The NHL Combine gets a lot of coverage, but what can it tell us? We used to get heights and weights from each player attending, but even that went south in 2015. Is there anything of value for fans? Yes.

What are teams looking for in the interview process?

Aside from 10 fingers and toes, scouts spend a lot of time interviewing prospects. They are looking for specific things, an example being this quote from a recent article from Fluto Shinzawa in the Boston Globe

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
  • Keith Gretzky, Bruins Scouting Director: “When you compare
    that to a younger kid who’s really raw and is like a deer in headlights,
    you can tell, ‘OK, this player is going to take a little longer. He’s
    got to mature. He’s got to realize what it’s going to be like to be a
    pro.’ ”
  • Source

That was a portion of a quote from Gretzky about 2015 prospect Brendan Carlo, who would eventually be chosen No. 37 overall by the Bruins.


There are all manner of tests that take place, and this year it has been rumored they will be made available through the following portal

The tests described are below

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


I always like to look at the invites in order to see the names outside the normal 100 or so names you would expect. The Central Scouting List is divided into four lists, and if we assume normal slotting, the following names stand out:

  • A young goalie named Colton Point is ranked No. 4 NA goalie. He is not at the combine. The No. 5 name, Joseph Woll, is on the list of invitees. The No. 6 NA goalie, Zack Sawchenko from Moose Jaw, is also there.
  • The No. 7 Euro skater, Yegor Korshkov, is not at the combine. This does happen with some European players, and Korshkov is Russian—that alone can have him off some lists (KHL worries are real). Artur Kayumov, a lower-rated Russian, is at the combine.
  • The NA skater list forms the bulk of the invite list, with some of the NA CSB ranked players inside the top 70 not getting invites due to age. Dylan Gambrell (No. 67) and Adam Brooks (No. 72) are both 1996 born.
  • The highest-ranked 1998 born Central Scouting NA kids who were not invited are Jeff De Wit (No. 80) and Matt Phillips (No. 81). William Lockwood at No. 108 NA may be the lowest-ranked invite.
  • Source

The OHL has over 30 prospects at the combine—Oilers fans should hope the organization drafts early and often from the world’s best junior league this year.


    In his fascinating book THE ROAD TO HOCKEYTOWN, Jimmy Devellano talks about the goal of a scouting director and his staff:

    • ‘We’re
      trying to determine if the player can get to the next level, that’s the
      real job. Most people can sit and watch a game and tell you who the
      best player on the ice is, but the good scout will be able to judge
      whether or not  a player can go a step or two higher. We in the hockey
      business call it projecting. “

    The Edmonton Oilers have selected exactly two top flight forward
    prospects in the last two entry drafts. Fortunately, the two are Connor
    McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but the club badly needs to score well at
    the draft table this summer. The scouts often get blamed for the lack of talent being developed, but the Oilers have had exactly three selections in the top 100 (in total) in the last two drafts: McDavid, Draisaitl and William Lagesson.

    Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

    Edmonton values the combine, as this list of players who have attended (and subsequently been drafted by the Oilers) shows:

    2010 Oilers draft

    • Taylor Hall selected #1, ranked #1 (attended combine)
    • Tyler Pitlick selected #31, ranked #25 (attended combine)
    • Martin Marincin selected #56, ranked #71 (attended combine)
    • Curtis Hamilton selected #48, ranked 57 (attended combine)
    • Ryan Martindale selected #61, ranked 58 (attended combine)
    • Tyler Bunz selected #121, not ranked (attended combine)
    • Brandon Davidson selected #162, not ranked (attended combine)

    2011 Oilers draft

    • Ryan Nugent Hopkins selected #1, ranked #1 (attended combine)
    • Oscar Klefbom selected #19, ranked #21 (attended combine)
    • David Musil selected #31, ranked #41 (attended combine)
    • Samu Perhonen selected #62, ranked #51 (attended combine)
    • Travis Ewanyk selected #74, ranked HM (attended combine)
    • Tobias Rieder selected #114, unranked (attended combine)

    2012 Oilers draft

    • Nail Yakupov selected #1, ranked #1 (attended combine)
    • Mitchell Moroz selected #32, ranked #56 (attended combine)
    • Jujhar Khaira selected #63, not ranked (attended combine)
    • Daniil Zharkov selected #91, ranked #47 (attended combine)

    2013 Oilers draft

    • Darnell Nurse selected #7, ranked #9 (attended combine)
    • Marco Roy selected #56, ranked #59 (attended combine)
    • Bogdan Yakimov selected #83 not ranked (attended combine)
    • Jackson Houck, selected #94 not ranked (attended combine)

    2014 Oilers draft

    • Leon Draisaitl selected #3, ranked #4 (attended combine)

    2015 Oilers draft

    • Connor McDavid selected #1, ranked #1 (attended combine)
    • Caleb Jones selected #117, ranked #130 ISS (attended combine)
    • Ethan Bear selected #124, ranked #78 ISS (attended combine)
    • John Marino selected #154, ranked #95 ISS (attended combine)

    The 111 (or so) young prospects at the combine this week are a big part of the NHL’s future. It is vital for the Oilers to add more than one or two of these names.

    • daryl

      Wow did not realize how close we were to not getting Bear. He was ranked 78 we got him at 124 we even took Jones ahead of him ranked 130th. Hopefully we will be just as lucky this year.

    • a lg dubl dubl

      In my opinion LT, I think the Oilers failures at the draft have to land at the feet of scouts for the most part, because even though the GM does go watch prospects when he can, he relies on said scouts for info when it comes time to draft a player.

      Looking at this list from the last few years the mid rounds are brutal for the Oilers, yes they have traded players like Petry, Stoll(to go even further back), Reider, and Marincin that have gone on to be better players than when they were here, but when I see other teams draft and develop players the Oilers could have easily taken instead of the Pitlicks, Zarkovs, Hamiltons etc does that not mean bad Intel from the scouts?

      Am I wrong in that thinking? Don’t get me wrong I do put blame on management when it comes to developing players better than they should have after the draft, as well.

      I do hope PC straightens whatever out when it comes to scouting and development, The Oilers can’t rely on trade/free agency all the time.

      • fran huckzky

        Unless one is an insider we have no idea who the scouts recommended and when. How much input did the owner or his kid have? How about coachs and management? Ifthe Oil do as well this year as they did last year with the later picks, I think we will be in good shape for the future.

        • a lg dubl dubl

          True enough.

          I think what could go a long way in development of players is having them move up the ranks at 19, rather than going to the NHL because they’re to young for the AHL.

          If a player is to good for jr but not NHL then send him to the ECHL if not the AHL.

        • a lg dubl dubl

          Management does have final say. I do agree 100% that they should have drafted Murray(need) over Yakupov.

          That said, Yak is prime example of sending kids to the minors before playing in the NHL just because he’s a #1 pick.

    • The combine is nothing more than a marketing tool for the NHL. If a guy is any good he’s already been scouted, evaluated and interviewed at least a few years. I find it hard to believe an elite player’s future will be judged over a couple of days when what got him there is a whole other body of work.

    • Natejax97

      Where is the Gothisbere in this draft. Find him, draft him and develop him please.

      I would take Chychrun in a second. The defense would be solidified for years with a 6′ 3″ 230 pound d-man that skates like the wind and hits like a hammer. I would have patience for that.

    • Apollo

      The combine can be valuable to assess potential for physical performance growth (ie Sam Bennett) vs those that are closer to their physical peak (ie Chychrun). The challenge is are those that have more room for growth willing to put in the work (ie Phil Kessel)).

      You can also use some of the tests to predict chance of future injury. In the vertical jump watch for the knee falling in (a great example is RG3 at the nfl combine) or an uneven bench press technique or pull ups favouring one side (a great example is McDavid during his, any coincidence that his injured clavicle was his left? Maybe, maybe not but it deserves a look).

      At the end of the day these are all 17-18 yr olds who should be given the proper tools to improve where they need too in order the compete at their highest level in the years to come and this is an step along the way.

      • Seanaconda

        I would assume mcdavids injury was on the left cuz that’s where it hit the boards. Plus it was bone not muscle damage.

        Did Kessel do bad in the combine ? He looks pudgy but he’s in great shape the guy flies and can compete with the best playing top line minutes (well not as many on the pens but still)

        • Apollo

          Bones are strengthened with tension on the tendon from balanced musculature, it’s the primary reason that anyone with bone degeneration diseases are encouraged to do resistance training. I’m just saying that it’s interesting and worth a look, the science has been there since the mid 1900’s on this. Guys have skated away from worse crashes into the boards than his, but why?

          Yeah Phil is quick on his skates, how much faster would he be with 8% body fat? Just saying he can be better physically and doesn’t appear to do the work needed? But maybe that’s not his primary focus and would rather improve his release and edging. Some guys have less focus on fitness, doesn’t mean they couldn’t improve it.

          • Seanaconda

            Mcdavids crash was awkward angle going full speed with 2 guys falling into him at the same time. People break bones falling awkwardly all the time.

            And I’m pretty sure kessel just looks pudgy he’s 6.0 and 200 pounds around the same as crosby. I was reading up on it and his cancer medication makes him store his fat in different ways. In 2014 he was 3rd on the leafs in fitness tests I can’t find anything more recent.

            He just has a really fat face too. They were talking about this on hfboards the other day and showed pictures of crosby ovechkin and kessel in underarmour and their bodies all looked the same head down idk he goes to Gary Robert’s camp in the offseason as well

      • ChillyPepper

        An uneven bench press or any exercise done which shows a weakness on one side has nothing, I really mean nothing, to do with future injuries. It’s an imbalance of strength. When a bench press is uneven, drop the bar and go to free weights to strengthen the weaker side. The vast majority of people have a stronger side, usually their dominant side.

        If McDavid (I never watched) was weak on one side doing pull-ups then that is a failure on his trainers… It had nothing to do with his injury. Any exercise done in or on a machine will help build crazy strength but it is also really hard to maintain the balance between your two sides… One side becomes stronger because a person is using it to compensate for the weaker side.

        • Apollo

          You’re right most people do have an imbalance due to a dominant side, that’s what the point of strength training is to help identify and even out those balances so that they don’t lead to acute or over-use injuries.

          Not sure what the company was but there was an ad last season with McDavid running up a flight of stairs, you could see there as well that both arms didn’t move thought the same range of motion. Could be nothing or could be something in the future, just hope that he has the coaches around him to identify and fix any issues.

          • Seanaconda

            The oilers have lots of medical and training staff sure he’s fine he’s also been training with Gary roberts since grade 10 and has 12 % bmi which Gary roberts thinks is in the ideal range for a hockey player.(10-12) Idk maybe he’s wrong but he’s pretty much the most respected trainer in the nhl.

    • OilCan2

      I think the Oilers took a major step forward when they came to the draft table with a plan.

      PC said he wanted aggressive players. Players who were persistent in puck battles. Guys with an edge who were willing to mix it up.

      The result got us Bear and Jones for the defense.

      More of the same please.

      Lets not flush any high picks down the drain this year. Prove me wrong Reinhart.

    • Moe Sizzlack

      Take Chychrun!!!

      Can’t go Wrong, he will be ready to play 17-18 season

      Chychrun and Nurse for…. YEARS!!!

      Sign Cowen for cheap instead of Gryba … That’s a Lengthy D-core

    • Cory_Dakin

      All that video tells me is that McDavid could have done this with a smoke in one hand, a beer in the other while telling Darryl Katz how his mom is in bed. And he still would have been number 1 with a bullet.

    • This.Is.NHL

      Belanger is still a little sour, and by backing up Jultz proves that. Jultz had all the opertuitys in the world to prove his worth in a Canadian market and failed miserably, Oilers management New and Old backed Jultz so much even though he didn’t deserve as much as he did, to me Jultz should have been in the press box or playing bottom six or sent to the AHL, in my eyes Jultz played the way he played to get traded now that he made his millions. I had fath in Shultz at one point but how he played this year he was gifted a trade so all the good he does from now on in his NHL career is all thanks to the oilers even him playing well in the Stanly Cup finales, so your welcome Jultz you don’t deserve any of it.

    • Kevwan

      Looking at those draft lists something really stands out.

      From 2010 through 2014 ( No. 1 overall picks aside ) the Oilers drafted 15 players higher than their rank and only 4 players lower. They reached on 15 of 19 picks.

      I know the Central Scouting ranks aren’t perfect but man that seems like a lot of hoping.

    • madjam

      One teams garbage is another teams treasure ? Who are we to decide if Schultz is not a Norris trophy candidate like Mact. thought he was ? Well lets get on to next topic / candidate – Yakupov . Looks like summer setting in on ON.