May 24 2012 05:05PM
NHL teams will get another part of the draft equation next week at the NHL combine. These teams have had a chance to evaluate a prospect, to "see him good" or bad, to look through the boxcars and project them into the future. Now comes the rest of the story.
One of the major areas of concern--especially this draft--is injury. A player like Nail Yakupov lost a lot of season to injury and as we've discussed his performance after returning was not at pre-injury levels. This could be a major concern, but the combine could give an indication about progress. If the player performs all of the disciplines well, it would suggest that there are no lingering problems. If the player passes on the opportunity, that too tells a story.
Yakupov may also have other injury concerns. This quote from Dan Stewart of Future Considerations (via OHL Prospects) implies further injury concern:
- Stewart: His playoff performance, as well as the remaining regular season games after the big hit he took from Owen Sounds Mike Halmo, has led many to believe Nail was playing with some concussion symptoms to end the year. You could tell the sharp decision making was not there nor was his willingness to engage in physical play like he normally would without hesitation.
The combine gives teams a chance to engage these young men, ask them questions, observe them running through various disciplines and getting updates on previous injuries. It's a huge deal, and can change draft rankings.
The Oilers have drafted some poor interviews (Hemsky's was apparently legendary) and televised others (the Oil Change series is golden for draft nerds like me) but the bottom line in all of this is identifying the best available players among the 100 invites.
THE SECOND AND THIRD ROUND PICKS
By the time draft day arrives, fans like us will have a pretty good idea about the top 15-30 prospects. I can't really tell you the difference between Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci, but I can recite their scouting report. Beyond that, there are very important selections in rounds two and three. Most of the names announced in the first three rounds on draft day will be the combine invitees.
This year's list features some interesting players, some of whom we've had a chance to see a lot this season. If you've seen the Oil Kings in 11-12, a name like Mitch Moroz probably inspires the image of the actual player in the mind's eye. To the point where a very good description of said player may match the impression made by the player and perhaps make the author of the scouting report more credible when reviewing other names.
Making good use of the second and third round picks is vital, and the next step for Edmonton and the other 29 teams is the NHL draft combine.
EUROPE AND THE COMBINE
The other item for us to consider are the European kids who played outside North America. We'll begin to read more about them as we get closer to the draft--Bob McKenzie's draft lottery list contains the name Teuvo Teravainen from Finland and his final 30 will have more names that we didn't follow closely during the winter.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
We're at a point in the draft season where the average fan can read about the top 100 or so kids available. Corey Pronman's 100 list is out, the published editions will be on shelves soon and the discussion will move beyond Nail and Murray and to the point where Mitch Moroz becomes a topic of discussion.
We're getting there.
NEXT: The "touch" list.
Previously in the series:
- TITANIC (Intro, April 6)
- OILERS WIN (Oilers scouts, Oilers draft trends, April 10)
- MATH SPEAKS OUT (NHLE'S, April 12)
- COMPLETING THE FAB FOUR (Murray versus Nail, April 23)
- FIRST BLUSH 2012 (Initial top 10 list, May 2)
- COMBINE LIST RELEASED (Invites, May 4)
- THE OILERS, THE DUB AND THE FUTURE (possible Oilers from the WHL, May 8)
- THEY COME FROM THE LAND OF ICE AND SNOW (possible Oilers from Swe/Fin, May 12)