But that didn't stop me from putting in a couple of phone calls late last week to the two Red Deer Rebels who are likely to be selected this weekend.
It's a foregone conclusion that Mathew Dumba will have his name called in the first round of the draft on Friday night. Depending on who's draft board you are looking at, Dumba is ranked as high as 6th (Bob McKenzie, TSN) to 18th (Shane Malloy, The Art of Scouting) and everywhere in between. NHL Central Scouting has him ranked 11th among North American skaters.
"It's a feeling I can't really describe," Dumba told me last Thursday, one day before he was selected to play at the Canada / Russia challenge series in August. "It's exciting, nerve-racking. Just the anticipation of everything, wanting to figure out where I'm gonna go and who wants me. It's all building up and this last week is gonna be tough. But I'm trying to just have fun and enjoy it and let it all fall into place."
Dumba had an excellent showing at the recent NHL Combine in Toronto, finishing on the top ten in nearly every measurable statistic. For those who know this young man the solid results should come as no surprise.
"[It's] just attributed to how hard I work in the summer and what a good job my trainer does. Tom Powers, he just got promoted to Strength and Conditioning Coach in Phoenix. So it [combine results] was a testament to him and everything that we do. I'm always working hard so it was good to go out there and see the results."
Perhaps just as tough, if not tougher, than the series of physical tests at the combine was the endless series of interviews he went through... 19 of them in all. Dumba didn't really get much of a read though as to which teams seemed more/less interested afterward.
"All of the teams that are in the range of where I'm ranked, they're not saying anything. They're keeping their cards held close. Once it comes down to draft day we'll obviously know more but until then it's just wait and see."
Dumba as also made visits to a number of teams since the end of the combine. He flies from Calgary to Pittsburgh today [Tuesday]. He says life has been fairly normal for the past couple of weeks, highlighted by writing his diploma exams. Things are sure to kick back into overdrive once he arrives in Steeltown.
Patrik Bartosak will not be flying to Pittsburgh. He will be monitoring the draft proceedings from his home in the Czech Republic.
Patrik was in great spirits when we chatted last Thursday. He was nearing the end of the week long camp he was taking part in with the Czech Republic U-20 [world junior] program. The fact that he was even invited to the camp came as a surprise to the 18-year-old goaltender as he was passed over for a similar camp last month.
"Maybe that's because I was still in the recovery phase," Bartosak said in reference to his shoulder injury which saw his Rebels season come to an end last November. "But I think they didn't know [that he had recovered]. I had expected an invitation so when I didn't get one I was surprised."
"The first two practices were really tough," he said in reference to last week's camp. "I had some problems with catching pucks in my glove. And my conditioning was not that good. Running and biking is not the same as skating. But after two or three days I feel much better and more confident in the net."
His appearance as last week's Czech U-20 Camp, he was one of four goaltenders who took part, as well as at the combine in Toronto should but to rest any concerns about the current state of Bartosak's shoulder.
"My surgeon in Red Deer thought I'm not ready [for the combine]. He told me not to do the bench press and med ball throw or do push ups. But when I was leaving Red Deer I felt like I was completely healed. I came home and started working out and felt alright."
It seems as though scouts are certainly impressed enough by what Partik showed in his limited action with the Rebels this past season. Bartosak heads in to the draft ranked 10th amongst all draft eligible goalies who played 2011-12 in North America. How is he feeling heading into the draft?
"I'm getting a little bit more nervous every day. But I try not to think about it too much. I don't want to be disappointed if it doesn't work for me, if something happens that nobody picks me. So I try not to think too much but I hope it'll work for me."
Bartosak is perfectly fine with staying in the Czech Republic to monitor the draft proceedings along with mom and dad. He says his dad is especially excited and will 'party for three weeks' if Patrik is selected. [If one were to estimate, Bartosak could go sometime in the 4th or 5th round. There's a slight chance he goes as high as the 3rd round.]
Saving the best for last... Bartosak came up with a response which was nothing short of brilliant during one of his combine interviews when asked what he thought about Americans...
"I told them that I don't really know any American people... but what Canadians say is that 'American people are stupid' and they just started laughing... because they were all Americans."
Again, those who know Patrik would expect nothing less from the affable 19-year-old.
Good luck to both Mathew and Patrik this weekend in Pittsburgh!
See y'all when I (hopefully) get back from Vegas.