Central Scouting

In the summer of 1975, the National Hockey League hired Jack Button as director of the Central Scouting Service. It has been called “bureau” from time to time and you often see CSS or CSB in print, but it’s all the same organization.

The July 1975 Hockey News: “NHL president Clarence Campbell said Button will be located in Montreal. Button, who is 36, will be preoccupied with developing and administering the NHL’s central scouting computer operation for all 18 teams. He will hire 8 scouts to work with him.”
Nothing in italics above is a direct quote from Campbell, so we have to assume the article’s author (unknown) used the word “preoccupied” because they didn’t know the better options (“focused”, “in charge of”, hell there’s hundreds of better ones).

CSS’s role in the National Hockey League scouting season goes from important (early) to pretty much useless (the final rankings) as teams have made their own lists. When the fall and the first rankings arrive, all 30 teams look to see who is ranked fairly high and possibly not covered well (yet) by individual clubs. Recent examples might be USHL players, with some organizations apparently unaware while others (Oilers included) draft fairly heavily from the American Junior league. That fact is driven home in Gare Joyce’s excellent new book (reviewed here) several times.

Last summer when the Oilers selected Alexandre Plante and Riley Nash in the first round, many fans pointed to the rather low ranking by CSS on both players. Here, let’s list the rankings on each player from all major services:

Alexandre Plante

  • TSN: 32
  • CSB: 72 NA
  • ISS: 28
  • RLR: 19
  • McK: 50
  • THN: 16

Central Scouting had Plante 72 North American skater, which would work out to about 120 overall in a typical season. McKeen’s had him 50th overall, TSN an early second rounder, ISS a late first rounder and the Hockey News pegged it. The point here is that the ONLY rating system that has him outside the first two rounds is CSS. This is often the case.

Riley Nash

  • TSN: 33
  • CSB: 64 NA
  • ISS: 37
  • RLR: 24
  • Mckeen’s:46
  • THN: 94

Central Scouting’s number would put Nash somewhere near 100th overall, so with Nash they have agreement with The Hockey News. ISS and McKeen’s are pretty close, TSN liking him a hair better than that. Redline Report loved the kid, had him in the mid-teens in their mock draft.

You could go farther back and see that Central Scouting’s numbers are often of out whack with reality. Andrew Cogliano was ranked 63NA in 2005 by CSB, he went 25th overall. They ranked Slava Trukhno 27th overall, he went 120th the same year.

Central Scouting is a very interesting tool for scouts and for fans, but I think it’s important to look at a cross section. I prefer ISS and Redline, both publications being available at a reasonable rate for fans.

Next summer when the Oilers take a kid in the first round that Central Scouting ranks 50th, it might be a plan to look at what the other services think of him. Chances are Central Scouting’s number is the one that doesn’t belong.

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8 Responses to "Central Scouting"

  1. Dennis says:

    LT, here’s my question. Using a two pronged evaluation system, ie big tickets and Oiler prospects, who do you trust? I’m thinking Redline?

  2. Lowetide says:

    I trust ISS and Redline most of all. Redline are the hardest markers,, and imo the best descriptions come from ISS. You get a nice visual on the player from ISS.

    Redline are just dinks really, they are pretty cruel. However, they are also pretty accurate.

    Said Hemsky had no balls and they said this about Schremp:

    Huge talent level, probably the best of any North American in this draft. Tremendous hands and magic with the puck. Average skating keeps him from being a truly special offensive player, yet still can be explosive. Unfortunately that usually only happens when he gets lots of ice to work with. Solid leg strength and low centre of gravity make him difficult to separate from the puck. Can make good d-men look stupid 1-on-1. Selfish and petulant with an attitude of entitlement; difficult teammate. Always looks to be focus of attention, but wants to make things happen and many times does. Unafraid of traffic. Lacks defensive intensity and off-ice issues are a concern, but abilities are first rate. If you can get past the baggage, he’s your man. Projection: Top flight playmaker or total bust. Style compares to: Marc Savard/Vaclav Prospal

    I mean that was written in spring 2004 Dennis and how many words do we really disagree with now?

  3. IceDragoon says:

    Lorne Davis has passed.

  4. Dennis says:

    Well, I take that to read that if the kid ever truly grows up, we’ve got ourselves a player. As for the rest, they’ve been pretty bang on.

    Lain, just one thing here, seeing as how we haven’t “fought” in a long time;) what did these guys have to say about Smid:D

  5. Lowetide says:



    ISS- Doesn’t panic under pressure. Closes his man out well and finishes his checks.Good offensive instincts. Knows how to contain his man down low. Uses his partner well, communicates well.

    Has been widely regarded as top 1986 born D in his country, and is a rare combination of size, skill and smarts found in so few defensemen.

    Talent-wise, Smid instantly catches your attention with his tall frame, powerful skating stride and excellent puck control. Defensively, Smid is more of a finesse defender that uses smart positioning and his ability to read the play, rather than punishing physical play.

    IMPACT: Powerplay quarterback with plenty of offensive upside. Could pan out big time for a team with patience.


    Maintains great gap control and always squares up to the puckhandler. Has good poise and patience to move puck out of zone with crisp outlets and good decisions under checking pressure. Steadying influence along blue line. Can make long home run passes through neutral zone to beat trap and transition from defence to “O.” Plays angles well and cuts off passing lanes. Great stamina – plays huge minutes. Best asset is intelligence and natural hockey sense. Sticks up for teammates. Plays solid, mistake-free game in own zone and is excellent positionally. Reads and anticipates developing plays well. Good laterally, but 1st step and straightaway speed are average. Is not good as either a PP quarterback or trigger-man— has weak shot and makes poor decisions in puck distribution. Projection: Steady, consistent #2-3 defenceman. Style compares to: Toni Lydman

  6. Dennis says:

    That guy who said Smid’s a future PP QB is right on the money!!

  7. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: Agreed.

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