Ice Hockey

How did Liam Kirk fare in the physical stakes at the 2018 NHL Combine?

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The 2018 NHL draft is all about the star Swedish D man Rasmus Dahlin, but this week the UK’s own Liam Kirk got the opportunity to showcase his off-ice talents to the North-American hockey elite at the NHL Combine in Buffalo – A one-stop-shop for NHL personnel to examine both the character and physical prowess of 104 draft-eligible prospects before making their selections on the 22-23 of June.

With all attendees being heavily scouted before the event, the combine serves as a unique opportunity for teams to interact with prospects on a personal level with the aim of determining potential ‘goodness-of-fit’ for their organisation. NHL staff are looking to spot any potential physical weaknesses and to assess if a guy will be the right fit for their team, their community and their city.

The Bruins, Coyotes, Redwings, Canucks, Oilers, Jets and Sabres all sent scouts to vet Kirk over the course of the year. Coyotes, Bruins, Sabres, Redwings, Avalanche, Blackhawks, Rangers, Senators, Sharks and Capitals were among the teams that spent time getting to know Liam over the course of the week – Scott Wheeler at The Athletic believes it will ultimately be one of these teams who take a chance on the Brit at somewhere around the 6th or 7th round on draft day.

How did he fare in the physical stakes?

Each of the players has to endure 12 fitness tests with only the top 25 from each category listed on the NHL Central Scouting page. So how did he do…? (stats collated from NHL central scouting 02/06/2018)

Screen Shot 2018-06-02 at 17.06.31Athlete does as many consecutive pull ups they can while maintaining the correct technique.

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Athlete stands with feet slightly apart with toes behind the jumping line. Using an arm swing to assist, the athlete jumps as far as possible.

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Lifting 50% of his body weight utilising free weights (including the barbell). Each athlete will perform three reps at maximum velocity, with a slight pause between each rep at the chest position. A “Gym Aware” device will be used to measure the velocity of the bar and the athlete’s ability to produce power. The reported score will be measured in watts/kg.

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An AccuPower Dual Force Plate system will be used to objectively measure the direction, strength and timing of the three-dimensional (3D) forces that the athlete produces during hockey related movement. The AccuPower system also captures synchronized video data from two high speed cameras and overlays the 3D force vector produced from each leg. The test will provide immediate feedback allowing teams to assess movement efficiency, physical performance and injury potential.…
Three jump types will be performed: Vertical Jump (with arm swing), No Arm Jump (no arm swing / hands on hips) and Squat Jump (squat start / hands on hips). Each jump test will include three separate maximum effort vertical jumps separated by 10 seconds of rest. The athlete’s best vertical jump height from the three attempts of each jump will be recorded.

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This is a series tests which assesses mobility and stability in the athlete during following seven movement exercises: deep squat, hurdle step, in­line lunge, shoulder mobility, active straight leg raise, trunk stability push­up and rotary stability. It is meant to identify the quality, limitations and weaknesses (or right and left side imbalances) of basic movements by an athlete.

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Considering there were 104 hand picked, potential future NHL’ers at the event – not too shabby for a young guy from Maltby who grew up playing 2 hours of junior hockey a week!

See Liam speaking to the media this morning:

(all images courtesy of Sportsnet.ca and NHL Central Scouting)

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