The NHL Scouting Combine may not have the pomp and circumstance that the NFL's version boasts each year, but it still provides fans the opportunity to see the future stars of the NHL workout out for prospective teams.
In other words, it's a chance for the hockey nerds to geek out as these future stars showcase their skills. What could be better?
With 101 players invited to this year's combine, you likely won't be able to keep up with each and every prospect. But one thing is for certain—you'll want to follow the combine performances of the following three players very, very closely.
Seth Jones, Portland Winterhawks
If you were looking to build the ideal right-side defenceman, you would do well to replicate Jones.
There really aren't many, if any, weaknesses in his game. He's an excellent skater, an imposing physical presence (6'3" and 205 pounds), a weapon offensively with a big shot, a smart player that sees the ice well and, oh yeah, an excellent leader too.
The stats bear out as well, as he scored 14 goals and added 42 assists for Portland this year. He truly is the complete package, and it shouldn't be long after he's drafted that he'll be controlling a blue line for an NHL team.
Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax Mooseheads
MacKinnon is a scoring machine, as the crafty center scored 40 goals and added 44 assists in just 44 games this year. That level of output is absurd.
MacKinnon is a fast and nimble skater and has excellent balance, making him a handful for defencemen to deal with one-on-one. With quick hands he's also an excellent poacher in front of goal and can quickly create space for himself in tight quarters.
He's an engine at center and makes his teammates better, as his excellent vision allows him to create scoring chances for his teammates. He has the look of a future offensive dynamo at the NHL level.
Jonathan Drouin, Halifax Mooseheads
Jones and MacKinnon may be the top prospects heading to the combine, but it was MacKinnon's teammate, Drouin, who won this year's Canadian Hockey League CCM Player of the Year.
The left winger is a scoring machine, tallying 41 goals and a whopping 64 assists in just 49 games this season. Like his teammate, Drouin has quick hands and combines the ability to both create goals for himself and for his teammates. He's a creative playmaker, smooth skater and a danger to score or create a goal every time he touches the puck.
What he lacks for in size he makes up in flash. MacKinnon may end up being the better NHL player, but Drouin will be more fun to watch, that's for sure.