How has scouting changed?

conte

David Conte has worked with the New Jersey Devils for 30 years, and he has been their director of scouting for the past 21. In 2006, he was promoted to executive vice president, but he still is heavily involved with scouting.

In the 1990s the Devils had an incredible run of drafting success. Their 1990 draft class had 10 players play at least 116 games. Between 1989-2000 they had 27 draft picks play 400+ games, and many of them were solid NHL players.

Martin Brodeur, Scott Niedermayer, Bill Guerin, Patric Elias, Brian Rolston, Jason Smith, Stephane Yelle, Sergei Brylin, Jay Pandolfo, Brendan Morrison, Denis Pederson, Steve Sullivan, Sheldon Souray, Petr Sykora, Alyn McCauley, Willie Mitchell, Colin White, Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Mike Rupp and Paul Martin were some of their best picks.

In those 12 years, the Devils only had two top-five picks, Guerin 5th in 1989 and Niedermayer, 3rd in 1991, but they found quality players throughout the draft.

Conte has seen the scouting landscape change drastically during his time, and we discussed how it has evolved both positively and negatively. (As usual my thoughts are in italics).

Gregor: David, I was going back through your drafting record and it was amazing how many legitimate NHL players you were able to unearth in an ten-year span. What was your secret to your success?

Conte: I think we work with a lot of good people and I try not to think about it and worry more about the next one than the last one.

Gregor: No one’s ever going to hit on everything of course, especially because there is only so many openings on an NHL roster. Do you ever feel like you’re on a hot streak when you’re a scout?

Conte: I think circumstantially in any given year, things can fall in place and you know that things are better than other years. And then other years are more mediocre and there are other years where you can perhaps feel very devastated. For example, one year a long time ago we had Jeremy Roenick and Teemu Selanne and Rod Brind’amour pegged perfectly, like 2, 3, 4, but we picked 12th, and they went 8, 9, 10. It was a considerable drop off to the next player in terms of the value we had for them, so these things can happen. Every year is circumstantial, every year is luck. But if you do your homework over the long-haul I think that you should probably be alright.

**Roenick draft was 1988 when Mike Modano went first overall. The Devils ended up taking Corey Foster and he played 45 NHL games. None of the players taken after Selanne (10th) in the first two rounds became elite NHL players. Tie Domi (27th to Toronto) and Tim Taylor (36th to Washington) were the only players to play more than 700 games. Funny enough, many of the really good players were taken in the 4th round — Mark Recchi, Tony Amonte and Rob Blake — while Alex Mogilny was taken in the 5th round.***

MORE COMPETITIVE

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Gregor: David, do you believe that scouting in the last 10-12 years has become way more competitive than how it was in the 90s?

Conte: Absolutely. The computers, the size of the staff, the investment that some teams wisely put into it and the lack of investments some teams don’t put into it. But for the most part, absolutely. People really work very hard at this and they use every avenue they have to help themselves from physical tests, to psychological tests. In fact, there is a bit of a movement by some general managers to limit people from investing in it, which is research and development, which is surprising because it may be the only thing that can give your team an advantage in today’s salary cap world.

***I’d love to know which general managers think this way. I still feel the Oilers have to invest in more pro scouts, or at least get better ones, because their pro scouting record over the past eight years is horrendous.**

Gregor: You were the head scout for a long time, now you’re the director of Hockey Operations and scouting, the Executive Vice President, and you’re still overseeing all of the scouting. As the scouting has become more competitive, how have you had to change to try to stay competitive?

Conte: Well, I think trying to do the same things that we’ve always done. I don’t know necessarily about changing, I think it’s just read the trends of the given year and some years there are different pockets that merit greater attention than other years. And that’s circumstantial too. For one cycle it might be Finland that’s really hot, or Sweden that’s really hot, or the US development program and I think it’s just recognizing that. For example last year it was major junior that was the hotbed for high profile prospects.  

But to change? No, I think it’s one of the secrets that we do have, or have had, is continuity where I have a very good understanding of what the people we do have with me are saying and I think that they have a very good understanding of what I’m asking from them. It’s not a moving target, we’re not reinventing the wheel or the process every year, we’re just working hard and trying to be thorough about it the process.

Gregor: Players are becoming more professional at a younger age as far as how they train and how they eat. Is there a smaller gap between the good players and the guys who are right on the cusp, than there was 15 or 20 years ago?

Conte: Oh I think so. I think that the techniques that coaches and strength coaches and general advances in nutrition and discipline, hockey schools and personal trainers. I think it’s really helped the average player to help, well, it stops us from sometimes identifying the great player. I think the neutralizing effect of the fourth liners is far greater than it might have been 15 years ago. The dominance of the first line players is certainly far less than it was 15 years ago.

Gregor: Is that good for hockey or does it make your job harder?

Conte: It makes our job harder and I don’t necessarily think it is good at the young age that we’re so technical and analytical that the game stops being fun for them. Because not many pro players come out of youth hockey, but the sophistication of a peewee team right now is pretty significant.

Gregor: Zach Parise told me he thinks that coaching is on the verge of ruining hockey because it’s too technical and they are taking the creativity out of players. Have you noticed that there are a lot more players that can skate fast, and maybe get to an area, but can’t necessarily do something when they get into the right position?

Conte: Umm…without being critical or specific and I love Zach, I think that Zach is right on the money.  I agree with what he says. I think this game sometimes might be better without the structure, but we all want to win and coaching does help you win. If it’s the detriment of the entertainment value, it is, but they’re doing what they need to do to sustain a winning environment and to do so.

The hard work that they put in is phenomenal. I mean the amount of hours that they spend is it sometimes, is it analysis by paralysis or is it paralysis by analysis? [Laughs] You’re just not allowing yourself to grow. And I think that in a lot of cases that the right coaches understand at the end it is mono a mono or it’s player vs. player not coach vs. coach. So it’s a very fine line and I really don’t have an answer for you, I wish I did.

But in time it’s a frustrating thing in every regard because you know they’re doing they’re very, very best and you know that your team is prepared as best as they can be prepared in terms of systems and tactics and conditioning, but are we taking the best out of them by limiting that creativity that Zach might have referred to.

***I think one of the biggest concerns in hockey is too much structure at a young age. We shouldn’t be coaching kids the same systems grown men are using. It makes no sense, just like young kids shouldn’t be playing on NHL ice surfaces. Let them play on smaller surfaces, so they can touch the puck more often and do more stops, starts and turns.**

DRAFT STRATEGY

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Gregor: David, every year there’s more and more independent draft places putting out draft guides.

Conte: I’ve noticed that.  [Laughs]

Gregor: Do you check other people’s opinions, or do you only focus on what you and your scouting staff have discovered?

Conte: I read everything. I base my opinions only on my staff, but I use everything possible to see if we’re missing something. So we have a player that’s nondescript on our list that’s highly regarded by any source. I research it with the people that I trust and work for me and who are on the payroll because those are the ones that you can hold accountable. So for sure, I don’t consider them irrelevant and I don’t consider them incompetent, but the fact remains that all of these services have a lesser budget to do their jobs than I have to do mine.

Gregor: How much has video helped scouting? Does it make it more accurate or does it sometimes make you analyse too much?

Conte: I think it is probably too much. It’s a little bit of a support that can give you a real familiarization. We do use it; I can’t say that we don’t. I think that sometimes we can spend too much time watching TV about picking up games that we’re not at. I do feel that to make areal serious decision that has serious impact; you need to be there in person. And you need to have a feel for the situation because you don’t see everything on the video.

Does it help? Sure it can help but there is only so many hours that we can devote to doing this job. I think we devote them wisely and to pertinent information and to get people’s opinions that are really relevant and who are accountable to those opinions.

Gregor: What is the ratio of live games to video that you will watch on a player? Do you need to see, let’s say, 20 live games?

Conte: Well I would love to get to that many. That’s one of the problems now with hockey and expansion at every level of junior and expansion at college and the emergence of European countries that didn’t really have impact before, Switzerland, Denmark, the breakup of the Soviet Union and right now it’s Czech and Slovakia not Czechoslovakia. So that, yeah, it makes it much more difficult because there are more and more teams and there is less and less weekday games.

So the difficulty and the logistics of travelling and all that make the individual coverage of a player much more difficult than it used to be. That does impact your productivity and your accuracy because you’re guessing more on less information. You’re speculating more on less information as opposed to maybe really knowing a player really, really very well when there were half the amount of the junior teams.

Gregor: And that’s why teams had to increase their scouting staff. But as you increase your scouting staff it increases differing opinions.  When the New Jersey scouting staff comes together and guys sit around the table and guys debate, how differing do you want the opinions?  

Conte: We do it slightly different. We all do reports every game we go to, we add them all up and compare them and I try to create a formula and then I ask them what’s wrong with this player. I don’t really think debating each other is fruitful because you all see different games and you see different amounts on different players. So for example you don’t send everyone to the World Juniors and the ones that were there have a weighted opinion of Aaron Ekblad for example. So I’d rather go about it in a more constructive manner. Who is the player each scout would want, and then after that determination the next step is me and the final step is Lou (Lamoriello) to validate what I recommend.

***Very interesting response on how the Devils rank players. Conte also told me that the Devils won’t have any lengthy draft debates/meetings leading up to the draft, “The kids are done playing, they can’t get better or worse. We have all the information we need.” That makes a lot of sense. It always bothered me that Tambellini suggested the Oilers hadn’t made their mind up until the night before the draft. Teams should have their list finalized before the draft, because the majority of players haven’t played for months.**

Gregor: Is it more work when you’re drafting in the middle because there is so much more that can happen in front of you, compared to if you’re drafting in the top spots?

Conte: Oh absolutely. It was an easy night’s sleep when we were picking third and took Scott Niedermayer. [Laughs]Picking out Bryan Rolston (11th) was a little more difficult. And as you go down farther, generally speaking when you are in the 20-30 range, you get a player that is in your 15-25 range.

I really think the hardest picks are the 6th-15th because there is a lot of consensus because of all of these reports. People feel a lot of pressure, and because of our past record, I appreciate your compliments of our record, it also gives me a little bit more courage because I’d be given the benefit of the doubt. Other people that are trying to establish some success in their position with their teams that influence is certainly there, as it was with me in the beginning.

Gregor: It starts with scouting, but once you draft a player much of his success depends on how the organization develops him. What are the challenges of that process and what is the challenge from going to scouting to then handing the player off to the men in charge of developing him?

Conte: Well that’s certainly a three-pronged thing from development to coaching to drafting, it’s all important. And your strength coaches are important, your PR people are important for how they monitor certain things and what you do with them.

Unfortunately, NHL teams have had a lot of restrictions on them as part of the CBA that do curtail you doing the most you can for that player. And in turn they’re in the hands, often, of their own subsidized personal trainers and others and it’s not necessarily in the best interest of the team because they don’t really have control over it.

Most times, and sometimes it’s all very positive, but as a purist, I’d rather it be in the control of our team and not outside sources. We are exposed to outside influences all of the time because your players could play for a lot of different teams all while under contract with you. From their club team to Team Canada world juniors, to the World Championships and so on and so forth. It is perfectly correct to support all of those things, but as a team it is a concern.

And some of the injuries, and the medical response to those injuries if you have them; there is a lot of variables. We can only have a player for one week in the summer. I don’t know where that’s productive for the player or the teams, but that’s the rule.

***This has been one of the Oilers many organizational flaws. They have not done a great job developing players. You don’t send players to the AHL, when they still have CHL eligibility, but don’t dress them every game. They did this with Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Martindale and a few others. The Oilers need to recognize that young players need to play to improve, they don’t get better playing 10-12 minutes a night in 40-50 AHL games compared to playing first line minutes for 72 games in junior. 

I believe the Oilers’ future would look better if Darnell Nurse spends another year in junior, one of Oscar Klefbom and Martin Marincin starts the season in the AHL, and they send the #3 pick (assuming it is one of the centres) back to junior.

I know people will say Reinhart has nothing left to prove in junior, but I don’t see it that way. You can always work on your game, but for me it makes no sense to have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and a rookie centre in your top-six. If they keep Sam Gagner, it makes even less sense to dress an 18-year-old on the third line. I understand the urge to want to dress a #3 overall pick, but the Oilers need to fight that urge and let him mature one more year in junior.**

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • nuge2drai

    Gregor did you take in account with C.Hamilton the Oilers may of had no choice but to advance him. The AHL has that Development Prospect rule and the Oilers may of needed some of these prospects to fill the AHL quota

  • A-Mc

    What are the chances that L. Draisaitl can actually play half decently on the 2nd line next season? (Assuming that’s who we get. insert name of the actual Centerman we Draft if you wish)

    Draisaitl only needs to outperform one of Nail yakupov or Sam Gagner in order to gain a top 2 spot.

    What are the chances our 2nd line is: Gagner, Draisaitl, Perron next season?

    I know the right thing to do would be to send him back to junior, but if he’s legitimately able to out play someone already on the 2nd line (or hell, even one of the 3rd liners), Why not keep him in the NHL? His minutes would be 15+ likely, as long as he wasn’t on the 4th line. Is getting 15-18mins/night in the NHL better than going back to junior? is getting 15-18mins a night worth the early promotion to the big club?

    I dont know.. but if that kid (who ever they draft) can outplay Yak or Gagner, i think he’ll make the team next year.

    PS: i personally think they should keep Gagner and throw him into the 2RW spot; i dont anticipate much of a return in a trade, so lets keep him. He may finally hit the 50+ pt mark.

  • WeridAl

    I agree about C.Hamilton, and Pitlick being rushed, but with the Oilers rebuilding their farm system they needed players to fill the team. Hopefully that period is over. Right now I think MacTavish is looking for a miracle, and rushing Nurse is not going to help.

  • BLAKPOO

    I have no idea what kind of salary expectations a top level scout has, or what the contractual limitations are around jumping from team to team, but if I’m Daryl Katz, I’d be investing top dollar into my scouting program to make sure it’s the best possible.

    Instead of wasting millions of dollars on “projects” like Grebeshkov, pump up the salaries of your scouting staff to help land the best and brightest scouts – and keep them! Increase the size of your foreign scouting staff to make sure you’re able to watch a wider spectrum of talent play more games in more leagues. Have the scouts spend more time with the players to get a better feel for their personal development.

    With a premier scouting staff you could afford to trade higher round picks or fringe players/prospects for groups of lower round picks and expect a higher success rate.

    This just seems too obvious to me.

    Especially for the Oilers. A team that has been so crippled on so many developmental levels due to poor scouting. You’d think it would be top priority.

    • HockeyYoda

      I totally agree. What’s a few extra scouts cost compared to continued misses at the draft table. And I don’t necessarily mean the oilers 1st rd picks the last number of years. But more to their inability to find the odd gem in the later rounds.

  • 1979

    Hey Gregor,

    I agree that the vast, vast majority of time these kids should be going back to junior. However, I disagree with the thought process that there should never be an exception. The Oiler’s make too many exceptions, but that doesn’t mean that each player shouldn’t be evaluated on his own merits and decisions be made on a player by player basis. You may actually agree with this statement, it is just that you often communicate this thought with no mention of exception.

    • Jason Gregor

      The exception was Ekblad. The forwards don’t have the luxury of being protected in Edmonton. The Oilers don’t have enough proven, two-way forwards who can eat all the hard minutes.

      Tell me the harm with sending any of the centres back to junior?

      • 1979

        This depends on what reports you read…I think what needs to be admitted by media and fans alike is that players should be dealt with on an individual basis and that we don’t know what’s best for player and team based on our limited knowledge. I think it is fair to criticize the team for clearly making some bad calls on player development and call for change, but to assume you or I or the next guy would have made better calls or can make the call from our radio booths and computer screens that all of the top centre choices this year should land back in junior is rather presumptuous… it’s fine to suggest something as making sense to you, it is another thing to state under no uncertain terms that something should happen. IMO.

    • ubermiguel

      Agreed. Also “development” is not the same as “playing in junior or the AHL”. There are questions about who is coaching them, the ice time they’re getting, the fitness and conditioning support they get, the players they are surrounded by, etc, etc. Another year on a lousy CHL club is not the same as another year on a good CHL club (like the Oil Kings).

      Luckily the decision is easy with many of the Oilers players, the AHL club has an excellent coach, and the main club is a gong show…so keep them in OKC as long as you can!

      • A-Mc

        You make a good point that is most applicable if the Oilers draft Draisaitl.

        Of all the prospects, Lowetides article the other day shows us that L.Draisaitl is on a piss poor team.

        Does another year of junior on a crappy team really help him more than if he were able to sustain appropriate play on the 2nd or 3rd line for the Oilers? Leon will be too young to go to OKC, so its either Junior or the NHL.

        The other prospects have fantastic teams from what i gather, so there is no hurt in sending them back for a year if you think they’d benefit from it.

        • Jason Gregor

          Draisaitl is coached by Cory Clouston. Clouston helped him improve his overall game immensely this past season.

          Eberle never made the playoffs the two seasons after he was drafted. Did that ruin him as a player? Nope.

          Great players develop because they are driven to succeed, not just because they play on a winning team.

        • ubermiguel

          The Raiders aren’t terrible, they did make the playoffs, but they are a below-average CHL team. If Draisaitl is drafted by the Oilers I wonder how much it would take to make a trade and make Draisaitl an Oil King. Let’s start developing a few of our own future star players on this team, and not other teams’ future star players.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Contrary to the trending popular opinion here on ON.

    Brian Boyle 6’7″ 245lbs

    Benoit Pouliot 6’4 200lbs

    Rick Nash 6’5″ 220lbs.

    Behemoths, all getting embarrassed in the Stanley Cup Final. Size is important my arse. Skill, Speed and Compete, all far more important than size.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    “That makes a lot of sense. It always bothered me that Tambellini suggested the Oilers hadn’t made their mind up until the night before the draft. ”

    Which draft?

  • HockeyYoda

    Good article.

    Would the Oilers be better with a new way to scout.

    If the Oilers owned and operated a team in EVERY MAJOR junior hockey league in the world and owned a team in every pro league as well.

    1) The back end of all these teams … Tickets, uniforms, travel, stats ect. could be run centerally which would improve the profitability of all these teams.

    2) The big club would have an significant amount of coaches, trainers and scouts that could be developed to produce talent for the NHL club.

    3) Their Junior coaches and trainers would see every draft eligable player in the world. The Junior team have a strong scouting staff looking at 14-15 young men. Which would double the length of scouting of an 17 year old from what it is today.

    4) Your staff (scout) would have significantly improved access to all the players in the world…and it would be run at worst at break even.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Scouting is far too over rated. All you really need, is a POHO who knows all there is to know about winning, if there is ever any concern about said topic. The results speak for themselves.

    #ThanksKevin

    • Spydyr

      Are you mentally challenged. You’re like a broken record. Have you come up with anything intelligent to add in the last year. Seriously there’s something wrong with you. Get help.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Good to see there’s somebody still working through the summer at those Oiler offices on Kingsway.

        Like 30th, 30th, 29th, 24th and 28th place finishes are above criticism. Here’s 10 bucks, go pay some hooker to give you a hug why don’t you.

        How’s that for you there Bulldog…..better?

        • Quicksilver ballet

          Bulldog never said the oilers are above criticism. He said what I’m sure many of the consistent readers at ON think. That your diatribe is the same old crap over and over and over and over and over and over………….and over and over and over.

          Regardless of the topic of the article or discussion, all you ever say is ‘oiler management sucks’ blah blah blah.

          Your shtick is tiring, please go away.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            same old crap over and over and over and over and over………….and over and over.

            —————————————————————

            You missed one more “over” there Ivan. If you’re comment is consistant with the Oilers finishes in the standings these last 8 yrs.

            Just sayin.

  • utarded

    The oilers had only one player Marincin who played a meaningfull amount of games other than the first rounders last season.
    The oiler amateur scouts are not much better than pro scouts.
    You should have asked Conte how excited he was when Lou talked Lowe into switching picks so he could take Parise
    Oilers!

  • utarded

    Very insightful………..I have alway felt the Oilers did not have enough quality scouts.

    Based on this interview, it becomes apparent that some teams use scouting as their main source for players long term. Under Pendergrast we were terrible, but Stu has had the good fortune of having a half a dozen first round draft choices……….I’m still a little confused how things are going to be done under Mac T over Mr. Dithers but the fact remains we have not been good past the second round.

    If Greg Chase or JK becomes a real player, I might change my opinion.

    • Spydyr

      Written by someone who has not seen Gagner play defence every game the last seven years.

      Thinks Eakin’s is a good coach and fails to even mention the owner and the POHO.

      In other words an outsiders perspective a poor one at that.

      • HockeyYoda

        Sorry but you liked that blog? Writer thinks the Oilers will have the top line in the NHL for years to come, Eakins is a good NHL coach and Gagner is a top 2nd line centre. Who wrote this dribble, Katz or Lowe?

        • nuge2drai

          Oiler Domination To Follow

          I enjoyed the article. I agree with most parts. We have a roster full of young valuable assets.

          Our defense prospects depth is top 3 in the NHL(if we get Ekblad) and our forwards are the envy of the league.

          We need to compliment the players we have or trade them to create the perfect balance- either way we have options most teams dont have.

          MacT has done an amazing job in his first year- bringing in players like Perron, Scrivens, Fasth, Hendricks for draft picks.

          I was getting used to the opposite from the useless Tambellini era of sending out useful NHL players for picks.

          • HockeyYoda

            Listen, I like the Oilers. But I don’t live in Edmonton and I don’t wear rose-colored glasses.

            Yes you have a lot of young assets.
            Yes I like the job Mack T has been doing with trades and acquisitions.
            Re: Gagner. I commented several times about holding on to Gagner because he will likely bounce back and then decide if you want to trade him.

            But Gagner is not and never will be one of the top 2nd line centers in the league.
            D prospects top 3 in the league if you include Ekblad? How do you include Ekblad in your analysis? You are drafting 3rd, not 1st. You might, if you get lucky get him. I certainly hope you do. Then this statement could be argued.

            The writer completely lost me when he complimented Eakins as a coach. Mack T’s biggest and ongoing mistake. Before Eakins the Oilers were exciting to watch. You could see they were building toward something. When they were down, I still felt they always had a chance because they never gave up and had talent. But the team and the development of most of the young players took two steps back with Eakins. As I said before, The Oilers picked the wrong coach to play the “We’re not going to blame our coach anymore” card.

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            The article still stands on its own merit and is very accurate.

            IF we get Eklbad, than the combination of Shultz, Nurse, Ekblad, Marincin and Klefbom would be the envy of 27 other teams in the NHL.

            MacT solidified the goaltending, added a legitimate top 6 winger with scoring and grit, and added solid pieces to the bottom six – without trading away any of our young valuable assets.

            MacT accomplished this in his FIRST year while clearing up 28+ million in cap space.

            Yes Eakins was a bad coaching choice, and most of the players regressed under his style of “teaching” – but most of the article is still relevant.

            Oilers have assembled a roster with an incredible amount of young VALUABLE tradable assets, and have the OPTION to make moves that MOST teams do not have.

            If MacT keeps winning trades, and if he uses the cap space well, the Oilers will be fine.

          • Jason Gregor

            “IF we get Eklbad, than the combination of Shultz, Nurse, Ekblad, Marincin and Klefbom would be the envy of 27 other teams in the NHL.”

            So the Blackhawks, Kings and Blues are the only teams who wouldn’t be envious?

            Or did you mean the Ducks, Penguins or Rangers?

            Or maybe the Habs, or Wild…

            Name a team that has five young D-man all within 3 years of age patrolling their blueline?

            That article, like your posts is based on solely on a fairy-tale best case scenario.

            Other teams are not drooling over the Oilers skilled forwards. The Oilers were 26th in offence last year and Hall and Perron had career years. You expect all of them to magically produce career years next year as well.

            The Oilers forwards are not the envy of the league, and while they have good D prospects, at this point they are only prospects. Teams with proven players will gladly take proven over potential.

          • wiseguy

            This reeks of the “half the general managers in the National Hockey League would trade their roster for our roster right now” from Lowe.

            No part of our team is the envy of any other team in the NHL. Teams use us as the measuring stick of what not to do (*see Ron Hextall and Brian Burke). This sure doesn’t sound like envy.

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            27 teams would envy these defensive prospects:

            Ekblad, Nurse, Klefbom, Marincin

            With Shultz stepping into his prime.

            There isn’t a team with better d prospects in the system.

  • james_dean

    The Devils drafted some great players. The list of names is impressive.

    Good scouting and player development builds a winner. Sorry for stating the obvious.

  • utarded

    If we kept klefbom, marincin, nurse and whoever we draft down, we would have to make some major acquisitions to not be another defensive embarrassing mess.

  • WeridAl

    Nurse is still a couple of years away. Has the potential, buy lacks the the size, and grit. His defensive skill is still very questionable, no need to rush him.

  • bwar

    Top end talent in the draft is often NHL ready. Barkov, Jones, Lindholm, Monahan and Nichuskin all had solid years in the NHL. If we were drafting 10-15th I can understand you pressuring the team to send the player back to Juniors but we are talking about getting a guy who was dominant in juniors this past season. In my mind he should get a fair shot to make the team and his fate shouldn’t be written in stone before his name has even been called at the draft.

    The Oilers in retrospect probably did err with Gagner and Lander but I don’t think you can make the same arguement for Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov. Hall is already a ppg type NHLer while Nuge and Yakupov were both near misses for the Calder trophy.

    If we end up with Reinhart, Bennett or Ekblad, I fully expect them to make a damn good push to crack to the opening night roster.