A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of chatting with Maple Leafs Director of Amateur Scouting for an upcoming article in the Lindy’s Sports Maple Leafs Annual magazine. We touched a variety of topics including the progression of certain top prospects, drafting philosophy and the general inner workings of hockey management. Which prospect is his pick for breakout player of the year (he picked Jake Gardiner in last year’s annual)? How does a GM affect drafting philosophy? Where did the organization have Morgan Reilly ranked on draft day? Guess you’ll just have to wait to find out.
In the meantime, we also went through a few reader questions kindly submitted by the MLHS community. Courtesy of the fine folks at Lindy’s Sports, I am able to provide you all with a short snippet as a preview of a very exciting fall project. Everything has gone to print and the entire MLHS team was thrilled to be involved. Details regarding the magazine release and where to snag yourself a copy will be available in the coming weeks. Enjoy!
Letâ€™s finish off with some reader questions. Young players can often be so hit and miss and sometimes, the most you can do is try to hit more than you miss. During your years involved with amateur scouting, which selection are you most proud of?
Hmm thatâ€™s a bit of a funny question because we often talk about the scouting team as a plurality. Weâ€™re all proud of those selections together as an entire staff. There are lots of our kids playing in the NHL right now, though not necessarily all for the Maple Leafs.Â Our job is simply to create assets and make the General Managerâ€™s job as easy as possible. Itâ€™s tough to single out any one player because these are all kids with so much character and work ethic. Weâ€™re just so proud of all of them and itâ€™s a treat to watch them grow.
Is the amateur scouting team consulted in trade discussions, for example to comment on the value of a particular draft selection or recent draftee?
Absolutely weâ€™re involved. There is an ongoing discussion between the scouting team and the upper management where a free flow of information is exchanged. I have daily conversations with Dave Poulin and we are certainly involved when discussions involve amateur players or if we had seen junior players that are pieces of a potential trade. We also let them know whether a draft is strong or not so strong and how tightly weâ€™d like to hang onto a particular draft selection.
On that note, were you involved in the James Van Riesmdyk â€“ Luke Schenn trade talks? You were on board when JVR was selected 2nd overall in the 2007 NHL draft. What did you think of him then?
For a player like Van Riemsdyk, thatâ€™s moreso up the alley of the pro scouting team, but they did ask us for our opinion. We liked James as a player in his draft year and we actually had him rated quite highly as well. Heâ€™s a great big guy with loads of potential. I was very impressed with him at the Under-18 tournament. Heâ€™s a kid who will go into traffic. Heâ€™s not a mean guy and heâ€™s not a fighter, but he will drive the net and finish in tight.
How far ahead do you scout? Does a player typically jump on your radar as a first year junior player or do you scout the lower levels of hockey as well?
It depends on the player. Itâ€™s tough to go all the way back to bantam for everyone but we will get out and see the top guys play in a big tournament. Weâ€™ll occasionally get a sense of the minor midget guys but usually weâ€™re looking at the underage junior players. Itâ€™s tough to get too excited about the younger teenagers because puberty can really change things.
Based on your travels, what is the most enjoyable city to take in a hockey game? (Outside of Toronto of course)
Ha-ha outside of Toronto? Alright, I guess I can answer that oneâ€¦Hmm a number of places come to mind but there really is no place like home. Thatâ€™s London for me. Itâ€™s a great city, always an exciting team and a wonderful atmosphere. Watch a hockey game and then come home for dinner. Thatâ€™s the dream.
Last question Dave. What is the funniest or most memorable name youâ€™ve ever come across when scouting?
Ha-ha oh man, where are you getting these? Well Iâ€™ve gotta say that the funniest names are usually Finnish. Theyâ€™re just so long and almost impossible to pronounce. No name really jumps to mind but this does remind me of a funny story. One time at a tier 2 all-star game, I remember see these kids lining up for the opening faceoff. On one side, there was a left winger named Trevino and on the other, there was a right winger named Lee. So as they were getting ready to drop the puck, it dawned on me that I was staring at the name Lee Trevino (popular Mexican golfer). I laughedâ€¦but I donâ€™t think anybody else did.