Job interviews dominate Combine

Wednesday, 28.05.2008 / 11:19 AM / Features
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Job interviews dominate Combine
One of the most important part of the NHL Draft Combine is the opportunity for NHL general managers and scouts to sit down and speak with the players they may draft come June.

The interview process at the NHL Scouting combine is widely regarded as the part of the process that general managers like Kevin Lowe (above) of the Edmonton Oilers put the most stock into.
TORONTO – While the NHL Scouting Combine is a three-pronged opportunity for teams to meet the top players eligible for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the interview process probably is the one they put the most stock into.
 
“I would say if I had to put one ahead of the other, it’s the interviews,” said Edmonton Oilers General Manager Kevin Lowe. “You know what kind of player they are on the ice. We do some (psychological) testing of our own. We parcel that with the interviews.”
 
It’s also most likely the only opportunity player personnel directors and chief talent scouts will have to meet the players in a one-on-one setting.
 
While it’s an important part of the process for the teams, it can be a brain-bending odyssey for the players.
 
Top prospect Steven Stamkos has 12 interviews scheduled for his time at the Combine. Chicoutimi center Nicolas Deschamps has 26 scheduled – including 10 Tuesday, and another 11 Wednesday.
 
“I’m a little bit nervous, but most of the teams are asking the same questions,” said Swedish prospect Anton Gustafsson, who will meet with 15 teams. “What I think I’m good at, what I need to improve, how my future looks now. I’ve heard from guys at home that some teams will ask some (off-beat) questions to see how I react.”
 
But the winner – so to speak – is Ottawa defenseman Tyler Cuma, who has 29 interviews scheduled.
 
Long, winding road – The Canadian team went a long way to win the gold medal at the World Under-18 Championship last month.
 
In fact, for Jacob Lagace and Nicolas Deschamps, linemates for the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, it took them 27 hours and three changeovers before they got home.
 
First it was a flight from Kazan, located about 200 miles west of Moscow, to Belarus. From Belarus, they connected to Frankfurt, Germany. Then it was a hop across the Atlantic Ocean to Toronto, and then a flight back east to Montreal.
 
Flying west for the majority of his trip, Lagace was struck by one odd sight.
 
“It was always sunny, the whole time,” he said.
 
Earned vacation – Mikkel Boedker made a short appearance at the Combine, arriving Monday after his Kitchener Rangers lost in the Memorial Cup championship game and leaving Tuesday night. He had time to meet with a few teams, but that was the extent of his time in Toronto.
 
What was more important than the medical and physical testing, which will take place later in the week?
 
How about a five-day trip to the Bahamas with his teammates as a reward for winning the Ontario Hockey League championship and making it to the Memorial Cup title game?
 
Maybe the club would have sprung for a full week if they had won.
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Staff Writer