The NHL wrapped up its 2015 Draft Combine on Saturday. With any gathering of this type, it can be difficult to tell if we learned anything important, although we did learn that Jack Eichel's trolling game is strong:
This year, a brand new event provided what may be the most significant results. The NHL employed the Kistler Force Plate System, which measures the ground force a player generates when leaping into the air. This allows experts to "objectively divine hockey-related movement that would indicate levels of physical performance, injury potential and efficiency," according to the crib sheet. Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News looks at the results:
So who came out on top? Good skaters, of course.
Austin Wagner, a left winger with WHL Regina, had the top result, followed by Seattle's Ryan Gropp. Wagner is one of those players that scouts have to stop themselves from talking about since they want him as a dark horse pick for their own team. At 6-foot-2, he has a great frame and the skating prowess forces defenders to back off when he has the puck, creating space for his linemates.
Jack Eichel ranked fifth and based on his powerful skating game, that should be no surprise. Former Team USA mate Colin White, a Patrice Bergeron-type two-way center, also cracked the top-10 and I've seen him put pressure on puck carriers thanks to his speed.
A few surprising names pop up among the top results, but perhaps none more interesting than that of the guy in third place: goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood of the Barrie Colts, whose attributes were more fully extolled by DBD's own Huw Wales late last week:
Blackwood finished third overall and these combines aren't necessarily geared towards netminders. But if you think about it, Blackwood's explosiveness would serve him well when pushing off from side-to-side in the crease. And with his 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame, he's already covering a lot of net.
There's quite a bit more about which prospects tested best and what that could mean in real performance terms. Have a look. [THN]
I've decided to include the words "Dion Phaneuf" in every future Daily Links post title, because people like it when you talk about Dion Phaneuf. I'm not really going to do that, because clickbait isn't funny. However, Phaneuf's wife, Elisha Cuthbert, will star in the upcoming Goon sequel, which presumably will be funny. [SI]
Mike Heika continues his series on Stars in free agency with a look at Rich Peverley. [DMN]
And Mark Stepneski gets in on the draft action with the first of a series on 60 top 2015 prospects. [Stars Inside Edge]
Meanwhile, Tim Cowlishaw answered several Stars questions during his weekly chat. He hopes everyone realizes how really, really remarkable Tyler Seguin is at a mere 22 years old. [DMN]
Speaking of Seguin, he spent the past weekend in Montreal, hanging out at the F1 Grand Prix of Canada with a familiar brodad:
About last night: The Lightning stunned the Blackhawks in United Center with a 3-2 regulation victory that leaves them with a 2-1 series lead. Ben Bishop shook off whatever was ailing him in Game 2 to make 36 saves for the win. Have another look at Cedric Paquette's GWG, lavishly set up by Victor Hedman in the last minutes of the 3rd period:
Earlier that period, we saw Brandon Saad and Ondrej Palat trade goals a mere 13 seconds apart:
And former Dallas Star Brad Richards opened Chicago's account with this power play goal in the first period. Enjoy the view from NetCam:
A smart fan could have been forgiven for thinking this should have been Chicago's game. So what happened? The Blackhawks themselves try to explain. [NHL]
Kelly Cup update: The Allen Americans have tied the series with a double-OT win over the South Carolina Stingrays in Game 4. Game 5 of the ECHL finals starts tonight at 6:05 pm Central in North Charleston Coliseum. [DMN]
Elsewhere, longtime NHL coach Ron Wilson may have what it takes to help Team USA bring home world junior gold in Helsinki, according to The Hockey News. [THN]
WalletHub has put together a list of the Best and Worst Cities for Hockey Fans for 2015. It's kind of fun, and then it gets kind of bananapants. Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated explains some of the results, or tries to. [SI]
Finally: The irrepressible P.K. Subban made some kids' day in Montreal over the weekend. Watch him crash a street hockey game and get stoned by an 8-year-old goalie. [Puck Daddy]