This is Ryan Johansen. He is projected to go in the first round of this year’s entry draft by just about everyone, and he’s come from a long way back.
I follow the NHL draft closely, have since the mid-1970′s. This isn’t something to brag about (chicks don’t dig the nerds) but as time rolled on (and Al Gore used that great big brain of his to invent the internet. Look out global warming, your ass is grass) I’ve found more and more “draftniks” out there. I guess it is no weirder than making civil war models or tuning a car by ear (my Dad could do it back in the day) and honestly there are some pretty smart cookies out there who have the same (or similar) hobby.
Just about the coolest people in the world to the draftnik are actual scouts. I imagine them to be men near my age who drive great big cars that rumble low to the ground and require equal amounts of motoroil and draft report cards in the trunk. They must drive a lot, so lets hope they have good taste in music and enjoy time alone.
I’ve talked to a few scouts over the years, spent time with people like John Short who had the ear (and vice versa) of men like Barry Fraser and have spent decades collecting scouting reports. Seriously. I can tell you that most hockey scouting reports are exceptionally accurate 10 years after, and that prospects are far less predictable than they were when scouts could draft them at 20 (instead of 18) years-old.
Let me introduce Hiishawk. Or Steblick. Or whatever his actual name is. In his latest post (about the 2010 draft, I’ll link in a minute) he suggests people might “remember me as someone who has been deeply involved in hockey (scouting at various levels- including NHL, officialdom), has connections and generally knows what he’s talking about. Call me a very poor man’s Bob Mckenzie.”
That’s not really the case. McKenzie is my favorite hockey personality and a guy I’ve read since his Hockey News column 25 (or more) years ago, but tsn’s number one expert gathers information from scouts and presents a compiled list based on the scouts input.
Hiishawk gives us a scouts eye view of the process and in his final update each season gives you a real idea about what the scouting community thinks about a player. He’s not McKenzie, he’s not Gare Joyce. He’s the real thing. An actual expert. The best way I can describe Hiishawk is that he’s Kyle Woodlief without the marketing. No less valuable, but probably cooler because he’s obscure.
A few items from the past that might be of interest to Oilers fans:
- Steblick 2004: Rob Schremp- Can’t ignore all-world skill package.
- Steblick 2004: Devan Dubnyk- Has been inconsistent but size, raw skill are undeniable.
- Hiishawk 2005: Andrew Cogliano- I have doubts as to how his flash will translate to the NHL.
- Hiishawk 2005: Slava Trukhno- Gotta love the skill and enthusiasm.
- Hiishawk 2006: Peckham- Intense, ferocious and colorful player. He can be scary- for his own team too!
- Hiishawk 2008: Wahl and Eberle- remember when WHL players were stereotyped as tough, slow skating grinder types? Well, if you look at those two plus Boychuk and Ennis and the old stereotype goes right out the window.
He’s back (I didn’t see anything for 2009) again this year and the very entertaining post is here. It is worth the read, and his take on Johansen, Granlund and Merrill are unique viewpoints. That’s why he’s so cool.