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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Talking to prospects

It happens every year. It starts in February and gets heated up the weeks leading into the NHL Draft.

A reporter, or now blogger, hears that Team A spoke to Prospect X. And the reporter makes it seem like it is all but a forgone conclusion that Prospect X is going to Team A on draft day. You know, just because a scout from Team A was at a game for Prospect X and might or might not have spoken to him after the game.

In a nutshell, here’s how scouting works for the draft. Teams send scouts all over the world looking at players who are not only draft eligible this year, but in the coming years. So, when Team A’s scout goes to see Prospect X, he’s not only looking at Prospect X, but his teammates as well. But according to the reporter, Prospect X is the only one on Team A's radar. Chances are, the scout was there to look at Prospect X, but he wasn’t the only one to look at. And if you have ever been to a junior game, there is always a scout talking to a coach or a player after the game. It’s how they do their jobs. And it’s no secret.

This happened to the Islanders a few months ago. One of our scouts was at a game which a top-10 player in this year’s draft was playing in. Two days later I got a call from a reporter in that area saying “Hey, I heard the Islanders are looking at so-and-so…, Can I talk to someone about that?”.

Well of course we had a scout looking at him. He’s a top prospect for this year’s draft and we have a pretty high draft pick. So of course we’re going to look at him. And I’m sure the 29 other teams had a scout watch one of his games at some point.

So what am I trying to say here? Just because you read somewhere that the Islanders looked closely at this guy or that guy, just keep in mind that every team looks at as many players as they can and as closely as they can. Scouts try to get as much information as possible about these young kids so they can make educated recommendations come draft day.

Don’t get hyped up because someone is reporting that the Islanders looked at this guy "closely". Like the other teams, our scouts are just doing their job.

So, when draft day comes around, you can ask 10 different people who the Islanders are going to take and you’ll get 10 different answers, but they’ll all say: “I heard a scout for the Islanders looked at him closely. And I think they really like him and might take him at No. 5.”

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