Although audiences across North America are currently captivated by both the NHL and NBA finals, the NHL has been working diligently behind the scenes to prepare for the future of the league. Specifically, this week the league hosted the annual NHL Scouting Combine which brought 109 draft-eligible players from around the world to Buffalo, New York.

What is the NHL Combine?  

The NHL Combine is an event held every year that brings draft-eligible minor and junior hockey players together in advance of the NHL Draft in an effort to have players showcase their athletic skills and prowess directly to representatives of NHL teams.  

While top draft picks don’t have much to prove at the NHL Combine, the event allows players to showcase their skills and potentially increase their draft stock. Additionally, the event allows teams to meet face to face with these players and get to know them better before the draft happens in mid-June. Ultimately, the combine acts as a vehicle for players to identify their strengths and weaknesses as their potential employers look on.  

What Happens at the NHL Combine?  

Over the course of a week, the NHL Combine involves interviews, medical screenings and fitness tests. Each of the 30 NHL teams sends representatives to the event, who watch players take part in each aspect of the testing to get a better sense of each player’s skill set before the draft.

The fitness portion of the event includes the following:

Body Composition Testing:

  • Standing height
  • Wingspan
  • BodPod  
  • Uses air displacement technology to measure and track body fat and lean mass
  • Strength, power and muscular endurance testing
  • Grip strength
  • Bench press
  • Standing long jump
  • Vertical jump
  • Pull-ups

Agility and Balance:

  • Pro agility test  
  • A lateral movement test that measures body control and change of direction
  • Y-Balance test  
  • A dynamic test performed in a single-leg stance
  • Wingate test  
  • A 30-second bike test for anaerobic power
  • VO2Max test  
  • Measures the amount of oxygen utilized during maximal-cycle ergometer exercise

Players will also undergo medical evaluations, including the following:

  • Completion of health questionnaires
  • Interviews and examinations by doctors
  • Photographs of players
  • Vision tests
  • Two hand / eye coordination tasks
  • Echocardiogram test
  • Functional movement screen
  • A series of seven specific joint tests graded on a 1-3 scale. This test is performed to assess the risk of a potential future injury  
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Consists of a two-part computer test that includes questions about personality, including the player’s perception of their own “mental toughness” and coachability. There are 220 yes-or-no questions in total
  • Includes neurocognitive testing  



Following these examinations, players will take part in what is often referred to as the most important aspect of the combine. Here, they will have 20-minute face-to-face interviews with team personnel in which representatives for NHL teams are given the opportunity to ask players and questions they deem to be relevant.  

How Will the Combine Affect the 2019 Draft?

While many have criticized the combine in its ability to successfully determine a player’s overall worth to the NHL, only time will tell how this year’s combine affects the draft picks in June.

The 2019 NHL Draft takes place on June 21st and 22nd in Vancouver, British Columbia. Stay tuned and follow us on Twitter @LucentemMedia for more Draft coverage in the coming weeks.