2015 NHL Scouting Combine FAQ: What to know

Nathan MacKinnon seen here getting his wingspan measured back at the 2013 NHL Scouting Combine. (Nathan Denette/CP)

It’s a great time to be a hockey fan.

Not only are we in the midst of the Stanley Cup final, but the 2015 NHL Scouting Combine is upon us.

The top draft-eligible prospects in hockey will complete physical and medical assessments with all 30 NHL clubs watching as the NHL Draft quickly approaches.

With that in mind, here are some frequently asked questions about the combine:

When is it taking place?

The 2015 NHL Scouting Combine takes place from June 1-6, several weeks prior to the 2015 NHL Draft that goes down June 26-27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

Medical screenings for the players took place June 4 with the majority of the fitness testing scheduled to take place June 6. No player can take part in the fitness testing until receiving medical clearance following the screening.


This year’s combine is taking place in Buffalo, the host city of next year’s NHL Draft. The two venues playing host are the First Niagara Center, home arena of the Buffalo Sabres, with fitness testing taking place at the nearby HarborCenter.

What’s the point of the combine?

This gathering of draft-eligible hockey talent affords NHL general managers and their scouting staffs the opportunity to meet the prospects, speak with them in one-on-one situations and examine what they are capable of off the ice both physically and mentally.

Who will be there and where can I find the results?

This year’s combine will host 120 players — 99 prospects from North America and 21 from Europe. Here is the full list of invitees.

Sportsnet will be on site providing coverage. Sportsnet.ca will have a live article Saturday with results and photos, plus writers Damien Cox, Gare Joyce and Ryan Dixon will be in Buffalo taking in the sites and sounds and producing original content.

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What’s new this year?

For one, the fitness testing is taking place at the HarborCenter, which will allow for a more user friendly experience.

“The fitness testing will be moved into an arena offering an increased viewing area, better sight lines and live result monitors, allowing for the testing to be captured on video,” director of NHL Central Scouting, Dan Marr, recently told NHL.com.

Most of the fitness tests are the same as in previous years, but Central Scouting is incorporating some new technology to get more accurate results.

One of these new wrinkles will be a Kistler Force Plate System that will be used to measure players’ vertical jump and jump forces.

Also, something called a BodPod will be used to obtain a precise measurement of a prospect’s body mass, fat free mass, fat mass and body fat percentage.

This is how a BodPod works…

We swear these kids are hockey players and not aspiring astronauts – even though some of Connor McDavid’s moves are, wait for it, out of this world. (Boom! Space pun!)

Who are the biggest and smallest players there?

The heaviest player is American winger Jordan Greenway of the U.S. National Team Development Program who’s listed at 222 pounds. The tallest player is 6-foot-7 defenceman Chris Martenet of the London Knights, while the shortest player listed is 5′ 9.25″Jeremy Bracco of the USNTDP. Both Adam Marsh of the Saint John Sea Dogs and Memorial Cup hero Anthony Cirelli of the Oshawa Generals are the lightest players at the combine both listed at 160 pounds.

What will the players be put through?

In total there will be 12 fitness tests performed at the combine, three private and nine public.

The following three tests will be completed by June 5 but are closed to the media:

BodPod – A BodPod (mentioned above) will be used to obtain a precise measurement of body composition. This test is an air displacement technology that utilizes whole-body densitometry to determine body composition (fat vs. lean) and has a short test time (approximately two, 50 second increments of air measurement) and about 5 minutes for total test time.

Grip Strength – The athlete adjusts a hand grip dynamometer to his hand size, fully extends his arm and squeezes the dynamometer as forcefully as possible. The test is conducted on both hands.

VO2max (CardioCoach) – Aerobic fitness is assessed by measuring the amount of oxygen utilized (VO2 max) during maximal exercise employing volume determination and analysis of expired air. In addition, heart rate is monitored continuously, providing data for heart rate based training. This test will be performed on the Matrix IC7 indoor cycle using the KORR CardioCoach VO2 cart.

The end point is determined by either:
a) the athlete physically stops pedaling;
b) the athlete experiences difficulty breathing or chest pain or
c) the appraiser stops the subject because the athlete can no longer maintain the required rpm despite intense effort.

v02 max chart

The following nine tests will be completed on June 6 and are open to the media:

Standing Height – Athlete stands against a wall (barefoot, heels together with the backs of the feet touching the wall) and their height is measured.

Wingspan – Athlete extends his arms straight out to the sides. Wingspan is measured to the nearest 0.2 cm from the middle finger tip to middle finger tip.

Standing Long Jump – Athlete stands with feet slightly apart with toes behind the jumping line. Using an arm swing to assist, the athlete jumps as far as possible.

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones knows a thing or two about this drill.

Jump Station (Kistler Force Plate System) – A Kistler Force Plate System will be used to objectively measure the direction, strength and timing of the forces the athlete produces during hockey related movement. The test will provide immediate feedback allowing teams to assess movement efficiency, physical performance and injury potential… The test will include six separate maximum effort vertical jumps separated by 10 seconds of rest. The three best jumps are taken and averaged to get the final scoring and rankings.

Pro Agility Test – The 5-10-5 yard shuttle (or 15-30-15 feet) evaluates multi-directional speed, agility and whole body reaction plus control.

Bench Press – Athlete lies on his back on the bench and grips the barbell with thumbs approximately shoulder width apart. The buttocks must remain on the bench with the feet on the floor. The starting position of the bar is touching the chest at approximately the axillary line and the bar is pushed to full extension of the arms while keeping a specific pace of 25 reps per minute.

bench press chart2

Pull Ups – Athlete does as many consecutive pull ups they can while maintaining the correct technique.

Y-Balance Test Station – The Y-Balance is a dynamic test performed in single-leg stance that requires strength, flexibility, core control and proprioception. It has been used to assess physical performance, demonstrate functional symmetry and identify athletes at greater risk for lower extremity injury. The goal of this test is to maintain single-leg stance on one leg while reaching as far as possible with the contralateral leg. Each test is repeated three times with the maximum reach in each direction recorded.

Wingate Cycle Ergometer Test – Athlete warms up by pedalling at a low resistance for two minutes. To start the test, the athlete pedals at a progressively quicker cadence so that by the time the designated workload has been reached, he is pedaling at his maximal capacity. The athlete pedals at his maximal capacity against the designated workload for 30 seconds. Revolutions are recorded for each five second period, then power output is calculated for both the peak five second period and the 30 second duration.

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