Colorado Avalanche: About the 2017 NHL Scouting Combine

Nov 5, 2015; Buffalo, NY, USA; Fans enter the First Niagara Center before a game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2015; Buffalo, NY, USA; Fans enter the First Niagara Center before a game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

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The Colorado Avalanche will be sending staff to evaluate top prospects at the 2017 NHL Combine.

The Colorado Avalanche, along with all the other teams, will be attending the 2017 NHL Scouting Combine. The evaluations are a mix of physical and psychological and also include an interview process. The physical testing takes place the last two days of the Scouting Combine, June 2 and 3.

When the NHL Scouting Combine Takes Place

The 2017 NHL Scouting Combine is taking place between May 29 to June 3, by design roughly three weeks before the Draft. During that week teams can conduct interviews with any of the 104 prospects in attendance.

Venue for the NHL Scouting Combine

For the third year, the NHL Combine is being held at  connected complex in Buffalo, New York. Fitness testing takes place at HarborCenter, while prospect interviews are held at the First Niagara Center. The prospects stay at the Marriott Hotel.

Purpose of the Scouting Combine

As the name suggests, prospects are put through a combination of physical, skill and psychological testing. The purpose of the Scouting Combine is for NHL scouts and general managers to get the chance to meet the prospects while also evaluating the testing results.

Special for this Year

This year the Buffalo Sabres will be hosting the NHL Centennial Fan Arena during the Scouting Combine. The Fan Arena still includes the museum truck, video truck, ball hockey rink and zamboni VR experience as well as an appearance by the Stanley Cup. On Friday, June 2, five prospects will participate in a public speaking on the video truck: Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier, Casey Middelstadt, Gabriel Vilardi and Michael Rasmussen.

Prospects Attending

More from Mile High Sticking

The Scouting Combine will host 104 of the prospects from this year’s draft class. There will be 84 North American and 20 international prospects. The list includes 58 forwards, 36 defensemen and 10 goalies. It’s a good bet two of those prospects will be drafted by the Colorado Avalanche.

Players must be cleared medically to take part in the physical testing. If a prospect is unable to perform any part of the testing because of injury or rehabilitation, he’ll be classified as either injury- or medically-exempt. Prospects can also decline an invitation to the Combine, though it’s rare.

Psychological Testing

As part of the evaluation process, prospects also go through psychological testing. Most of the testing takes place before the Combine itself in the form of a two-part computer test.

The first part is gauged at assessing a prospect’s personality and includes questions like “If your coach was wrong, would you interrupt him?” The second part assesses prospects’ mental efficiency as related to spatial awareness, decision accuracy, decision speed concentration and mental fatigue.

Prospects also take a neuro-cognitive test and a shortened version of the mental efficiency assessment right after completing two of their fitness tests.


Team personnel, including scouts, general managers and even sports psychologists, have access to the prospects during the Scouting Combine. This 20-minute interview gives teams insight into how a prospect might fit in. They also get to ask prospects specifics about their playing career up to that point, which can be significant if a player was involved in a controversy. This has happened in the past when players have been fined or suspended for on-ice play.

Physical Testing, Day 1

Prospects will take part in four physical tests on the first day,

Functional Movement Screen: During this medical test, prospects are required to perform seven specific tasks aimed at revealing imbalances and symmetry deficiencies in movements of the body.

Here’s one of the movements:

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Grip Strength: The prospect takes hold of a grip dynamometer, fully extends his arm, and squeezes the gauge with his maximum strength. Both hands are tested.

Y-Balance Station: This assessment tests a prospect’s agility and balance. It can also assess an athlete’s risk for injury and demonstrate functional symmetry. The prospect stands on a single leg while reaching as far as possible with the contralateral leg.

Here’s a video:

VO2 Max Bike Test: This assessment tests a prospect’s aerobic fitness. The prospect cycles at maximum effort while breathing into the analyzer. The analyzer calculates the oxygen uptake from measures of ventilation and the oxygen and carbon dioxide in the expired air. Basically, the test ends when the prospect stops cycling, he has difficulty breathing or the appraiser stops him because he can no longer cycle at the maximal rate.

It doesn’t look like much fun:

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After this test prospects take the neuro-cognitive test and a shortened version of the mental efficiency assessment.

Physical Testing, Day 2

On the final day of the Combine, prospects go through six tests and also have their height, weight and wingspan recorded.

Standing Long Jump: This test assesses leg power. The prospect stands behind a line and jumps as far as possible while using his arms to assist:

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Vertical Leap: This test assesses movement efficiency, physical performance and injury potential. The prospect stands on a force plate and jumps vertically. The assessor takes the three best jumps to average for a score.

Bench Press: This tests muscle strength and endurance. The prospect lies on the bench and presses the barbell at a specific rate of 25 reps per minute. He must bench 70% to 80% of his body weight.

Pull Ups: The prospect does as many pull ups as possible. He must maintain the overhand technique and pause for a full second at the top and bottom of each movement.

Pro Agility Test: This test assesses agility, especially body control and change of direction. This is a shuttle run test:

Wingate Cycle Ergometer Test: This is an anaerobic test for explosive leg power and fatigue. The prospect peddles at low resistance for two minutes to warm up then starts peddling gradually faster. Once he’s reached his designated workload, 9% of his body mass, he’s pedaling at maximum capacity, which he maintains for 30 seconds. During that time, assessors record revolutions at five-second intervals and calculates a score based on the average.

Prospects repeat the neuro-cognitive test and a shortened version of the mental efficiency assessment after this test as well.

Next: Ranking the Top 5 Prospects for the #4 Pick

All 31 teams — including the Las Vegas Golden Knights — will be in attendance at the Scouting Combine. They will use the information gathered there to help drive their draft decisions.

Presumably the Colorado Avalanche will have Joe Sakic at the Combine along with at least some of their pro scouts. With the Avalanche’s emphasis on fitness and conditioning, it’s likely the results of the Combine will help determine who they select in the first and second round.