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StarPhoenix article (Blades headed to T.O.)

May 25 2012 at 7:25 AM
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Response to Edmonton Journal article (Face of Oil Kings plays final game?

 
Blades headed to T.O

By Daniel Nugent-Bowman, The StarPhoenix

May 25, 2012

Thanks to his extensive hockey lineage, Lukas Sutter has a pretty good idea of what to expect Monday when the NHL draft combine gets underway in Toronto.

His father, Rich, and five of his uncles played in the NHL and have worked for various teams after hanging up their skates, with Darryl currently coaching the Stanley Cup finalbound L o s Angeles Kings.

Throw in cousin Brandon's attendance at the 2007 combine, and Sutter has a leg up on the other 104 players taking part in the week-long, pre-draft fitness and interview sessions.

"I've grown up around the game and grown up around these types of situations," said the Blades' 18-year-old centre, who was the 39thrated skater in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, released April 9.

"The biggest thing is trying to be yourself. That's what teams look for is a guy who's most comfortable in his surroundings."

Sutter will be joined by at the combine by Blades teammates Dalton Thrower and Andrey Makarov.

Thrower, who was voted the team's top defenceman this season, could stand to gain the most from the combine.

Backed by an 18-goal, 54-point performance during the WHL season - good for eighth in scoring among league rearguards - the North Vancouver product is currently ranked 26th by NHL Central Scouting and 29th by The Hockey News.

A solid showing for Thrower in Toronto could cement his status as a first-round pick.

"My goal is to go in the first round of the draft," he said. "It's been a goal of mind since the very beginning of the year. I worked my way up there. Hopefully, at the end, it all pays off."

After the Blades were eliminated in the first round of the WHL playoffs by Medicine Hat, Thrower spent a couple of weeks rehabbing a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the last five games of the regular season.

Since then, the 18-year-old has been pushing himself at the VO2 Max (aerobic) and Wingate (anaerobic) exercises, which are featured at the combine.

Now he's just anxiously waiting for Monday to come.

"It's definitely going to be a test, but it's something that I'm excited for," Thrower said. "I'm not going to be eating much that day, just with the nerves and everything. You just got to try and stay calm.

"You're going to go in there and work your hardest. If you do end up puking at the end of it, you know you gave it all you got and that's all that matters."

Thrower added that he's been working on his interviewing skills - something Makarov has been doing as well.

The Blades goaltender, who was named team MVP after posting 29 wins with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage, is in London, Ont., working out with a personal trainer.

But Makarov is more concerned about what he'll say to the representatives from the 30 NHL clubs than he is with his physical testing.

"I'm a goalie. I need to work out but I need to stop the puck, right?" said the 19-year-old, who's pegged as the seventh best goaltender available by NHL Central Scouting.

When asked what he plans to say, Makarov responded: "It depends what questions they ask me."

The Kazan, Russia native added he is looking forward spending time with 2012 world junior teammates Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko, both of whom are slated to be selected within the first five picks of the draft.

Makarov will also have Sutter and Thrower there with him. Although the three are close friends on the Blades, Sutter knows the combine is all about business and doesn't leave much time for socializing.

The Lethbridge, Alta., native earned 28 goals and 59 points in 70 games this season - more than doubling his totals from the 2010-11 campaign - while also playing an effective a two-way role that earned him the Blades' defensive forward of the year honours.

And now he's hoping to show what else he can offer in Toronto.

"I think I've proved to a lot of people I'm capable of being a very successful hockey player this season," Sutter said. "I'm definitely prepared to go in there and leave that lasting impression."

dnugent-bowman @thestarphoenix.com

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