2015 NHL Draft: Changes at the Scouting Combine


As part of the 2015 NHL Draft procedures, the league is holding the Scouting Combine. The purpose of the Scouting Combine is to provide NHL teams with physical and medical assessments of the draft prospects. Teams also have the opportunity to interview prospects.

This year’s Scouting Combine is taking place June 1 to 6 in Buffalo, New York, at the First Niagara Center. This is the first time the Combine has been held in Buffalo.

New Format for Scouting Combine

More from Draft

While all the tests are physically difficult, two in particular are absolutely grueling. The VO2 Max and Wingate Ergometer peak power output tests require players go to fatigue levels.

The VO2 Max, maximal oxygen uptake, is a test for aerobic endurance. Maximal oxygen uptake refers to the amount of oxygen an athlete is able to utilize during intense exercise. At the Combine, prospects sit on a stationary bicycle, pedaling at increasing rates while breathing into an apparatus. A machine measures milliliters of oxygen, per minute, per kilogram.

For the VO2 Max test, the athlete has to exercise to his muscle fatigue threshold to get the true measure of his maximal oxygen uptake. In prior years, prospects have talked about “taking a nap” after performing this test — in other words, they passed out. Remember, these are teens in the prime fitness of their lives.

The Wingate Ergometer peak power output test also requires the prospects to pedal a stationary bike. In this case, the bike offers a fixed resistance. The athlete must pedal at his maximum pace, while a counter records the revolution of the bike’s flywheel. The revolutions are counted at five-second intervals for 30 seconds.

Typically, the test takes five to seven minutes as the athlete first warms up then cools down. When he’s ready for the actual test, he pedals with no resistance in the pedals for three seconds. Then the resistance kicks in, and the actual test commences. The Wingate tests measures skating explosiveness.

In the past, both these tests were performed on the same day. However, according the NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr, strength coaches remarked that holding both these tests on the same day didn’t yield and accurate information on prospects’ true fitness. Therefore, this year prospects are undergoing the VO2 Max on June 5, and the Wingate on June 6.

New Technology at the Scouting Combine

In addition to the changed format, the NHL is also adopting some new technology. The main change comes for the jump station. If you’ve ever wondered if hockey players can jump (I have), this tests answers that question. The jump station measure vertical jump and jump forces.

This year, the jump station is incorporating the Kistler Force plate, which is a platform linked to a video camera. The Kistler Force plate provides information regarding forces passing through foot joints. Viewers get images of the foot in all three planes of space.

During this test, the prospect performs six separate maximum vertical jumps. He gets 10 seconds of rest in between each. His three best jumps are recorded.

Another big change is that the Scouting Combine is providing electronic medical records for each prospect. Teams will have access to this information as soon as the medical screening is over.

The Scouting Combine usually provides the first instance for teams and prospects to meet, at least away from the rink. Interviews are another integral aspect of the events. This year, the interviews are being held in hotel suites. It’s doubtful that’s going to make the prospects feel any more comfortable.

The Colorado Avalanche are sure to get the information desired on their target prospects.

Next: 2015 NHL Mock Draft, from an Avs Fan's Perspective

More from Mile High Sticking