Combine will give Wings close look at prospects

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Ken Holland

Detroit – The Red Wings will be conducting job interviews next week, talking to draft prospects at the NHL scouting combine in Buffalo.

Teams will have opportunities to conduct one-on-one interviews with invited players Monday through Friday and complete physical and medical assessments of players they’re interested in.

The last day of the combine, Saturday, will consist of the majority of the fitness testing.

Ryan Martin, the Red Wings’ assistant general manager, feels the combine is an excellent opportunity for teams to get to know draft picks, and vice-versa.

“Throughout the year, our area chief scouts will have met players at the rink or during an off-day in a much more casual environment,” Martin said. “This is more of a job interview. There’s seven or eight of us, including (general manager) Ken Holland, myself, (special assistant to GM) Kris Draper, scouts, and it can be an uncomfortable situation for some people.

“So it’s important to see how they react.”

The Red Wings usually interview 50-60 prospects, said Martin, of the 114 invited to the combine. They wound up interviewing half of their eight draft picks last year.

“It’s helpful in that you can address deficiencies in their games, strengths and weaknesses, and what they have to work on,” Martin said. “If there were some character issues, it’s an opportunity to put them on the spot and address those, and it’s interesting to see how the players react.”

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Saturday’s testing day at the combine will showcase players’ strength, agility and conditioning.

Tyler Wright, the Red Wings’ amateur scouting director, and Jiri Fischer, director of player development, will monitor the physical testing.

The NHL draft takes place June 24-25 in Buffalo’s First Niagra Center.

The expected top picks in the draft – forwards Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi – will attend the combine.