McKeen’s Draft Guide Q and A – Patrick King


    Scouting service, McKeen’s Hockey Prospects released their 2009 Final Rankings, in conjunction with their 2009 Draft Guide which includes exclusive content and scouting reports on the top 90 draft eligible players. Patrick King, of Sportsnet familiarity talked about the draft in a Q and A session.

    Following suit with the likes of the Redline Report and ISS, John Tavares was not listed at number one. NHL Central Scouting doesn’t release a consolidated rankings, ranks are broken down by North American and International, with Goaltenders ranked independant from Skaters.

    ISS Final Rankings (via TSN).

    McKeen’s Top 10 rankings

    1Victor HedmanD6-6/220MoDo (Swe)
    2John TavaresC6-0/195London (OHL)
    3Matt DucheneC 5-11/200 Brampton (OHL)
    4Oliver Ekman-LarssonD6-2/180Leksands (Swe)
    5Evander KaneC 6-1/180 Vancouver (WHL)
    6Brayden SchennC6-0/200 Brandon (WHL)
    7Dmitri KulikovD 6-0/185 Drummondville (QMJHL)
    8Jared CowenD 6-5/220 Spokane (WHL)
    9Nazem KadriC 5-11/170 London (OHL)
    10Magnus Paajarvi-SvenssonLW 6-1/200 Timra (Swe)

    Q and A with Patrick King

    Q – What vision did you have putting the guide together?
    A – Several years ago before I was a journalist and scout, I became very interested in reading about the prospects before the draft. Like many readers, I was interested in finding a publication that not only had exceptional content but was very eye-appealing. Other draft enthusiats told me there was no such product that married the content and look that I had described. My main goal when I took on this project was to make sure the look of the Draft Guide was equal to the content. We brought in a professional designer to handle the layout and I think that decision has made our product’s quality increase to new heights. So, in a way, my vision was putting together the Draft Guide for everyone else that I had once envisioned purchasing.

    Q – What differentiates this guide from others in the marketplace?
    A – There are many differences between our Guide and others. We understand stats tell a story but we also didn’t want to overflow our product with that information. Each scouting report has quoted insight from at least one member of our scouting staff as we outline each player’s strengths and weaknesses. We also have some feature articles and an in-depth look at 48 of the top prospects for 2010. My favourite feature included is the article on the Under-18 Risers and Fallers by our Director of Scouting, Max Giese. I feel the overall quality and content of our product is matched by none and am pleased to say we have already received very positive reviews from customers.

    Q – Bob McKenzie of TSN used a lot of the Guide’s insight in prepping viewers of draft picks in the first round last year. Was that kind of exposure on your mind while preparing?
    A – We would certainly be pleased if Mr. McKenzie had enough confidence and respect in the work we do to include us as part of his draft preparation. Such exposure is invaluable towards building our product in the community.

    Q – You have an extensive resume on the junior circuit, including prolific exposure on as their Canadian Hockey League reporter. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Do you have a specialty league?
    A – The 2008-2009 season was my fourth full season as the Canadian Hockey League reporter for I had strong ties with Sportsnet upon graduating from Centennial College in East York, Ont. in their journalism program. I have a lot of passion for junior hockey and scouting the next wave of prospects. My specialty is with the three member leagues of the CHL, those being the WHL, OHL and QMJHL, but will follow prospects in other leagues as part of our draft coverage at McKeen’s Hockey.

    Q – The biggest question heading into the draft is Tavares or Hedman. In your opinion, the winner is …
    A – My humble opinion is that if I were building a team around a player from this year’s draft, it would be John Tavares. The criticism he has endured the last two seasons, particularly this season, is in a lot of ways unjust and without cause. Having played four years of junior hockey hurt him in the public’s mind more than it helped him but I think what people forget is that Tavares is a truly special talent. If the New York Islanders choose to draft Tavares first overall, it’s a move I don’t think they will regret.

    Q – Can you tell us a little about how deep the 2009 draft is shaping up to be?
    A – This year’s draft is truly a deep draft. I think there are several gems that NHL teams could find in the middle rounds this year. Our readers will note some of the prospects we like in the write-ups in our Draft Guide.

    Q – Getting into Leafs specifics, they currently have the 7th overall spot. The Guide lists Dimitri Kulikov (7th), with Luke Schenn’s brother Brayden at 6th and hulking Jared Cowen at 8th. Do you think these are players the Leafs would target?
    A – I’m not sure how the Leafs couldn’t target any of these players with that pick. Each player has a lot of potential to develop into star NHL players. Brayden Schenn is a unique story if he is chosen by the same team older brother Luke was chosen by last year. However, when you look at his game, I think he’s a player that fits the mould of what Brian Burke identifies through past drafts. Withouth tipping my hand too much, one of these players was chosen by the Leafs in my mock draft on page 32 of our Draft Guide.

    Q – How about Zach Budish listed in the Guide at 50 (courtesy of the Rangers) and Ryan Button listed at 58 (courtesy of Buffalo through Carolina)?
    A – I like Budish’s grit and we all know grit and character are two of the calling cards GM Burke tends to covet. As for Button, there is still considerable work left to be done in his defensive zone but his offensive vision and skating are two assets the Leafs might be looking for in a prospect this year.

    Q – My favorite player(s) in the top 10 are Matt Duchene and Evander Kane. Do you have any favorites?
    A – I have been a big fan of Dmitri Kulikov this season and I think he is NHL-ready next season. His hockey sense is among the best in this year’s draft class and his two-way game, along with incredible mobility, will make him a very effective pro. Whichever team drafts Kulikov will have an exceptional talent in their organization.

    Q – In Ottawa in 2008, McKeen’s scouts (myself included) got a kick seeing the Maple Leafs draft (128) Greg Pateryn, (129) Joel Champagne and (130) Jerome Flaake with three consecutive picks in the 5th round, which, coincidentally, was the exact order listed in the 2008 McKeen’s Guide. How similar do you think the Guide’s list is to actual NHL team’s list made up by scouting staffs?
    A – First, I think a lot of credit has to go to Iain Morrell who handles the majority of the rankings. Through our scouting staff, a few of whom I think have the talent to quickly become NHL scouts, we have identified the talent in each player. As you mentioned with your three examples, our list is becoming well-known in the scouting community for its accuracy. When fans look back on our list in a few years, it may not be exactly on par with how the draft went but will be fairly close to where the players end up making impacts in the NHL.

    Q – Considering the success, do you think the Leafs are still looking at the Guide this time around?
    A – If our information helps any NHL team identify their future talent, that is the biggest compliment we could possibly receive. We know that NHL teams are interested in our rankings and our assessments as another voice. If our Draft Guide can help any team in making their decisions then that’s something we would be quite proud of.

    Q – Brian Burke indicated how he would attempt to move up in an effort to land John Tavares – or a better overall pick. Considering the talent available in the top 5, would it be worth it for the Leafs GM to make the move?
    A – The cost would have to be worth the player you’re moving up to take. I thought in last year’s case, moving up to draft Luke Schenn was a tremendous move by the Maple Leafs. Schenn, to me, was a top three talent last year so if the Leafs feel the same way about another player in that top five and the price fits, there’s no reason they shouldn’t move up once again.

    Q – Burke mentioned on local radio station FAN590, Hockeycentral that some scouts have indicated to him that there is a primary tier in talent in the top 5 and then another tier afterward. Do you agree?
    A – If a team is looking for an immediate impact, that is certainly the case. But I strongly believe this year’s crop from six through 15 is deep. Toronto would still be able to draft an exceptionally gifted player at No. 7 if they can’t move into the top five.

    Q – As a follow up: my own opinion is that generally it’s foolish to trade existing, proven assets for the hope of drafting an unknown commodity in need of further development. I believe Burke may make attempts, but ultimately unsuccessful. Given Toronto’s need for talent and more assets, perhaps trading down to capitalize on accumulating more immediate picks is a viable strategy. Your opinion?
    A – If I were in Brian Burke’s shoes I would sooner stay at No. 7 than trade down. Since his team has two second round picks, they will have the opportunity to add prospect depth in the next round. Also, by signing some NCAA free agents, the Maple Leafs have better positioned themselves for this year’s draft. They could now trade an asset to move up but as I mentioned earlier, a prospect at No. 7 will come with plenty of potential this year.

    Q – Luke Schenn was selected with the 5th overall pick in 2008 after moving up from the 7th spot. I find it difficult to believe the calls for the Leafs to get a higher pick, yet adamant about retaining Schenn as a cornerstone of the franchise, picked at a similar range. Does rank matter, or is it making the most of draft picks in the general slot?
    A – At the end of the day, the ranking will only create column fodder for journalists down the road. If your team is strong at identifying and developing talent, where you pick each player won’t make much of a difference. A perfect example of this is the Detroit Red Wings with players such as Pavel Datsyuk (171st overall in 1998) and Henrik Zetterberg (210th overall in 1999). Many people forget that developing talent is just as important as identifying it. There’s a reason why teams like the Detroit Red Wings are constantly in the mix as a contender.

    Q – Oliver Ekman-Larsson is listed a lot higher than both ISS and Central Scouting. Why so high on him?
    A – He’s a player many people will look at years from now and wonder why he may not have been as high on other lists. He wasn’t on the Swedish world junior team which hurt him to some degree. However, his progress was monitored closely by our staff and his play at the Under-18 tournament in April stood out. Giese provides a very in-depth take on his talent in his article in our Draft Guide which could better explain his ranking on our list.

    Q – Where can readers pick up the McKeen’s Draft Guide?
    A – Anyone interested in purchasing our Draft Guide can do so on our web site, We have several payment options listed and our price includes the cost of shipping and handling. Many of our customers have already received their copy of the Draft Guide while many more should the following week. We understand the importance our customers have in receiving their copy well in advance of the draft.

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