Six-foot-7, 225-pound defenseman Victor Hedman tops NACS's top 50 list. (Getty Images) (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
To begin the next blog feature, I’m including North American Central Scouting’s most recent Top 50 prospects for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal and at the conclusion of this list I’m going to address some of the questions people in the scouting industry are continually asked with my own opinion.
|2||Jared Cowen||6'5||220||RD||Spokane Chiefs||Jan-91|
|3||John Tavares||6'1||200||RC||Oshawa Generals||Sep-90|
|4||Brayden Schenn||6'1||200||LC||Brandon Wheat Kings||Aug-91|
|5||Matt Duchene||5'11||194||LC||Brampton Battalion||Jan-91|
|7||Nazem Kadri||6'0||182||LC||London Knights||Oct-90|
|8||Jordan Schroeder||5'9||170||RW||University of Minnesota||Nov-90|
|9||Jeremy Morin||6'1||173||RC||U.S. NTDP||Apr-91|
|10||Tommi Kivisto||6'2||194||LD||Red Deer Rebels||Jun-91|
|11||Evander Kane||5'11||168||LC||Vancouver Giants||Feb-91|
|12||Zack Kassian||6'3||211||RW||Peterborough Petes||Jan-91|
|14||Ryan O'Reilly||6'1||191||LC||Erie Otters||Feb-91|
|16||Casey Cizikas||5'10||188||LC||Mississauga Majors||Feb-91|
|17||Ryan Ellis||5'10||180||RD||Windsor Spitfires||Jan-91|
|18||Taylor Doherty||6'5||210||RD||Kingston Frontenacs||Mar-91|
|19||Louis Leblanc||6'1||176||RW||Omaha Lancers||Jan-91|
|20||Kyle Palmieri||5'11||185||RC||U.S. NTDP||Feb-91|
|22||Marcus Foligno||6'3||195||LW||Sudbury Wolves||Mar-91|
|23||Tomas Vincour||6'3||210||LW||Edmonton Oil Kings||Nov-90|
|24||Jimmy Bubnick||6'3||195||RC||Kamloops Blazers||Jan-91|
|25||Peter Holland||6'2||184||LC||Guelph Storm||Jan-91|
|27||Stefan Elliot||6'2||190||RD||Saskatoon Blades||Jan-91|
|28||Nick Leddy||5'10||183||LD||Eden Prairie H.S.||Mar-91|
|29||Calvin DeHaan||6'0||173||LD||Oshawa Generals||Feb-91|
|30||Landon Ferraro||6'0||182||LW||Red Deer Rebels||Aug-91|
|33||Ethan Werek||6'3||195||LW||Kingston Frontenacs||Jun-91|
|34||Drew Shore||6'3||194||RW||U.S. NTDP||Mar-91|
|35||Erik Haula||5'11||170||LW||Shattuck St. Mary’s||Mar-91|
|36||Michael Latta||6'0||185||RC||Ottawa 67's||May-91|
|37||Alex Hutchings||5'10||170||LC||Barrie Colts||Nov-90|
|38||Olivier Roy||6'0||165||G||Cape Breton||Jul-91|
|39||Seth Halgeson||6'5||225||LD||Sioux City Musketeers||Oct-90|
|40||Dylan Olsen||6'2||207||LD||Camrose Kodiaks||Jan-91|
|41||Daniel Delisle||6'4||223||LC||Totino Grace H.S.||Sep-90|
|42||Zach Budish||6'2||230||RC||Edina H.S.||May-91|
|43||Nate Schmidt||6'1||199||LD||St. Cloud Cathedral H.S.||Jul-91|
|44||Blake Thompson||6'4||204||RD||Sioux Falls Stampede||Jul-91|
|45||Phil Samuellson||6'3||201||LD||Chicago Steel||Jul-91|
|46||Carl Klingberg||6'4||202||LW||Frolunda Indians||Jan-91|
|47||Tyson Barrie||5'10||176||LD||Kelowna Rockets||Jul-91|
|48||Daniel Maggio||6'2||195||LD||Sudbury Wolves||Mar-91|
|49||Brooks Herrington||6'3||202||RD||N.H. Jr. Monarchs||Nov-90|
|50||David Gilbert||6'2||180||LC||Quebec Remparts||Feb-91|
1. How many games do you go to in a year?
It’s a tough question to answer because the preparation for the various major junior drafts means I frequently attend tournaments whereby you can see parts of 20 games in a day, which skews the answer. By using the phenomenal scouting software, RinkNet, I have the ability to go back and look at how many games I went to last season and the breakdown was as follows:
- Major junior/import draft preparation – Parts of 136 games
- NHL draft preparation – 94 games
- AHL/ECHL/NHL games – 9 games
People may ask why would I view ECHL, AHL or NHL games but I think it’s important to watch at least one a month to keep a feel for the speed, skill and traits necessary for kids to play at the higher levels and to keep track of recent junior graduates and how their skills translate at the higher levels.
2. Who have been some of the players you completely missed on?
I love this question because a lot of guys in the industry love to tell everybody the hidden gems they found but never mention the biggest misses of their career. My biggest miss was probably Brent Burns when he played for the Brampton Battalion. In hindsight I probably should have seen him play more, but there is no excuse for being so wrong about him.
I thought he warranted a late round selection, but nothing much higher, and we can all see how good a player he has become. Other guys I missed badly on: Patrice Bergeron because I thought it would take him a long time to make it and he wasn’t gritty enough to score in the NHL. Dion Phaneuf because I thought he would be a No. 3 or No. 4 defender but certainly not the star he has become. In fact, I thought Braydon Coburn was much, much better.
Lastly, I would say Robbie Schremp because I felt he had a chance to lead the league in scoring and I always said he was one of a handful of guys I would pay to watch. He hasn’t translated it to the NHL yet, but he still has time to save me some embarrassment.
3. Who have been some of the players you “hit” on?
I have to tell the story of the Dallas Stars second round pick in last year’s draft, goalie Tyler Beskorowany. When I was the chief scout in Owen Sound, I loved this big kid from Sudbury, but everybody thought I was nuts. I couldn’t even convince OHL Central Scouting to add him to the draft list so we had to use one of our five add-ons that each team is allowed to put him on the list.
The morning of the draft, we had two 14th round picks and I asked our GM, Mike Futa, if I could use one of those picks on him. I loved him and I knew that nobody else in the league either liked him or knew who he was. Thankfully Mike agreed to take him in the 14th. He still has a long way to go, but he has turned out to be Owen Sound’s starter and a potential NHL goaltender.
Another guy that I really loved in his draft year was Andrew Cogliano and as a result, I had him at No. 9 overall. A lot of people were concerned because he was playing for the St. Mike’s Buzzers in Jr. A and there was some question about his level of competition, but I felt he was the best skater in the draft and, thankfully, he has developed into a good player.
Lastly, there was a kid playing for the London Knights and everybody was down on his skating and his defensive game. I thought he had phenomenal hockey sense and had him at No. 7 and ironically, one of the only other guys who loved him as much as I did was Tim Murray (the current assistant GM of the Ottawa Senators) who was scouting for the Anaheim Ducks at the time. When their pick at No. 28 came up, they selected Corey Perry and needless to say, he has been very good for them since.
4. Who have been some of your mentors or influences in the game?
There have been a lot of guys who have helped me along the way, but one of the most influential was the former GM of the Owen Sound Attack and the current co-director of amateur scouting for the Los Angeles Kings, Mike Futa. He brought me into the OHL and taught me a lot about the game. Other guys who have played a key part in my career have been Sherwood Bassin, owner/GM of the Erie Otters; Angelo Bumbacco, Ontario scout for the Tampa Bay Lightning; Ken Cook, the former GM of the Mississauga Ice Dogs and Tommy Thompson, the assistant GM of the Minnesota Wild.
5. What is the most important asset or skill you look for in a player?
Every individual scout has certain aspects they love in a prospect above and beyond the standard skill set each player must have to get a shot at playing in the NHL. My personal bias is geared toward players who can skate, possess tremendous character and have exceptional hockey IQ.
I genuinely feel the game should be played at a high speed. The best way to get an edge in a game is to have a fast, aggressive team that puts constant pressure on its opponents. Having players who can skate allows you to play the game in that manner.
The second trait I love is hockey smarts, or as I call it, a “high hockey IQ” because I truly feel that if a team is made up of players with high hockey sense, it can overcome a lot of other deficiencies. For example, I think players who don’t possess great size can make up for it by being smart and understanding the nuances required to be successful. Furthermore, as the coaching in professional hockey continues to become more complex, you need players who have the smarts to implement and follow the game plan that has been laid out for them. The game is played at such a high speed players must naturally be able to adapt and make the right play. By having players with a high hockey IQ, those situations are far more likely to result in a positive outcome than a negative one.
Lastly, the character of the individual players is vitally important. If a team is made up of questionable characters, the adversity a team will face over the course of a long season will destroy it from the inside out. However, if the guys have tremendous character, those situations can be handled and the team can stay on the rails. One of the trickiest aspects to scouting these days is trying to determine the “character” of a player because agents and players know how important it is to be perceived as having good character. Some players will be “coached” to answer the questions in the correct manner. I honestly believe one of the most important aspects in a scout’s job these days is to fully investigate a player and interview countless people around him to determine his true makeup. This may involve talking to teachers, minor hockey coaches, billets, trainers and even other players to determine the makeup of a young man prior to selecting him in the draft.
That concludes Part 1 of the traditional questions I receive on the road, but please check back in a couple of weeks when I complete Part 2 of this unique blog on scouting.
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions you would like answered in, please email me at NACS@persona.ca and I’ll try to address them.
Mark Seidel is the chief scout for North American Central Scouting and appears as a host on Leafs Lunch on AM 640 radio in Toronto. Read his other blog entries HERE.