The First Hockey Scout

This is Nostradamus. He would have been a Movember contender from cradle to grave. Lordy. Nos made all kinds of predictions, things like "tents will be pitched by (people) of foreign tongues" and "the lost thing is discovered, hidden for many centuries."

A cynic might suggest that these words are rather wide-ranging in scope and could fit any number of events without actually proving Nostradamus could predict morning. Wrong ’em boyo! Nos even predicted Ryan Nugent-Hopkins!

  • He will wander because of a frantic head, and delivering a great people from subjection

Modern day draft predictions aren’t quite as accurate despite the advantage of living in the modern era. Ritch Winter suggests NHL teams should be ripping off draft nuggets at an 80% clip (that’s a helluva quote, it really is) and the truth of the matter is that draft guru’s can’t really predict the quality of an entire draft. Last season, as we watched and read about the 2011 draft, it was suggested the overall quality and depth was not good.

  • Kirk Luedeke, Bruins Draft Watch June 2011: We heard all year that 2011 didn’t have top talent at the top, but several scouts said RNH was an exception.
  • Kyle Woodlief, Redline Report April 2011: There’s a big dropoff after the top eight. And we’ll follow that with a more general observation: at Red Line, we think any team can get pretty much the same player picking at No. 50 this year that they could get picking at No. 20. There’s not much difference from top to botom in that group of 30.
  • Kyle Woodlief, Redline Report December 2010: I think at the top-end you’ve got the four guys with Gabriel Landeskog, Sean Couturier, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson. They fairly separate themselves out from the pack.

So, do those words jive with what happened? Well. Yes. So far. Of the 7 kids to play an NHL game this fall, 6 of them went in the top 8 selections. Brandon Saad hung around for a little while before being sent back, as did top 8 picks Mika Zibanejad and Mark Scheifele. RNH, Gabriel Landeskog, Adam Larsson and Sean Couturier remain in the NHL.

I think the NHL scouting guides did a good job in describing the draft. RLR suggests #50 might be as good as #20, and Oiler fans can probably agree that mid-first rounder Oscar Klefbom and early second round pick David Musil look like they’re progressing along the same path (save for a worrying pair of injuries to Klefbom).

However, the truth and the report card won’t be here for several years. The draft watchers have it right so far, but often we’re told it’s a weak draft year and 5 years later the best young players in the game emerge from such a draft. Or vice versa.


Early word on this year’s draft is that it’s heavy on Russians, defensemen and injuries. I’d suggest Oiler fans focus on the blue, specifically western boys and the WHL. A strapping lad like Griffin Reinhart would be just the ticket, although if the big club keeps winning games they’ll have to add a first round pick to their own in order to trade up and get him.



Nation Radio hits the air today at noon on Team 1260. Among the scheduled guests:

  • Corey Pronman, NHL Draft Expert for Hockey Prospectus.Corey will give us some early indications about the draft, I’ll ask how many of the really good kids will play in Alberta during the WJ’s and we’ll have a long look at the available defensemen for the 2012 draft.
  • Scott Taylor from Jets Nation. Taylor has been bringing it since joining the Nations Network and will back up his words with more words.
  • Kent Simpson from the Edmonton Oil Kings (color commentator). Kent will give us some insight into an interesting Oil King team and how they look this season and we’ll get updates on the usual suspects (Gernat, Pelss, Reinhart, bonus Bunz).
  • Tom Benjamin from Canucks Corner. Tom is a wise observer of the game, so we’ll cast our questions a little wider than just Canucks, but there will be plenty of time for discusiion about the suddenly surging Vancouver squad.
  • Kent Wilson from the Nations Network. Kent will discuss the Flames pickup of Blake Comeau (a wise move) and we’ll have another look under the hood of this year’s Flames.

Emails are welcome at and we’re also @itsnationradio on twitter. I do read questions that are posted in the comments here and over at the other blog. I hope you can tune in.

  • Lowetide

    I know you think Nostradamus is a lock for Movember but look more closely at the painting.

    His beard sets the standard for the logical followup event: VaJanuary.

    • Lowetide

      Personally, I think we should keep ourselves informed on all kinds of important issues. I too recall Gregor doing a segment, think he actually had a guest talking about it.

  • Dan the Man

    The 2013 Draft looks like the Draft the Oilers should be focused on rather than trying to get a mid to late round pick in this years draft. Curtis Lazar’s draft year. Watching this kid play is jaw dropping. I would try to position ourselves so that we had a chance at him in the 2013 draft. The rate the Oilers are playing and if it continues we may be looking at drafting in the 16-20 spot this year. Hopefully.I just think that the better part of wisdom lies in stockpiling picks to make a move in 2013. By then we’ll also have a better idea of the organizational needs.

    By thay I mean we’ll be at 2cd contract time with the kids and we’ll have a better idea of who fits with this organization. I don’t mean Hall,RNH and Eberle. I mean MP,Lander, Pitlick,Hamilton and so forth. I think that if we are going to compete for the Cup in 14-15 we’ll need to upgrade our 3rd line depth to do so. And doing so might require us to move some of that forward depth for the players who we need.
    This past off season saw the Oilers sign several free agents. There is belief that that will continue to be the case as the team gets more competitive. Wether through free agency or the draft I see the Oilers being a team on the rise. With the addition of the new Arena in 2015 that rise may see the Oilers as Stanley Cup Champions in the forseeable future.

    Plus it never hurts to have SMB as your head scout.

  • I listened to the Rich Winter section on Gregors show this week.

    I laughed heartily. I havent heard that much doublespeak, rocket science and gibberish about being a pimp… well…… EVER!

    Being a pimp seems simple enough. Bobby Orr seems to pull it off without coming across as a total douche’, then again…. he IS a special man.

    Maybe im just too stupid to understand modern pimp procedure, process and protocol when projecting kids playing hockey.

    Yah …….thats probably it.

  • book¡e

    LT – its probably too late, but if you get a chance ask Kent what personal changes he thinks need to be made in Calgary (as in management, not players). Is it time to clear out the equipment room staff?

  • Dan the Man

    Ritch Winter has his head so far up his ass he’s looking himself in the eye!! He has about as much credibility as KLowe. Another one of his lines was “you can buy 3rd and 4th liners at Walmart”!! Really Ritch. Then why don’t you go shopping for some players to represent if it’s that easy. His interviews are good for levity. Absolutely nothing more.

    • Krusher

      I heard him on Gregor’s show as well a couple days ago. How he could spew some much crap and not gag on himself is beyond me. The audacity to say that Agents basically recruit 15 year olds and get 70% of them drafted, then comparing that thinking to stating that NHL teams should draft at least that percentage in top pairing players is insane. Really Rich??? Then in the same thought he claims Detroit is the model franchise and follows the development curve perfectly. Well Mr.Winter, your model franchise, and no franchise for that matter, doesn’t even draft that well. It’s impossible! The turnover required to hit that percentage alone is not achievable, and there aren’t that many top minutes or opportunities for that many players to be top line scorers or top 4 d-men. If I could talk to that blow hard I would challenge him to put his money where his mouth is and provide a draft list of players for a few drafts and see how he does over a few years. He would stink.

      This is not a knock on Detroit, but honestly I am so sick and tired of hearing how they drafted all these stars and develop so many home grown players. Take a look at their draft records the last 15 years. Yes, they got lucky a couple times with 3rd and 4th round picks, good for them, but they have just as many misses as any other team in the entire league. How come they haven’t found any superstars in the latter rounds in the last ten years if they have things down to a science? It’s because it’s a crapshoot in a lot of ways. They spend to the cap, and have also traded a lot of their first round draft picks for rental players in the stretch drive to boot. Again, don’t get me wrong, they have done a ton of things right as a franchise but it’s sickening to listen to how perfect they draft year in and year out when you actually dissect their draft record. Doug MacLean gets roasted for the guys he drafted in the first round while in Columbus. It’s true many didn’t pan out, but it’s not like he was going off the board and taking Jessie Niinimaki’s or Blake Wheeler’s way above where they should have been taken. At that time of each pick he got applauded, but it goes to show you how easy a player can tank, and how some develop later on than others. If Detroit really thought a couple of their star players were that good, why didn’t they draft them sooner, or any other team pick them earlier for that matter?

      Rich, if you read this site, feel free to defend yourself and reply!

      PS – sorry for the rant, but the crap Mr.Winter was shovelling on air a couple days ago was brutal. This had to be said.

  • Detroit is obviously 1 of the 3 teams Ritch Winter suggests is using analytics. (Z or Hoss) I thought it was funny an ambulance was chasing him during the interview.

    “We looked at the analytics, and
    we would have never picked him #1.” I was stunned at that statement, and that it hasn’t come out in this market sooner.

    I wonder how Calgary Flames fans feel about starting their rebuild around a defenseman or Russian…?

  • RexLibris

    I love this idea of gathering more picks for the 2013 draft, and I have long been intrigued by the prospect of trading for picks well ahead of the curve. I don’t know how GMs look at it, but had Lowe insisted on a pick in 2009 instead of 2007, well, things wouldn’t be the same. So my question is this: what would be the price of a 2013 1st round pick and which organizations are the best to target, statistically?

    Having someone like MacKinnon, Lazar, or Sam Reinhart down the middle with RNH and Horcoff and Belanger with Pitlick and Martindale ready to step in would put this organization in a very good position.

    Darn it, we need Mike Milbury back in the league somewhere! Maybe if Feaster leaves…

  • RexLibris

    That being said, were we to actually pursue this strategy we’d probably be in competition for those picks with several other franchises. The Islanders (perennial top-pickers), Florida, Montreal, and Dallas perhaps. Colorado, Minnesota and Calgary could also be in that top-pick range.

    Speaking of Calgary how about Gagner, Omark, Plante, and a second rounder this year for Stajan and their 1st round picks in 2013 and 2014? Stajan might just be worth it. 😉

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    What’s the mileage Plante is putting on with the back and forth… has he played more than a single (in a row) so far? I imagine he’s not complaining though… a sip of coffee isn’t as good as a carafe but it’s better than nescafe

  • Lowetide

    It is in fact the fetching Jennifer Garner.

    And for you younger folk, you should know how lucky you are to have Jason Gregor on the air every drive home.

    When I was younger, it was Bryan Hall at noon, Bryan Hall on the drive and wait for John Short to tell the truth.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    I miss watching the fetching Miss Garner in Alias, wearing all those tight leather outfits,and kicking A$$ all the time.

    I’d let her kick my butt, but this is a hockey blog, so…..

    Wait, who cares, lets ogle Jennifer some more