The scouting season is a long and arduous campaign, one filled with landmines and trap doors as you try to advance your way to the end of the league year and the NHL Entry Draft.
Early-season expectations can turn sour by Christmas. Relative unknowns can establish themselves as household names. Lists are made, crumpled up, tossed away, and new ones created in their sted. And it’s so much fun.
This year’s crop of talent has been talked about for years. It features one of the very best prospects to come around in decades. The top end houses a smattering of players that would go first overall in different seasons. And while some of the shine has come off of the projected depth of the group, it still projects to be above average on the whole – even if just by a little. And there are always hidden gems. Always.
Regarding this final board, as always, these assessments are somewhat limited. I am but one man who also has a seven-year-old son, a three-year-old daughter, a teaching career, and many writing commitments. However, I’m fortunate enough to have a very patient wife and am privileged to have a tremendous group to work with at EP Rinkside, as well as a host of other experienced scouts to bounce things off of.
This list isn’t supposed to act as a mock draft — that comes out in a few days. This is a reflection of how I perceive the player’s current makeup in conjunction with how I believe they will progress and develop. Hopefully, toward an NHL career. It’s more a projection than an assessment of the current product. The translatable traits trump all.
Regarding my method, I place immense value on processing speed. Physical attributes are great, especially speed. But if you can’t see the play develop or recognize your options quickly, both offensively and defensively, you’re facing an uphill battle. If you’re intelligent, you can overcome a host of physical limitations. If you’re gifted physically, yet have limited awareness on the ice, you’re at more of a disadvantage to reach your ceiling. Add them together and you have the recipe for immense success.