Kyle Woodlief, special to USA TODAY
How do scouts grade prospects?
When scouts look at young players, there are many different facets to be considered when determining each prospect’s relative merits and making final evaluations.
There are at least 8-10 basic elements that scouts are looking for when breaking down strengths and weaknesses in a player. For defensemen and forwards, the major categories graded are:
1. Skating ability
Sub-categories under this heading include speed, power of stride, first-step quickness, acceleration, balance, lateral mobility and turning ability.
2. Size and strength
Fairly straightforward in most cases, though some players play bigger than their size, and some shorter players are powerfully built and deceptively strong for their height.
3. Puckhandling ability
Can the player handle the puck in traffic; can he make moves with it at top speed, or does he have to slow down in order to make his moves; does he pass crisply and accurately?
4. Shot and scoring ability Does the player have a hard shot? Is it accurate? Does he get it low and consistently on net? Is he a natural sniper — does the player finish off chances around the net?
5. Hockey sense
How are the player’s instincts? Does he instinctively make the right play in all three zones? Does he read and anticipate developing plays?
Does the player win the 1-on-1 battles for loose pucks? Does he get involved in the traffic areas, drive to the net, move men out of the crease, etc.?
Do teammates and coaches rely on him to make big plays at key moments in the game? Is he out on the ice in all key situations? Does he take charge of situations?
8. Poise and composure
Does the player hurt his team with penalties? Does he get rattled after being hit? Is he calm in tense situations?
Simple bottom line question — does the player contribute to his team winning games? Does he put points up on the board consistently, fight, or perform his role on the team efficiently?
For Goaltenders, categories include:
1. Foot and leg quickness
4. Controlling rebounds
7. Hand speed and reflexes
Ron Honigan 25 years NCAA and NHL Scout
There are 6 things that I focus on when evaluating a player:
1) SKATING…..The player must be an above average skater
2) SKILL LEVEL…. The player must possess a high skill level i.e puckhandling, the ability to pass and receive a puck using both sides of the stick. The ability to get your shot on net.
3) HOCKEY SENSE…. How creative is the player? Does he see everybody on the ice? Does the player think fast/ make sound decisions with the puck ?
4) GRIT….. finishing checks, winning battles for contested pucks, driving the net, standing up for a teammate, getting pucks out of the zone by taking a hit.
5) COMPETE…..there are 3 levels of competitiveness….players that bring it (empty the tank every shift), players that sometimes bring it, and players that seldom bring it.
The one thing that every player can control is his/her effort. There is no excuse for not blocking a shot, outskating an opponent to a loose puck, and not playing with fire and brimstone. You could be the most talented player on your team….but if you don’t compete on a consistent basis you will never get very far in the long term.
6) ROLE……What function are you going to provide to the hockey club? Defining yourself !!! What do you do better than everybody else? Are you a playmaker, a finisher, a checker etc.
Dan MacDonald – 30 years as coach in NCAA, NHL, WHL, ECHL and AHL
1) SKATING ABILITY. Quickness (acceleration), top speed (forward and / or backward – position dependent), and one of the big keys – agility (the ability to move laterally while moving fast.) Using deception prior to shifting laterally, you must be able to accelerate around the opponent after the fake.2) PASSION / COMPETE. If you don’t compete, you aren’t an athlete. If you loose the puck, go get it back – without hesitation. Forecheck and backcheck. Be determined and work hard. Compete to the best of your ability. When you lose, it should hurt.
3) HOCKEY SENSE. The ability to make something happen. When you come off the ice, you ask yourself, “Did I just do something, to make a positive difference in my game, for my team, on this shift?” You are noticeable, not invisible – not just taking up time and space. Make an impact every time you get a chance. This is fueled by #1 – passion and the urge, the need to compete!
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