Saturday, 13 Jul 2024

NHL Draft Combine Testing

The NHL Draft Combine is an annual assessment that involves interviews, medical screenings, and fitness tests over a four-day period. All 30 NHL teams send representatives to watch the testing and interview the young prospects. This article provides an overview of the combine’s fitness testing component.

Fitness Testing

Historical Changes

Over the years, the fitness testing at the NHL Draft Combine has evolved. In 2007, new tests were added, including the hexagon test for agility, a balance test, and a vertical jump with a pause. Grip strength fatigue and wingspan were also measured for the first time. In 2013, the Functional Movement Screen was introduced. In 2014, some tests were replaced, such as push-ups being replaced by overhand pull-ups and seated medicine ball throw. The combine review in 2015 led to further changes in testing methods and equipment.

Current Tests

The fitness testing at the combine now includes a variety of assessments that evaluate different aspects of athleticism. The tests include:

  • Standing Height: measured to the nearest 0.25 inch.
  • Wingspan: measured from the middle finger tip to middle finger tip.
  • Body Weight: recorded to the nearest quarter lb.
  • BodPod: uses air displacement technology to measure body fat and lean mass.
  • Grip Strength: test of hand grip muscle strength, conducted on each hand.
  • Bench Press Max Power: Lifting 50% of body weight as quickly as possible for three reps, with maximum power measured.
  • Standing Long Jump: test of leg power.
  • Vertical Jump: test of leg power using a force plate.
  • Pull-Ups: measurement of the maximum number of pull-ups.
  • Pro Agility Test: a sideways movement test that measures agility.
  • Y-Balance Test: a test of strength, flexibility, core control, and proprioception.
  • Wingate Test: a 30-second bike test for anaerobic power.
  • VO2max Test: measures the amount of oxygen utilized during exercise.
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Previous Tests

In the past, the NHL combine included additional tests such as single leg squats, curl-ups, balance board, hex agility, push-ups, upper body push and pull strength, seated medicine ball throw, and sit and reach. While these tests are no longer part of the current combine, they were previously used in the assessment protocol.

Medical Evaluation

The medical evaluation at the combine includes a health questionnaire, a physical examination, knee examination, photographs, and an eye test. In 2009, an echocardiogram test was added to the screening process. The medical assessment takes about half an hour to complete.

Functional Movement Screen

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) was added to the combine protocol in 2013. This screen involves seven joint tests that assess movement patterns. A lower score on the FMS may indicate a risk of future injury.

Psychological Evaluation

A psychological evaluation is administered to assess the mental capabilities of the prospects. The evaluation consists of a two-part computer test that measures personality traits, mental toughness, decision speed, and accuracy. It also includes a test of spatial awareness and reaction time.


The interview is a crucial part of the combine, allowing teams to interact with the prospects face-to-face. The interview lasts for about 20 minutes and may include a sports psychologist among the interviewers.


The NHL Draft Combine testing provides teams with valuable insights into the physical and mental abilities of the prospects. The fitness testing component plays a significant role in evaluating the athleticism and potential of the young players.

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  • What is the NHL Draft Combine? The NHL Draft Combine is an annual assessment of young prospects that involves interviews, medical screenings, and fitness tests.
  • How many teams participate in the combine? All 30 NHL teams send representatives to watch the testing and interview the prospects.
  • What tests are included in the fitness testing component? The fitness testing component includes assessments such as grip strength, bench press max power, vertical jump, pull-ups, pro agility test, and more.
  • Does the combine include on-ice skill testing? The NHL has considered adding on-ice skill testing to the combine, but it is not currently part of the testing procedures.
  • What is the purpose of the psychological evaluation? The psychological evaluation helps assess the mental capabilities and potential of the prospects.
  • How long does the medical evaluation take? The medical evaluation takes about half an hour to complete.
  • What is the Functional Movement Screen? The Functional Movement Screen is a set of joint tests that assess movement patterns and identify potential imbalances or deficiencies.
  • How long is the interview with team personnel? The interview with team personnel typically lasts for around 20 minutes.
  • How does the combine benefit teams in the NHL draft? The combine provides teams with valuable information about the prospects’ physical and mental abilities, helping them make informed decisions during the draft process.