It was a busy Saturday in Buffalo for the annual NHL Scouting Combine. Over 100 draft-eligible prospects took the floor in one last bid to impress teams before they take the stage in Dallas. Eyes On The Prize was on hand to observe the proceedings and was able to collect a handful of video interviews, in addition to a dozen audio recordings, with top prospects.
We’ve compiled all the video into one YouTube playlist for easy access (click the icon in the top-left corner of the video), and also added some of the more interesting quotes from the prospects as well.
Nils Lundkvist - Defence, Luleå, SHL
Question: With so many top defencemen in this draft coming from Sweden, can you point to a reason for that?
Lundkvist: ”I think it’s that we’re a lot of skilled defenders, and we do a lot of good in Sweden. We also have a lot of good coaches, so that helps.”
What does playing in the SHL do for a young prospect like yourself?
“It was a lot of fun, and a dream come true to play for a team that you’ve supported since you were young. It’s really fun.”
What can you improve on going forward as a young player in a professional league?
“I can always work on everything, I need to be stronger on the ice and improve my shot to create more chances in the offensive zone for my team.”
Isac Lundestrom - LW/C, Luleå, SHL
How was your week here for testing?
“Pretty good week. It’s a lot of experience to be here. It’s very exciting and there’s a lot of different things than back home in Sweden. A lot of media and all the stuff around; it’s a very nice week. I had 25 or 27 interviews and they were good. They said a lot of the same things.”
Adam Ginning - Defence, Linköping, SHL
A lot of people look at you as the modern defensive defencemen. Does your team ask you to go out and play that way?
“I try to be [a shutdown guy]. I try to play tough and hard, and use my body as much as I can.”
What is the hardest adjustment when transitioning to the professional level?
“The players are a little bit better, a little bit stronger, and the main part is having to stay smarter out there I think.”
How many teams did you meet with this week?
“I met with 22 teams and they asked a lot of the same questions, but they went good.
Dominik Bokk - RW, Växjö Lakers, SHL
How would you describe yourself as a player overall?
“I see myself as a skilled forward. I like to shoot, I like to pass, I like to dangle.”
Is there a player in the NHL you try to model your game after?
“Artemi Panarin. I try to play like him a lot. He likes to shoot and make a lot of great plays.”
Do you think playing in a men’s league this year gave you an idea of what you can work on going forward?
“Yeah for sure. I need a couple of things that I have to work on. I want to be stronger, and stronger on the puck so I can hold it longer and not lose it in the corners. My shot too; I want to improve the accuracy so I can execute more.”
Serron Noel - RW, Oshawa Generals, OHL
How has your week been, and how was the overall experience?
“I came in the first day and immediately had 10 interviews, and then everything else I had a lot of fun. By the end I had interviewed with 28 teams in total.”
“I think my interview with Montreal went really well. There was a great vibe to it. They had an Irish guy there during it and he was pretty funny as well.
You’re a big kid as a prospect. What are the strengths in your game?
“I think it’s that I know how to use my size to my advantage. I’ve got a long stick and good speed to get up and down the ice quickly and cause some havoc for other teams.”
Did teams ask a lot about your skating and how you can handle it at the next level?
“Yeah for sure, teams want to make sure it’s going to get better because you can’t be falling down on the ice at the NHL level, and you have to be strong and fast while making sharp turns.”
On weird questions about a bus and Fortnite
“The Capitals had some question about which way a bus was going, and apparently all of us are getting it wrong, but they said if they draft me they’ll tell me the answer.”
“Compared to my teammates I’m a below average Fortnite player, I just take wins away from my team”-Serron Noel answering the real questions today pic.twitter.com/1GxD37TCCT— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) June 2, 2018
Jan Jenik - Centre, HC Bílí Tygři Liberec, Czech Extraliga
Benoit-Olivier Groulx - Centre, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL
Ty Smith - Defence, Spokane Chiefs, WHL
You’ve mentioned your size could be an advantage, are there any situations you can remember it being advantageous for you?
“Um, yeah, I think when I play being lower down to the ice underneath those big guys around the net makes it easier to escape when you’re smaller. Some of the guys I’ve played with mentioned it’s harder to try and hit smaller guys who are quick like me.”
Oliver Wahlstrom - C/RW, USNTDP
How was the experience this week?
“It was great. I’ve dreamed of this sort of day for many years, going to meet with GMs and guys like Peter Chiarelli and Kris Draper; guys you grew up watching on TV when you were younger. It was a blast.”
How would you describe your game overall and who do you model it after?
“I think I’m a big strong power forward type player, and my shot is my biggest asset. Humbly I feel like I have the best shot in this draft and I work on it every day. I model a lot of game after Patrik Laine. We both have a great shot with a similar release point, and he idolized Alex Ovechkin who I grew up watching all the time, so they’re two of my favorite players.”
There’s a lot of talk of Tkachuk, Svechnikov and Zadina, do you feel you should be in that same discussion?
“Yeah, I feel like I’m right up there with those guys, if you look at how I produced this year and I’m right up there with them all. They’re all great guys, and tremendous players, and I’m right there with them because that’s how I was raised: to be the best.”
Joel Farabee - LW, USNTDP/Boston College, NCAA
How was the testing this week, in particular the VO2 max test yesterday?
“Today was good. I got paired up with K’Andre Miller, a former teammate, so that was a lot of fun, but I’m glad it’s over and the process is coming to an end. The VO2 was tough, wearing that mask and everything it can be a little bit overwhelming, but you get through it and it’s a rite of passage.
You said you met with 29 teams, which two teams didn’t you meet with?
“I believe it was Colorado and Tampa that I didn’t interview with, but this whole process is about building a relationship with these teams and seeing what they want and need. So to meet with that many teams is definitely pretty cool.”
Blade Jenkins - Centre, Saginaw Spirit, OHL
It’s a gauntlet out there and it ends with some guy screaming at you on the bike, how was that experience?
“(Laughs) Yeah it definitely motivates you to go out there and go faster and do better. I think having them push that it helps your success with that test. When you go into you tell them to keep yelling at you to keep you motivated.”
How many interviews did you have overall and how did it go?
“I had 13 interviews overall, and actually Montreal was my first one on the first day of testing. I think it went pretty smooth, and you like doing that kind of stuff. I got a few of those odd questions and honestly it’s pretty fun especially when you have teams asking about Fortnite and stuff.”
You play NHL 18 you said. You happy with your rating or do you go in and turn yourself into a superstar?
“(Laughs) Yeah obviously, you’re not expected to be rated too high when you’re still in major junior, so it’s pretty neat to see yourself still in the game though. I haven’t gone in and changed my stats, but I have a few buddies that I know who have gone and jacked up their numbers for fun.”
Allan McShane - Centre, Oshawa Generals, OHL
How was the testing today?
“It was hard, it wasn’t easy for sure. I had to go lay down for a little bit (laughs). The Wingate got me for sure, it was a tough one.”
What improvements have you made to your game this season?
“I’d say probably just physicality in general, trying to get stronger and working on my skating, taking more explosive strides. It’s something that will take time, but it’ll have to get better to be at the NHL level.”
You had 18 interviews, was Montreal one and how did it go?
“Yeah I did interview with Montreal, I think it went well, but it’s tough to get a good read on it. I mean they’re extremely professional, and you’re trying to be professional as well. There’s not too many things that give it away, but certain times you get certain good vibes from teams.”
Did you get the same bus question your teammate [Serron Noel] got?
“Yeah I did actually, and I even had a team try to prepare me for it ahead of time, but even then I still had trouble with it and it took me too long to try and figure it out. I also got the Fortnite question too, which isn’t a surprise with how popular it is. I know a bunch of guys who brought their Xbox with them so they could play while they’re here at the Combine.”