#FRB2012 Opening Up My Scouting Notebook, Part I
Posted by Dan Shrader on Tuesday, May 15, 2012
It was roughly a year ago I was approached by Dan Stewart, Chief Scout for Future Considerations, to be apart of his scouting staff. What an experience- already a self-professed Draft/prospect junkie (as you can tell with the niche that FRB fills), I took in a lot of hockey over the course of the season, including many different levels: Bantams, Midgets, High School, NAHL, USHL, NCAA- watching players (and learning on the fly) almost nightly and sending in reports for FC's product; a digital magazine devoted to the NHL Entry Draft and Prospects.
I was there to watch Lakeville South's gargantuan upset over Duluth East, the Inaugural USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Muskegon, and at Mariucci when the Gophers clinched the WCHA regular season title. No stranger to U of M games, I can flat out tell you I have never heard that place louder than that night (ask Nate about it.)
So with that being said, I'm going to open up my notebook and share some thoughts and observations on players I've seen during the course of the year.
But first, in the name of self-promotion, I'd like all the readers of FRB to at least entertain the thought of purchasing our NHL Entry Draft Guide, if not more products from us. I got their Guide last year (before my affiliation with them) and it was awesome. All of the staff is extremely proud of the work we've put into the year, and we hope it will show in the end product.
Please make sure to give it a look, or at least visit FC's site daily. Preferably a couple times a day.
Ok, so- here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to do two posts, one that is more relevant to my region (Upper Midwest) and another which I'll talk about other players I've seen during my travels.
Here is my Regional Top 10:
1. Jake McCabe, D, University of Wisconsin
2. Samuel (Hunter) Fejes, W Shattuck-St. Mary's
3. Zach Stepan, C Shattuck-St. Mary's
4. Jared Thomas, C Hermantown HS
5. Jake Montgomery, W Shattuck-St. Mary's
6. Matt Pohlkamp, W Brainerd HS (re-entry)
7. Teddy Bleuger, C Shattuck-St. Mary's
8. Ian Janco, D Bloomington Jefferson HS
9. Jake Bischoff, D Grand Rapids HS
10. Dominic Nitti, D Cretin-Derham Hall
Obviously the group at SSM is carrying the Minnesota crop this year, and defenseman John Draeger just misses out on the Top 10. In many ways Minnesota/Upper Midwest is a microcosm for what is being described as a weak Draft in terms of depth, because there very well may be a chance that very few players on my list get drafted- or conversely, in what is essentially a crap shoot after the top 60 or so players, teams may opt to take someone out of this region because hell, they stand just as good a chance to pan out as anyone else around the world.
- I'll talk about McCabe in part II.
- What sold me on Fejes was that he produced without having the same ice time opportunities that Stepan, Montgomery, and Bleuger had; he basically played 3rd line minutes, but led the team in goals (38). He reminds me some of Nick Johnson, who had 26 points in 77 games this year in a Wild sweater. Works extremely hard, great size and skating ability, and I think he's got untapped offensive potential. Heard from a couple people he's a great kid too.
- Re: Stepan...I (and I'm not the only one) just don't see where the offense will come from going forward to the next level(s). Kind of a "what you see is what you get" type of player. Was told that he will now head to Waterloo this Fall, instead of Penticton.
- After the State Tournament, folks were atwitter about Justin Kloos and Grant Besse. To be honest, I'd be surprised if either get Drafted, but I'd lean more toward Besse than Kloos. With Besse, his game has two sides to it. In the Fall Elite League, he was proactively physical (I think I said "whoa" out loud when he put 6'6" Jay Dickman on his ass on one hit), fought for every inch, tried to make an impact every shift...then I catch him in a BSM sweater and its like he just tried to outskill everyone. Now, you can get away with that in HS hockey, but it was disappointing to see. Another added dimension was his decision to return to BSM for his senior year- don't get me wrong, I think its noble, loyal, and shows some perspective in terms of realizing you're only a HS senior once (for the most part) but he has literally NOTHING left to prove at this level- a case could be made that he should have been in the USHL this last season.
It's a nice story, but NHL teams will look at it from the stance that he doesn't want to be challenged, and based off what I heard this last weekend, perhaps a shot for the USNTDP.
As for Kloos, his game works well at the HS level because he's hard to contain; he does a good job of keeping his feet moving. However, he doesn't have a particular asset that stands out- shot, hockey sense, skating, etc. Some people I talked to mentioned Kyle Rau, and how he'd literally die to get that goal, the space around the net, whatever it is, and you just don't see that in Kloos, who is similar in size.
- One of the problems I encountered was that there is a dropoff from The Elite League, which is the best of the best, to the HS level. So players I thought should have dominated because of their play in the EL failed to do so once the HS season started. A few did though- Thomas, Pohlkamp, Judd Peterson to name a few.
- Coldest rink I was in all year was Shattuck's new rink. Go figure that one out.
- Also, I saw every single one of the important Minnesota Wild scouting types at a SSM game this year. Brent Flahr, Craig Channell, Paul Charles, Guy Lapointe, Shep Harder, Ernie Vargas...
I'm open to questions here, or you can always ask me on the Twit: my handle is @ShraderD. Make sure to check out Future Considerations too. A couple times a day.