Could on-ice testing be next for NHL combine?

Could on-ice testing be next for NHL combine?

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 10.41.10 AM

SportsNet Associated Press
JUNE 6, 2015, 8:42 PM

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The NHL scouting combine’s move out of a convention centre and into an actual hockey facility has prompted a discussion of what the next step might be in its evolution beyond bench-presses and stationary bikes.

What about on-ice testing?

“I’ve always wanted to have that element,” Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said as the weeklong combine came to a close in Buffalo on Saturday. “This is all great. These guys can be as impressive or not impressive as whatever. But they can’t play if they can’t skate.”

Kekalainen spoke while sitting in the stands of the Sabres’ new HarborCenter hockey/entertainment complex. That’s where the league’s top 120 draft-eligible prospects were put through a series of physical tests on the concrete floor of one of the facility’s two rinks.

The prospects were measured on height and wing-span, did long jumps and verticals, pull-ups, bench presses and tested on their agility and balance. The 45-minute session ended with an endurance test on a stationary bike.

Hockey players, however, are also measured on skates.

“Our head scout Ville Siren here, he played with Mario Lemieux, who couldn’t bench-press 155 pounds once,” Kekalainen said, before breaking into a smile. “And he turned out OK.”

The on-ice discussion is gaining steam with the combine’s shift to Buffalo after spending its first 20-plus years being held inside carpeted convention centre and hotel ballrooms in suburban Toronto.

The previous sites made it unfeasible for a skating component. General managers and scouts also balked at skating tests by saying they provided an unfair advantage between prospects whose seasons ended later than others.

Arizona Coyotes assistant general manager Darcy Regier disputed that argument, by noting prospects already have to be in shape to do the current physical tests no matter when their seasons end.

“So as long as you have that understanding and build that in, there’s value,” Regier said, referring to on-ice testing. “I would certainly be in favour of it.”

Regier conducted on-ice tests in his previous job as Sabres general manager. After attending the combine in Toronto, the Sabres would invite a select group of prospects back to Buffalo to work them out on the ice.

That practice was banned after the NHL ruled it provided the Sabres an unfair advantage because it was not feasible for every team to host such an event.

Newly hired New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero is on the fence, saying he wants to be presented with a proposal of how the on-ice tests would be conducted, and what they would include.

“I’m open to it, but right now, I’m not saying, ‘Yeah, we’ve got to have that next year,’” Shero said. “I want to know why and what we’re going to accomplish from it.”

Any changes to the combine would have to be approved by the league’s 30 general managers. The Sabres, who also host the combine next year, are campaigning for on-ice testing, and hope to present it to the GMs at their next meeting later this month.

NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr said physical test results only provide a small glimpse, and play a secondary role to teams getting an opportunity to conduct one-on-one interviews with the prospects.

“I don’t know if these scores are going to make a big impact,” Marr said. “I can’t really tell you of a case where the testing has caused a team to not want to draft a player at the top of the draft.”

During Saturday’s’ session, most eyes were focused on centres Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, who are projected to be selected first and second in the draft on June 26.

McDavid, the Canadian Junior Hockey player of the year, provided a small scare when he slipped and slid to the floor during a running-agility test.

The Erie Otters player finished third in the anaerobic fitness test, and in the top 10 in each of the hand-grip strength tests.

Eichel, who plays a more physical style, dominated several tests. The Boston University freshman was first with a 26.18-inch vertical and tied for first with a 115-inch long jump.

Eichel would have preferred a chance to skate.

“I mean, we play the game on ice, it makes sense,” Eichel said, noting that the NFL combine includes on-field skill testing. “It wouldn’t surprise me if that was in the future.”

       

About The Author

Tags

 

Recent Posts

 
TORONTO, March 7, 2017 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Sport Testing, Inc., the worldwide leader in athletic testing, announced today an exclusive partnership with STACK (www.STACK.com), the nation’s leading multi-platform sports performance content and media company for athletes. The two companies will work together to help youth football players improve themselves with a robust content experience on STACK.com,
New London, NH (December 1, 2016) – Generation Next Athlete (GNA) today announced a partnership with Sport Testing Inc., the worldwide leader in sport testing technology, that will provide GNA’s athletic organizations across the Northeast with access to the state of the art benchmarking and progression testing solution. Based in Toronto, Sport Testing is an
Zurich, Switzerland – October 27, 2016 – Sport-Tests (Switzerland) and Ochsner Hockey Academy (OHA) signed a joint venture agreement to test hockey player On- and Off-Ice in Switzerland. The purpose of the Joint Venture is to utilize OHA’s marketing channels and clientele to test this players in different regions in Switzerland and OHA uses the
Toronto, ON – October 18, 2016 – Sport Testing Inc., the worldwide leader in athletic testing, announced today an exclusive partnership with the world’s largest football and cheer organization, American Youth Football (AYF) and American Youth Cheer (AYC). AYF and AYC have named Sport Testing Inc. the Official Testing and Player Monitoring Company for a
Toronto, ON – June 13, 2016 – Sport Testing Inc., the worldwide leader in athletic testing, announced today that NFL star Marques Colston has been named Special Advisor to CEO Jamie Hollins. In this role, Colston will assist Hollins and Sport Testing in the development of a Global Strategy that positions the company to maintain
Avon, CT – May 25, 2016 – SportzMetrix and Sport Testing have today announced a partnership that will provide SportzMetrix athletes access to state-of-the-art skill testing systems. Toronto-based Sport Testing is the worldwide leader in athletic testing, offering advanced technology that will now be available to the athletes pursuing skills development with SportzMetrix. “By partnering

Recent Comments