March 25, 2021

Scout Survey: Scouting in an uncertain year

Summer is fast approaching and there does appear to be some clarity regarding when the 2021 NHL Draft will be occurring.

It has been an interesting season from a scouting perspective to say the least but the scouts at FCHockey have been busy filling out copious scouting reports on the 2021 eligibles.

As reported recently, the 2021 NHL will not be moving and will remain in July. However, we were curious what our scouts preferred given the unique circumstances surrounding this draft year.

We quizzed a trio of FCHockey’s scouts to get their thoughts on their scouting years.

FCHockey: With the uncertainty surrounding the 2021 NHL Draft and the possibility of postponing it to the summer of 2022, what is your preference as a scout for what the NHL decides to do?

“It’s a tough question because it’s a lot about traditions and so on. I do not think they have ever held two drafts in the same year ever but I think in this case with the pandemic it is the best thing to do. Many players that should have an opportunity to get drafted 2021 are not playing at all this season due to Covid-19. And therefor my opinion is that the best and most fair way to go is to postpone it to 2022 and do two drafts the same summer.” – Fredrik Haak, Swedish scout

“Many leagues are playing or will put together somewhat of a season, video scouting has vastly improved, so for my purposes, I would love to get back on schedule with the draft and have it move forward in June/July of 2021. Having said that I think it’s likely only fair for all of these players and teams to get a full season of somewhat more regular circumstances to get a fair shot at not having some players overlooked.” – Dylan Galloway, Eastern Canada head scout

“I do believe that the NHL needs to hold a draft in 2021, but I also think that it would be a nice idea to use this time to switch the age of eligibility of players for the NHL draft. I like the idea of having a first round this summer, with the same rules as usual as per the age of eligibility, and then doing a full draft in 2022, while pushing back the age of eligibility from a year for that draft. Maybe the NHL could still allow 18-year-old players to be drafted in the first round of the draft too.” – Theo Lambert, QMJHL scout

FC: Have you found the way that you scout has changed this season?

“It has been a huge difference from other seasons with a lot more video scouting. I miss being at the rink and feeling all the energy and seeing more details but it has been a new experience that has developed me as a scout and I think we all could learn a lot from this season in the future.” – Haak

“Yes, quite a bit! Breaking a player down shift-by-shift and skill-by-skill has become a much more significant part of my player analysis game to game. Diving really deep on a lot more players, and also being able to focus a bit more outside of my own region has really broadened my horizons and helped me improve my eye, at least in my opinion.” – Galloway

“Since I only started scouting in January, I do not think my way of scouting has changed this season, but I am learning as I watch games. I am also learning a lot from my colleagues from when we do our calls, and just reading their reports, too. They give me some insights on things to look for in players, and some other perspective on players’ potential.” – Lambert

FC: Which 2021 prospect has flown up your boards the most this year?

“I would like to mention Oskar Olausson here. He has taken huge steps this season and a year ago I think he was far away from being a first-rounder.” – Haak

“It’s gotta be Matthew Coronato. Every rankings meeting we have we bump him up a little more each time. Everyone knows his motor never quits and his goalscoring is excellent as well. But the reason I keep bumping him up my list is the things I didn’t love about him are also improving as the season goes on.” – Galloway

Xavier Bourgault. I really like his offensive tools and his creativity. I think he is the player from the QMJHL that has the best offensive potential, and I think he might be ranked too low by a lot of people.” – Lambert

FC: Which 2021 Prospect has dropped down your boards the most this year?

Oliver Moberg is a player I have seen a lot the past 2 seasons and I think he has taken steps in the right direction every year. This season he has not developed the same way. He has of course not been playing all that much due to the cancellation of the junior league but the games he has played has not been that successful that I thought it would be.” – Haak

“Don’t love answering questions like this because I don’t like being negative about prospects. One player I’ve had to move down my board is Cameron Whynot. There are flashes of a really solid transition player, but I’ve found he struggles to find lanes and passing seams at 5v5. With more space, he gains confidence in himself, but when space begins to close he seems to want to get the puck off his stick immediately. I’m really looking for him to activate more from his own end at 5v5.” – Galloway

Riley Kidney. I can not say I have watched him a whole lot, so I do not want to be too harsh on him, as he looks like a good junior player, but I just do not believe in his NHL potential a whole lot. I am not sure his skills will translate.” – Lambert

FC: Who has been your favorite (not necessarily the best) player to scout this year?

William Eklund. He is always so much fun to scout. You never know what he will do and he always surprises you in a good way.” – Haak

Francesco Pinelli is quickly becoming my favourite player in this draft. Insane skill with the puck, all over the ice and seemingly tireless in his effort shift to shift. He’s like a waterbug out there and is just an absolute joy to watch.” – Galloway

James Malatesta. He does everything well, and he seems to get better, and better. He has got a great compete level, and I think that will take him a long way.” – Lambert

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