Draft Prospects Hockey asked a few NHL scouts some questions regarding the 2020 Draft and its process just a couple days before the draft. Below is the the Q’s and A’s.
DPH Question: What prospect(s) available in the 2020 draft do you think would be NHL ready immediately and are there any who could make an immediate NHL impact? If so give us an example and what your projection might be for the prospect(s).
Scouts Answer: “Lafreniere for sure. I think he starts on the second line in New York. Maybe Stutzle as well if the team that gets him keeps him on the wing. Other than those two I am not sure any others are ready to go come the new season. Plus, with uncertainty surrounding the upcoming season I think GM’s are good to let their prospects marinate in European and various junior leagues for another year. Still it is hard to say as some kids we have interviewed have been working very hard over the months to pack on muscle and increase explosiveness since the break in play.”
Q: How does team need or organizational depth weight into the draft list prep process? Would a prospect ever be downgraded on an NHL list if that organization had an over abundance of that position already?
A: “Position does play some role; if you have a group of players with the same projected tier of upside, you can have dialogue leading up to your pick about picking one or the other. As far as downgrading, maybe in some circumstances? If you got goalies in the system, you may still have a goalie list but may not be inclined to draft one unless something comes along that is too good to pass.”
A: “Typically team depth and need does not weight in decisions until possibly later in the draft.”
Q: With the consensus that 2020 is full of skilled forwards and 2021 full of defenders do you weight draft pool vs. draft pool against one another and does it influence your rankings or teams draft pick at the table thinking “oh, well we can get a solid defender next year, so lets go for a forward early this draft”? Are there ever any variables like this that play into your teams decision on who, or at a minimum what position group the pick will be?
A: “No…you treat the draft year as its own entity. Positional discussions would typically happen in the mid to late rounds when things get a little muddier.”
A: “I mean there are discussions regarding positions at every table, but your NHL projection is what trumps what position a prospect might play.”
A: “While there are variables, we never look to future drafts and project who we might look to add as much can change in a few short months. We remain focused on the current group and who we like from it.”
Question: How do you handle the unprecedented circumstances we see with some 2020 draft eligible prospect starting another season (technically their DY+1) and produce in preseason and early regular season games before they are even drafted? Will these early season performances weight into your final draft rankings and if so how are they weighted to compensate for any recency bias?
A: “We have our list done and ready to go. A handful of games will not change months of evaluation.”
Question: What plans or changes are your teams making to scout junior aged prospects with the current COVID19 pandemic in advance of next years draft? And what will be the outcome or byproduct of these changes in relation to how the draft scouting process is normally done? (i.e. more video use, less crossover scouting, a push to better use predictive analytics to identify draft talent, etc.)
A: “Yes, video has become that much more important obviously. It is a different situation as in many instances, and for many development leagues, we just don’t know what to expect. We have had months of reports on these prospects before the pandemic, so we are just waiting to see who plays and when. I presume we will still be able to get our staff out to most games draft eligible are playing in.”
Question: Do you have any idea why so many current NHL stars were selected in rounds two and later of the NHL draft when so much attention is given to these kids for two-three years before they are drafted? Is it typically physical deficits, a glaring weakness or mental wart? How do you adapt to try and limit any misses like history shows us with so many teams passing over the Kucherov’s or Bergeron’s or Point’s of today.
A: “It could come down to variances like injuries, luck, opportunity. That said, I think sometimes the drive, heart, and resiliency of the player is overlooked when they don’t check all of the boxes for your prototypical NHL prospect. Some kids have had it easy, and some have had to work at it to succeed. It’s easy to forget they are human beings- teenagers! Who had their shit figured out at 17?”
A: “Often times we have a bias, and if a prospect has shown a weakness, that will often stick in the back of the mind when evaluating and making a list. But there is a massive amount of change, in on-ice skills and physically, in a short amount of time when you are talking juniors all the way up to the pros. Scouting is not an exact science, it can’t be with so many variables and changing factors.”