I recently watched a segment on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central on what scouts look for in players at this time of the year. With playoffs in every hockey league having just ended or still going on, I thought this was an excellent topic to share with players, parents, and coaches: what do the elite team scouts look for?
In this video segment, Jason Bukala (Pro Hockey Group), points out that 39 drafted players played in the 2023 Frozen Four NCAA final. Most elite-level players that are high NHL draft picks score goals and produce offence; if they are goaltenders, they make vital saves at crucial times.
Scouts look for players that pay attention to and execute the intricate details of the game. In all leagues, there is much parity; players and teams are equal in talent. The player that can pay attention to the details will be able to get their teams over the top and win a championship.
Bukala analyzes the following three players:
- Drew Commesso, goaltender for Boston University – 46th overall draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2020. Bukala points out the critical aspects of his game: crease composure, lateral tracking, fronting shooters, and rebound control. The best goaltenders move well laterally, sit tall in the net and are efficient in their movements. They can face elite shooters and make championship saves. They are not too emotional at this time of the year.
- Logan Cooley, forward from the University of Minnesota – drafted 3rd overall by Arizona in 2022. His essential qualities are that he passes the puck well, is an elite shooter and is exceptionally talented offensively. In Bukala’s video sequence, Cooley has excellent read and react skills; he is in his zone, reads that his team turned the puck over, sprints for the opening, receives a stretch pass from his defensemen, and goes to the net and scores a goal. This is called playing off the puck; what do you do as a player when you do not have the puck? Is your team on offence or defence?
- Mathew Knies, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound power forward – drafted 57th overall in 2021 by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He is an offensive player known for playing with pace and energy. Scouts look for versatile players, who are 200-foot players that compete in all three zones. Knies can play power plays and kill penalties. In this video example, Knies steals the puck on the PK and challenges one-on-one getting a shot on the net while being checked and falling to the ice. He then gets up, not wasting a second, sprints back on the track to his zone, catches the puck carrier, and steals the puck.
Tiny details like this make players elite and help their teams win championships.
These five things will help you pay better attention to details and help you become an elite player that all the scouts will notice.
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