The 2008 NHL Draft Combine got started on Monday in Toronto. The combine takes some of the top prospects for this year's NHL Draft and puts them through a battery of tests. Here's a little breakdown of some of what they do at the NHL Combine.
As if people using calipers to measure someone's suprailiac fat fold wasn't creepy enough, all players are required to wear matching shorts and Under Armor shirts; a rule instituted after an overweight Rob Schremp tried fooling scouts by wearing one of those t-shirts with painted on muscles.
The combine starts by measuring a player's body composition. It starts simple enough with a basic height and weight measurement, before moving on to the aforementioned skinfold fat measurements to determine body fat percentage.
The next set of tests measure strength, power, and muscular endurance. The first test of grip strength. Players must grip a hand grip dynamometer with each hand. Players who squeeze tight enough win a stuffed animal. Then players measure their push and pull strength. The machine used for this is something called a Strength Metre. NHL Central Scouting makes it clear to point out this for this test: "It is important that a maximal effort be exerted during each action without jerking." Emphasis there's. Incidentall, it's okay to half-ass the next three tests, which are bench press and sit-ups, and push-ups. The final two strength tests are standing long jump and vertical jump to measure leg strength.
The only flexibility test performed is the standard sit-and-reach test, a test that has cost many prospects their shot at a Presidential Fitness Award.
Next up is the anaerobic and aerobic portions of the fitness testing featuring the dreaded Wingate Cycle Ergometer. Whenever you hear a story of a prospect puking into a bucket, and there's always at least one per year, it's usually the result of this machine. This is basically an exercise bike hooked up to a machine that counts how many revolutions the wheels do. Players pedal until the aforementioned vomiting occurs.
Finally, all players give a full medical history and take a full physical. Because if a team drafted a player without knowing he once had acne, they would be totally screwed. They basically ask everything from "Have you ever had surgery" to "Have you ever had any unexplained weight change"("No, I'm pretty sure it was from the Doritos.")
Players also go through a psychological evaluation to measure how they might respond to certain situations.
After all of that, teams can request to interview individual players. It's a pretty long week for the players. I don't think I've ever heard of a player making a huge move up draft boards solely because of a good combine, but there are definitely cases of teams downgrading or backing away from a player based on these tests, and especially based on interviews.