What impact does the NHL combine have on draft day?
It’s an event that has grown largely in scope over the years, but how important is the draft combine to the most important decision-makers, the NHL teams themselves? While the pomp and circumstance would lead you to believe the fitness portion has a lot of bearing on matters, the reality is a little more subtle.
According to one NHL exec I talked to, the most important things he learns at the combine’s physical testing are effort and frame. As long as a young player appears to be giving it his all, the numbers aren’t a deal-breaker. Certain aspects of the test play into this as well. On Day 1 of the fitness testing, the big guns were brought out early with top-5 players Adam Larsson, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sean Couturier all coming through in the first couple sessions. Much was made of the fact none of them completed very many reps on the 150-pound bench press (two-to-six was the unscientific range among them). But the bench press must be done in a very specific manner, so improper technique - not a lack of strength - can disqualify them from posting bigger numbers.