Toronto Maple Leafs director of player personnel and co-interim general manager Mark Hunter was at the 2015 NHL Combine in Buffalo Saturday to meet the top prospects ahead of the June 26 NHL Entry Draft.
Hunter took a few minutes out his schedule to speak with Sportsnet 590 The FAN’s Matt Brown about what teams learn from the combine and the Maple Leafs’ plans for the draft.
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As Hunter tells it, the combine is a great opportunity to help complete the picture on many prospects, but much of the legwork is done well in advance of the event that showcases fitness testing.
“You meet the kids and talk to them but you’re not going to change a lot from what you see in the interviews and fitness testing,” said Hunter. “You’re going to see what they have to improve on if you do draft them. It’s a good standard to see where they have to go to be a National Hockey League player.”
LISTEN: Mark Hunter talks NHL Combine
Hunter said that it ultimately comes down to what the kids can do on the ice, citing his experience meeting a shy Rick Nash as a 16-year-old.
“The on-ice is the key,” said Hunter. “I remember interviewing Rick Nash when I was in London and he was a very shy young man. At the end of the day you see a young man out there that’s well-groomed and he can talk and he’s very confident. Everybody matures at a different time…you don’t want to take too much away from it [the interview].”
As for anyone hoping Hunter tipped his hand as to who the Maple Leafs will target on June 26th with the fourth overall pick…he simply said you always have to take the best player available.
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