One week. That’s all the time they had to make those final lasting impressions on each NHL organization, as the top 102 prospects came together in Toronto for the NHL Combine.
When a draft is as wide open as it’s been described as this season, the Combine takes on a bit more importance for teams looking to add talent to their team. So little separates many of these NHL hopefuls, but most of them are quite aware how they can make or break their chances with a team based on a simple handshake or a bad interview.
But at the same time, it was a time for the players to get to know each other and their future organizations. A bit of excitement. is always to be had when the hockey world comes together.
“I thought it was a lot of fun,” Youngstown Phantoms defenseman Scott Mayfield said, 37th in Future Considerations’ final ranking. “Sometimes teams would ask unique questions that were a little hard to answer but I enjoyed it a lot. I was just happy and grateful to be a part of it.”
The six-foot-four defender met with 22 teams over the course of his time in Toronto, Brian Burke and the Maple Leafs included.
Even general managers had a say in the week’s festivities, with Burke being followed by the media while he was in the building.
“The kid who gets off the bike and pukes, that’s more impressive to me than the kid who gets off the bike and he looks like he still has something left,” Burke told the Toronto Sun.
While most of them were able to hold in their breakfast, impressions were made on the hockey execs in the building throughout the week. Enough so, that many teams have begun to prepare to their own mini-evaluations of their own, inviting a number of players back to their arenas to get an even closer look.
The Ottawa Senators had Ryan Strome, Sean Couturier, Mika Zibanejad, Gabriel Landeskog and Jonathan Huberdeau all stop by the Corel Centre for some on ice evaluation following the Combine.
Whether good or bad, some lasting impressions were made at the Combine. The lack of any real separation could really play into a surprising Draft, come June 24th, with teams placing more emphasis on the interviews than ever before.
Some other fun bits of information trickling out of Toronto over the past week include the following:
- One of the more odd questions asked of a prospect: “Would you rather own a gun or read a poem?”
- FC’s 30th Ranked Prospect, J.T. Miller, was live blogging on penguins.nhl.com during the week. He met with two teams in total while in the Ontario capital.
- Gabriel Landeskog was approached by a modeling agency while shopping Toronto. He was out with fellow draft-eligible Swede, Mika Zibanejad, when approached.
- Scouts were drooling over the raw athleticism of six-foot-seven defenseman, Jamie Oleksiak, who almost knocked over the vertical jump tower.
- The Saint John Sea Dogs were late to the part, spending most of the week celebrating their Memorial Cup win in Saint John.
Brian Huddle is a Future Considerations correspondant and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!