Bogosian vs. Karlsson: Why you shouldn’t overvalue the NHL combine

NHL young guns Jack Eichel, Michael McCarron, Sonny Milano and others talk about the toughest tasks they had to perform at the NHL Combine.

This article was originally written ahead of the 2017 Draft Combine.

Looking back on 2008’s amazingly deep class of defencemen might provide the best evidence of reading too much into the data that comes out of the NHL combine.

The class featured future all-stars in Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson and a Calder winner in Tyler Myers. It also featured a bunch of very reliable pros, including Travis Hamonic, Roman Josi, Jake Gardiner and Alex Pietrangelo (who did not participate in several of the tests because of a bout with mono).

Yet when it came to testing, there was Zach Bogosian and then there was the rest of the field.

Almost across the board Bogosian had physical-testing numbers that you’d expect out of a 28-year-old NHL veteran. He was the best in the field in tests for lower-body strength and explosion (numbers in the infographic below). You could understand why Atlanta thought they had come away with the best blue liner in the draft when they landed the man-child third overall. You would be sure that Bogosian’s lower-body strength would translate into dynamic skating.

On the flip side, Karlsson (15th overall pick) was at or near the back of the pack and might have seemed like the least likely to be an explosive skater based on the test numbers.

At the combine you couldn’t have traded Karlsson for Bogosian. In the years since, it’s the exact opposite.

A comparison of their numbers from the 2008 combine:


Infographic created by Erika Vanderveer.

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