Combine NHL Draft Diary: The Best of Deadline Day

BUFFALO – The NHL draft combine is always an exciting time.

The players are tired but happy. They are talkative. And Saturday’s media presence means they’ll wrap up all the festivities before the real fun begins in Nashville later this month. Anything beyond today is out of the player’s hands. So after months of stressing over every little detail, it’s finally time to relax and enjoy a short vacation.

More than 100 players took part in the 2023 NHL Draft on Saturday, speaking with the media throughout the day. Here are some of the most interesting reports from the day:

News and notes

  • When Friday is available, Connor Bedard He said he had spoken to several teams but kept the details to himself. He held discussions with six teams in all, though it was clear he wouldn’t land the No. 1 pick in Chicago. “We want to know how his mind thinks,” said an NFL scout.
  • The Montreal Canadiens asked the most unique question of any team: “Which animal would you describe yourself as?” goalkeeper Michael Hrabal He probably had the most thoughtful answer: a panda off the ice (calm, cool and collected) and a gorilla on the ice (big, feisty, smart).
  • Hrabal clocked in at 6-foot-6.75, making him the tallest player at the combine.
  • Players born in Saskatchewan are heavily represented on the first day of the NHL draft. Two are above. Brayden Yager And Riley HeidtThey grew up playing minor hockey together and remained close friends. The two spent a week at the same cabin, fishing and playing golf like old fashioned, before their reunion. “(Heidt) is my best friend,” Yager said. “He’s very competitive, extremely humble and someone I enjoy spending time with.”
  • Mateo ManThe son of Ottawa Senators assistant GM Trent Mann was a runner in the 2016 NHL in Buffalo. His job was to recruit players, help teams and do whatever was needed to make the process run smoothly. “I didn’t want to argue anything,” Mann said with a smile. “I still have a draft cap with a lot of signatures from players like Auston Matthews.”
  • NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr said Etienne Morin He will be the first defenseman taken in the NHL draft. The Moncton Wildcats defenseman is the 19th ranked North American skater and the 59th player on the Daily Faceoff Top 100 list. The versatile, two-way defenseman has 21 goals and 72 points, up from his 33 points a year ago.
  • When asked by The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler who is the most talented player in the draft, Connor Bedar said it’s clear many players. The second most common answer? Colby Barlow Attack from Owen Sound. Barlow led all draft-eligible OHL prospects with 46 goals this year.
  • Slovakia netminder Adam Gajan A few years ago, he knew he wanted to go to the NCAA, but the teams in the state didn’t know much about him. He said he filmed the game with GoPros, cut the clips together and sent demo reels to teams. The NAHL’s Chippewa Steel took a chance on him and he is now weeks away from being drafted.
  • Gavin Brindley, A 5-foot-9 forward, the 205-pound defensive end said he spent a lot of time watching clips of his father, Ryan Brandley. Brindley played nearly a decade in the ECHL, recording 238 points and 646 penalty minutes over nine years. “Our style was a little different,” the younger Brindley said with a smile.
  • While Bedard participated in the physical assessment Leo Carlson And Adam Fantilly It is sitting. Both players are coming off the men’s World Hockey Championship two weeks ago and chose to take a break without getting any real time to practice for any events.
  • “Well, I know where it is on the map,” Carlson said when asked what he knew about Columbus holding No. 3.
  • There was no shortage of thinking people Matthew Wood It can be a top 10 choice. “He has all the attributes to be a big-time NHLer. He looks really smart when a team takes him early,” said a scout from the draft group late in the first round.
  • Andrew Crystal On his close friendship with Bedard: “We went back and started playing spring hockey around six or seven. We grew up together, moving a little through the ranks. It was so special to share that time with him this year.
  • “I try to find different release points and learn how to change the angle a little bit,” added Crystal, who spoke to 21 teams. It was great to be able to learn from Connor. I think it definitely helped my shooting a lot.


Fun and games

Teams tend to ask players more ridiculous, non-hockey-related questions and look into their mindset. I decided to ask gamers what they would buy if they had a million dollars and here are some of the results:

  • Kerry Terrance: “Boat, and go fishing with my family.
  • Niko Miatovic: “Digital Golf Machine. They are expensive and I like to play golf.”
  • Carson Bjarnason: “A used car. It’s something that gets me from point A to point B.
  • Zach Benson: “Air Jordan. I collect sneakers.
  • Luca Cagnoni: “Jordan, obviously. I like to collect them. “
  • Theo Lindstein: “Nice car, for sure. Maybe a Lamborghini or a Ferrari.
  • Kaden Price: “I might save a lot and do something for my family… maybe buy a used car.
  • Sawyer Mynio: “I’m going to buy a Corvette… (Reporter: Really?)… Yeah, I think it’s good. And my father loves them.”
  • Gavin Brindley: “Maybe a fishing boat or a surf boat… I’ll have to bring my friend (New Jersey Devils prospect) Seamus Case with me.
  • Edward Saleh: “Bring my family to lunch or dinner. Nothing too crazy.”
  • Jakub Dvorak: “It’s some kind of Lamborghini or something like that. A great car, for sure. “
  • Jakub Stankel: “I got my driver’s license a few days ago… I like BMWs.”
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