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NHL DRAFT COMBINE GOT INTO FULL ACTION ON FRIDAY IN TORONTO

Friday, 06.02.2006 / 12:00 AM / Pittsburgh Penguins
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NHL DRAFT COMBINE GOT INTO FULL ACTION ON FRIDAY IN TORONTO

TORONTO – There wasn’t an ice sheet around, but there was plenty of hockey activity in Toronto on Friday.

The NHL Draft Combine got into full swing at the Park Plaza Toronto Airport Hotel with hockey’s top prospects enduring a battery of medical and physical tests as well as interviews with scouts and officials from NHL teams.

A majority of the world’s 115 draft-eligible top prospects were put through various physical tests in the hotel’s ballroom throughout Friday. Prior to the physical testing, the players went through medical exams. The prospects also interviewed with team officials throughout the day as well as the past couple days. The remainder of prospects will have their medical and physical exams on Saturday, while the team interviews wrap up as well.

The prospects at the Combine represent the NHL Central Scouting department’s top-rated 70 skaters and nine goaltenders from North American leagues and the projected top 36 European skaters and goaltenders.

PittsburghPenguins.com had the chance to interview four of the top draft prospects: Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews and Phil Kessel. Check back frequently for feature stories and video pieces that will appear in the weeks leading up to the June 24 NHL Entry Draft.

Johnson, who played for the United States National Under-18 team, is the top-rated North American player in the NHL Central Scouting’s mid-season rankings. Staal is the younger brother of Carolina Hurricanes star Eric Staal. Their brother, Marc, was drafted by the Rangers in 2005. Toews (North Dakota) and Kessel (Minnesota) are two NCAA Division-I stars and had success on the international level for Canada and the United States, respectively.

In addition, PittsburghPenguins.com will feature a photo gallery and additional stories once the Combine concludes on Saturday.

The Pittsburgh Penguins own the second-overall pick for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, which will take place at General Motors Place in Vancouver on June 24 at 6 p.m. It will be televised in the United States on OLN.

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