- Rasmus Dahlin, D, SHL
- Andrei Svechnikov, RW, OHL
- Quintin Hughes, D, NCAA
- Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, USHL
- Filip Zadina, RW, QMJHL
- Brady Tkachuk, LW, NCAA
- Noah Dobson, D, QMJHL
- Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, LIIGA
- Adam Boqvist, D, SUPERELIT
- Joel Farabee, LW, USHL
- Barrett Hayton, C, OHL
- Vitali Kravtsov, RW, KHL
- K’Andre Miller, D, USHL
- Kirill Marchenko, RW, MHL
- Evan Bouchard, D, OHL
- Grigori Denisenko, LW, MHL
- Bode Wilde, D, USHL
- Liam Foudy, C, OHL
- Martin Kaut, C, CZECH
- Rasmus Kupari, C, LIIGA
- Nils Lundqvist, D, SHL
- Ty Smith, D, WHL
- Isac Lundestrom, C, SHL
- Joe Veleno, C, QMJHL
- Dominik Bokk, RW, SHL
- Alexander Alexeyev, D, WHL
- Ty Dellandrea, C, OHL
- Rasmus Sandin, D, OHL
- Sampo Ranta, LW, USHL
- Serron Noel, RW, OHL
- Jonatan Berggren, RW, SUPERELIT
- Jacob Bernard-Docker, D, BCHL
- Jesse Ylonen, RW, MESTIS
- Akil Thomas, C, OHL
- Sean Durzi, D, OHL
- Niklas Nordgren, RW, Jr. A SM-liiga
- Ryan Merkley, D, OHL
- Jacob Olofsson, C, ALLSVENSKAN
- Jay O’Brien, C, USHS
- Jack McBain, C, OJHL
- Jared McIsaac, D, QMJHL
- Filip Hallander, C, ALLSVENSKAN
- Cameron Hillis, C, OHL
- Calen Addison, D, WHL
- Ryan McLeod, C, OHL
- Yegor Sharangovich, C, KHL
- Jan Jenik, C, CZE2
- Ruslan Ishakov, C, MHL
- Nicolas Beaudin, D, QMJHL
- Martin Fehervary, D, ALLSVENSKAN
- Jett Woo, D, WHL
- Jake Wise, C, USHL
- Mattias Samuelsson, D, USHL
- Adam Ginning, D, SHL
- Logan Hutsko, C, NCAA
- Blake McLaughlin, LW, USHL
- Kevin Bahl, D, OHL
- Olof Lindbom, G, SUPERELIT
- Jonathon Tychonick, D, BCHL
- Jakub Lauko, LW, CZE
- Aidan Dudas, C, OHL
- Albin Eriksson, LW, SUPERELIT
- Olivier Rodrigue, G, QMJHL
- Ivan Morozov, C, MHL
- Scott Perunovich, D, NCAA
- Patrick Giles, RW, USHL
- David Gustafsson, C, SHL
- B-O Groulx, C, QMJHL
- Allan McShane, C, OHL
- Nikita Rtischev, LW, MHL
- Curtis Hall, C, USHL
- Ty Emberson, D, USHL
- Luke Henman, C, QMJHL
- Jordan Harris, D, USHS
- Liam Kirk, LW, England
Slowly disappearing are the days of ‘meathead’ tests devaluing the NHL Draft Combine. Whether by design or not, seemingly every year the brass is designing new ways of sharpening the testing methods. Maybe they have been working off of a clever long term plan to phase in and out tests in order to keep the ‘older guard’ comfortable in the evolving fitness landscape.
This year, they expanded the lower body dynamic power testing bracket. In addition to the Vertical Jump and Standing Long Jump, the category now also includes two other cuts of jumping: one with a squat and no arm swing pre-ceding the jump and another with hands on hips and lack of arm swing. Furthermore, they also moved the resistance style bench press to become more dynamic by measuring the velocity of the bar from chest pause to full arm extension. Because of this change, I will now include chest press in the dynamic power breakdown and give readers an idea of players with systemic explosiveness.
The Dynamic Power Leaderboard, or obviously their version of it, may well be the ‘river card’ that teams wait to see before going all in on a given prospect (anaerobic power testing can also be combined as they usually go hand in hand). It has been a fantastic pre-draft indicator to tipping off who may crack the first round (sometimes surprisingly). Look at last year alone for those who registered top ten placements in both jumps: #1 Josh Norris, #3 Morgan Frost, #6 Henri Jokiharju, and #7 Cale Makar.
With that in mind, here’s the 2018 Dynamic Power Leaderboard:
|Rk||Player||St Long Jump||Vert Jump||Sq Jump||No Arm Jump||Bench Press||COUNT||SCORE|
*Liam Foudy (London, OHL) is about on par with a Josh Norris or Trent Frederic – anything is possible but I am not expecting him to make it out of the first round despite not being a consensus top 31 prospect.
*Nils Lundqvist (Luleå HF) = a faster rising, yet more seasoned Henri Jokiharju.
*After drooling over K’Andre Miller‘s (USA, USHL) pure athletic ability all year on ice, it’s interesting to see him place in only two of the four LB power cats. What I see there is a physical freak who has an insane kinetic chain and can channel his explosiveness throughout his entire body IE with using UB and swinging arms. My prediction: valued more than P-O Joseph was last year meaning probable top 20.
*Andrei Svechnikov (Barrie, OHL) showed up in the bottom portion of 3 of the 5 tests and I love it. Tells me he showed just enough physical prowess to let teams know he’s ready without intimating that he was overpowering OHL’ers en route to having his fantastic season.
*Barrett Hayton (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) has some hops…even if it was only popping up on radar for one test, it may give some team the cojones to select him high. This might suggest he has some growth potential on a somewhat down skating forecast.
*Lastly, Noah Dobson (Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL) has no business being on any top ten combine list after playing an 87 game schedule with his last championship winning game happening on May 27th. Well done champ, you’re not getting out of the top ten on June 22nd.
As a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA), DraftBuzz followers have seen the arc of my curious interpretation of NHL Draft Combine testing results over the last few years. Anecdotes during this time point to VERY strong, however selective, correlations between both draft risers and post draft climbers.
The combine is always an interestingly highly contentious part of the process – from fans to NHL personnel, you have those who are combine geeks, those who just care about interviews, and those who don’t care about it at all preferring to let the on-ice play speak for itself. However, you can’t argue the fact that the league has invested in it and employed smart professionals to push the envelope. Now more than ever, the NHL has taken the right steps to make the data/info gleaned more valuable, and it’s learnings should be gaining more value in the community.
With this in mind, here is an Overall Leaderboard to kick off providing some insight on the combine, the results, and what it all means (to come). The Overall Leaderboard is broken down by top ten placements. #1 in each category was assigned 10PTS, #2 assigned 9PTS, ETC. All players in ties were awarded the top amount in points. The value ensuing the tie took the amount of the overall position. ‘Count’ is how many categories each player registered a top ten finish.
vs. Canada East (WJAC)
2018 NHL Draft prospect Grigory Denisenko had 1G-2A-3PTS vs. Canada East (WJAC) and earned it through impressive displays shift after shift. On this play, he shows great speed through the neutral zone to spring a teammate in the O zone. Then, he shows tenacity to strip steal and re-enter the zone again. He doesn’t pick the best option, but he sure put in the work to not criticize him too much on this shift.
Here you can see him deke the pants off an opponent, register a scoring chance off the post, follow the play intently for a takeaway keeping play alive for extended possession, then caps off the shift by sneaking in behind the defense and showing how dangerous he is given a step. He scores driving to the net.
Denisenko provides support along the right wall defensively, breaks out, stays available, and then proceeds to enact a sweet backhand drop pass give and go for the assist through a crowd on the goal.
vs. Moose Jaw
Stud 2018 NHL Draft eligible defenseman Ty Smith plays the two on one perfectly and has a very clean break up on the puck that sends it right to trailing teammate JAD.
This is a clip you will want to bookmark – it’s Smith from start to finish. Off the face-off he picks up his streaking check with focus, sticks to him and denies him the puck and clears it. Then, he follows up the play through the neutral and intercepts the puck sidestepping a teammate while delivering a tape pass for the ensuing scoring chance.
Smith takes a pass in stride despite being a little off target, enters the offensive zone, and dishes a backhand pass. Backing up into the defensive zone, you can see his skating command as his mobility in reverse is super fluid and smooth. He picks up the puck and uses his great lateral explosiveness with the puck to evade the tight check and hit his winger with a zone exiting pass.
Smith spin cuts and the forechecker blows a tire, and you see him wheel through the neutral zone. He dumps the puck in as he gets converged on, which is fine considering circumstance though not ideal with his skillset. You also see him rush the follow-up right board sequence, where he could pull out with the puck and avoid the stoppage in play.
This is a complex storyboard for the fact that you see highlights, errors, and negative yet insignificant result. On one hand you don’t like to see that solo offensive zone giveaway turned into a rush against, but it did go offside. On the other, you see lights out puck rushing ability where he splits not ONE pair, but TWO pairs of attackers (then loses the puck to the D). This is one of those high hockey sense kids that you let go, and let him try these unbelievable plays because it doesn’t really impact his overall decision making if the result isn’t perfect now.
Intentionally or not, it’s impressive how close to the blueline he nonchalantly walks it giving him extra space to operate. His pass is butter, but his shot mechanic’s a little slow/delayed and light. Once the play is sent the other way, he shows some more reliability as a supreme breakout defender.
vs. Moose Jaw (WHL)
2018 NHL Draft prospect Filip Kral slips two checks as the defender who initiated a clean, well executed breakout. On the missed pass reception, you see his feet limit him ever so slightly despite the safe dump in.
Smooth handle, smooth delivery cross ice. Might not be the best pure skater out there, but he looks very confident on the move with the puck (and time).
Kral eventually finds himself in a tenuous spot in the L corner boards after fellow 2018 draft eligible Luka Burzan tracks him down. The play is progressed out of the zone only because of his D partner, who he’s lucky circles behind their net and provides support in the right spot. This clip shows slight shortcoming in terms of anticipation as well as, again, skating ability.
Right off of the faceoff, Kral takes off with the puck and shows a tight grip on it as he goes exit to entry. Here he is able to create a scoring chance on his own and show desire offensively.
Kral shows the same exiting burst only this time on the PK where he kills off time. He has a knack for pouncing on loose puck opportunities and translating them into plus plays because of his hands.
vs. Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
Rangy 2018 NHL Draft defensive prospect Jared McIsaac shows he has no shortage of confidence in his ability to make opponents miss. Scooping up the puck behind his net, he uses a very slick delay on the attacking forward making him think he was caught. Bursting right past him took guts, and skill, but it was very risky. Volatile seems to be the name of the game with McIsaac.
Here McIsaac shows classic defensive zone puck movement that is crisp until he puts it diagonally on the tape of teammate Barrett Dachyshyn. Dachyshyn bungles forward progress by bringing the puck back into his own zone and flinging an errant pass. Thankfully, McIsaac comes to his aid along the R boards, collects the puck, and jams it out. This is a plus sequence for McIsaac who shows fluid in stride mobility/hands with the puck as well as composure to clean up his teammates mistake.
Keep your eye on the eventual one-on-one matchup where McIsaac gets taken wide and beaten by a step to the middle of the ice. Atoning for his open ice misplay, he doesn’t give up using his stickwork to prevent the shot from getting off. With the play driving to the corner boards, he makes no mistake on finishing his check off aggressively.
Entrusted as the lone D on the PP formation, McIsaac shows some unsteadiness in pass delivery sending one puck into Max Fortier’s skates, and the other lands as a slap pass that doesn’t have enough steam for the amount of finesse it lacked.
All is well until the shot is taken, where McIsaac proceeds to get pushed lightly and loses his man in front of the net who ends up scoring.
vs. Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
2018 NHL Draft top prospect Benoit-Olivier Groulx takes a lead pass from his D man and goes exit-to-entry with significant steam in an impressive pro display. We see him release a shot in the slot, but what’s going to excite scouts is how he stops at the net and gets his own rebound and jams it home. That, friends, is an NHL caliber goal. With size, more speed, and more skill, he might just be what we all wanted Max Comtois to be last year.
vs. Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
Despite teammate and fellow 2018 NHL Draft prospect Jared McIsaac getting turned inside out badly, Alexis Gravel is fascinatingly still as he waits for the Titan’s Truchon-Viel to take the direct path/shot he’s waiting for. Gravel’s presence screams top prospect as he stays square, uses minimal effort on the L pad kick, and pushes off smoothly and quickly into standup facing his redirect.
Again, it’s not chaotic flair that catches you, it’s the fact that Gravel has such calm mannerism when surveying the developing play. He navigates the play around his zone, and is more than ready when that point shot is taken. Gravel makes a really difficult R leg kick save on a close range shot look easy.
This is a real simple frame demonstrating Gravel’s poise with Acadie-Bathurst bringing the puck and bodies at the net full force. He keeps his position with opponents barreling at him, and makes a easy L pad save.