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NHL Combine Blog: Last Day

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

With the second and final day of fitness testing completed, the NHL Combine is now officially over.

Today turned out to be a much shorter day than Friday, as only five groups went instead of eight. That meant testing ended at 2:30 p.m. instead of 6:30 p.m. – solid. However, it did seem like there was a lot more yelling and screaming from the Wingate cheerleaders on this beautiful Saturday morning than there was Friday. We hit the road in the Pens Inside Coupe right after we talked to the last prospect we needed, Pontus Allberg. Just a five-hour drive to Pittsburgh. Feels like nothing after our 12-hour drive to Ottawa for the All-Star Game.

A lot of the highest-ranked prospects, like Nail Yakupov, Filip Forsberg, Ryan Murray, Alex Galchenyuk and Mikhail Grigorenko all tested yesterday. But there was still plenty of elite talent in the Orion BC room of the Toronto Conference Centre this morning and afternoon.

A lot of NHL Central Scouting’s European skaters and goaltenders were scheduled to test today.

We definitely jumped at the chance to speak with these prospects since they’ve been playing overseas in their native countries, so interviews are rare. We spoke with Teuvo Teravainen (Finland), Tomas Hertl (Czech Republic) and Swedes Allberg, Hampus Lindholm, Sebastien Collburg and a name that might be familiar to you – Erik Karlsson.

No, not the young, smooth-skating Senators defenseman with solid flow that’s up for the Norris Trophy this year.

This one’s a few years younger and has different-colored hair (blonde instead of brown). But he did laughingly oblige our questions about sharing a name with the Ottawa blueliner.

When asked just how often people bring up their shared monikers, Karlsson answered with a smile, “A lot of times. Here, too, with the teams. They tell me that I’m the real Erik Karlsson, and I say, yes!

“What can I say? He’s a great player. It’s cool we played for the same team, Frolunda, and have the same name. I hope I can be as good as he is."

Erik Karlsson and ... Erik Karlsson! (during the 2008 Combine. He looks so young!

I’m intrigued by Teravainen (who tried in vain to teach me how to correctly pronounce his first name).

Teravainen speaks to the media.

He’s always seemed to be that wild card who’s all over the board, but his stock does seem to be rising as of late. Central Scouting has him ranked No. 2 among European skaters, Red Line Report has him No. 5 overall, The Hockey News listed him No. 12 and TSN had him tied for No. 10 with Radek Faksa.

McKeen’s Hockey ranked him No. 5 on their list of 120 top prospects and noted that “Teravainen possesses hand skills that are unrivaled by any other prospect in the draft, registering the highest marks for his playmaking and puckhandling skills in this year’s draft class.”

McKeen’s also reported that Teravainen played a regular shift in the top Finnish men’s league with Jokerit, and did well playing alongside guys more than 10 years his senior.

Teravainen says he models his game after Pavel Datsyuk and Patrick Kane, who are both pretty handy with pucks on their sticks, if I’m not mistaken.

Teravainen does need to add weight to his slender frame at 5-foot-11, 165 pounds, and it will be interesting to see how his game will translate in North America. But he’s certainly got the raw talent, and I’m interested to see if he could become a star like his idols.

Quote of the day goes to Tomas Hertl.

When I asked him through his translator how much he’s looking forward to the draft, he answered, “I’m very excited. I cannot sleep for the next 20 days.” Love seeing that unchecked enthusiasm for what’s going to be one of the proudest days of his life.

We were wondering why the prospects sat down at a set of computers after they’d finishing recovering physically from the Wingate and VO2 Max bike tests.

No, it wasn't to fill out a short survey about their experience here.

I was told they were taking the NHL’s version of the Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test, a psychological test that’s been around since the 1930s. To be honest, I don't really know anything about it – so for more information, click here. Apparently, the players have to take it after those strenuous, grueling bike tests because their best and most honest answers come right after pressure-filled situations.

All in all, we spoke to roughly 30 prospects over the last three days – a few of them twice.

We were definitely busy stockpiling as many interviews as we could during our time in Toronto. We tried to talk to as many of the players as humanly possible between the three of us. We especially focused on procuring players that are projected to go in the first round. We’ll be sharing the content we gathered over the next few weeks leading up to the draft. Hopefully everything we got will help you, the fans, get to know these young men as both players and people. Because they really are the future stars of the NHL.

I’ll also have some more blog posts coming this next week about the Combine. I just have so much that I want to share with you guys, it’s too much to cram into one story. I hope it’ll help you get as excited about these prospects and the draft as we are.

The room being dismantled earlier this afternoon after fitness testing concluded.

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