Prospects brace for NHL Draft Combine

Aaron Vickers2016 Draft Center

Alexander Nylander knows. He’s been schooled well in advance.

So too has Pierre-Luc Dubois.

In fact, one might be hard pressed to find a member of the 2016 NHL Draft class that hasn’t heard a horror story or two about what’s to come this week.

The dreaded NHL Draft Combine.

“I’ve been going through my brother,” said Nylander, the brother to Toronto Maple Leafs prospect and 2014 first round pick William Nylander. “He’s told me a lot about it. There’s a lot of interviews. There’s some testing that is hard and tough. But it was a fun week, he said. You just have to enjoy it and do your best on the tests and in the interviews.”

Interviews are only a portion of the process that will give 114 draft eligibles an opportunity to showcase themselves for all 30 NHL teams beginning Monday at First Niagara Center and HarborCenter in Buffalo, NY.

The combine also features 12 fitness tests, including grip strength, standing long jump, bench press and pull-ups. There’s also a Functional Movement Screen, which requires prospects to perform seven joint tests that could reveal imbalances and symmetry deficiencies in movements of the body.

There are bike tests, too. The VO2 max test measures a player’s endurance, and the Wingate Cycle Ergometer measures a player’s explosiveness.

The latter two tests are infamous to draft prospects.

“Oh yeah….there’s always stories about the VO2 or the Wingate test,” said Dubois, the CHL’s top prospect. “It’s going to be fun. I know a lot of the guys there. I meet up with the guys from the Prospects Game and the Under-18’s. It’s going to be a fun experience.”

The experience will run through June 4, and is the final event prior to the NHL Draft, held June 24-25 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.

Samuel Girard, a defenseman with the Shawinigan Cataractes, isn’t sure what to dread most.

“It’s going to be tough,” said Girard, ranked 24th in Future Considerations’ ranking for the draft. “The beep test and the meetings with teams…it will be a big week. I just have to stay calm and to be me. I can’t change anything. I have to be like I am every day. I think I just have to stay calm and to be not stressed. But the tests will be tough…this is true. The meetings, I just have to say calm and say good things and everything will be good.”

Nylander’s approach is similar.

He’s just going to try to stay calm.

“For me, a little bit of both,” said Nylander, ranked seventh after a 28-goal, 75-point season that helped him capture the Canadian Hockey League’s CCM Rookie of the Year award.

“Not too nerve-wracking for the tests. I’ve been doing a lot of training for it. Some of the questions I might get in the interviews might be a little bit tricky. Both a little bit, I would say.”