Led by a strong core of a defensive prospects, 11 elite Western Hockey League prospects are showcasing their skills at the 2018 NHL scouting Combine in Buffalo, N.Y. this week ahead of the 2018 NHL Draft, scheduled for June 22-23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas.
Of the WHL’s 22 member clubs, nine teams will be represented at the annual scouting event.
This year’s crop of draft-eligible talent coming from the WHL is heavy on those patrolling the blue line. Eighteen of the 45 WHL prospects listed by NHL Central Scouting in their final rankings back in May came from the defence position, including the four top-ranked prospects from the league. Five of those players have been invited to this year’s combine while six forwards also earned invitations.
This year’s draft will focus on those who were selected in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft and there’s no better place to start than at the top with Lloydminster, Alta. product Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs. Selected first overall at that draft, Smith is ranked 14th by NHL Central Scouting among North American skaters and is projected to be the first WHL player selected in this year’s draft. In just his second full year in the WHL, Smith finished second in defensive scoring in the entire league with 73 points (14G-59A) in 69 games. He also earned the Daryl K. Seaman Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year earlier this month.
Following the Chiefs’ first-round defeat at the hands of the Portland Winterhawks in the 2018 WHL Playoffs, Smith captained Canada at the 2018 IIHF Under-18 World Championship in Russia.
Other highly-touted defencemen include Alexander Alexeyev of the Red Deer Rebels, Jett Woo of the Moose Jaw Warriors, and Calen Addison of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, ranked 22nd, 28th, and 30th among North American skaters respectively. Milos Roman of the Vancouver Giants is the top-ranked WHL forward, coming in at 41st among North American skaters.
The highly-anticipated portion of the combine – fitness testing – is set to take place Friday and Saturday at the HarborCenter in Buffalo. Saturday’s fitness testing can be seen live on Sportsnet.ca from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET/ 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. PT.
Friday’s testing will feature four different evaluations, including y-balance, function movement screen, grip strength and aerobic fitness (VO2 max).
Saturday’s testing will feature seven different evaluations, including standing height, wingspan, standing long jump, jump station, bench press, pro agility test and pull ups.
2018 NHL Draft Combine – Western Hockey League attendees:
Calgary Hitmen (1)
Everett Silvertips (1)
Lethbridge Hurricanes (1)
Moose Jaw Warriors (1)
Prince Albert Raiders (1)
Red Deer Rebels (2)
Saskatoon Blades (1)
Spokane Chiefs (2)
Vancouver Giants (1)