NHL Draft Combine Testing

The annual NHL Entry Draft combine assessment involves interviews, medical screenings, and fitness tests over a four-day period. All 30 NHL teams send representatives to watch the testing and to take part in the interviewing of the young prospects. The assessment includes fitness testing, medical evaluation, psychological evaluation, an interview and possibly skill testing.

The assessments are conducted by a nationally accredited high performance athlete testing laboratory. Following the draft selections, additional tests may also be conducted by some teams. The information below about the tests was primarily sourced from the document "2015 NHL SCOUTING COMBINE FITNESS TESTING SUMMARY". Previously test details were taken from the document by Gledhill and Jamnik (2007).

To see for yourself what goes on at the draft camp, check out these videos. Results from previous combines are listed on the NHL Scouting Combine Results page.

In 2014 the combine followed the following format. Interviews were conducted during a five-day period; the functional movement screening was held on Thursday, medical examinations on Friday and the fitness testing on Saturday. In 2015, VO2max test was moved to be held on the Friday, along with the body composition and grip strength tests, and the medical examinations held on Thursday. No player is allowed to test until clearing the medical screening.

Fitness Testing

Historical Changes

In 2007, new tests were added: the hexagon test for agility, balance test and a 'standing squat' test (vertical jump with a pause). Also grip strength fatigue and wingspan were also first measured. In 2013 a 'Functional Movement Screen' was introduced. In 2014, overhand pull-ups, single leg squats (both legs) and pro agility tests replaced push-ups, the push-pull station and the seated medicine ball throw. In 2014 there were four body composition tests and 11 individual fitness tests.

In 2015, a new format and testing was implemented as a result of a combine review. The fitness testing were moved into an arena offering an increased viewing area, better sight lines and live result monitors, allowing for the testing to be captured on video. In the vertical jump, instead of the Vertec the jump height will be measured with a Kistler Force plate, also allowing measurement of jump forces. The BodPod is now used for body composition testing and the Y-balance test for assessing balance.

In total the testing component of the combine lasts about an hour and a half for each player. The current battery of tests are listed below (as of 2015).

Body Composition

Strength, Power and Muscular Endurance

Agility & Balance

Anaerobic Fitness

Aerobic Fitness

Tests that have been used previously

We have found that the following tests have previously been part of the NHL assessment protocol

Medical Evaluation

The medical assessment is comprised of a health questionnaire and a physical examination conducted by a medical physician. An extensive knee examination is also conducted if the physician identifies a possible problem. In 2009 an echocardiogram test was added to the medical screening. The medical portion of the testing takes about a half an hour, and includes:

Functional Movement Screen

This new exam was added to the protocol in 2013. The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) requires the prospects to perform seven specific joint tests that are graded on a 1-3 scale, with a highest possible total score of 21. Research shows that a score of less than 14 might indicate a risk of future injury. The test includes a deep squat, hurdle step, lunges, shoulder mobility movements, leg raises and trunk stability and pushups. It takes about 15 minutes to complete and I refer to it as a screen and not a test,The results could ultimately reveal imbalances and symmetry deficiencies in movements of the body.

Psychological evaluation

A psychological evaluation test was introduced in 2007 in response to the teams' request for a mental assessment of the potential draftees. Much of the psychological testing is administered prior to the Combine itself, while a Neuro-cognitive test is administered immediately after the players complete their Wingate and VO2max testing.

The psychological evaluation consists of a two-part computer test of approximately an hour's length. The first part is a long series of questions about the prospect's personality, including such things as mental toughness and coachability. It includes 220 questions that you answer yes or no. One example was something like "if your coach was talking, would you interrupt him if he’s wrong". The second part of the evaluation is a mental efficiency test, which measures spatial awareness, decision speed, decision accuracy, concentration, and rates of mental fatigue. A shortened form of the second part was repeated immediately after the fitness testing component, to determine the how much the individual player's reactions decline under stress and fatigue, and includes measures a player's reaction time and spatial awareness.

Interview

Possibly the most important part of the testing weekend is the daunting 20-minute face-to face interview with team personnel. Some teams include a sports psychologist among their staff at the interview table.

Skill Testing

The NHL was looking into adding an on-ice skill testing component to the test procedures in 2008.

Sources

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