The NHL released Thursday a list of 2014 draft prospects invited to this year’s NHL Combine, to be held later this month in Toronto. The list includes 101 North American players, 11 goaltenders and five players who are participating in this year’s Memorial Cup on their respective teams.
The United States U-18 program is well-represented, as 10 players from that program will be attending the NHL Combine. Seven of those players participated in last year’s CCM All-American Prospects Game in Pittsburgh.
The Canadian Hockey League is also well-represented. In fact, 60 percent of the players invited to the 2014 NHL Combine are coming out of one of the three CHL leagues.
Leading the way in the CHL is the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs, who have five players on the NHL Combine list, including 8th-ranked left wing Brendan Perlini.
There are also 23 WHL players attending the Combine, as well as 14 QMJHLers. Players from the WHL include Prince Albert center Leon Draisaitl, Red Deer defenseman Haydn Fleury and Calgary right wing Jake Virtanen.
Hockey fans watching this year’s Memorial Cup tournament will want to keep an extra eye on five players who are expected to attend the NHL Combine at the end of this month, immediately after the Memorial Cup ends.
For the Edmonton Oil Kings, that’s left winger Brett Pollock and defenseman Aaron Irving. OHL champion Guelph Storm will have center Robby Fabbri representing them at the combine, while host team London has left wing Christian Dvorak.
Finally, Nicolas Aube-Kubel of the Val-d’Or Foreurs will also attend the combine.
Some of the highlighted players who are expected to attend the NHL Combine include:
- Sam Bennett (Kingston, OHL) – Bennett is the top-ranked North American skater entering this year’s NHL draft. Joining him are the other top-three ranked NA skaters, Aaron Ekblad (Barrie, OHL) and Sam Reinhart (Kootenay, WHL).
- Thatcher Demko (Boston College) – Demko is the top-ranked North American goaltender. Demko has previous experience with the USNTDP, and prior to that, played in the USHL.
- Ville Husso (HIFK) and Kasperi Kapanen (Kalpa), the top-ranked international goaltender and skater, respectively.
Seven high-school hockey players also received invitations to the NHL Combine, including 42nd-ranked defenseman Luc Snuggerud of Eden Prairie (MN) and 58th-ranked center Ryan Donato (Dexter School, MA).
All of the top 15 internationally-ranked forwards will be in attendance at the NHL Combine. That includes just one player hailing from Russia: Vladislav Kamenev, who currently played for Magnitogorsk 2. It also includes several Swedish players, two Finnish skaters and two players currently in the Czech Republic.
In addition, 49 of the top-50 ranked North American forwards are expected to attend the combine. The lone exception is Brandon Wheat Kings right wing Richard Nejezchleb, who was not on the list the NHL released Thursday.
Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting, detailed a few changes to this year’s NHL Combine in an article posted on the league’s website.
Players were invited after a two-step process that involved, for the first time, input from NHL clubs. The top 75 players on Central Scouting’s Players to Watch List were automatically invited. NHL teams voted on the remaining 45 players.
The combine consists of three elements – team interviews, medical examinations and physical testing. Click here for the full list of all 119 players invited to this year’s NHL Combine, which takes place May 26 through 31 in Toronto.