The NHL Entry Draft is just a few weeks away, so teams got one final look at the top prospects at the NHL Scouting Combine last week in Toronto.  Michigan was represented at the event with top prospects Jacob Trouba, Boo Nieves, and Phil Di Giuseppe.

So who performed the best?  Judging by the results, which lists the top 10 for each category, Nieves had a very impressive combine.  He made the top 10 in seven categories, including finishing second in the 150 lbs. bench press with 15 reps.  Di Giuseppe was tied for fifth in the bench press with 12 reps.  Nieves was seventh in Peak Power Output, which measures how explosive a skater is. and tenth in body fat (sorry, no OMG shirtless! pics).  Here’s a link to NHL.com’s Combine recap, which explains what some of the categories measure. 

Trouba summed up the event for himself in a blog for NHL.com, which starts out with him recalling a dream he had of NTDP teammate Pat Sieloff hitting someone in the head with a baseball bat and losing a little sleep over it.  Seriously. But otherwise he talks about the whole whirlwind of going through all the tests and at one point talking with Ryan Murray and asking each other “What are we doing?”


Because you can’t have Trouba without MORE Trouba, NHL.com’s Mike Morreale has a short fluff story on Jacob’s admiration for some Nicklas Lidstrom guy.

“Growing up in the Detroit area, watching him play, is something a lot of kids don’t get to do, but I did,” Trouba told NHL.com. “It was just how he always handled himself. I really respected how he never really wanted to be the center of attention, but was always ‘The Guy’ on the ice. That was something really cool. He’s a star in this League, but never really acted like a star, and that’s probably the biggest thing I admired in him.”

NHL.com also posted a video of a trip Trouba and NTDP teammate Stefan Matteau took to a local arcade.


Former NHL Scout-turned-ESPN analyst Grant Sonier offers his Top 50 players for the NHL Draft ($). Sonier was a scout with the former Atlanta Thrashers and spent the past season with ESPN, so he has been scouting the 2012 draft class for a couple of years. Wolverines of interest…

#17 – Jacob Trouba (up from #21)

Skating, size and a heavy shot are his best assets. Trouba plays with grit and determination. His puck decisions under pressure have been a big question mark for me, but an improvement in this area has me moving him up my list. He has the tools to play — he just has to put them to good use. At the very least can play as a No. 5 or 6 defensive defenseman.

#31 – Phil Di Giuseppe (down from #30)

Solid skating, a complete two-way game and a hard-working approach while playing as one of the youngest players in college hockey adds up to one solid NHL prospect. He had respectable offensive numbers as a freshman. The Wolverines’ winger plays strong on the puck and his measurements surprise me, as he looks and plays bigger than listed.

International Scouting Service released their NHL Draft Guide and is more bullish on Trouba, ranking him #5 overall and the top stay-at-home defenseman.  Di Giuseppe is ranked #35.  That 30s area seems to be the consensus for him.  Nieves is ranked #63.  His stock is all over the place.  2013 defenseman Spencer Hyman is ranked #150 overall, the first I’ve seen him ranked anywhere, and incoming freshman defenseman Connor Carrick is #162.  [Full disclosure: Hyman's father, Stu (also father of Michigan forward Zach Hyman), owns ISS but is said not to have any involvement with the rankings.]

On to ISS’s comments…

On Trouba

Trouba is the type of defenceman that most scouts drool over. The US back end was one of the biggest stories of the World U18 Championship & much can be attributed to Trouba’s talented play. A big & strong defender that isn’t overly flashy but can dominate in his own end. He is an excellent thinker on both sides of the puck & has great two-way instincts & smart anticipation. He is an imposing player that can quickly capitalize on the other team’s mistakes. A player that exhudes confidence. Hard not to notice him. Jacob is a very complete defender that can be used in all situations. He displays superior skills and has the ability to set the pace- speed up or slow down the game. Trouba’s style translates well to the pro game.

On Di Giuseppe

PDG is creative with the puck. He’s a smooth skating LW with good vision and headsy anticipation. Phil had an impressive freshman season at powerhouse Michigan. He transitioned well from Junior A and quickly took advantage of all opportunities early on. Phil showed well at Team Canada camp. PDG works hard, particularily in the offensive Zone. He has soft hands and a good accurate shot. Look for continued development under the tutelage of legendary Head Coach Red Berenson. PDG plays with confidence. He drives to the net well and on PP often found sneaking around the crease for a tap in. Very effective offensively, needs work on his defensive game, fortunately Michigan is known for developing quality two way NHL players. A nice addition to any NHL team.

On Nieves

Nieves rocketed up the charts after showing off his stuff with USA at the Ivan Hlinka. A very Raw prospect that has much upside. Nieves is a smooth skater with explosive quickness. He has good size but is very thin and has a ton of room to build on his frame. He has great hands and displays a high level of skill. An excellent play maker, Nieves can create offense well off the rush. He tends to be the set up man more than the shooter.

On Hyman

A hard hitting D-man that plays a very physical game. Reliable at both ends of the ice. Can contribute offensively, but his strength lies in his punishing play. Smart with the puck- passes well. Not overly flashy, but effective. Strong on the point with a good shot, gets the puck to the net. An intimidating player that leads on the ice and in the dressing room. Has a team first attitude with lots of character. Will accept whatever role asked of him. Always sticks up for his teammates and is a very strong fighter. OJHL West All Star. Solid pick with lots of upside. Committed to the University of Michigan Wolverines.

On Carrick

Good Skater with mobility. Not afraid to rush with the puck. Gets pucks to the net. Makes an accurate first pass. Handles the 2-on-1 rush well. Needs to improve his decision making when pressed with the puck, but will mature at the University of Michigan 2012. Much upside.