NHL prospects show their stuff at NHL Scouting Combine Staff

6/3/2011 11:22:35 PM

Jonathan Huberdeau may have just finished leading the Saint John Sea Dogs to a Memorial Cup victory, but that didn't stop him from participating in the grueling physical testing at Friday's NHL Combine.

Fresh off being named Memorial Cup MVP, Huberdeau arrived in Toronto looking to improve his draft stock even more than he already has with a strong performance in the second half of the CHL season.

"I'm a little bit tired with all the emotion we went through winning the Memorial Cup, but I think that's hockey and you have to deal with it," Huberdeau stated. "I just did the tests and it went pretty well I think."

At last year's combine, top prospect Taylor Hall chose not to participate in the physical testing, in part due to the fact he was coming off a Memorial Cup appearance as well. The decision didn't hurt Hall, who went on to be selected with the first overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers.

Hall's precedent didn't stop Huberdeau from displaying his off-ice athleticism for scouts this year.

"If everybody's doing it, I'm going to do it. They know I'm tired, but they know I'm going to do the best I can," said Huberdeau. "There was no reason why I wouldn't do it."

The Oilers are on the clock once again this year, and while Huberdeau's second half surge has put him in the running for the top pick, the favourites to have their name called out first at the 2011 NHl Draft on June 24 are Red Deer Rebels centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Swedish defenceman Adam Larsson.

"I don't want [the draft process] to be over with. It's been great so far. You only go through it once so I'm just trying to enjoy it as much as I can," said Nugent-Hopkins.

The 6'1", 170-pound Nugent-Hopkins led the WHL in assists this season with 75 and finished fourth in overall points with 106 in 69 games played, but the combine proved to be a whole new experience for him.

"It was definitely a little bit different then just going to the gym and working out with your peers. I walked in and I didn't really expect how many people would be here, but it was cool," he said.

"I'm not a big bench press guy, as you can probably tell," joked Nugent-Hopkins after posting six reps with the 150-pound bar.

Boston University defenceman Adam Clendening, Sea Dogs forward Tomas Jurco, and Prince Albert Raiders forward Mark McNeil powered their way to 13 reps on the bench, the most on the day. Clendening also earned the top push-up total with 40, while McNeil had the best push strength with 366 pounds and was second to U.S. National Team forward Tyler Biggs, who had a pull strength of 323 pounds. 

Portland Winterhawks forward Ty Rattie and Shawinigan Cataractes defenceman Jonathan Racine earned bragging rights by posting the top score on the the dreaded Wingate Cycle Ergometer, which measures a player's peak power output. Both players registered 15.9 watts of energy per kilogram of body weight. Racine also had the best long jump with 119.3 inches.

Larsson was the only top prospect to emerge on top in an event, lasting 14 minutes in the VO2 Max test, tied with Vancouver Giants' David Musil.

Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Joel Edmundson had the longest wing span at 79.24 inches, and Rogle defenceman Rasmus Bengtsson had the lowest body fat with 3.6 percent.

Portland defenceman Joseph Morrow and Saginaw Spirit forward Vincent Trocheck earned top marks in the vertical jump hitting 30.3 inches, and Swift Current Broncos defenseman Reece Scarlett did 51 curl ups to take that event.

While there are different schools of thought when it comes to how the combine stats translate to on-ice performance, regardless of how much weigh you put into the numbers the focus now begins to turn to the draft itself, something the players are looking forward to. 

"It's exciting. I can't wait to be in Minnesota on June 24," admitted Huberdeau. "You never know what's going to happen, where you are going to go. I think I did my job on the ice and I'll just see what happens in June."