Prospects under most combine scrutiny
Every year, the NHL brings together 100 of the top prospects for the coming entry draft and conducts its annual combine, held this year May 27-June 1. All 30 teams converge on Toronto, where draft prospects go through an extensive interview process and some grueling fitness testing. For some players, the combine can have a dramatic effect on where they get selected.
Over the years I have worked for a number of different teams and opinions on the importance of information extracted vary from team to team. Some teams put extra weight on the fitness testing results while others look at the results and measure more the prospect's potential. Some franchises will be asking simple, general questions in interviews and others will have a long, detailed list of specific questions that will speak to the player's character and intelligence.
Similarly, some players have more to prove at the combine than others. Here is a list of players, along with their position in my prospect rankings, that I think will be under the most scrutiny during this process, as well as what teams will be focused on.
No. 4 C Aleksander Barkov, Tappara (FIN)
The biggest question for this big, skilled forward will center on his shoulder injury. Teams will be looking for doctor's reports and assurances that their potential prospect will not be damaged goods. Staffs will get a feel for how well he speaks English and an idea of his contract situation, having played in the SM-Liiga with men for the past two years. His fitness testing may be limited due to the injury, so the physical picture may not be a complete one.
One area of concern over the past two years has been his skating quickness, and if he takes part in the fitness testing his results in the vertical jump and the Wingate bike test will give teams an idea of how much his quickness is capable of improving.
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