After a week-long interview with NHL teams Monday through Thursday, the 2022 NHL All-In-One participants focused on fitness testing on Friday and Saturday.
After the prospects finished their drills, they spoke to the media to reflect on the week, the upcoming draft and their hockey careers.
A prospect who could be available to the Flyers with the fifth overall pick in the draft, Slovakian defenseman Šimon Nemec (third ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting), did not participate in testing during the harvest -harvester and was not made available to the media. Czech defender David Jiříček (European fourth skater) was unable to attend and Russian right winger Danila Yurov (European seventh skater) was not invited.
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Here’s a look at two players — winger Joakim Kemell and center Marco Kasper, two forwards the Flyers might consider at No. 5:
For the first time since 2019, the NHL suit and fitness testing gauntlet returned to Buffalo, NY Finnish winger Kemell, the second European skater behind Juraj Slafkovský, was one of the first prospects in the day to go through the exercises in the group from 7:30 am.
Kemell had strong opinions about the 30-second Wingate test, designed to assess anaerobic capacity.
“Oh, that was awful,” Kemell said.
“I just think, ‘Soon it’s over. Soon it’s over.
The Wingate test went quickly, as Kemell finished with a fatigue index of 45.9, which ranked among the top 17 among the participants. But his multi-day interview roster didn’t keep pace, as Kemell sat down with 18 teams at the combine.
After a strong season with JYP in the Finnish Liiga which saw Kemell score the most goals in the league as a rookie (15) and win a bronze medal at the U18 World Championship with a team record six goals and two assists for eight points, it makes sense that many clubs would be interested in knowing Kemell off the ice.
In those rooms filled with NHL general managers, extra front desk staff and scouts, Kemell developed a cohesive approach to how we mastered those interviews.
“Just be brave and confident and speak English,” Kemell said with a laugh.
Along with Kemell’s season highs, there have also been a few lows, including an upper-body injury he suffered in November. Upon his return in December, he did not find his next 13 game scoresheet until February. Kemell described the season as a whole as “a little weird”.
However, Kemell is turning heads with his impressive shooting and clearance, which he developed in his backyard in Finland while shooting a net. He models his game after David Pastrňák, who boasts “good shot, skating and vision on the ice”.
Kemell has two years left on his contract with JYP and plans to return next season.
Like Kemell, Austrian center Kasper was part of the 7:30 test group, posting impressive numbers in the Wingate (tied for best Fatigue Index score) and VO2 max (tied for second-best result).
As grueling as the testing process was, the interviews were even more intense. In total, the 18-year-old Kasper, ranked fifth among European skaters, has addressed all but two NHL teams: the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes. He got a few weird questions – a team asked him to sing a song – but he enjoyed a geography-related inquiry that required him to name Australia’s capital (Canberra).
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Kasper is particularly worldly – he made the jump from junior hockey in Austria aged 16 to the J18 team at SHL Rögle BK club in Sweden aged 17. He learned Swedish within six months of arriving in the country, adding a new language to a repertoire that included German and English.
“It was really interesting to learn Swedish and English, because I think it’s important to try to fit in and communicate,” Kasper said. “So I tried to learn it as fast as possible, and I also think German is quite similar to Swedish.”
This season, Kasper has played 12 games with Rögle’s J20 team (six goals, seven assists for 13 points) but has spent most of his time with the pro club, one of the best in the SHL. In 46 games, Kasper has registered seven goals and four assists. His 11 points were the most by an SHL U18 junior. Kasper still has one year left on his contract with Rögle.
Going from J20 to pro in the SHL was a challenge for Kasper, especially from a defensive standpoint.
“I think I have the puck on my stick more in juniors,” Kasper said. “In the SHL, everything is so structured. You have to be on the right side defensively all the time. Probably like having the puck on the stick a bit more. »
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Either way, the experience of playing against men full-time has been invaluable to Kasper. At 6-foot-1 and 187 pounds, Kasper showed skill and strength while playing against the best competition in the country.
With the help of his father, Peter, who played professional hockey for 14 years, mostly in Austria, Kasper identified areas of his game he wants to improve by reviewing movies.
“He’s been on me moving my feet the whole game,” Kasper said. “[And] competition level. To really go into battles and try to win every game.