Over 100 of the top prospects available in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft are in Toronto to take part in the league's Combine, where the players will participate in gruelling physical testing and one-on-one interviews in order to try and impress NHL GMs ahead of the June 26th Draft. TSN.ca was at the combine on Friday and filed reports on the various activities throughout the day in this Combine Blog. Be sure to check back on Saturday for a complete wrap-up once the event is over. All rankings listed are by NHL Central Scouting.
9:39 am et - The NHL Combine is officially underway and there are some heavy hitters in attendance. Capitals GM George McPhee, Coyotes GM Don Maloney, Blackhawks assistant GM Rick Dudley, Rangers advisor/scout Mike Barnett and the Wild's Guy Lapointe are all here to observe the action. Maloney is surfing TSN.ca on his laptop.
9:41 am et - Chris Kreider, ranked No. 14 by NHL Central Scouting, has a very lean body. He's listed at 6'2, 201 pounds but there is no way he weighs that much. Kreider achieved a very strong vertical. He then proceeded to throw up at the end of his VO2 Max test - it should be noted that this doesn't weigh against Kreider in the eyes of the GMs. People generally see this as a sign that a player pushed himself to the limit.
Brian Dumoulin (61st) also scored an excellent vertical.
6'2, 205-pound Dylan Olsen, ranked 27th, did not show particularly well on the bench press, but it should be noted that, in general, kids from U.S. high schools and other programs (ie not Major Junior hockey) tend not to do as well on these exercises.
10:42 am et - Jordan Schroeder, a top prospect at #5, did his wingate test and vomited once it was complete. He also completed 17 bench presses at 150 pounds, one of the best showings we've seen through two groups so far. Schroeder, who measured in at 5'8, seemed to enjoy the Combine experience.
"It's a lot of fun," Schroeder told TSN's James Cybulski afterwards. "A little nervous at first but once you get going into the workout, it's pretty intense. Everyone will say the bikes are definitely the hardest. You're a little dizzy afterwards."
Schroeder was even able to joke about his involuntarily physical response to the wingate, saying, "A little bit came up - I have to admit, a little bit came up."
In one of his meetings with a GM, the 18-year-old said he was asked who he would most like to go out to dinner with - Barack Obama, Maria Sharapova or Sean Avery
"I would have liked to have picked Sharapova but I went with Avery," Schroeder said with a smile.
Nick Leddy, another first round prospect, had the best vertical jump of the day so far.
Zach Budish, ranked 22nd, is much more physically mature than most of the other players that are here. At 6'2 1/2, 229 pounds, he is well beyond the growth level of most 18-year-olds who still need to fill out. Consider him already filled out.
11:34 am et - Some more big names are here checking out the proceedings. Lightning GM Brian Lawton is in attendance, as is NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly and NHL executive Jim Gregory.
Alex Velischek (#63), whose dad Randy used to play for the Devils, took part this round.
20th-ranked Kyle Palmieri is ripped - he took off his shirt and everyone in the room turned their heads to see that the guy is cut. Palmieri had a great vertical jump and tied Schroeder with 17 bench presses which, by our count, is still the unofficial lead today.
There are suspicions here that the guys from the U.S. under-18 development program all got tattoos. They all have patches covering their chests, but for now this is unconfirmed speculation!
12:27 pm et - Jeremy Morin (#33) had a decent workout. His vertical was quite good, while everything else was solid but not spectacular.
Drew Shore (#28) is fit but he looks like he still has a lot of room to fill out. He's in great shape but he needs to get stronger.
There will now be a break for lunch before things resume with Group #5.
2:25 pm et - Some of the big boys were in this group and there were some big men on hand to watch. NHLPA agent Pat Brisson, Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, Leafs' Senior VP of Hockey Operations Dave Nonis, Leafs' Senior Advisor Cliff Fletcher, Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson and Panthers GM Jacques Martin are all in attendance.
Possible #1 selection and OHL leading scorer John Tavares did not do upper-body exercises at all, leading to speculation that he has an upper-body injury. He did do 46 sit-ups, which is one of the highest totals seen on the day. Tavares is fit but there's obviously something going on - possibly a shoulder injury - as he did not do push-ups or the bench press. Tavares did do cycling and is looking good.
Evander Kane (#3) had an excellent workout. He had 17 bench presses, which ties the unofficial high for the day. Kane also did 47 push-ups, which seems to be far and away the best so far. In general, the 17-year-old looks like he's in really good shape. Kane has lots of room to grow but was certainly ready for this judging by his workout.
Zack Kassian (#10) did an impressive 16 lifts on the bench.
Fourth-ranked Brayden Schenn did not get into the room until the next group started doing their exercises, so Schenn will probably now be going with Group #6.
3:24 pm et - Schenn came in and did the same thing as Tavares, skipping the upper-body exercises and leaving onlookers to speculate that he may have an upper-body/shoulder injury.
Landon Ferraro (#18) then followed suit, opting out of the bench press and push-ups.
Tyson Barrie (#52), son of Lightning owner Len Barrie, had a solid workout overall. He is not particularly tall for a defenceman but is built solidly.
Ryan Bourque (#49), son of NHL legend Ray, is relatively small but did a great job on the agility drills where players hop around a hexagon. He excelled during this exercise, doing better than most of his counterparts. Ryan is also the spitting image of his father, like a smaller version of his dad.
Highly-touted centre Matt Duchene (#2) looked relatively solid but he will need to get much stronger. The 18-year-old's body also needs to mature a little more for him to be an NHLer.
16th-ranked Ryan Ellis signed in and was then allowed to leave due to unknown circumstances.
Bruins vice president Cam Neely has joined the proceedings.
4:10 pm et
No. 1-ranked European Victor Hedman is huge, measuring in at close to 6'6. Jared Cowen (#9 overall, according to NHL Central Scouting) is 6'5. Obviously both players have long limbs which enabled them to have good all-around workouts.
39th-ranked Ryan O'Reilly had a fantastic workout, excelling in everything - he had a good vertical, he was solid on the bike, great on the bench press and seems overall to have more of a mature body than most of the other players in attendance. He is physically stronger than the vast majority of players that have been seen already.
An interesting note on the day as a whole so far: there has not yet been anyone who has stood out dramatically. In 2008, Zach Bogosian and Colin Wilson both made a tremendous splash with their Combines. The 2009 edition is yet to see a complete standout performance that steals all the thunder and leaves everyone talking about it. There have been many decent performances but no one has been blown away by any individual just yet.
5:20 pm et
Peter Holland (#19) and Dmitry Kulikov (#11) both had average workouts. Once again, nobody has really stood out.
It's been a busy day at the interview table. One Western Conference scout who conducted 11 interviews today said he spoke to a prospect who had 18 consecutive interviews booked without a break.
Jordan Schroeder, who is fifth-ranked and a likely lottery pick, interviewed with 23 NHL clubs in 24 hours.
Special Workout Invitee - TSN Anchor Darren Dutchyshen
6:25 pm et
TSN SportsCentre anchor Darren Dutchyshen took his best shot at the same tests that the prospects did. Dutchyshen first weighed in at a robust 220 pounds, and for his first test, completed 29 push-ups. That total was about average when measured against the prospects, but is very impressive considering that Dutchyshen weighs more than most of the players. He did 10 or 11 sit-ups, although it's not known if all would have counted if the results were formally measured. His vertical jump was very good.
Dutchyshen's best event was the bench press, where he turned in 25 lifts of 150 pounds. That total was the best of the day, far better than the top prospect total of 17. Again, Dutchyshen has an advantage since his frame is fully developed, while the 18-year old prospects will still mature a lot in the next few years.
Upon completing the Wingate cycle test, one of the athletic trainers told Dutchyshen "you should take a lot of Advil - you're going to feel it tomorrow and the day after that".
And that completes the NHL Combine events for Friday. Check back on Saturday for a recap of the day's events.
On a related note to the day's proceedings, the following Combine attendees were named to the Canadian development camp roster for the 2010 World Juniors:
Jared Cowen, Ryan Ellis, Dylan Olsen, Charles-Olivier Roussel, Gabriel Bourque, Jordan Caron, Matt Duchene, Scott Glennie, Nazem Kadri, Evander Kane, Zack Kassian, Brandon Kozun, Louis Leblanc, Ryan O'Reilly and Brayden Schenn.