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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Combine whispers: "A wild ride in store..."

Had a productive day at the NHL Draft Combine in Toronto.

Spent the afternoon at the hotel, where players were coming in and out all day, while the NHL scouting staffs made appearances at various times as well.

Had a chance to sit down and do extensive interviews with BU defenseman Adam Clendening and Ottawa winger Shane Prince, two of the best prospects coming out of New York.

B2011DW was also a part of the media scrum that engaged the top prospects made available to us by the NHL today: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, Sean Couturier, Adam Larsson, Dougie Hamilton and Jonathan Huberdeau. More on them later.

Also ran into a few NHL sources who didn't have a great deal of time to chat, but one longtime veteran scout had this to say: "We've figured out a lot of the top players in this draft, but I'm just going to say that after about three, things are going to break wide open and things will get crazy. I think opinions are really divided on where these guys are going to go in terms of order. I would say that a wild ride is in store- it should be fun."

Feedback from a lot of the players themselves were that the line of questioning did not seem to be all that intense nor were there some of the more bizarre questions asked in the past. Most talked about how each team approached the interview process differently, but none claimed that they were grilled particularly hard by the teams themselves. Of course, this could be a product of the players being high character guys enough that grilling was not warranted.

We even had a chance to stop Ryan Strome in between interviews, armed with a bag of Subway, trying to knock out his last two interviews before he turns his attention to the physical testing tomorrow afternoon. He's one of the lucky ones- he lives just a few minutes down the road in the neaby Toronto suburb of Mississauga, so he's not living in the hotel for the week. He's a sharp kid with excellent people skills, to say nothing of his impressive hockey talent. He has future team leader and fan favorite written all over him.

Even lower-round guys who weren't invited to the combine like OJHL and Michigan recruit Brennan Serville, were on hand to conduct scheduled team meetings. The guys from Ontario can make the trek to meet with clubs and we can see that opportunity being used to full advantage.

Much more to come, but we have to wrap up the #19 prospect and get it in the books before we do anything further. We did see Ty Rattie at the hotel today, but he was sharply dressed and on the way to an interview; he did not have time to stop and chat. We'll get him tomorrow after his testing is complete.

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