Road to the Draft: NHL Combine
The NHL Combine has been a vital part of the draft process for over 20 years. NHL Central Scouting director, Dan Marr, explains, “The combine happens in three segments; the medical screening, the team interviews and the fitness testing. The medical screening is in place to make sure that players are 100 per cent capable to take part in the fitness testing. It also helps to assess the overall health of the players. The team interview segment allows teams to match up the on-ice player with the off-ice player, as well as to gauge their maturity and get to know them on a more personal level. The fitness testing helps teams visualize a player’s athletic abilities right before the draft, and it isn’t seen as a ‘pass or fail’ test. Overall, the combine eliminates any surprises and helps teams know everything about the player they want to invest in.”
Mississauga Steelheads’ forward Michael McLeod will be heading to Buffalo, NY, with fellow teammates Sean Day, Nathan Bastian and Alexander Nylander from May 29 to June 4 for the 2016 NHL Combine.
We caught up with Michael to find out how he has been preparing for the combine.
Q: How are you preparing for the combine?
A: Well, we know ahead of time what the fitness testing will be, so I’ve been working on all that with my trainer in Oakville. I’ve also been working on other exercises that build up the strength to do well on the testing. A huge part of it is the bike tests, so I’ve been doing a lot of that.
Q: What have you been doing to prepare mentally?
A: I think the interview process is more important than the actual fitness testing. So I’ve been talking with my agent and other guys who have been through it. They’ve been telling me what to expect and some of the questions the teams might ask to challenge me. I just have to be ready for certain questions and be prepared on how to answer them.
Q: Do you think doing interviews throughout the season has helped you prepare for the combine interviews?
A: Yes, because we’re going to be getting asked a lot of the same questions, so I already know how to answer them. It’s going to be a little nerve wracking knowing you’re in front of their whole scouting staff – it’s intimidating. My agent has been helping me prepare for the interviews too – it’s just about being confident.
Q: What portion of the combine are you most looking forward to? Where do you think you’ll excel?
A: I’m looking forward to all of it. I think it’ll be a lot of fun getting to meet everyone from the teams and talking to the guys. I’m also getting excited to see my friends. In terms of where I’ll excel, I think I’m prepared for both the interviews and the fitness testing. I only took three days off, and then got right back to training, so I think I’m well prepared for this. I’m ready.
Q: Is there anything you’re nervous for?
A; I’m nervous for the entire process, pretty much. It’s good nerves though, more excitement than anything.
Q: We all know that you and Dylan Strome are only a year apart and we’ve all heard the stories about the neighbourhood road hockey games between the Strome’s & McLeod’s – has he told you anything or given you any advice on how to prepare for the combine?
A: Yeah we talk a lot. He tells me what questions he was asked, what teams challenged him in the interviews and how to handle it.
Good luck to Michael at the 2016 NHL Combine.
Did you miss last weeks interview with Nathan Bastian? Be sure to check it out here, and stay tuned for next weeks interview with Steelheads forward Alexander Nylander.