Links: Laughton, Small Pads
The NHL scouting combine ended yesterday and now the scouts will return to their respective teams and a final round of meetings this month will help teams finalize their draft board in anticipation of the NHL Draft which is four weeks from today.
Last week I caught up with Scott Laughton, the Flyers first round pick from a year ago, to reflect on his Combine experience.
Today, I chat with Anthony Stolarz, whom the Flyers selected in the second round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He too took part in the same combine as Laughton.
His story was a little bit different than Laughton’s though. Laughton knew many of the other players at the Combine either from playing with them in Oshawa, or in Canadian National camps, or as their opponent in the OHL.
Stolarz knew next to no one. He was the lone invitee from the North American Hockey League, where he was playing for Corpus Christi.
Here is an interview I had with Stolarz reflecting on the combine, with a couple questions at the end about participating in the Memorial Cup and what lays ahead in the offseason:
Q: What do you remember from the Combine last year and what was it like for you to go through what the 2013 class just experienced?
“It was a fun experience to be able to get interviewed by so many NHL teams and to meet all those players from around the world. It was especially neat for me being the only guy invited from the NAHL. You get there, you meet your roommate and then go to dinner with all the guys. The next day the business starts with all the interviews and I admit I was a little nervous early on but after that I loosened up and by week’s end I was a natural.”
Q: Who was your roommate?
“Jake Paterson of the Saginaw Spirit.” (Note: Paterson, also a goalie, was selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the third round of the draft, No. 80 overall, 35 picks after the Flyers took Stolarz at No. 45.)
Q: How many teams did you end up interviewing with?
“I had 22 interviews I believe. I was busy running around the hotel. Good thing I have a sense of direction because you always wanted to know where you were going! In all seriousness, it’s a good concept to meet all the teams, the GMs and the scouts, it was pretty cool.”
Q: Do you remember where the Flyers fell into that mix?
“The Flyers were toward the end of my interview process. They were on the last day [of interviews]. But, their interview was probably the quickest I had with any team. I just went in there, met the scouts, talked a little bit about Corpus Christi, talked about my style of game of a little bit and was pretty much in-and-out in four minutes.”
Q: Were some of the interviews a little bit different? Did teams try any unique testing techniques or ask any curve ball questions?
“I didn’t get any of that really. I know other guys did, but I think because I was a bit of an unknown, teams were just interested in getting to know me and what kind of person I am and what kind of style I play. I didn’t have too many weird or wacky questions that you always hear other guys talk about. The only ‘weird’ question I guess was a lot of teams wanting to hear the story about my small pads.”
Q: Do you put a lot of stock into those interviews? Do you think they make an impact on draft boards and the like? Especially in a case like yours where you were coming in from a lesser-scouted league where teams didn’t have as much information about you, do you believe the process is beneficial?
“Of course. Going in, teams want to know what kind of player they are drafting. They can look at all the film they want and see all the live games they want, but they also want to know what kind of person you are off the ice. So, I thought for me it was key to go in there and show the teams what kind of person I was and to hear my personal side of my story and hear about my game from my perspective as well as the things I feel I have to work on. Teams want to hear that and put a lot of weight on that to judge prospects more fairly.”
Q: The physical part of the combine, you hear so much about it, how nerve-wracking is it? Is it weird to have to do all those workouts in front of so many people watching you specifically?
“Yes. You walk into that room and there exercises equipment all around and the scouts are all jammed together in the middle of the room and they’re all staring at you. You just want to go out there and try to block it out, but in the end there are hundreds of people watching you and there’s live media coverage so it’s hard to do. So, you just try to do your best and show them all what you are capable of doing.”
Q: What was the hardest test there?
“I’d say the combination of the Wingate test (biking as hard as you can with increased inclines), which is only 30 seconds, but a hard 30 seconds, and then after a 30 minute break having to do the VO2 (bike test with Oxygen)… your legs are shot after that. There’s a room in the back filled with Gatorade and garbage cans. The garbage cans are for kids to throw up and there were a lot of guys just throwing up all around the room. Me, myself, I threw up. It was a tough, tough act to have to do them back-to-back. The Wingate is a very hard 30 seconds and the VO2 is as long as you can last. I ended up doing 13 minutes and was one of the top scorers for that, but man, it was a tough, tough combination.”
Q: Switching gears, can you talk about playing in the Memorial Cup and what that experience was like?
“It was a great experience. You get to play against some of the best competition in the CHL with Portland, Saskatoon and Halifax. There’s a lot of great talent. We knew going in that we are hosting the Memorial Cup [in London] next year, so we just wanted to get as much experience with it as we could. Obviously we wanted to win it this year, but if we didn’t – and we didn’t – we could always know that we are definitely in it again next year and everyone will be prepared for it and know what it takes.”
Q: Now that you are home in New Jersey and you look back on it, would it be safe to say that it was a grueling year, even though you had a lot of success?
“Yeah. I’m looking forward to taking some time off here at home and just relaxing. I have a busy summer ahead with the U.S. World Junior camps [mid-June] and the Flyers [Prospect] Camp [mid-July], but I’m going to take a little break and just relax a little bit. But, I am going to still do some off-ice stuff with strength and conditioning and I’m going to take a yoga class.”
To contact Anthony SanFilippo email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37
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