TORONTO -- The draft combine in Toronto is a good way for general managers and scouting directors to get to know the personalities behind some of the most talented young hockey players in the world.
For Russian prospects, it may be even more important than for players born anywhere else.
With the threat of the KHL hovering, teams add an extra layer of risk when selecting a young talent who may also get serious offers to play in Russia. It was a hot topic all week long at the NHL combine.
The Edmonton Oilers hold the top pick, with Russian Nail Yakupov (Sarnia Sting, OHL) widely considered the best talent, and GM Steve Tambellini said the key is knowing the player well by the time you call his name. He said the Oilers still haven't decided who they plan to select with the No. 1 overall pick on June 22.
"You have to get to know the person," said Tambellini, who pointed out it's no different than drafting a prospect from Sweden or someone determined to stay in college and not join the NHL right away. "You have to find out what really motivates them and why and what their goals are. And then maybe get a sense if there's some hesitation or not."
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