the Combine. "I had a lot of fun with the guys in my locker room, and going to Team Canada, I just tried to be myself."
Krebs is ranked 10th on Central Scouting's North American rankings and wants to improve his play on the defensive side of the puck.
"I'm always working on my 200-foot game," Krebs, who had 68 points in 64 outings this season, said. "If I can play in the defensive zone and be reliable there, I think that's what I need to improve on to allow myself to play at the next level."
Video: COMBINE | Peyton Krebs
7:30 AM / GROUP 5 - Alex Beaucage (RW), Alex Newhook (C), Ryan Suzuki (C), Colten Ellis (G), Jakob Pelletier (LW), Alex Turcotte (C), Hunter Jones (G), Matthew Robertson (D)
Alex Newhook was drafted in the third round of the 2017 QMJHL Draft but elected to play for the Victoria Grizzlies of the British Columbia Hockey League.
"I'm sticking with the college route," Newhook told Oilers TV.
"Going the British Columbia Hockey League route has been great for me. Being able to come in last year and play a lot, be a difference-maker, then this year to build off that, be a captain and be in that role has been very beneficial for me."
In 53 regular season games with the Grizzlies, Newhook potted 38 goals and 102 points then added 24 more postseason points in 15 playoff outings.
"From the start of the season, and even from the start of last year, I just tried to build on myself," he said. "Every game, every practice, learn as much as I can and take in as much as I can."
Video: COMBINE | Alex Newhook
Oilers and Oil Kings fan know this player well. Matthew Robertson, the Edmontonian and Oil Kings rearguard, was on hand at the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine and described the great season the Oil Kings had.
"Going into the year, no one really knew what to expect," Robertson, who padded his stats with 33 points in 52 regular season games then added eight points in 16 playoff matches, said. "We had some new management, we had some team building and I thought we connected really well."
The Oil Kings went all the way to Round 3 of the Western Hockey League Playoffs, and Robertson was a big part in that.
"I thought as the year progressed, I got a little more physical, a little more aggressive and I thought that helped my team out."
Video: COMBINE | Matthew Robertson
Alex Turcotte is taking in the experience that is the 2019 Scouting Combine.
"Definitely a new experience for me," Turcotte said. "It's something that's really cool to be a part of and I think it's a once in a lifetime thing. I was just myself and tried to enjoy it. It's definitely something I'm going to remember for the rest of my life."
Turcotte, who spoke with 13 teams this past week, specified what facet he needs to make it to the NHL.
"I think I can get a lot stronger in my lower body and upper body," the centreman said. "I think I can definitely get stronger. On the ice, I think I can always keep improving my shot."
Turcotte was limited to 37 games this year with NTDP and still managed to put up 27 goals and 62 points.
Video: COMBINE | Alex Turcotte
8:00 AM / GROUP 6 - John Beecher (C), Ryan Johnson (D), Shane Pinto (C), Nolan Foote (LW), Arthur Kaliyev (RW), Mads Sogaard (G), Jack Hughes (C), Robert Mastrosimone (LW)
Jack Hughes needs no introduction. As a result, the potential first-overall pick also spared the fitness testing portion of the NHL Scouting Combine after suiting up for USA at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, where he notched three assists in seven games.
"It was just that I've been playing hockey the last two months and just got back a week ago and haven't trained at all," Hughes, who had 34 goals and 112 points in 50 games with NTDP in '18-19, said. "I think it's kind of like not preparing for a test and not studying. I didn't want to risk getting an injury and stop playing hockey."
There's always room for improvement in a player, and that goes for Hughes.
"Two things for me is my faceoffs and my scoring," he said. "Those are two things for me that I really want to enhance."
Video: COMBINE | Jack Hughes
Arthur Kaliyev is a pure sniper but can orchestrate plays, too. The right winger scored 51 times and added 51 helpers for 102 points in 67 contests with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League last season.
But ask Kaliyev about his shot and he will tell you where he's learned to whip pucks.
"I've been always working on my shot since I started playing hockey," Kaliyev said. "Every day. Either at home, after practice or before practice. It helped me along the way to get here."
In order for him to release his greatest weapon, though, Kaliyev has developed a knack for finding soft spots on the ice.
"I try to find the open spots for my teammates to find me," he said. "Try to read the game the right way, try to read where the puck is going to be."
Video: COMBINE | Arthur Kaliyev
8:30 AM / GROUP 7 - Layton Ahac (D), Kaedan Korczak (D), Philip Tomasino (C), Harrison Blaisdell (C), Connor McMichael (C), Michael Vukojevic (D), Kirby Dach (C), Nicholas Robertson (LW)
Fort Saskatchewan, AB, product Kirby Dach could very well go in the top-10 of the 2019 NHL Draft. The pivot had 11 meetings over the week.
"It was good to meet teams and see what they had to say about me," the Saskatoon Blades forward said. "There are things for me to take back and work on in my game."
Dach compiled 25 markers and 73 points over 62 games during the regular season. In the playoffs with the Blades, he also picked up eight points in 10 games but was ultimately eliminated by the Prince Albert Raiders, who went off to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup and compete in the 2019 Memorial Cup.
"Before playoffs, I kind of looked at myself in the mirror and said I want to try and find a new gear every night to help push my team through each round," he said. "I think I was able to do that against Moose Jaw and coming in against Prince Albert, I knew I'd have to find an extra gear."
Dach's favourite players growing up were Ales Hemsky and Jonathan Toews.
Video: COMBINE | Kirby Dach
9:00 AM / GROUP 8 - Nikita Alexandrov (C), Dylan Cozens (C), Vladislav Kolyachonok (D), Philip Broberg (D), Matvey Guskov (C), Cameron York (D), Judd Caufield (RW), Artemi Kniazev (D)
Fans of the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup got to witness Philip Broberg compete when the event was hosted by the city of Edmonton.
Broberg, a left-shot defenceman, was a hot commodity at the Combine and spoke to 26 teams. The Swedish rearguard's influence is Victor Hedman and wants to upgrade his physical game and puck transportation skills.
"I think it's my physical game," Broberg said. "Get a little bit stronger in the corners and in front of the net, for sure, but I still want to improve my first passes as well."
Video: COMBINE | Philip Broberg
9:30 AM / GROUP 9 - Cole Caufield (RW), Karl Henriksson (C), Case McCarthy (D), Samuel Fagemo (LW), Yegor Spiridonov (C), Thomas Harley (D), Pyotr Kochetkov (G)
Cole Caufield fills nets like a fisherman.
The NTDP right winger had 72 tallies in 64 games, reaching the 100-point mark alongside his 28 assists.
"As a team, we had so much success and so many great players up and down the lineup," Caufield said of the star-studded club that also featured the aforementioned Hughes, Knight, Turcotte and Zegras. "With all the team success and all the guys pushing for us, I thought that's where all the individual success happened. I credit it to them."
Caufield wants to be known for more than just his ability to ripple twine.
"I like being known as a goal scorer but there's more to my game than that," he said. "My playmaking is pretty special."
Video: COMBINE | Cole Caufield