Scouting

This is Del Wilson. He was part owner of the Regina Pats for a time and GM for a long time (he was the General Manager when they won the Memorial Cup in 1974, that was the Clark Gilles-Greg Joly team) and he was the Montreal Canadiens chief scout during some of those years too.

An exceptional group of players came out of the Pats organization from the mid-50′s until the universal draft made the sponsor program obsolete.

Former Pats who made their way to Montreal through sponsorship were Red Berenson, Terry Harper, Bill Hicke and Ernie Hicke.

Among those who made their mark in the draft era are Clark Gillies, Dennis Sobchuk, Garth Butcher, Dirk Graham, Barret Jackman and Doug Wickenheiser.

Del Wilson was a pretty valuable guy for the Habs, but after the universal draft began in 1969 Montreal didn’t draft many Regina Pats. Doug Wickenheiser of course is a famous Pats player drafted by Montreal, but since then they’ve avoided Regina except for a three pack late in the 1994 draft.

Since 1969 and the dawn of the Universal draft, Montreal has drafted only 4 Regina Pats. I imagine Del Wilson kept sending in scouting reports but the world had changed and Clark Gillies name had been called before Montreal reached the podium.

The universal draft represented a huge change for NHL teams, easily the biggest of my lifetime. Other events, like the development of Central Scouting had sweeping impact, but there was nothing in the world like making Gilbert Perreault available to the Buffal Sabres.

I believe scouting is about to see another universal change in the next few seasons. The latest article on the subject is in the Hockey News and shows one side of the equation (the Gare Joyce side of the equation) where scouts can’t possibly get a read on a player without seeing him live in the rink. Among the interesting quotations:

  • “You know where you find the answers? In the rink.”
  • “It’s something about being in the building, getting a feel for their body language, their shift length.”
  • “You can hear them barking out orders or helping their teammates, calling for reverses or telling his partner to get his head up.”
  • “You can get to some places live in a building where you can see (if) a player goes into a corner with fear or whether they go in without any fear.”

My questions about these comments are:

  • Fine. Wouldn’t video, tracking things like EV TOI and special teams minutes add to the picture of each player?
  • Shift lengths are measured in the NHL and I suspect the AHL (although not published). Why not do the same for all junior leagues and Europe?
  • So, a little research would not uncover things like leadership, the tests that all top prospects go through wouldn’t expose weakness or strength? You’re actually relying on what your scouts hear at the rink? Lordy.
  • And you can’t get that on video?

The Buffalo Sabres track all kinds of things from video, we know this to be true. If the Sabres 2007+ drafts prove to be successful, will other teams adopt a similar system?

I think they will. Scouting is unlikely to leave the business but it’s probably headed in a whole new direction. “Saw him good” is losing ground to the “Desjardins” group and the gap is closing. What does it mean? Those teams who adopt the new ideas quickly will have a window that could last several years when they are running circles around opponents in terms of procurement.

At least that’s what I believe.

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57 Responses to "Scouting"

  1. Black Dog says:

    Its quiet here today. Too quiet.

    Everyone must be raking leaves.

    What is interesting to me, LT, is that les Sabres have kicked ass with their drafts for a long time. This isn’t the Oilers or Blackhawks of the late 80s / early 90s throwing their hands up and saying “Lets blow it up because this scouting thing isn’t working for us!”

    This is an org. whose bread and butter is drafting and developing.

    Very interested to see how this plays out.

  2. Matt says:

    I basically agree with the sentiment, though I think that the teams who go more in the “Desjardins” direction will probably still retain a lot of the rink scouts, just have them focusing on different things. I mean, the idea of context (of the player’s ice time) is moving forward just as fast as the equivalencies, etc.

    If I send a scout to the rink to check out a player I like, I want him watching for (sorry, logging) things like “line of scrimmage”; is he victimizing lesser players or dominating good ones; is he coming on on-the-fly when the puck is going north, or south; etc.

    With that said, I have very little knowledge of just what they’re looking at now. But surely any team with the idea (smarts?) to let the hard data drive their decisions a bit more will also be pretty attuned to the relevance of the context.

  3. Jonathan says:

    And once again, I basically want to echo Matt’s comments. In my personal opinion, the numbers probably should function like the CSS list does now; give you a list of players that need to be check out.

    Certainly for top-100 picks, multiple views are a must, over years of development. For later round picks, numbers and video probably have a greater influence (which I think happens already). IIRC, San Joe took Nabokov on one scout’s word and some grainy video.

  4. Lowetide says:

    Jonathan: I’m not suggesting not looking at the player at all, certainly video would cover some of it and absolutely you want to see the top end talent. A player like Gagner’s cerebral talents showed up in the junior numbers but you’d want to see it to believe it.

    I question how many viewings though. If you see a guy play well 5 times and just before the draft he’s a dog, how does that impact?

    Saw him good is a sticky wicket.

  5. Vic Ferrari says:

    Several years ago on The Team Bob Stauffer interviewed Stu MacGregor. This was before Stu’s promotion, he was scouting for the Oilers in the midwestern US I think.

    Any road, Moneyball was big news then, and Stauffer asked him if he thought hockey could go that route with scouting. I fully expected MacGregor to take that question badly, and to say all of the things that the scouts said in the HN article you have linked. But he was surprisingly receptive to the whole idea, and felt that they could do a lot more with stats if they applied them correctly.

    That’s my memory of the conversation anyways, you can ask Bob, whose memory seems eerily good. I sure that he will remember better than me.

    I’m not into prospects, but I was glad to see that MacGregor got the head scout gig a couple of years later, my opinion just based on that one remark. I actually had a gut feeling that he would leave for CBJ with Howson, but I think he got the promotion at the same time as Scott left, again just by my dodgy memory.

  6. Vic Ferrari says:

    BTW:

    Whatever BUF is doing with video review or stats, I’m sure they did a dry run for one or two seasons before they gutted their scouting staff.

    I’ve heard Regier speak enough that I doubt he would make a move like this unless he had compelling evidence that it was the smart bet. And of course he has a much larger sample to base his decisions on, BUF fans see the 3 or 4 players that BUF select in the first 3 rounds every year, but Regier has their scouting department’s ordered list of the top 100 eligible draftees from past year, and from many years before it.

    And just doing “as well” with the new methodology is a financial win, of course. My hunch is that they will do better though.

  7. Jonathan says:

    Vic – Thanks for the MacGregor info. That’s surprisingly promising news.

    Lowetide – the big thing that get me is how often you hear things like “X had a great playoff run and is shooting up the charts” or vice versa. Everybody is streaky, and it just seems stupid to me.

  8. Ribs says:

    Peckham back to Springfield…Who’s feeling better? Grebs?

  9. Jonathan says:

    Probably Smid – if Grebs is on IR, he can’t come off for at least a week (I think).

  10. nancy says:

    According to Tencer’s blog on the Oilers website it’s Grebs that’s coming back in. He was placed on IR retroactive to November 1st which would make him available to play on Sunday.

    Also according to Tencer there were new lines in practice today.

    Gagner-Penner-Hemsky
    Horcoff-Pisani-Cole
    Cogliano-Moreau-Pouliot
    Brodziak-Nilsson-Stortini

  11. Dennis says:

    On scouting: it seems odd to me that an organization that frowns upon free speech would be forward enough to embrace crunching numbers at the expense of old timery but if that is indeed the case then I’m glad for it.

    On the new lines: that’s pretty much how it wound up the last period in Pit; Brodz and Cogs were taking turns as the third forward with the 18-78 combo and Nilsson was stewing on the bench. As I said in the post that never ends, the Oilers will continued to be snookered just as long as they don’t try 78 as one of their top two pivots and at least this is a step in that direction.

    It’s hard to say that Peckham really isn’t ready for the league because he got roasted on the road when the other coach gets the last change AND he’s throwing out two lines which each one features two of the top 10 players in the world. So, it was a tough go.

    Still, what I said I liked about Peckham when i saw him make his debut last year in CBJ is the guy acts the exact same way in the bigs that he does in the A. He’s rough and tough and doesn’t give a fuck.

    He looks to be a good candidate to at the least be a 6th dman who keeps the other team’s head on a swivel and will have no problems throwing down and punching you in the face.

  12. Black Dog says:

    Makes sense that Nilsson is in the doghouse but those lines are a little odd, no?

    Hoping Hemsky will kickstart Gagner, I guess.

    And Horcoff centring Cole and Pisani will certainly handle the toughs.

    Pouliot with the promotion. Could see that coming, seeing as he played 13 plus at ES last game.

    If Nilsson is the one on the outs I’d be moving Pouliot between Moreau and Pisani and Cole up with the other two kids but I guess MacT is just trying to get something going for a lot of different guys.

  13. Black Dog says:

    Dennis – yeah Peckham looks like one of those guys who just gets it – he’s a hockey player, just like Gilbert

    He’s a lot green but he’s going to be here to stay someday sooner then later I would say.

  14. raventalon40 says:

    Matt: I agree and I think it would be better to increase rather than merely retain the scouting staff size. It might mean a lot more opinions on the same players but once you start building an advanced profile that includes this statistical portfolio for a player, I think it wouldn’t hurt to have more scouts keeping an eye on these different things.

    Dennis & Black Dog: I agree that Peckham deserved more of a chance to play because it seemed he plays like a fire lit under his ass all the time. We haven’t really had a defenseman around like that since Jason Smith – not that I’m saying Peckham is just as good yet but I think his playing style would deserve the comparison.

    Lowetide: I think video helps because sometimes being in the rink environment you miss a lot that you don’t notice until you see the play several times unfolding.

    However, I don’t think it would replace live scouting in a real hockey enviornment, but it is simply irreplaceable in terms of its technological value to scouting and analysis, IMHO.

  15. B.C.B. says:

    I’ve always wonder why NHL don’t set up a three man crew just for video scouting: head man to report to Prendergast/MacT, one to focus on amateur prospects (potential draft choices), and another to focus on rival NHL players.

    It would allow them to scout for potential trades, supplement the video coach and improve drafting. I not trying to say this would automatically improve the team, but I do think (in a cap world) experimenting with new and untried management structures and techniques will make the difference between consistently elite teams and average ones.

  16. Dennis says:

    Pat: I was thinking the exact same thing. Keep 27-10-83 together as one of the tough min line, put 18-78-34 ‘back’ together as the other tough min line to see if they can bring it on a more consistent basis and then just put 26 on the RW of the Soft Min line and cycle in two of the Kids while the other one goes down and plays with Brodz.

    It’s certainly not all about getting the most out of Marc Pouliot but we’ve seen him have some chem with 34 but not so much with 13. Considering 18′s on that line I’d imagine they’re gonna see some tough opp so — though perhaps the secondary tough min will be split between that line and the new 89 line — why not put 18-78-34 back together? MacT obviously now likes 78 enough to give him some time so he Must Know that 78 and 34 work well together, right?

    And just to throw it out there but I was watching some of the Dal/SJ game last night and Reaugh mentioned that Semenko was in the house scouting. Maybe it was just a part of his regular work but neither of those teams are in the near view mirror in terms of matchups so I doubt he’s out there game-in pre scouting.

    BCB – one thing we haven’t seen, or at least we haven’t heard, is teams going out and getting in bidding wars for personnel; be it scouting directors or head coaches. For instance, pick out a team that always does well at the draft table and then go out and try to outbid his current employer.

  17. Black Dog says:

    Dennis – regarding that last point, that is often raised here in T.O. – MLSE has all of this extra money with the cap now – you think they would go and buy the WIngs’ scouting staff

    Of course that would cut into profit margins so its a no-go.

    Going into the season based on positional play we all assumed 78 or 51 would get that 3rd line spot but of course MacT decided to give 34 a shot

    Looks like that experiment is over thankfully.

    Moreau was always the natural candidate for the 4th line but hard to argue with where he is based on his play so far. Mendelbaums must have trained near the fountain of youth this summer

    If MacT decides to use that spot as the doghouse for now that’s fine with me. After a nice start Nilsson’s play has dropped off.

  18. Vic Ferrari says:

    Yeah, Dennis, all the popular talk over here at Lain and Traktor’s joint blog :D seems to be centred on shuffling around the deck chairs on the top two lines and wondering how good the Oilers would be if their two best players (10 and 83) were even better … that seems to be kind of missing the point to me. Until the Pisani line was sorted we weren’t going to see a material difference at evens, methinks.

    Nice to see Sam getting the push, I mean if you’re hell bent on spending immediate results on development, best to spend those lost results prudently.

    And N.J are still running with a checking line, no? So with a line of 27/89/83 they should draw the Madden line and the top D pair. And MacTavish should be able to use second dibs to get Horcoff v Elias’ line. Works for me.

    It wouldn’t surprise me to see Brodziak taking the ugly part of Cogliano’s 3rd line ice time, either.

  19. spOILer says:

    I can’t see Cogs taking too many late own zone face-offs either.

    Who plays the starboard side, Pisani or Cole?

  20. spOILer says:

    Sorry, should’ve read the article first. I see now Pisani will be the port sider.

  21. trader says:

    Dennis said: As I said in the post that never ends, the Oilers will continued to be snookered just as long as they don't try 78 as one of their top two pivots

    Dennis, come on, 78 might be a useful player but you make yourself sound silly when you say he sould be in our top 6..that is like saying Matty Roy should be in our top pairing of D-Men.

    I realize that luv is blind but what I didn't know was that Mrs Pouliot had three other sons named; Denis, LT & Black Dog. You guys have to be related to 78 based on all the luv you show him.

  22. Lowetide says:

    trader: Using Pouliot on a line with 34 makes good sense on all kinds of levels. I think you’re getting attached to 1-line, 2-line when really what Dennis is saying is that Pouliot should be on a “line of responsibility” with actual NHL players.

    I think it’s hard to argue it. MacT has done damn near everything else and imo it might have to do with making the kid want it a little. He’s certainly looking a little hungier than the guy who poo-poo’ed the Carbonneau comp.

    His former GM once called him Ron Delorme for crying out loud.

  23. Black Dog says:

    trader = first of all what LT said in terms of my thoughts for the kid

    I see him scoring 10-15 goals as his upside playing tough minutes

    They need that guy, why not give him a shot at it? And if he fails then Brodziak.

    See what the kid can do.

  24. trader says:

    LT, Dennis didn’t say it was good he was used on a line with 34…he said he should be one of our top 2 pivots. I think that if you asked 99% of the people on this blog what that meant they would say …one of our top 6 forwards.

    My point?..it only took 9 minutes from my post (in which I stated that I thought 78 was a useful player but not a top 6 guy) for sonmeone to try to justify the comment that he shoud be one of our top 2 pivots.

    Let the luv flow.

  25. trader says:

    BD..I agree, he is a useful guy who may score 10 goals and look after his own end..give him a shot..just not as a #2 pivot.

    The only point I am making is certain guys on this blog can do no wrong the Pouliots and Smyths of the world while some can do no right, Smid, Penner.

    It’s kind of like when Tracktor and HBomb discuss #10.

  26. Coach pb9617 says:


    Who plays the starboard side, Pisani or Cole?

    Poor Fernie. A third position this year.

  27. Coach pb9617 says:

    LT, can you keep a scoreboard as to commentors here and the escape goats that they ride?

  28. spOILer says:

    Trader,

    I don’t know for sure, but I doubt Dennis means playing Pouliot between Cogliano and Gagner.

  29. spOILer says:

    …or maybe he does, who knows?

    I've often wondered if either Cogs or Gagner's size will limit their effectiveness at 1C. Especially in their own end. Maybe Pou should take a twirl between them.

    I'd rather see him try it with 34 & 18 on his wings first though.

  30. Traktor says:

    Nice to see Horcoff on the checking line. Why does MacTavish need to make things complicated though? We have one of the best 3rd line RWs in the game so why mess with that?

    Pouliot and Cogliano would probably benefit from Cole more than Moreau and 18/34 has been a great checking combo for years.

    Beggers can’t be choosers, I guess. I’ll take it.

  31. Dennis says:

    Well, I’m not sure what the difference in EVTOI Would be between the 2nd and 3rd line pivot but my point was until the Oilers found someone other than 34 to take on the tough top six min — meaning most teams will only match two tough lines at the most — everything else they did was probably moot.

    But anyone who doesn’t appreciate what Horc does every night is certainly not gonna take to a guy with the career counting stats of a Pouliot

  32. Dennis says:

    Vic: I watched a little of a Devils game the other day, I believe it was against the Sabres, and yes they had the old Maddon/Pandolfo combo together and Clarkson was playing with them. So, yeah, in that regard you will see Sutter put them against our best player in hemsky and that means that MacT should get his Horc matchup against whichever of the two O lines he wants; it should be Parise’s obviously. And this will also work against Ana where Caryle will do whatever he can to match the Pahlsson line against Hemsky.

    It’s when you get into games against coaches who go PVP that we’d see some trouble. For instance, not sure if Tippet would go Morrow/Ribero PLUS, last night they were rounded out by Brunstromm, against a 27-89-83 line but i dare say he would;)

    Of course, things will get a lot easier once we get back home and MacT has the chance to run the tough shit out of 34-10-26 which is exactly what he should do if he’s keeping them together.

  33. Kish says:

    On the scouting topic; I have a friend that works for CSS. Basically, an old school hockey guy; paid his dues, worked in the minors and for Hockey Canada (which is HUGE to have on your resume in the still dominant old boys club in pro hockey) and has had success (an AHL championship ring). He’s allowed me to take a look at his laptop and the scouting/reporting systems they use. Basically, it serves to quantifies the “saw him good” thoughts and feelings of each scout (I’ve oversimplified it, but that’s the gist).

    I’ve also talked to him about the “new” statistics (Dejardins), their usefulness for player effectiveness (scouting or otherwise) and the potential evolution of pro coaching and scouting.

    Not surprisingly (i.e. there aren’t many exceptions to the “old dog, new tricks” theory), it was basically a polite “RUFKM”. We talked about the use of new technology by some teams/coaches, and he said that where new tech was being implemented, he would guess that 99 out of 100 times it was used to “up-convert” old ways into something that seems more modern (i.e. writing notes on a notepad is now notes typed into the laptop/scouting software). Basically, there is little (or mostly no) correlation between technology and new stats or new ways to think about hockey. He added that many/most uses of technology is to augment the saw-him-good status quo (i.e. laptops on benches to show blown coverages.

    Back to player evals, he said that he would not be surprised to see some stats being used that are considered advanced here or there (EV/60), but they would be a drop in the bucket (i.e. nearly irrelevant) compared to what they think of the guys attitude, what a former coach/teammate says and other emotional and subjective measures.

    To sum up my long-winded and nearly pointless rambling, the universal change to scouting is coming, but not soon. Don’t underestimate how old and entrenched the hockey elite are. I would say that until the 25 to 35 years olds that are in the hockey admin system right now become the people of influence (head scouts, gms, etc.), we won’t see or hear much of a difference. I just don’t think theirs enough cultural weight behind the new stats. That said, once the people who are comfortable with (and believe in) the new stats reach a critical mass, we’ll see a rapid, huge change. My guess: 10 to 15 years.

    (just my $0.02, I know this is a pretty small sample size).

  34. Lowetide says:

    kish: Thanks for that. I appreciate the info. When Bill James starting writing his stuff there wasn’t a baseball man alive who claimed to value the things baseball men value today.

    James wrote 20+ years ago, and I suspect that’s the timeline. His big breakthrough was a study on platooning, which although used (Earl Weaver is a genious) at the time were not known to have such incredibly drastic results.

    Hockey needs a “platooning” study to break things wide open, and a Bill James to do it.

    God love Roger Neilson, he showed the way.

  35. Kish says:

    LT: agreed, both my friend and I agreed (to differing degrees) that at some point, someone (Hockey’s Bill James) will focus on one of the “low hanging fruit” (my guess, Corsi or maybe qualcomp) and hit it out of the park. Old school guys will be phased out, and when they make one last grasp for a return to the old ways, they’ll be met with a deluge of over-ripened fruit/veg and shuffled off retirement homes. or the leafs.

  36. Kish says:

    …there was supposed to be a discussion question to my last post:

    What “new statistic” do you think will be the breakthrough?

  37. Jonathan says:

    Kish: (You’re probably asking LT, but I’ll go anyway)

    Quality of Competition. There’s too much value in knowing who played against who.

  38. Kish says:

    jon: no, open question. and, yes, you would think qualcomp would be too valuable to resist.

  39. Lowetide says:

    kish: My question is, why wouldn’t an organization put this idea to the test?

    An example: Travis Toomey. He was eligible for the draft a year ago, scored 12 on a team that managed 179 and he’s got decent size.

    I mentioned him here:

    http://lowetide.blogspot.com/2008/06/draft-and-follow.html

    here are some numbers from that post:

    72gp, 12-12-24 with the Blades in 07-08.
    20gp, 9-7-16 in the final 6 weeks of the season.
    Good size, skating an issue.
    Tough, he had 5 fights and 99pims this year.

    So far this season he has 7 goals in 18 games and is second among Blades forward in plus minus.

    The math says he would have been a better pick than Bendfeld. Why wouldn’t a team consider him?

    Oh, and he’s 6-4.

  40. Lowetide says:

    I think the breakthrough won’t really be any new stat but all of them.

    HOW they’re delivered is the key. Dumb it down for public consumption.

    How can you say “Shawn Horcoff’s value is over the moon because he starts in his own end 75% of the time!”

    The Math is here, we need to tweak the English.

  41. Kish says:

    LT: you’ve got me, but I bet at least part of the answer has something to do with what a scout(s) saw/heard in the rink or from some other “saw ‘em good” guy (e.g. poor attitude, fear “in his eyes”, chicken swede, etc.).

  42. Kish says:

    agreed, the language is SO inaccessible (and therefore threatening) to the average person. Test: say “statistical regression” to a random person and 9 out of 10 times its just black stares.

  43. spOILer says:

    Semenko scouting Dallas? This bothers me.

    If he was there to scout a possible trade, and why else would he be there, who the hell could we be looking at?

    Hopefully not Avery or Ott.

    They’re not going to trade one of their top 3 centres, and they’re too thin on D to give us anything other than another kid. No one I can see other than possibly Turco.

    Which would likely mean dealing both goalies. We wouldn’t be keeping 3 with Turco’s salary on the roster. Something like Garon to Dallas, and then Roli to NJ for cap space. I’d much rather stick with what we have for a million less, if that’s the case.

    And please baby Jesus, please, please no Avery or Ott.

  44. Jonathan says:

    Semenko scouting Dallas? This bothers me.

    Have you got a link, by any chance?

    Jumping on your Turco speculation – it’s pretty wild speculation, but Hull doesn’t strike me as a patient guy – I’d love it. Turco’s been kind of ugly since the lockout, but as long as they don’t pay too much for him, I think it’s a near-certainty he’d bounce back. The goaltending needs solving long-term, and there isn’t much in the way of answers on the free agent market.

  45. Lowetide says:

    I think the Red Wings have the goalie problem nailed. Low and mid-level talent, sign them and spend the rest of the money on terrific players on D and F.

    OR, go the way of the 1987 Expos. They hired all the tired arms, the alcoholics, the guys who couldn’t find the off-ramp.

    Won 91 to boot.

  46. Dennis says:

    There wasn’t a link per se, I just heard Daryl Reaugh mention Semenko’s presence at the game in SJ between the Stars and Sharks.

    In regards to who he’s scouting, I’d imagine Avery’s salary precludes us being able to afford him — and I’d gamble he has some kind of clause that says he can’t be dealt to a market like Edm’s — but I would still have that guy on my team. I hated that move he pulled on Brodeur and I hate his big mouth but the guy gets results and that’s the bottom line for me.

  47. spOILer says:

    JW

    I was going off Dennis’ Reaugh comment above.

    I lean more to the LT philosophy though. Keep it cheap, mid-level and spend the money elsewhere, or in our case, one-dimensional defensemen.

    I still say we should be looking for a Hal Gill (Gregg/Jackson) type. Let Pouliot or Brodziak have a shot at 3C, and we’ll be fine for making the playoffs.

    Grebs to PIT for Gill,
    or
    3rd to SJS for McLaren,
    Roli to NJD for 3rd.

    I know it’s nice to have a security blanket, but who is going to have a bigger impact on the team this season, a top 4 defensive defenseman or a back-up goalie? Will one back-up give you that many more wins than the other? And how long can we go with 4 offensive Dmen in our top 4, and not pay in GA?

    GILL GILB
    VISH SOUR
    SMID STAI

    Or flip Gill and Souray.

    If we have both Brodz and Pou taking FOs, and only one of Cogs, Gagner and Pisani, our FO %age should be close to 50 against most teams.

    Unless they’re making a run this year, in which case, we need the Dman, and a 3C, and JDD back in the minors.

  48. spOILer says:

    Dennis, Avery gets $3.9M to produce the same amount of goals as a Moreau or a Pisani. He has his own “intangibles”, but I think he’s overpaid, and considering he’s also possibly a cancer in the dressing room…

  49. Tyler says:

    I’ve heard somewhere that a million dollar budget for scouting is not particularly out of the ordinary. I have no idea where that’s spent (leaguewise) but I’ve long wondered why the thirty NHL teams don’t get together with the CHL and just pay to have HD cameras installed in the scouty places in the rink. CHL teams provide the labour to run the cameras (which I assume a monkey, or maybe even an intern, could do), and get the benefit of having HD video of every game. NHL teams get access to a database of video of every CHL game played, which is a hell of a lot more than they see now. You can even have the same amount of scouts, keep ‘em all in Edmonton and have them watching 3 or 4 games a day. Seems to make a hell of a lot of sense to me.

  50. spOILer says:

    JW

    I really think there are plenty of goalie options out there if the Oil are unhappy in net. Backstrom, Biron, Fernandez, Thomas, LaBarbera for eg, all might be available as UFAs next summer.

    As for right now, if we’re going after a name guy, why not make it Khabeeb, who you can likely sign to a cheap extension, and has better pedigree than Turco, including the ring?

    Roli to NJD for pick/prospect
    Garon to NYI for same.

    I’d hate to give up Garon though, he’s bloody cheap compared to contracts like Vokoun’s and Theodore’s and Huet’s.

  51. Jonathan says:

    Spoiler:

    If they’re going to go 1A/1B, they might as well keep Garon. He fits in fine in the UFA class this summer.

    Personally, I think there are two sensible roads to go with goaltenders:

    1) Get the big-name, big-money guy (Luongo, Vokoun, etc.)
    2) Get a pair of mid-tier goalies and run a tandem

    Unfortunately, the Oilers seem committed to JDD, and if that’s the case, I’d be very uncomfortable with a 1A/JDD tandem entering the contending years. I’d be good with Turco/JDD, or Labarbera/Garon or Labarbera/Norrena or anything like that, but if JDD’s in the picture, I’d prefer an established, clear-cut starting goaltender.

    I’d also be fine with the team shipping out both Garon and Roli, bringing in Khabibulin (and an asset, of course, to swallow the salary) and then trying to sign Backstrom as a UFA.

  52. CrazyCoach says:

    LT,

    It is interesting the topic of scouting. I know that when I have been involved with the Best Ever program here in BC, I have often found the evaluation forms frustrating at best. A little tweaking here and there and I'm ready to go. I know there have been times where I bring my video camera just to review certain plays/shifts of specific players. Everyone thinks I'm a loon for doing it, but I use video quite a bit.

    I use it for practices to see how much time I'm spending explaining/setting up drills as opposed to actual drill time. I analyze it to see which players are drill killers and just exactly how long you can do a drill before it gets boring or too easy. It takes time though.

    Right now, it is a matter of training people the right language or give them a glossary of terms to study, know, and understand. An example would be Read & React. It used to be simply known as Hockey Sense.

    Buffalo may be on to something. Save the money spent on scout traveling costs and put it into technology.

    However, as many people laugh at my use of video, I can tell you that road ahead is a long one.

  53. spOILer says:

    Jon,

    I favour the cheap side because the goalie contract can be the worst kind of albatross. They’re nearly impossible contracts to move as CHI is finding out, because there’s just no space on teams to take them. If a guy starts to under-perform, what the hell are you going to do? Even $3M contracts are a bugger to trade, when a guy reduces himself to backup status, as we’re finding out.

    If the dollar numbers are going to be big, the term had better be very short. Backstrom is probably going to get offered good money and term.

    As for the Oilers’ situation, I’d like to see more of JDD first. I’ve been impressed with him in limited action thus far; he made some high quality saves in both games.

    If this isn’t the year, and JDD continues to look solid, then why not try him as backup to either Garon or Roli? If it’s not the year?

    Surely we should still make the playoffs, especially if we bolster the D and 3C, no? And we’d get a pretty good look at whether we should be extending Garon or going after a UFA… We’d know if has “playoff balls”, and it’d be cheap to find out, and a good summer to hunt UFAs if it doesn’t.

    Hmm… Kind of sounds like you might be okay with Roli and JDD.

  54. Jonathan says:

    Spoiler,

    I’m thinking less of this year and more of next year when I talk about JDD’s role with the team. He looked OK against Calgary and good in Pittsburgh, but that’s less than 2 hours of ice-time, and his minor league numbers are only middling.

    He’s a question mark. He may turn out good, bad or somewhere in the middle, but if his starter is Roli (old, streaky for good and bad) or Garon (never consistently held a starting role) I’m worried.

    I’m also not prepared to write this year off. A decent shut-down defender and a third-line forward combined with some luck and this team could go on a bit of a run.

    If the goaltending holds up.

  55. Coach pb9617 says:

    He looked OK against Calgary and good in Pittsburgh,

    Saw him good? :)

  56. Baroque says:

    Re: Goaltending:

    Ken Holland explained why he chose to go with cheap but effective goalies late in the offseason or in training camp.

    Basically, it is because he feels it is totally worth it to spend enormous money on a goaltender, because the position is so important to the team, but IFF you have one of say, the top three or five in the game. After that, the level of talent and effectiveness of the goalie drops off much, much faster than the salary does. In his view, if you can’t have one of the best around, then invest small dollars in steady, reliable, decent goaltending, and throw the money you would have spent on one of the best goaltenders in the league on really good defensive players so decent is good enough to win and spectacular isn’t required as often.

    (Holy crap, that was a long sentence! Sorry.)

    Initially he decided to invest the Red Wings’ dollars in defensive players because the organization made the decision that that would be the best bet for remaining competitive even after star scorers such as Yzerman, Fedorov, etc. had retired or moved on. As a result, the team has developed a large quantity of solid defensemen (which accounts for losing Kyle Quincey to the Kings because they didn’t have room for him).

  57. Doogie2K says:

    CHL teams provide the labour to run the cameras (which I assume a monkey, or maybe even an intern, could do)

    Well, in the two NHL arenas (Saddledome and Literally. Crush.), couldn’t you just use the same camera guys as you have for NHL games? Are they team employees (in which case, those two teams are owned by the NHL squads, and it doesn’t matter), or are they TV network employees?

    @Crazycoach: The thing is, video is a known quantity in coaching at this point, so I certainly can’t see why it’d be a problem at practice. It also stands to reason that it’d be a useful tool for scouting, if for no other reason than to catch something the eye missed the first time, or get a better sense of the play, since I can’t imagine every junior rink in Canada has a ten-foot HD screen on the scoreboard.

    And now for your semi-regular Alex Plante update, since this was once about scouting ;) – He had a really solid game, breaking up a number of Hurricane scoring chances, particularly late in the game when the Hitmen were down by one, then went on to score the insurance goal in the shootout on a beauty forehand-backhand-forehand-backhand-shelf move (fellow D Michael Stone had previously scored with Old Reliable, the slapshot from the hashmarks). Despite severely outshooting and outchancing the ‘Canes, the Hitmen barely escaped with a 4-3 SOW. Lethbridge’s Juha Metsola was on fire, while Calgary’s Martin Jones had no chance the first two, but gave up a weak one late in the second — the puck squeaked between his legs, then was batted in by a guy left alone in the crease.

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