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Combine brings draft hopefuls to Buffalo

Eyes have been on them all season and now they’ll be right up close, getting measured in every way possible as the NHL Entry Draft approaches.

Defencemen Dante Fabbro (Penticton Vees) and Dennis Cholowski (Chilliwack Chiefs) and forward Tyson Jost (Penticton Vees) are at the NHL scouting combine in Buffalo this week to meet the scouts and general managers from just about every team. The decisions made by these talent evaluators will alter the course of the young mens’ futures.


The physical testing – such as VO2 max, vertical jump, bench press, pull ups, agility, standing long jump and grip strength – is only part of it. Players will also be sized up for wingspan, body mass and percent body fat among other things.

Then there are the interviews. Top prospects may interview with every NHL team, meaning 30 sit-downs across the table from the team’s top scouts and management. Questions can vary from the straightforward types on a player’s strengths and weaknesses to more challenging, such as what coaches and teammates would say about the player if they were asked. Some can be quirky (example: how often do you shave?) just to see how the player reacts.

NCAA players have fared very well at the draft in recent years with Jack Eichel (BU), Noah Hanifin (Boston College) and Zach Werenski (Michigan) going in the top-10 last year. There were seven first-rounders in all in 2015. Fabbro is committed to attend Boston University next season, Cholowski is committed to St. Cloud State in Minnesota and Jost will play at North Dakota.

2015 NCAA draft picks

This year, there will be more. According to the latest player ratings, as many as 11 players from the NCAA, or those committed to NCAA programs, could be among the top-30.

2016 draft rankings

Fabbro, Cholowski and Jost – should they each be selected in the first round – would be the first threesome of BCHLers to go in the first round of the same draft. In 2004, Travis Zajac and Kris Chucko from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks were drafted 20th and 24th overall by New Jersey and Calgary respectively. In 2007, Kyle Turris of the Burnaby Express went third overall to the then-Phoenix Coyotes and Riley Nash of the Silverbacks went 21st overall to the Edmonton Oilers.

The NHL Draft and NCAA hockey

The combine runs May 30 to June 4 at the HarborCenter and First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y. The 2016 NHL Entry Draft will be held June 24 and 25 at First Niagara Center.