The Importance of Central Scouting

This is Joe Sakic’s Central Scouting report from his junior days. Sakic was a junior long before International Scouting Services, Future Considerations, Redline Report and the rest. So it was Central Scouting’s rankings and that’s all she wrote 20+ years ago for NHL teams. Many had their own scouting of course, but the reason Central Scouting came into existence was to help teams like the Oakland Seals. Seriously.

For fans, it was always the Hockey News. Fans know the HN draft issues go back 20+ years now but some may not know that the rankings from that publication go back 15 years before the HN draft issues. For instance, Ron Chipperfield was the #1 overall draft prospect in 1974. I know because I bought the issue and own it. Chipperfield went #17 overall in 1974, the first of many examples of Central Scouting’s list being a poor draft guide for fans (1974 saw underage players available for draft so it didn’t really help project the final draft rankings).

One thing I find galling is that many fans use Central Scouting’s final numbers as gospel. The industry doesn’t consider them anything close to a final tally. From Gare Joyce’s wonderful book Future Greats and Heartbreaks:

  • The way Boyd (Don Boyd, the Blue Jackets director of scouting) explains it Central’s preliminary and midseason lists are probably of more use to his scouts. “It’s like a road map for us,” Boyd explains. That is, a list to cherry-pick from–names to chase down and see. The final list is useful to media and fans, but by the time it is issued NHL teams are more concerned about the lists offered up by their own scouts in the field.
  • Said one scout for a Western Conference team: “The fact is that they do the best they can with the resources the league gives them. They give us a guide, not a definitive breakdown. If it were definitive, there’d be a lot of guys out of jobs.”

Bob McKenzie’s final list will be the best guide to the first round available anywhere; after that, Redline report is an exceptional source. Central Scouting’s final list has no value. Their first list next fall will have great importance for cross checking purposes.

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