Watching every test, the best prospects will pass
After years of working to improve their skating, hands and other on-ice skills, hockey’s top prospects in the Class of 2022 will take to the ice and show off their athleticism in gym t-shirts and shorts this week at 2022 NHL Draft Combines in Buffalo, NY.
Under the supervision of scouts, general managers and other team personnel, the top players eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft will undergo a series of medical, physical and psychological tests. Perspectives – 86 are expected — arrived in Buffalo on Sunday to begin meeting with the teams. On Thursday, they will undergo medical examinations and basic physical examinations. Friday features what many players consider to be the toughest tests, including the Wingate test on the exercise bike, while the remaining assessments will be completed on Saturday. The repechage will take place on July 7 and 8 in Montreal.
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Here’s a look at everything prospects will be tested and asked to do this week at the combine:
One of the most stressful and mentally taxing elements of the combine, the interview process involves players moving from team to team, meeting members of the front offices in a speed dating format. They talk to an assortment of amateur scouts, assistant general managers, and the occasional general manager, among other front desk staff. Usually the conversation is about on-ice performance and character, but discussions can veer into seemingly random directions as teams try to get an idea of a prospect’s mental makeup and how they would react in a given scenario.
Players’ wingspan and height are measured to the nearest quarter inch with a portable height measuring device used to determine each player’s height without shoes. The wingspan is measured from the tip of the middle finger to the tip of the middle finger.
The athlete should stand on one leg and extend the other in three directions as shown. Each test is performed three times and the maximum range is recorded. The exercise tests core strength, flexibility and control. It is also used to identify athletes most at risk for lower extremity injuries.
These basic movement tests are designed to uncover underlying weaknesses and right-left imbalances as well as reveal quality of movement. Using a scale of 0 to 3, evaluators rate mobility and stability in seven tests – deep squat, no hurdle, line lunge, shoulder mobility, active straight leg raise, push-up trunk stability and rotational stability.
Players bench 50% of their own body weight, and the power of their lifts is measured. They must perform three repetitions at maximum speed.
Players do as many pull-ups as possible while maintaining proper form. This test was added in 2014 and measures forearm strength, upper arm strength, and endurance. Several players were drafted highly despite the failure of a single pull-up. Montreal Canadiens forward Cole Caufield was one of four players to complete 16 pull-ups last combine in 2019.
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In one of the most dreaded combine harvester trials, players ride a spin bike and warm up with low resistance for two minutes. Then the athlete pedals at a progressively faster speed so that by the time the designated workload has been reached they are pedaling at their maximum capacity. Athlete pedals at maximum capacity against designated workload for 30 seconds. The athlete must remain firmly seated on the bike for the duration of the event. Revolutions are recorded for each five-second period, then power output is calculated for the maximum five-second period and 30-second duration. This exercise is a way to measure an athlete’s power and fatigue index.
Like the Wingate test, players ride spin bikes. As they roll, the resistance increases. Players keep rolling until they cannot maintain the required revolutions per minute. They are allowed to stand while pedaling. Before starting, athletes are hooked up to a heart rate monitor and put on a mask that monitors how much oxygen they are using or their VO2 output. The VO2 test is used to determine an athlete’s ability to perform sustained exercise and to calculate aerobic endurance and cardiovascular fitness.
This is measured with a grip dynamometer, which is adjusted to fit the player’s hand size. The player then extends his arm and squeezes it as hard as possible. Appraisers take a reading for each hand.
Starting from a standstill, players jump as far as they can. They can use their arms for momentum. The distance is measured from the starting point to the nearest heel mark. A player has three tries and the best try is recorded. In 2015, Brendan Guhle, who was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres, jumped 122 inches.
Players perform three types of straight up and down jumps. They do one jump with an arm swing, one jump without arm swing, and one from a squat position. They each have three tries.
An AccuPower Dual Force Plate system measures the direction, force and timing of the forces produced by the player. High-speed camera technology also helps scouts assess movement efficiency, physical performance and injury potential.
This timed test measures multi-directional speed, agility, whole-body reaction and control. The athlete runs 5 meters to the right, 10 meters to the left and then 5 meters to the right. The times are recorded with a laser stopwatch.
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