Photo Credit: Jason Franson/Canadian Press

Intel: Pro Scouts

There’s no real debate that the Edmonton Oilers’ record of player acquisitions by way of trades and free agent signings under former GM Peter Chiarelli was abysmal.

The bad trades and free agent signings during Chiarelli’s regime speak for themselves. They also speak to a glaring deficiency in the pro scouting staff the team employed. While the amateur staff is in charge of keeping tabs on draft eligible prospects, the pro scouts provide the GM with information about potential targets from the pro ranks. That end of acquisitions has been dismal.

With new POHO and GM Ken Holland, whose career was built in the scouting ranks before he took over as GM in Detroit, running hockey ops for the Oilers now, it’s reasonable to expect that both the amateur and pro staffs will improve, especially the latter. To that end, new director of pro scouting Archie Henderson suggested Monday we’ll likely see more resources and manpower put into the pro scouting end of the things.

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It’s about time because, frankly, the Oilers are light in the pro scouting department right now with just three people dedicated to the pro staff full time – Henderson and scouts Paul Messier and Chris Cichocki. Back in 2012, for example, the Oilers had five people on the pro staff – chief scout Morey Gare, Sutter, Cichocki, Dave Semenko and Mike Abbamont.


Not only will Cichocki and Messier get help from Henderson, who was on Holland’s pro staff in Detroit, VP of player personnel Scott Howson will do some pro scouting and it sounds like is more help on the way. Henderson discussed what’s next in an interview with Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer.

“Yes we have,” Henderson said when asked if he and Holland have discussed expanding the pro staff in manpower and scope. “Those decisions will all be made ultimately by Kenny as far as adding people. Right now, it’s status quo. The guys are still under contract obviously. Chris will be working in the west and Paul will be working in the east.

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“Scott Howson is going to step up and do more pro scouting for us. I’ll definitely be on the road a lot covering off those guys and also with an area I will be taking care of, but I will have to spend time with the big club and the minor league team. We’re sort of going through that right now with team assignments and stuff like that for each and every scout.

“I know our coverage moving forward is going to be quite a lot heavier maybe than it has in the past. I have talked to Kenny about coverage not just in North America but worldwide because we need to make sure that we turn over every stone and there are so many different leagues, not just in North America but Europe where we have to find a player.

“Pro scouting is a little bit of a different gig because you’re really looking for under-valued players and you’re looking for that one guy who is a needle in the haystack. The only way you can do that is by having proper coverage across the board.”


The Oilers really haven’t had a dedicated pro scout in Europe. They had Frank Musil scouting on the amateur side, but he’s no longer with the team. In August 2017 they hired Vaclav Burda as director of European amateur scouting, but Burda was killed in a car crash less than a year later.

People like Musil and Burda were amateur scouts, but would check in on pros from time to time, as would other members of the amateur staff and hockey-ops people like Howson and Craig MacTavish. Maybe, with the likes of Mikko Koskinen, Joakim Nygard and Gaetan Haas coming out of Europe, we’ll see the Oilers employ a full-time pro scout across the pond.

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Finding players in Europe, especially on the amateur side under Hakan Andersson, was a staple for Holland during his years in Detroit. It makes all the sense in the world for the Oilers to cast a wider net on the pro side of the business, as suggested by Henderson Monday.


After having such a blast over the past two years, we absolutely knew that we were going to organize another golf tourney for the summer and, after a few months of planning, we’re psyched to finally be able to launch our third annual golf tournament.

  • When – August 29th, 2019 (Thursday). Tee off at 2 p.m.
  • Where – Cougar Creek Golf Resort
  • How much – $1000/team
  • Teams – Groups of Four (4)
  • How – Book your team here

As always, a portion of all proceeds from your ticket purchase will be donated directly to a local charity. This time we’ve partnered up with the Gregor Foundation to make sure that our kids are at their most handsome.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Other teams see, to do pretty well finding guys in Europe, why the Oilers think after the death of their amateur scout in Europe didnt need to fill the role seems bizarre. I am not even sure one guy can cover everything in Europe, but scouting on the amateur and pro side has been lacking, I still cant fathom how Paul Messier should have a job scouting .

    I for one am glad to see the scouting side of things take a rebuild, your need to be able to find guys outside of the draft as well and guys who arent on the radar of teams as you never know what you may find.

    Still work to do, but its a damn good start t shake the scouting department up.

  • The future never comes

    We all new the cronies that worked in managenent, but now seeing how it seeped into the scouting side with Messier and Semenko, its no wonder the Oilers have been a laughing stock for years.

      • The future never comes

        I will not conflate his tragic passing with not possibly doing good enough as a scout. Maybe you should not either. Those are two seperate issues.

        • Dave’s tenure as a pro scout has nothing to do with your overall frustration about “cronies” within the organization and legitimate problems that have existed in recent years because of it. He was good at his job. One more time — leave him out of it.

          • The future never comes

            It actually has everything to do with my overall frusteration. Again, I am not berating someone who has passed. But your argument does not hold much merit. I wish his family, friends, and fans the best.

      • HockeyYoda

        I don’t know Mr. Brownlee. You made some really good points on how dismal the pro scouting has been. But your comment here sounds exactly like the bias and loyalty to former players. Which clearly is a systematic problem for the Oilers.
        I agree every organization hires former players. I understand it, and I don’t even care if they want to keep a dozen or so “legacy” guys on the payroll if I’m not paying for it. You don’t have to fire them, just give them PR role or make the real decisions in a smaller meeting that doesn’t include them.
        But when you see teams like Vegas cherry pick players like William Carlson, Shea Theodore, Jonathan Marchessault. It’s clear other organizations are doing a much better job pro scouting…which makes a big difference. And while it’s not easy to find under-valued players, they’re out there. And it’s not as tough as a needle in a haystack.
        It’s way past due to bring in scouts who have a proven track record for finding talent. Hearing that Scott Howson could become more involved in pro scouting, scares the hell out of me. All he ever done is fail. Time to shuffle your underperforming scouts to the side or out the door.

        • Having extra sets of eyes, like Howson, on pro players is common. That won’t be his primary job. What they need to do is add two scouts and my understanding is they will. The Oilers had some pro scouts with solid reputations — Mike Abbamont comes to mind — but they come and they go with changes in management and there’s been plenty of that around here as we’ve gone from Lowe to Tambellini to MacTavish to Chiarelli. Absolutely has to improve.

  • Serious Gord

    Other teams are leagues ahead of the oil in this regard – going back to devellano decades ago.

    And coupled with the lack of investment in analytics the org will be years before it can build the quality prospect and development roster that these teams have. And that’s only if Katz spends a ton and hires dozens of more people pronto.

  • KPUZ

    Dear Mr. Brownlee,

    Serious question. Who in this, the 5th highest grossing NHL team, decided it was a good idea to run a two man skeleton professional scouting staff? Why has anyone not picked up on this?

    • That’s a bloody good question. The director — Sutter and now Henderson — counts as one so it was a three-man crew, but point taken. This is an area that requires a relatively low investment so you’d think teams would load up in this area. My belief is you’ll see the Oilers add two more pro scouts to bring the total crew to five, counting Henderson. That’s more in line with what I’d expect. Seems it was just another area of weakness/disregard under Chiarelli. Holland knows the value of scouting.

      • Serious Gord

        That’s the bare minimum. There is no cap on how much a team can spend on scouting and analytics. The oil – with a well-heeled, singular owner who has claimed to be the team’s biggest fan and a fan base that makes it one of the most lucrative should be second to none in terms of how much money is spent in this critical area.

        That it hasn’t EVER done that under Mr. Katz’ ownership is entirely HIS fault. He should have demanded it from the very beginning of his ownership.

        • Kool-Aid Man

          After seeing Katz at that press conference I would doubt he is concerned with his business operations at this point in time. His main concern is to keep living, never mind the trivial day-to-day BS that’s going on with the Oilers.

          Unfortunately that is what Burger Booby Nicks is supposed to be doing. Yes, he is doing a terrible job of it, but what do you expect when your most trusted hockey operations advisors are K.Lowe and MacT and whatever OBC member that is on the payroll. This is the product of trusting guys with 6 rings, whom thinks they know a thing or two about winning.

          • You seem completely unaware of who does what. Maybe try to catch up on that before reverting to name calling and trotting out the lame old “six rings” and knows a thing or two about winning bit. It’s tired. It’s out of date. It’s been said 10,000 times before. It adds nothing to the conversation. Got a specific criticism about how things are being done here and now? That’s fair game. Offer it up.

  • Herschel

    I thought of this years ago. It makes sense. I just assumed a maxed out scouting staff was busy at their jobs, pro and amateur. Granted, not good at their jobs but nonetheless