2023 Draft: Bedard to be in spotlight at NHL Scouting Combine

“The NHL Combine is a rite of passage on a players’ path to the NHL and is an event that NHL clubs and prospects look forward to participating in,” NHL Central Scouting vice president Dan Marr said.

The combine, which will run June 4-10, gives the 32 NHL teams physical and medical assessments of the top prospects ahead of the 2023 draft at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on June 28-29.

“The NHL combine is the final showcase event before the NHL draft and it’s a week full of interviews, medicals and fitness testing where the players get to interact with NHL personnel and the NHL clubs get to learn as much as possible about the future stars of our game,” Marr said.

There will be 65 forwards, 34 defensemen, and seven goalies attending the combine. All are listed in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings of North American and International skaters and goaltenders presented by BioSteel.

“One of the exciting changes we’ve adopted this year on the technology side is the development of an app for the players,” Central Scouting director David Gregory said. “In the past, players would arrive, meet with us, which they’ll still do, and we’ll make sure that everything is correct for them. With the app, they’ll know coming into the combine exactly what their schedule is, where they’re staying, and their profile will be updated daily.

“You’ve got hundreds of young men running around trying to get to testing, to medicals, and there’s always somebody that’s not in the right place at the right time. But the app will allow us to contact players, and they’ll be able to know where they need to be. It’s just great to see technology being implemented to make it a better process and better experience for the players.”

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Teams can have 1-on-1 interviews with the prospects at KeyBank Center from June 5-9. The medical examinations will take place June 7, and seven of the 11 fitness tests will take place at HarborCenter on June 10 (standing height/wingspan, standing horizontal jump, force plate vertical jump, bench press, pro agility test, pull ups, Wingate Cycle Ergometer test).

No player can test until clearing the medical screening.

Bedard (5-foot-10, 185 pounds), a right-handed center with Regina of the Western Hockey League, is No. 1 on Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters and is expected to be chosen with the first pick of the draft, which belongs to the Chicago Blackhawks, who won the NHL Draft Lottery on May 8. The Anaheim Ducks have the No. 2 selection, and the Columbus Blue Jackets have the No. 3 pick.

The 17-year-old led the WHL in goals (71), points (143), shots on goal (360), points per game (2.51) and goals per game (1.24) in 57 regular-season games. He also had a plus-39 rating, won 53.6 percent of his face-offs and had 45 power-play points. His 35-game point streak (44 goals, 46 assists) from Sept. 24 to Feb. 1 was tied for league’s longest this season.

Bedard had 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in seven games for Regina in its loss to Saskatoon in the first round of the WHL playoffs. He was the first WHL player since 2012 to score 10 or more goals in a single playoff series.

Also scheduled to participate in the Combine will be University of Michigan freshman center Adam Fantilli (6-2, 195), who won the Hobey Baker Award as the top men’s player in NCAA ice hockey and a gold medal for Canada at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship in January and the 2023 IIHF World Championship in May. The 18-year-old, who is No. 2 among North American skaters, led NCAA players with 65 points and was tied for first with 30 goals in 36 games. He had 15 points (10 goals, five assists) in seven college playoff games, including the Big 10 Tournament and NCAA Tournament.

William Smith (6-0, 181), No. 3 among North American skaters, is one of 13 players from USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program Under-18 team invited to the combine. The list includes goalies Trey Augustine (6-1, 183) and Carsen Musser (6-4, 215).

Smith, a right-handed shot, was second on the NTDP with 127 points (51 goals, 76 assists) in 60 games, including 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) in 22 games against NCAA competition. He also was named the best forward and most valuable player at the 2023 IIHF World Under-18 Championship after leading the gold medal-winning United States with 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists), tying a U.S. record at the tournament set by Jack Hughes in 2019.

The 18-year-old is committed to play at Boston College next season.

Leo Carlsson (6-3, 198), No. 1 on Central Scouting’s final ranking of International skaters, is one of 23 International players invited to the combine.

Carlsson had 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) and seven power-play goals in 44 games with Orebro of Swedish Hockey League. The 18-year-old had six points (three goals, three assists) in seven games for Sweden at the WJC and five points (three goals, two assists) in eight games at the World Championship.

Other top International players taking part are No. 3 center Dalibor Dvorsky (6-1, 201) of AIK in Sweden’s second division, and No. 4 left wing Eduard Sale (6-2, 174) of Brno in the Czech Republic.

Dvorsky can become the fourth Slovakia-born player chosen in the first round of the draft in the past two years, joining forward Juraj Slafkovsky (No. 1, Montreal Canadiens), defenseman Simon Nemec (No. 2, New Jersey Devils) and forward Filip Mesar (No. 26, Canadiens) in the 2022 NHL Draft.

Carson Bjarnason (6-3, 186), No. 1 on the final ranking of North American goalies, is expected to attend the combine. Bjarnason was 21-19-6 with a 3.08 goals-against average, three shutouts and a .900 save percentage in 47 games with Brandon of the WHL. The Wheat Kings did not qualify for the WHL playoffs.

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