COMBINE PROVIDES NHL TEAMS WITH WELL-ROUNDED LOOK
Don't think Sarnia Sting right wing Nail Yakupov will ace every interview and endurance test at the NHL Scouting Combine just because he was No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2012 NHL Draft.
Still, there's always that chance.
Professional scouts and general managers will find out when Yakupov joins 104 other draft-eligible players from North America and Europe for the physical, mental and medical testing at the NHL Scouting Combine, which runs from May 28 to June 2 in Toronto.
"What the players have to keep in mind is that this will be their initial contact with many NHL teams, so they have the chance to make that initial impression," NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr told NHL.com. "Some kids aren't that comfortable when they're in an interview environment so you just kind of have to tell them they need to be a little prepared to talk about themselves, which is something they might not be used to doing.
"But teams aren't testing your personality. They're just trying to get to know you in this environment, so it's just an opportunity to make a good initial impression."
The Scouting Combine will allow all 30 NHL clubs to interview as many prospects as they wish over a four-day period while reviewing medical reports by independent doctors from York University in Toronto. The players also will be put through a series of physical tests that will measure strength and endurance.
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YAKUPOV, GALCHENYUK AND GRIGORENKO READY FOR COMBINE
TORONTO -- Many of the top draft-eligible prospects were still filing into NHL Central Scouting headquarters here late on Monday night following their arrival at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.
At one point in the evening, Sarnia Sting teammates Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk decided to take a late-night tour of the mini-Reebok store set up in the hotel ballroom. Yakupov is rated the No. 1 prospect in North America by NHL Central Scouting. Galchenyuk, who appears to be fully recovered from ACL surgery in October, is No. 4 on the list.
Yakupov has 18 interviews scheduled with NHL teams through Thursday before his fitness test on Friday. Yakupov will be testing in a group with Max Iafrate of Kitchener (OHL), Ben Johnson of Windsor (OHL), James Melindy of Moncton (QMJHL), Kevin Roy of Lincoln (USHL), Brady Skjei of the United States National Team Development Program (USHL), Malcolm Subban of Belleville (OHL) and Brandon Whitney of Victoriaville (QMJHL) during the testing phase that begins approximately 1:30 p.m. ET.
When Yakupov and Galchenyuk were asked on Monday evening if they practiced at all for the bike tests, they both responded, "No."
Galchenyuk, who has 22 interviews scheduled through Thursday, will undergo his fitness tests on Friday beginning 9:30 a.m. ET.
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COMBINE COULD BE KEY FOR PLAYERS WHO WERE INJURED
TORONTO -- Will the 2012 NHL Scouting Combine play a greater role than in past annual evaluation events considering the unusually high number of injuries to top draft-eligible talent this season?
It's very possible. But NHL Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan, who specializes in talent out of the Western Hockey League, believes it might really be as bad you might think.
"Injuries are calculated differently than they were 10 years ago, when there might have been as many but nobody knew they were really hurt [since the medical technology wasn't as advanced]," Sullivan told NHL.com. "Now, they're evaluated so deeply that if there's a slight cause for concern, you have to sit out. Ten years ago they'd play, so to say there are more injuries today than there were before, that's a tough one."
The Scouting Combine began Monday with the initial phase consisting of prospect interviews. Teams will meet with players at their choosing through Thursday, with medical and fitness testing scheduled for Friday and Saturday, June 1-2, at Toronto International Centre. The top-ranked North American skater on Central Scouting's list, Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting in the Ontario Hockey League, has 18 interviews scheduled through Thursday. He is scheduled for his fitness test on Friday at approximately 1:30 p.m. ET.
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