Florida Panthers Facebook Florida Panthers Twitter Florida Panthers Google+ Florida Panthers Pintrest Florida Panthers Instagram Florida Panthers
 
Features
 
  • PRINT
  • RSS

Potential Draft Picks Face Thorough Tests

Tuesday, 05.26.2009 / 12:30 PM ET / Features
By Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com
X
Share with your Friends


Potential Draft Picks Face Thorough Tests
London Knights sniper John Tavares looks to be the first one off the board when the NHL Draft is held in Montreal on June 26-27.
TORONTO -- While there are four teams still playing for the 2009 Stanley Cup, the first step on the road to the 2010 Cup and beyond starts Tuesday at the NHL Draft Combine.

The event, which hosts 103 of the best draft-eligible players from North America and Europe, will see the players put through a vigorous round of physical, medical and psychological tests that could determine where they are chosen when the teams convene in Montreal on June 26-27.

"The Scouting Combine is designed to bring together in one spot, in an economical move, and Central Scouting has been charged with that mission … the League GMs say bring your top 100 rated players to one spot and then we'll get a crack at them," NHL Central Scouting Director E.J. McGuire told NHL.com.

The two biggest stars in the 2009 draft class will be in attendance -- London Knights center John Tavares and Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman.

Tavares has been a star in the making since he became the first player to earn "exceptional player" status by the Ontario Hockey League, which allowed him to be drafted at 14 -- a year earlier than league rules allowed. The OHL's Oshawa Generals selected him first, and he debuted with the team days after he turned 15. He broke Wayne Gretzky's league record for 16-year-olds when he scored 72 goals in 2006-07. He had a league-leading 58 goals and 104 points this season, which he split between Oshawa and London. His 215 goals in four seasons is a new league record.

Tavares also was second at the 2009 World Junior Championship in scoring with 15 points and was named the tournament's best forward and MVP.

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Hedman is lauded for his Chris Pronger size and Nicklas Lidstrom skill set. At just 18, he had 7 goals and 21 points in 43 games with MODO Hockey Ornskoldsvik in the Swedish Elite League, where he played more than 20 minutes per game on the top defense pairing.

According to McGuire, there's a three-pronged approach to the Combine.

"First, there are interviews," he said. "Bring them in and allow (teams) to get a fair crack, 20-25-minute slots, where they interview these kids to get a little more insight into their personalities."

To go along with the interview is a psychological evaluation that tests, according to McGuire, "neuropsychological and behavioral phenomena."

"Can you really tell who's going to be your best player in Game 7 by typing it into a computer?" McGuire asked. "Probably not, but it might help. We provide rudimentary data, and most teams' sport psychologist consultant can take this information and use it as starting at first base, rather than starting at square one and develop a psychological assessment of a player. It's not meant to be a secretive selection device; it's one more piece of a large mosaic."

Another piece of that mosaic is a routine medical evaluation, where the players are examined by independent doctors who then provide their data to teams.

"They write up any red flags," McGuire said. "The team scouts, if they see a red flag, will say to the agent or kid, does our team doctor have permission to contact your team doctor directly? Teams want to be wary of not drafting damaged goods."

Most prominent is the physical testing -- something that, surprisingly, does not include an on-ice component.

McGuire said there are a number of reasons for not putting the prospects on skates. First, for the top players, teams likely have seen them multiple times in person or on video already.

"The team scouts, if they see a red flag, will say to the agent or kid, does our team doctor have permission to contact your team doctor directly? Teams want to be wary of not drafting damaged goods."
-- Central Scouting Director E.J. McGuire

Also, there's the fact that some players, including many in U.S. colleges and high schools, haven't been on the ice since February -- compared with a player such as Dmitry Kulikov of the Drummondville Voltigeurs, Tyson Barrie of the Kelowna Rockets, Jordan Caron of the Rimouski Oceanic or Ryan Ellis of the Windsor Spitfires, who played in the Memorial Cup that just ended Sunday.

"Is it fair to the kid whose high school season ended in February to stand next to the kid who played in a championship game on Sunday?" McGuire said. "It might be unfair to the Memorial Cup participant if the (high school) kid had just been doing the Combine tests, sprinting five times as week and not having to practice. That Memorial Cup guy, did he block a shot to win a championship and his ankle is sore?"

Instead, the players are put through their paces in a three-hour crucible which includes events as simple as the sit and reach, push-ups and sit-ups, right through a pair of high-tech stationary bike tests -- Wingate anaerobic measure and an aerobic-max VO2 test.

The top 75 North American skaters as rated by NHL Central Scouting will be taking those tests. Besides Tavares, those looking to make an impression on the scouts includes Brampton Battalion center Matt Duchene, Vancouver Giants center Evander Kane, Brandon Wheat Kings teammates Brayden Schenn and Scott Glennie, University of Minnesota center Jordan Schroeder, Spokane Chiefs defenseman Jared Cowen and Windsor Spitfires defenseman Ryan Ellis.

Besides Hedman, other top European prospects scheduled to attend include Swedish forwards Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Jacob Josefson and Marcus Johansson, and defensemen Tim Erixon, David Rundblad and Oliver Ekman-Larson

Among the goaltending prospects in attendance will be the Plymouth Whalers' Matthew Hackett, Central Scouting's top-rated North American netminder, and Sweden's Robin Lehner, the top-ranked European goalie.

There also will be a number of familiar names at the Combine.

Hackett is the nephew for former NHL goalie Jeff Hackett, who now serves as the Colorado Avalanche goaltending coach. Erixon's father, Jan Erixon, played 10 seasons with the New York Rangers. Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Carter Ashton's father, Brent Ashton, played for eight teams in 14 NHL seasons. Red Deer Rebels center Landon Ferraro is the son of former NHL All-Star Ray Ferraro. Philip Samuelsson, a defenseman with the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League, is the son of long-time NHL defenseman Ulf Samuelsson. Ryan Bourque, a center is the U.S. National Team Development Program, is the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Raymond Bourque.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com

Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Staff Writer

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
11 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
12 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 52 17 23 14 40
J. Huberdeau 55 11 29 12 40
J. Jokinen 55 11 27 12 38
V. Trocheck 55 17 18 3 35
A. Barkov 43 16 19 13 35
R. Smith 55 18 16 12 34
B. Pirri 51 11 13 -3 24
A. Ekblad 51 11 13 19 24
B. Campbell 55 5 18 20 23
N. Bjugstad 40 9 10 -3 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 24 13 5 .927 2.23
A. Montoya 8 4 1 .926 2.06

 
FloridaPanthers.com is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and floridapanthers.com are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks and NHL Draft name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2016 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.