Examining the top performers at the 2019 NHL Scouting Combine

Have you heard of Jayden Struble? No? Well you have now. The defenseman out of St. Sebastian’s School in Massachusetts put on a clinic at the NHL Scouting Combine and has asserted himself as the top athlete in the 2019 draft class. Of course, athleticism is hardly all that it takes to succeed in hockey, but Struble certainly didn’t hurt his draft stock with his incredible performance on Saturday.

Among the fitness tests that the combine invitees are asked to participate in are the bench press, pull-ups, vertical jump, squat jump, standing long jump, shuttle run, grip strength test and the now-famous Wingate test, an exercise bike endurance test. Struble ranked first in an amazing five measurements — Wingate mean output, bench press, long jump, and left and right grip strength — and finished in the top three of the other two jumps. The 6-foot, 194-pound rearguard showed that strength and endurance are his game, more so than any other top draft prospect. It was an impressive display from the skater ranked just No. 48 in North America by NHL Central Scouting, but he could now be a safe bet as a second-round selection.

Several other prospects had banner days as well. Among the names at the top of most draft boards, WHL center Dylan Cozens performed well in endurance testing, finishing in the top five of both mean output and peak output in the Wingate test. He also finished among the leaders in both right-hand and left-hand grip strength and the standing long jump. Undersized USNTDP sniper Cole Caufield showed that strength is relative, finishing tied for first in pull-ups with 16 reps of his 5-foot-7, 163-pound frame. Caufield also placed in the top 10 in the bench press and vertical jump. Fellow smaller forward Nils Hoglander also impressed, finishing alone atop the chart in peak output during the Wingate test, tied for first in pull-ups, second in the bench press and among the leaders in the left and right shuttle run. It was a well-rounded result from the Swedish forward who projects to be a mid-to-late first-round pick. Top-ranked goaltender Spencer Knight may have put to rest any lingering concerns teams may have had about using a first-round selection on him. Knight showed that he is one of the more agile and explosive athletes among all draft prospects, not just goalies, with a top-five finish in the vertical jump, squat jump, long jump and left and right shuttle run.

Other standouts include Peyton Krebs, Raphael Lavoie, John Beecher, Henry Thrun, Samuel Bolduc and Nicholas Robertson. For full explanations of the tests, all top-10 finishes, and the results from some of the draft’s top prospects, check out this write-up from Brandon Cain of Second City Hockey.

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