Projecting the future is, at best, a tricky proposition. That is especially true when the future you are trying to predict is that of teenage hockey player. There are so many variables at work that there are bound to be more misses than hits, even in the early stages of the NHL draft. Predicting the future, however, is exactly what NHL scouts are paid to do and there are certain franchises that seem to regularly come up with players who go on to become contributors at the NHL level, while other organizations seem to come up empty year after year.
There are generally two components to a team’s drafting philosophy. The first is whether they try to fill a positional need or whether they go for what they think is the best player available at that point, regardless of his position. The second facet is the order in which teams rank the following criteria when assessing a potential draftee’s upside: size and strength (either current or “projected”, i.e., after a young player’s frame fills out); skating ability; level of competition; offensive statistics; and reports on the player’s coachability.
A team’s drafting record is often credited to (or blamed upon, as the case may be) the organization’s general manager. Although they rarely have the opportunity to scout the players directly, the GMs are the ones who have the final say and the ones who decide which of their scouts’ recommendations to trust when there is not a concensus on a pick. It is also the GMs who have selected many of the scouts in the first place, although there are usually carryover scouts from previo Read more»