The 2016 NHL Scouting Combine has begun in Buffalo with 114 players invited to attend, headed by Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujärvi.
The Combine is in Buffalo again after a successful event last year and makes for a good lead up to the draft which is in the same location. (Tickets for the draft go on sale today.) The first portion of the Combine is given over to medical testing and player interviews, with the heart of the action taking place on Saturday, June 4 when the fitness testing takes place.
The location in Buffalo allows for some filming of the players to take place, so fans can get a chance to see their favourites getting their wingspan measured and doing the dreaded VO2 max test.
The Leafs will have a busy time of it this year. They have to decide just who to select with that first overall pick.
Which shouldn't be too difficult.
The Leafs scouting staff has already spoken to Auston Matthews, as he explains in this NHL.com article that has some lovely anecdotes about his time in Zurich with his mom.
"I think the meeting and interview went well," Matthews said. "It was a get-to-know-more-about-you kind of thing. I wasn't asked anything that was out of the ordinary; nothing really to throw me a curveball."
In addition to the scouting staff, Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello was present at the interview and listening to every word.
"Mr. Lamoriello didn't ask me any questions but was just observing and listening," Matthews said.
But they also have the Pittsburgh first which is either the 29th or 30th. They have their own second which is the first of the second round, so 31st and the Washington second which will be at 56 overall if there's no compensatory picks in between. For the sake of ease, we'll pretend there are no extra picks.
Toronto also has two thirds, their own, which will be the 61st and the New Jersey third, which will be 71st. Remember, Tyson Barrie went 64th overall, so due diligence in that part of the draft can be handsomely rewarded.
Then there's the two fourths, their own, which will be 91st and Colorado's which is 100.
All of those picks could be used to choose players at the Combine. And if the Leafs are open to the opportunities of trading with any of them, they need to be ready to pick in different locations or to have more picks if they trade down.
That's a lot of teenagers to interview, tests to watch, and numbers to crunch.
This video from last year shows some of the testing in the Buffalo venue: