4 Combine Standouts

The sessions of the 2016 NHL Combine have ended. Around 100 prospects took to the floor of HarborCenter in Buffalo to try their hand at the fitness testing. I’m going to share with you my four standouts from the day. They made enough of an impact that I have altered my ranks of them.

Luke Kunin

Luke Kunin
Luke Kunin (Tom Sorensen/USA Hockey)

In my mind, Kunin was the biggest standout. He finished in the top 15 in several categories, including first overall in the force plate vertical jump. His leap of 28.98 inches was more than two inches higher than the next best prospect. He is an excellent athlete who enjoyed a great freshman season at Wisconsin.

Kunin was the 11th ranked skater on the North American Central Scouting list. Considering he is a center, teams might look at him earlier based on today’s performance. I had him 21st on my personal list coming in. He’s a top-15 pick with intriguing upside.

Carter Hart

Carter Hart of the Everett Silvertips
Carter Hart did enough to convince me he’s the best goalie available in the draft. (Chris Mast/Everett Silvertips)

Hart came into the Combine ranked as the number two goalie on the North American list. I had him third overall. I now have him first overall thanks to his performance.

He finished first in the VO2 max test. He also finished tied for the 3rd most pull-ups with 12. But it was his demeanor and how he handled himself that really stood out.

Hart was extremely humble in the answers he gave. He also demonstrated a level of calmness that you like to see in goalies. He was asked by my colleague Andrew Forbes what it meant winning CHL Goalie of the Year. He gave the credit to his teammates. That was a good show of leadership from someone who could eventually be called upon to stop pucks for a living.

Jonathan Ang

Jonathan Ang
Jonathan Ang proved himself an incredible athlete at the NHL Combine.

Ang is someone I was looking at for a great value pick later in the draft. His performance at the Combine demonstrated how good of an athlete he is. Teams noticed how well he did at the various tests.

He was the best at pull-ups, with 15. He finished in the top-15 in other categories, such as the bench press and agility. He jumped from 137 to 95 on the final rankings. He’s in my top-80 overall after being outside the top-100 all season. He’s a strong player who is getting better. One more year of junior will do him wonders. Given that he is a center, teams might look at him earlier given his potential.

Jakob Chychrun

Jakob Chychrun proved he is the best available defenseman in the draft
Jakob Chychrun proved he is the best available defenseman in the draft

Chychrun did nothing to disappoint with the fitness testing. He finished in the top-20 in a few categories. There was concern about his shoulder injury and if that would have any impact. He demonstrated he’s over that.

I had Chychrun, Olli Juolevi, and Mikhail Sergachev back-to-back-to-back in my rankings. Not anymore. Chychrun is the best defenseman available in this draft. His combination of size, speed, and power is hard to match. He spent time in Sarnia getting ready for the pro game. He didn’t have the flashes of brilliance others had. Don’t let that fool you. He adjusted his game to get ready for this moment. He should go as the first defenseman in the draft. If Edmonton doesn’t trade their pick at fourth, they should take a good, hard look at him.