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Draft survey: Prospects talk NHL comps, Uber ratings, trash talk, and more

Chase Agnello-Dean, Bill Wippert, Joe Hrycych / NHL / Getty Images

The 2024 NHL Draft runs June 28-29 in Las Vegas. At the scouting combine in Buffalo in early June, we surveyed dozens of draft-eligible players on a variety of topics. Their answers, listed below, have been lightly edited for clarity.

QWhich NHL player do you model your game after?

Zayne Parekh, D, Saginaw (OHL): I like to watch a lot of (Cale) Makar, (Quinn) Hughes, and (Erik) Karlsson. All so good at what they do. I think I fit in that mold of defensemen. I like to play with the puck. I like to hold on to pucks. So, I like to take little bits and pieces from their game and add them to mine.

Brodie Ziemer, RW, USA Hockey National Team Development Program: Tyler Toffoli. He has really good hockey sense. It allows him to play the game faster than he really is.

Cayden Lindstrom, C, Medicine Hat (WHL): I try and be my own player, but I think I play a lot like Roope Hintz. Both power forwards. Centermen. Skilled with the puck. Protect the puck well.

Cayden Lindstrom and Roope Hintz. NHL / Getty Images

Jared Woolley, D, London (OHL): I like to think I can play like Alex Pietrangelo - a left-handed version. I play that two-way style of game and I have a big body like him. I can play in all situations.

Eriks Mateiko, LW, Saint John (QMJHL): Adam Lowry. What I need is toughness. He's a good leader and I want to play that role.

Jacob Battaglia, RW, Kingston (OHL): I really like Leon Draisaitl. He isn't the greatest straight-line skater, but he makes up for it with his edge work and puck protection. The way he sees the ice and thinks the game, I think, is pretty similar to me.

Maxim Masse, RW, Chicoutimi (QMJHL): I love to watch Alex Tuch. That's what I want to look like in the NHL. His shot, his game without the puck, and how he can score goals in different ways - that's why I love him.

Veeti Vaisanen, D, KooKoo (Finland, Liiga): My favorite player? Erik Karlsson. I don't have hands like him, or the offensive stuff. I try to be like K'Andre Miller instead.

Sam Dickinson, D, London (OHL): I'd say (Miro) Heiskanen on Dallas. The way he takes control of games with his skating ability - offensively, defensively - that's something I try to emulate. A guy that does everything, plays all situations for them.

AJ Spellacy, RW, Windsor (OHL): Definitely Tom Wilson. He's a mean power forward. Guys on the other team are scared of him and nobody wants to play against him. I'm a force out there when I'm playing hard.

AJ Spellacy and Tom Wilson. NHL / Getty Images

Julius Miettinen, C, Everett (WHL): (Aleksander) Barkov. I appreciate his two-way game - how hard he plays and how he sees the game. Overall, just a good player, does everything perfect. I've been watching him since he played in Liiga.

Riley Patterson, C, Barrie (OHL): A guy like J.T. Miller on Vancouver. Similar body types. Thicker guy that protects the puck but also has the offensive ability. I believe, in myself, that I have that as well.

Miguel Marques, RW, Lethbridge (WHL): The one guy I try to follow a little bit is Nathan MacKinnon, just because he plays the game the right way and he's super skilled. But the closest one might be Jesper Bratt - because of the way he skates and makes plays. He scans the ice pretty well. I think we have a lot of similarities in the hockey IQ and playmaking side of things.

Carter George, G, Owen Sound (OHL): Igor Shesterkin and Jeremy Swayman. Both are around my height, both are elite goalies. Good edge work, good at tracking pucks. I like to take stuff from both of them and make it my own.

QIf you could steal one trait from an active NHLer, what would it be?

Tij Iginla. Dale Preston / Getty Images

Tij Iginla, C, Kelowna (WHL): Hard not to take (Connor) McDavid's speed.

Simon Zether, C, Rogle (Sweden, SHL): McDavid's speed. His skating, if I got that, I would be in the NHL right now. Another guy who's underrated and I looked up to during my childhood is Nicklas Backstrom. I love how he sees the game. His passing game had such a big impact on how many goals Alex Ovechkin scored.

Tanner Howe, LW, Regina (WHL): Matthew Tkachuk's style of hockey. He plays with so much emotion. He's a hard worker. He's competitive. He wants to score. He wants to get better each and every day. I almost play a little bit like him already.

Charlie Elick, D, Brandon (WHL): Moritz Seider. His reverse hits are something that stand out.

Tomas Lavoie, D, Cape Breton (QMJHL): I'd bring more meanness in my game like Radko Gudas.

EJ Emery, D, USNTDP: Jake Sanderson's ability to break out the puck. He's kind of a breakout machine - the way he's able to move his feet and get the puck up the ice. His deception is some of the best in the world.

George: Bobrovsky's patience.

Carter George. Ben Ludeman / Getty Images

Lukas Fischer, D, Sarnia (OHL): Probably Ovechkin's shot. He's been doing it for the last 20 years and no one can figure out how to stop it.

Berkly Catton, C, Spokane (WHL): Maybe MacKinnon's crossovers. So, so powerful. It's crazy. It looks like he's going to wreck the ice.

Patterson: MacKinnon’s explosiveness. Just how he moves with the puck. You see how he gets from one end to the other in an instant.

Marek Vanacker, LW, Brantford (OHL): Probably (Auston) Matthews' shot. He can really rip that puck. If I could have that, it would really take my game to the next level. I watch video on it, and I'm working on my shot all summer and during the year.

Mateiko: Makar's edges. For my size (6-foot-5, 216 pounds), if I would be able to skate like him, that would give me a good advantage.

QWhat's the strangest question teams asked you at the combine?

Oliver Josephson (93), Tij Iginla (77), Dean Letourneau (142). Ben Ludeman / Getty Images

Terik Parascak, RW, Prince George (WHL): I got asked by Nashville, 'If you were in the army, would you be a sniper, a medic, or a helicopter pilot?' That was a different one I wasn't expecting or prepared for. I said a sniper because I like being under that pressure, and sniper is obviously a high-pressure position.

Dean Letourneau, C, St. Andrew's College (Ontario, high school): 'If I was to join the army, would I be a pilot, a medic, or a sniper?' I chose sniper. I didn't really know what to think, but it was the only scenario where I could have control of myself. It was me versus another guy.

Will Skahan, D, USNTDP: (One team) gave me the infamous, 'If there's a reason why you didn’t get to the NHL, what would be that reason?’ I said, 'Either injury or death. That's how committed I am to the game.'

Hagen Burrows, RW, Minnetonka (Minnesota, high school): The only weird one I had (from Minnesota) was to say the alphabet and then say the (sequencing) number after each letter. It was weirdly hard.

Spellacy: 'If you were on a plane and the pilot said, "Do you want me to do my best, or do you want me to land the plane?" What would you tell him to do?' I said, 'Well, if the pilot is doing his best he's going to land the plane, that's why he's a pilot.'

Marques: (Utah) asked to see what my rating in the Uber was. It's a 5. So that's pretty good. I didn't know how to get to it (on my phone). I didn't even know that was a thing. I was a little nervous to see what it was.

Parekh: My Uber rating and my Snapchat score. Those were the two ones that stood out. I have a really good (rating). I use Uber a lot. It's a 4.92, which could be better, but it's up there. I've probably done 200 rides and sometimes it's me just sitting quiet in the back because I'm tired. Maybe they don't like that. But, usually, I'm a chatty guy and that's where I get my stars from.

Zayne Parekh. Nic Antaya / Getty Images

Mikhail Yegorov, G, Omaha (USHL): I would say Colorado because we played some board games. I remember beating their GM in one board game. (Laughs) So, yeah, it was fun.

John Mustard, C, Waterloo (USHL): I did play some games with Colorado, which was pretty fun actually. One was putting keys through holes. Memory games. And then a slingshot game. You have to play against one of the members of the staff. There's a little string, you have little discs, so you try and get it through the little hole, and whoever has the most (at the end) loses. I almost got the win.

Kasper Pikkarainen, RW, TPS (Finland, junior): Montreal had one: 'What animal would you be on the ice and off the ice?' I said on the ice I'm a gorilla and off the ice I'm a dolphin. I'm a dolphin because I'm a funny guy and a positive guy.

Carter Yakemchuk, D, Calgary (WHL): I said I was a crocodile on the ice and monkey off the ice. Just a pretty calm guy off the ice. On the ice, I'm pretty calm as well, but I have a little bite to my game.

Patterson: I said off the ice I'm a panda, on the ice a rhino. Pandas are laid back, I'm a pretty laid-back person. I have some good friends, but at the same time I like being by myself. I'm a bigger, stronger kid that moves along the ice, so that's what I was thinking with rhino.

Iginla: They said, 'You can't say lion or dog because everyone says that.' I wanted to go with one they probably hadn't heard. On the spot, I was like, 'I'm a Pegasus.' It's a mythical creature. It's like a horse with wings. They were like, 'Explain it.' I was like, 'Oh, hard to explain that ... ' But I said, 'As a horse, I feel like I can be sociable and friendly and hang out with the other horses. But, when it's time to ascend, I've got the wings, too, so I'll try to fly.'

QWhat’s your very first hockey memory - playing or watching?

Macklin Celebrini. Joe Hrycych / Getty Images

Macklin Celebrini, C, Boston University (NCAA): A young memory of mine when I was probably five years old is going to a Canucks game and watching the Canucks play - the Sedins, Ryan Kesler, and that group that went to the finals.

Adam Jiricek, D, Plzen (Czechia, Extraliga): Me and my brother (David, a Blue Jackets prospect) played a lot against each other and we fought with each other a lot. Me and him both hate losing. He was older and stronger so he won almost all of the fights.

Lindstrom: We had this carpet floor. I had these little skates. I was probably three or four years old. My grandpa would always tie the skates up in the house with the blades off. I would just walk around with a little mini stick in my hand. There’s pictures of it. (The skate boots) would rip up the carpet and couches and everything. My mom and grandma would just get pissed because my grandpa is just laughing at me scratching up the floor. (Laughs)

Kamil Bednarik, C, USNTDP: My mom actually knew how to skate way back then, so she taught me how to skate. I was maybe three years old. My mom had Skittles in her pocket and she would give me one every time I completed a lap. (Laughs)

Carson Wetsch, RW, Calgary (WHL): I remember being on the ice as a little kid and being on my butt just eating the snow off the ice. (Laughs) I would pick the snow up, stick it through my cage, and just eat it.

Yegorov: I slept with a stick when I was like two or three - small stick, a plastic one. I remember too doing some ball juggling in our apartment back in Russia. And I remember watching the team from St. Petersburg on TV and in person.

Catton: It was definitely on my backyard rink. My dad passing pucks into my feet. Tipping pucks. The little things of hockey. That's where I just absolutely fell in love with it.

Berkly Catton. Jonathan Kozub / Getty Images

Skahan: I grew up around the pro game in Anaheim. My father (Sean) was the strength coach for the Ducks. I remember the Ducks beat some team in the first round of the playoffs and I went down to the locker room after the game. Just seeing how happy those guys were kind of ingrained in my brain of how this is at the next level. It built a burning passion for me moving forward.

Emil Hemming, RW, TPS (Finland, Liiga): First time when I stepped on the ice it was an outside rink. I think I was three years old. I cried a lot.

Masse: I'm from Rimouski, so going to watch the (QMJHL's) Oceanic play with Alexis Lafreniere on the team. Packed house. It was a crazy atmosphere.

Miettinen: Skating with my dad. I was maybe four or five. We were on the outdoor rink close to my home in Helsinki. Lots of snow and cold, of course, in Finland. I remember my dad wasn't the best. He had never really played hockey. I was beating him.

Battaglia: Back home in Mississauga, I remember I got a pair of skates and a starter kit from Canadian Tire. I was three. I slipped it all on and my dad took me to a local stick-and-puck. I kept falling. He got me one of those skating aides and I started to move my feet and glide. It worked out pretty well.

Ryder Ritchie, RW, Prince Albert (WHL): I got to go into the dressing room in Vancouver after my dad (Byron) won. I did the same thing in Calgary and I actually got to put on Miikka Kiprusoff's goalie helmet. I was really interested in being a goalie back then - I think I was 2 - so I have this flashback to that moment.

QIf you were a goalie, what would you paint on your mask?

EJ Emery. Joe Hrycych / Getty Images

Emery: Probably a dog on top. A key thing I want to be is a dog. Someone that's going to get down and dirty, do all the things that a dog would do. I just want to show everyone that that's who I am. I would spell it a little different on the mask: D-A-W-G.

Zether: I would put a snake on it. It'd be kind of cool to have a snake on the side of your mask.

Lavoie: Something about the movies I like. I'm a huge Marvel fan. All those superhero movies I've watched since I was a kid. Since the first Ironman, I've been watching all those movies. My favorite is probably Thor.

Wetsch: I'm a big fan of Harry Potter. I'm into mixed martial arts and UFC. So maybe a little mix of that with Harry Potter?

Cole Eiserman, LW, USNTDP: Maybe a Gerry Cheevers-type mask. Little old-school. Little scary. My dad would appreciate it. Maybe a vintage color. Maybe an American flag in the back.

Cole Eiserman. Michael Miller / Getty Images

Tarin Smith, D, Everett (WHL): I'd put a lot of stuff about Porcupine Plain, my hometown (in Saskatchewan). Maybe a porcupine. I grew up on a farm so a little bit of farm stuff on there. We farm canola and wheat.

Zeev Buium, D, Denver (NCAA): Maybe the Denver logo. Maybe the US stripes. Gotta get my family on there somewhere. Maybe their heads? Something funny like that. Maybe Batman. Yeah, I love Batman. Big Batman guy. Maybe the Star of David, too.

Bednarik: I'm a pretty religious guy, Christian, so I'd definitely put a cross on there, for sure. Maybe something to do with my family and my grandparents in honor of them.

Hemming: On the back of my helmet I would have my old dog who passed away six years ago. He was important to me when I was growing up. It was a medium-sized fluffy dog.

QWhat's the best piece of on-ice trash talk you've heard?

Terik Parascak. Ben Ludeman / Getty Images

Parascak: I've heard a couple funny ones from guys after they sign their contract in the NHL, saying they'll slap (an opponent) with their wallet.

Ziemer: Somebody told me that once I'm done playing in the (AHL) that I'll be working for him someday. (Laughs) I just skated away after. Just got to take that one.

Skahan: I got buried. The guy was skating away. I think it was against Western Michigan. He said, 'How do you feel down there?' as I was lying on my back.

Luca Marrelli, D, Oshawa (OHL): A player on the opposing team skated by Luca D'Amato, who's a shorter, small guy on our team, and goes, 'Hey bud, did your parents forget to water you when you were a kid?' I thought that was pretty funny - and it's not overly harsh.

Burrows: The thing I get chirped for a lot is my hair color. For some reason, everybody thinks I dye my hair (bleach blonde), which I don't, for the record. So, everybody tells me to go dye my hair, and I don't dye my hair. I think that's pretty funny.

Hagen Burrows. Chase Agnello-Dean / Getty Images

Zether: Playing against the American guys, they make fun of your English. They'll tell you to go back to kindergarten English.

Miettinen: Everybody this year was just saying I can't speak English. That was probably the biggest thing. 'Don't say anything, you can't even speak.'

Pikkarainen: We were in Plymouth for the 5 Nations tournament. Cole Eiserman said I was Patrik Laine from Walmart. It was a good one. I liked it. (Laughs)

Battaglia: I usually just tell them they suck. 'You're not good enough,' or, 'You just suck.' I remember I told (Flyers prospect) Denver Barkey that he sucked. Obviously, that's a complete lie, but it just kind of happened. It just comes out.

Marques: There's guys who are sometimes more skilled than me, and I just say, 'Who are you?' Just to piss them off, because it's coming from me. (Laughs)

Howe: Lots of guys chirp back and forth about someone's breath.

Catton: Honestly, I try to distance myself from that as much as possible. I'll stutter, and then I'll get chirped for that. So, I stay away from that and let my play do the talking.

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