The interview process at this year's Combine wasn't just enjoyed by the Panthers brass, but the 2013 potential picks also enjoyed their time with the clubs.
Speaking at a Media Availability on Thursday following being added as Reebok-CCM's newest athletes as they picked up new endorsement deals, the top three North American skaters, Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin all spoke about their week and the interviews with the teams.
"It was obviously a lot of fun going to all those interviews and meeting with a bunch of different teams," said the Portland Winterhawks defenseman, Jones. "Still feels a little surreal that the draft is coming so close now."
"It's been great here in Toronto at the combine," added MacKinnon, the most recent Memorial Cup MVP from the Halifax Mooseheads. "You hear about it every year and it's pretty cool that you can check it off your list of accomplishments. I think the interview process has gone through pretty smoothly. Different teams have different approaches to talking to you but it's gone well."
"I think we're enjoying the interviews and we're liking what we see," said Drouin, the Halifax winger who was the MVP of the QMJHL playoffs. "It's a lot of interviews back-to-back and we don't have a lot of time off but it's been pretty smoothly and we're enjoying it."
While they may have been ranked higher in Central Scouting's final rankings, the third ranked North American skater Drouin had the one up, or even two up as he finished the interview session of the combine, interviewing with 19 NHL teams, two more than Jones or MacKinnon.
"It's not that bad. Obviously there's a lot of possibility, a lot of things that happen," said Drouin. "Down the road, you never know what can happen, you could end up with one of those teams. They just want to get a feel for what kind of person you are."
"I don't know if it was a coincidence but we both had the same number of teams," said MacKinnon of his interview number comparison with Jones' total. "I don't know if it was different teams or what but I think while you're here, it's important to meet teams. You don't know what the future holds...There could be trades or anything like that on draft day. Nice to meet them and got to be prepared for it."
As far as the questioning from the teams? The trio did find some of them that they had to pause and think about.
"One tough question that I got was what kind of hockey player would I be if I couldn't skate," said MacKinnon. "It shook me a little bit because my whole game is around speed and a tough one to answer but little ones like that that put you in the spot and take you a few seconds to answer but it's been good."
"One team asked me and what I did if I didn't have hands, like what kind of player would you be," said Drouin. "It's kind of a hard question to answer. Just chip the puck in and go."
"A lot of tough questions," said Jones. "They try to trick you all the time. I don't know. I can't give you one but there definitely a lot of them."