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2017 NHL Draft: NHL Combine

Nico Hishier came away the winner at the Combine.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

"I've never done it before so it was a different experience." This was a quote from an NHL player in respect to one the Wingate cycle ergometer bike test at the NHL Combine. The player? He was Nolan Patrick, a consensus top 2 pick for the 2017 NHL Draft which will begin in 18 days on June 23rd at Chicago, Illinois.  The NHL Combine is fun, in that, unlike the NFL combine where players spend months expertly tackling each obstacle they will face, the NHL players find themselves doing some of the obstacles for the first time. They often do no look like chisled greek statues but find themselves barely filling out the NHL labeled compression shirts. Part of this is due to the nature that hockey by and large is less on how fast you can run a 40 or how many reps you can bench and more on how well can you read the ice and navigate the opposition. Obviously basics are part of this and include speed, strength and endurance but it is more difficult to isolate and specify a specific exercise or characteristic which embodies the perfect NHL player. The combine does not tell us everything, but it does tell us some things, below is what I took away.

The top 2:
Nolan Patrick (6'2", 199lbs)
Standing long jump -€” 99'75"
Bench press repetitions (70% body weight) -€” 12
Pro agility test -€” Left: 4.76 seconds; Right: 4.75 seconds
Vertical jump -€” 19.49"
Pullups -€” 11
Takeaway -€” Nolan is fresh off a hernia that was "mostly" fixed surgically last July with one that was fixed therapeutically, it was a solid outing by Nolan who likely didn't want to over exert himself just yet. His bench repetitions were impressive as his strength will be an asset for whoever drafts him

Nico Hishier (6'1", 176lbs)
Standing long jump -€” 105'75"
Bench press repetitions (70% body weight) -€” 7
Pro agility test -€” Left: 4.75 seconds; Right 4.53 seconds
Vertical jump -€” 19.37"
Pullups -€” 13
Takeaway -€” Nico looked to be the winner of the combine having beat out Nolan in all categories except bench repetitions. Nico has a grit and competitive spirit which will come in handy for battling out pucks in the corners, this clearly came through in his results at the Combine.

Other notes:

  • Joshua Norris came through with one of the best results from the Combine. He ranked 2nd in the Wingate, first in agility, first in both the vertical and long jumps. He is ranked a mid 30's draftee, he will likely need at least one more year to develop and is slated to play at University of Michigan next year but he could be a nice add for a team in the late 1st or early 2nd round.

  • Pullups leader -€” Nico Hischier (see above)

  • Bench Press winner -€” Dayton Rasmussen (G, Chicago) with 17 reps. Currently the 6th ranked North American goalie, Dayton had a 2.31 across 10games played for Denver last year, he's solid but the win here likely doesn't mean much.

  • Wingate (Bike Test) winner -€” Shane Bowers (C, Waterloo). In a contentious decidion in 2015, he choose to play with the Waterloo Blackhawks in lieu of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles at QMJHL. He is deemed to still be a work in progress with a decent ceiling. Last year he had 51 points across 60 games with the Waterloo Blackhawks. He looks to be a mid 1st round pick who is a jack of all trades with solid hands and a good sense of balance. Clearly his ability to endure is a good trait as well.

  • The oft discussed topic was Casey Mittelstadt who did one bench press and 0 pull ups. This is "one" flag for concern but not "the" flag for concern on the team that drafts him. It has been pointed out that Sam Bennett did not do any pullups and seems to be doing well in the NHL (although one could argue he could stand to be a little more physical in his play).

My favorite:
Morgan Geekie (3rd in standing long jump, 4th in vertical force plate jump, 6th in agility and balance left, 5th in agility and balance right) appears to have as solid leg strength as about anyone in the draft. He was undrafted last year as he finished with 90 points across 72 points for the Tri-City Americans in the WHL. He is able to plant himself well in front of the net and his on ice vision improved over the last year. He is a two way player and his gritty play pays great dividends this way.