While the eyes of the hockey world have been focused on the Stanley Cup final, the Sharks and Penguins weren’t the only players under a spotlight this week.
The annual NHL Scouting Combine has been going on all week in Buffalo, and it will wrap up Saturday with 114 of the world’s top draft-eligible prospects expected to gather for a day of fitness testing and other events designed to help teams make their final evaluations.
More on the 2016 NHL Combine:
While portions of the proceedings are open to the media, much of day’s events take place behind closed doors, and would typically remain a mystery to the average fan. Luckily, DGB spies were able to infiltrate this year’s combine and obtain a copy of the top secret itinerary waiting for each of the attending prospects.
We’re publishing it here for the public; read it now before the NHL’s lawyers find out and make us take it down.
9:00 a.m. – Welcome and opening remarks. Commissioner Gary Bettman welcomes the prospects to the day’s events, briefly runs through the day’s schedule, and asks if anyone has any questions.
9:01 a.m. – A clearly exasperated Bettman explains that no, he still does not have any updates on a timetable for Las Vegas expansion.
9:30 a.m. – Workshop: “So you’ve been drafted by Edmonton.”
In this interactive workshop, prospects will practice hearing their names called by the Oilers until they can ensure that they won’t make any facial expressions that the media in every other city will interpret as unhappiness and talk about until the end of time. Special guest appearance by Connor McDavid.
10:00 a.m. – Combine test: Weight-Lifting.
Prospects will demonstrate their ability to lift 150 lbs of barbells with their arms and chest, with the exception of Auston Matthews, who will instead be offered the opportunity to lift 49 years of one city’s neurosis onto his back.
10:30 a.m. – Combine test: Wingate Ergometer Test.
In this infamous stationary cycling exercise, prospects will demonstrate their anaerobic fitness levels by pedaling at maximum speed and resistance for as long as possible in an exhausting test of personal endurance. Please note that any prospects who score poorly will immediately be subject to criticism and ridicule from the assembled collection of media members who just got winded lunging for the last cookie in the lunchroom.
11:00 a.m. – Combine test: Standing Long Jump and Vertical Leap.
Prospects will take turns measuring their leaping ability through a variety of events, culminating in an attempt to grab an envelope taped to the ceiling which contains an explanation of why exactly anyone should care about how high or far a hockey player can jump.
11:30 a.m. – Combine test: Grip strength.
Each prospect will squeeze a dynamometer with both hands using as much force as they can manage in order to demonstrate the strength of their grip, before assuring teams that they’ll still immediately drop their stick and then look at the referee every time an opponent lightly taps it.
Noon – Lunchtime Family Meet and Greet.
Over a catered lunch, parents of this year’s prospects are invited to meet, mingle, and tell stories of their playing days, while comparing personal awards and career statistics. Note: An alternate activity will be provided for the five prospects in this year’s draft who aren’t the son of a former NHL player.
1:00 p.m. – Combine test: Endurance Running.
Prospects will be gathered at a starting line, then measured based on how far and fast they can run once someone leans over and whispers, “Hey, I hear the Blue Jackets might pick you.”
1:30 p.m. – Combine test: Pull Ups.
Prospects reach over their head and attempt to pull themselves up so that their head and face briefly rise above their hands. This movement has been used at the NHL level to assess forearm strength and core stabilization, as well as by Johnny Gaudreau to occasionally peek up over the bench and see what’s going on out on the ice.
2:00 p.m. – Combine test: BodPod.
Prospects enter a small container that uses air displacement technology to measure their overall body mass and fat content, and I should probably have a joke here but I can’t come up with anything funnier than it actually being called a “BodPod.”
2:30 p.m. – Combine test: Wingspan.
Prospects stand with their arms outstretched to each side, and are measured from the tips of their middle fingers. Please note that this event is not to be confused with the one in which prospects are measured on their ability to drone on endlessly about playoff streaks until everyone else falls asleep; that event is calls “Wingsfan.”
3:00 p.m. – Special Guest Lecture: “Rivalry of a Lifetime.”
Hall of Famers Brendan Shanahan and Patrick Roy take a break from their front office duties to offer up a fun look back on the series of events leading up to that crazy brawl between Colorado and Detroit in 1997.
3:01 p.m.: One of you raises your hand and points out that that isn’t really a rivalry of a lifetime, since none of this year’s first-time draft prospects were actually alive when any of those things happened.
3:02 p.m.: All the grownups in the room simultaneously feel the need to curl up in a ball on the floor for a while and think about how old they are.
3:45 p.m. – Team interviews.
Team executives are given the opportunity to meet with prospects in a one-on-one setting. Questions are expected to include, “Hey, just curious but you don’t own a gas mask, do you?” and, “Can you please translate these emoji-filled texts we keep getting from the new Coyotes GM?” and, “Is anyone else creeped out by how Patrik Laine is doing every interview over Skype while lying in bed?”
4:30 pm – Psychological testing.
Prospects will undergo a rigorous psychological evaluation to ensure that they’re possessed by an overpowering and unyielding desire to win at any and all costs, as administered by the same teams that spent all year losing on purpose to draft them.
5:00 p.m. – Closing remarks.
In the final event of the day, prospects will be thanked for their participation, wished good luck, and reminded that, no matter what happens on draft weekend, it’s a tremendous achievement to be considered one of the 114 best prospects in the world.
5:01 p.m. – The Boston Bruins awkwardly ask when the next 114 best prospects will arrive, so they can figure out who they’ll be taking with their first round picks.