Friday, June 3, 2011

On the NHL Scouting Combine

While perhaps the most important part of the NHL draft combine for the top 102 draft-eligible prospects has already passed, that being the team interviews, today they take on the most grueling portion of the 5 day event: Fitness Testing. Just like in high school gym class, the fitness testing portion of the combine pushes the prospects to exert themselves to their max in a variety of physical tests and likely leaves them wondering how the results will affect their final grades, if they even do at all.

First the players are tested on their body composition, which includes standing height, wingspan, weight, and body fat measurement. Next the prospects undergo strength and endurance testing where they are tested for their grip strength, upper body push/pull strength, bench press, curl ups, push ups, medicine ball toss, standing long jump, and vertical jump. The players are then tested for balance and agility, and finally aerobic and anaerobic fitness in the V02 max test and the dreaded Wingate test.

How much the results of all these tests actually play into where these prospects will be selected in the draft has always been an interesting question. Last year Tyler Seguin performed incredibly well at the draft combine and Taylor Hall didn't even participate in a number of the tests, but come draft day it didn't seem to make a difference as Hall still went first overall. Furthermore, how relevant some of the tests are to the actual on ice product is also questionable. If Gabriel Landeskog has a better grip strength than Sean Couturier, does that mean he'll be the better NHL player? If Dougie Hamilton can jump higher than Adam Larsson, will he be the better defenseman? In either case, not likely. However there is a lot of good information that NHL scouts can draw from the fitness testing portion of the combine beyond the actual numbers. The dedication and commitment of the individual prospects is something that becomes quite obvious to teams over the course of the day. In addition, the scouts and GMs get an opportunity to view the prospects as people off the ice and not just as hockey players. All of this information is valuable and important in ultimately determining which prospects are going to be worth the investment of an NHL franchise on draft day. And at the very least, all of us in OIL country will finally get to find out exactly how much Ryan Nugent-Hopkins actually weighs.

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1 comment:

  1. I think the 1 on 1 interviews are the most valuable thing the scouting teams take away from the combine. The physical tests are interesting, and I think scouts can learn more about a player's work ethic in getting ready for these tests than they can about the player's natural on-ice ability.