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.


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.


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.



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:

  • Lowetide

    Taylor Hall had a lingering shoulder injury from Junior and there was no whisper of it after the combine that I am aware of.

    So, either:

    A) the combine isn’t a good way to judge whether a player has existent injuries; or
    B) the Oilers knew about Hall’s shoulder, drafted him anyway, kept it quiet, and convinced every other team to do so as well.

    Is there a c) that I’m missing?

  • Lowetide

    Hall iirc passed on most of the combine because he’d just come off the Memorial Cup and was nursing a few injuries. Since he’d just played, there wasn’t really a question about him.

  • Zack

    The combine should be taken with a grain of salt but if you’re interested in the fitness side of things I wrote a small piece on it last year, needs a little updating but gives the general fan a decent idea of what the tests are actually testing, if anyone’s interested. http://puttingonthefoil.com/2011/06/nhl-draft-combine-faq/

    I’d imagine Nail will probably do quite well on both the Anaerobic (wingate) and Aerobic (VO2max) tests if his legs are as strong as they look. The Physicality of a player is only a fraction of the player, what really counts is the on ice performance!

    The interviews are also a useful perspective on things, Lowetide, do you have any info on that Hemsky interview? It’d be really interesting to hear about it.

  • Lowetide


    How much would we have to give up in order to get this player.

    I think he would make the transition easier for Yakupov. As well as a good two player Nikolai Kulemin

  • Lowetide

    I like Kulemin a lot (if that’s who you’re talking about) and he would be high on my list of players Edmonton might want to acquire. Not only because he’s Russian–and I think EDM will need to have a mentor for Nail–but because Kulemin is a fine 2-way player already.

    His value is down, but that’s when you buy. He’s not 35 or anything and doesn’t have a long injury history.

    Really like Kulemin.

  • Mason Storm

    I would think the NHL would add some on ice testing to measure speed and acceleration.This would be similar to NFL combine testing.

    I know they do this at the prospect game but the euros are not there for that

  • Yakupov better kill at this combine and erase any doubt what so ever!

    I remember a huge question was made about Stoll and his so called concussion problem when the Oilers traded him….seems alright to me.

    Draft Yakupov!

  • Personally, I’m curious as to how well Galchenyuk grades out. If he does well, the ideal draft garners both Yak and the Gal. The magic, of course, is in the doing. (Mind, Burke was able to do it with the Sedins back in the day.)

    The club has lots of fodder with which to deal. From Peckham, Potter, Khabibulin, Barker, to Belanger. It has high quality in the form of Hemsky and Gagner. It has prospects galore. Somewhere in some sort of mix, there’s a fit to obtain the Gal. I question if Tambellini has the imagination, stones or intellect to pull it off.

    Good luck to Ralphy the K., and draft the Yak!

  • TwoSkidoos

    Wondering what the trade would look like between CBJ and EDM?

    Perhaps 1st for 2nd, 2nd Rnd, + Dman?

    Then we pick Galchenyuk and keep on keeping on with the D that are developing in the juniors, overseas and in OKC.

  • Why is every article from the past 2 weeks appended with comments that assume Tambo can trade a bag of pucks to Toronto and/or Columbus for a top-5 pick? Cripes, half the players we’re sending away in these mock trades could clear waivers.

  • RexLibris

    Galchenyuk, Reinhart, Samuelsson, Frk, Hertl, Corbett, Moroz. Come on, Santa, we’ve all been good.

    I have this sneaking suspicion that at the combine Galchenyuk might really outperform expectations and then the discussion for the next week or two will be debating the two forwards, Yakupov and Galchenyuk.

    As much as I love the first round, part of me gets a little mad when they call it a day and don’t go straight on to round two. I’ve found the second day of the draft can often be as entertaining as the first. Sometimes more so, and there is a lot more to talk about and research.

    If Tambellini wants a second 1st round pick Minnesota and Anaheim might be the best ones to go after. Anaheim has two expiring UFAs next June in Getzlaf and Perry and they probably feel they need to get a whole lot better right away or lose them. I think Minnesota might feel the same pinch where they can’t afford to be in this same spot next year, and drafting defenseman at that position means a longer wait on the return.

    Patience is our strength, and Tambellini needs to exploit it. Hemsky and Hamilton for the 6th overall pick? Just a thought.

  • RexLibris

    The draft combine is not a huge focus on the top prospects. Everyone pretty much knows the top players and where they will fall come draft day. The draft combine, however, will determine the late first round and 2nd round by miles. Where teams are on edge with a few players, the combine will help distinguish who they go with.

    It’s a crazy process. They treat these kids like fresh meat. Ask ridiculous off the wall questions just to see how they respond. Dig into their family. It’s quite a sickening process.

    The only thing the draft combine reminds me of is the RCMP academy, “depot division”, in Regina as well as the back ground checks potential officers. The combine is no different.

    I’ve had numerous emails already (courtesy of Oilogosphere.com) because my cousin is a potential first rounder. The crap they try and dig up on him is quite something. An interesting process indeed; but we can’t wait!

  • Reg Dunlop

    I wonder how Gretzky would have performed at a combine-like series of strength, speed and quickness tests. I do know with the game on the line and nobody between him and the goalie, NOBODY was going to catch him.

    Raw strength data seems more football-ish while unmeasurable traits seem more hockey-ish. Background checks for criminal or antisocial behavior seems football-ish while interviews to determine character flaws or strengths seems hockey-ish. Bottom line is this process gives bottom feeder team’s fans something to focus on. Fans in Vancouver or LA or Detroit are likely much less interested.

    Lastly, if Yak becomes an Oiler he better keep his head up because if he gets filled in like that here, good luck with anyone jumping in to right the wrong. Everyone, except maybe Gagner, will pull a Turgeon and pretend to tie their skates.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Gretzky at the combine? Same as Nuge perhaps. same kind of physical build. Messier.Hall like for certain.Just a beast. The machines would have been hurtin after Messier was done with them.

  • Mason Storm

    Ya I would be curious to see what kind of trade offers Tambo will be getting for that 1st pick. I have heard that if Galchenyuk wasn’t hurt it would be very likely he was in the top 2 and possibly be considered the #1 over Nail. Really makes you wonder how the scouts have them rated.

    Now if the jacket work out a deal with Toronto with the Nash trade and get their 1st pick I could see a package heading to edm that would include the 2nd and 5th. Maybe they include Omark and Pecham’s rights to CLB and the 1st overall + a roster player for CLBs 2nd and 5th overall. Anyone think that might be an possible trade?

    • RexLibris

      Brian Burke, Dale Tallon may be able to pull off a trade like that………Tamby is in a totally different league, the bush league.

      No way in hell he can pull of a deal like this.

      • D-Man

        If Howson does deal Nash – obviously, he’s determined to start a rebuild… Of course – this is all hypothetical, but then why would he deal two top five picks for one?? Omark/Peckham both have minimal value… Considering the crop of defensemen available and with Galchenyuk and Grigorenko as decent center options – I can’t see him realistically consider giving up that much for Yakupov.

        Yakupov is definitely the number one pick this year, but I don’t believe he’d be worth Galchenyk and say Griffin Reinhart (IMO)…

  • Reg Dunlop


    Kulemin is a good player..but why not get a real mentor for Nail whos one a stanley cup twice and is Russian as well..im referring to Ruslan Fedotenko, hes a UFA and wont cost the oilers an assets to get.

  • book¡e

    You dont win a lottery (cash or NHL draft) and trade it for a meaningfull deal. Somebody would have to over pay big time. With a first overall oilers should draft the player who is ranked 1st overall.

    If you believe you need a defenceman (Murray, Dumba, Rienhart, Rielly or Matta) then try to acquire another pick in top 10.

    There are so many Dman avaiable in this draft and I dont think any have really put them ahead of others (maybe expect Murray).
    Ex: Ducks have the 6th over all pick. Next season they will need a 2nd line center (ganger was drafted 6th overall). Make a trade happen here ducks already have Fowler and Sbisa maybe the are not interseted in drafting another Dman.
    I doubt this is going to be like the 2008 draft, where Dman go from 2 to 5