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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 8:50 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Edwards explains 'hockey sense' in a top prospect

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- Earlier today, I asked Edwards about the importance of 'hockey sense' and what it all means as he views a potential draft candidate.

The term 'hockey sense' is a common phrase in the area of scouting.

"Making good plays with and without the puck," Edwards explained. "It's not trying to pass or force the puck up the middle when there's nothing there. Now, guys will make mistakes. It's going to happen at some time. If you consistently see a guy who is consistently doing something that is wrong, that kind of sends the red flags."

At different points in Wednesday's game in Regina, Edwards was impressed with the hockey sense exhibited by 2012 prospects Mathew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels and Colton Sissons of the Kelowna Rockets.

"It's knowing who to pick up in your own end and, when the other team has possession, knowing where to be and how to get yourself into the offensive zone … not standing still waiting for the pass."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 8:34 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Scout Edwards adjusts on the fly

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- While we safely reached our destination in Moose Jaw -- some 50 miles west of Regina -- the blizzard we encountered has forced NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards to rethink his agenda.

Videographer Steve Hoffner tapes segment with Edwards
Instead of leaving for Swift Current following Thursday's final game of the 2011 Subway Super Series at Mosaic Place, Edwards had to change his hotel arrangements and instead will stay at a Comfort Inn in Moose Jaw. Of course, we'll be joining him.

Once we rolled in Moose Jaw, Edwards stopped his car to show me and videographer Steve Hoffner one of the area's top picture spots -- the big moose on the outskirts of town. Quite a moose.

We then passed the old arena where the Moose Jaw Warriors played their games. Outsiders refer to it at the Moose Jaw Civic Centre but the locals -- and Edwards -- know it as the 'crushed can' for its low roof line in the center of the building.

"If you're sitting on one side of the rink, you can't see across to the other side because the roof is so low," Edwards said. The plan, right now, is to make the six-hour drive west from Moose Jaw to Lethbridge on Friday morning at some point. We'll stop in Swift Current for some lunch.

Throughout the 45-minute drive from Regina to Moose Jaw, Edwards successfully navigated his way through a blizzard to reach his ultimate destination. Unfortunately, Edwards won't have an opportunity to chart the playing habits of 2012 top prospect and local boy Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors. He will, however, get another glimpse of Russian goalie Andrey Makarov of the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League. According to NHL Central Scouting, Makarov, who played well in a 5-2 defeat to Team WHL on Wednesday at Brandt Centre in Regina, is the top-rated goalie in the Western Hockey League.

Edwards will also get an opportunity to see potential 2013 prospect Ryan Pulock of the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 2:51 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Recapping Regina


REGINA, Sask. -- The opening day of the 'Life of a Scout' is history and it's time to bid a fond farewell to the capital city of Saskatchewan.

The game on Wednesday at the Brandt Centre was tremendous as the Western Hockey League stars scored a 5-2 victory over Team Russia in Game 5 of the Subway Super Series. If Team WHL can manage a victory in the sixth and final game of the Series on Thursday in Moose Jaw, then then Canadians will reclaim the title they lost last year.

     Colton Sissons, Kelowna Rockets
Of the 2012 draft eligible prospects, center Colton Sissons of the Kelowna Rockets had one assist. Matt Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels finished a minus-2 but proved to be a physical force with several big hits. For the most part, Dumba was paired with Saskatoon Blades Duncan Siemens.

Sissons actually assisted on the team's final goal.

NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards thought Sissons played exceptionally well in the final period. Team WHL actually scored twice in the third to put the finishing touches on the triumph, which now has the CHL stars holding a 3-2 series lead.

"Sissons did a nice job on the assist; he waited for the off-partner, protecting the puck and using his size," Edwards said. "In the corners, he protected the puck well and was the type of player who was pretty effective all night."

Team WHL coach Don Hay liked what he saw in both Dumba and Sissons.

"I thought they both played well," Hay said. "Matt had a big hit in the first and that led to some energy for us. We were down 1-0 at the time and we kind of took off after that. So any time you have a physical play from your D-man, it's really important.

"As for Sissons, he played the wing and played center, killed penalties and did a lot of good things."

While Edwards would be the first to tell you he isn't a goalie expert, he was impressed with Russian starter Andrey Makarov, who has posted a 13-5-0 record with a 2.44 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in 18 appearances this season with the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League. Makarov made 37 saves, included 17 of 18 stops in the second, on Wednesday.

So the gang is set to leave Regina on Thursday afternoon and, according to Edwards, the drive to Moose Jaw should take about 45 minutes. En route to the Mosaic Place, which has replaced the old 'crushed can' in Moose Jaw, we hope to make a stop at The Tunnels of Moose Jaw where it is alleged former gangster Al Capone spent most of his life.

"Overall, I feel it was a pretty successful night," Edwards said. "We saw a well-played hockey game and those draft eligible guys (Dumba, Sissons and Makarov) really did a nice job."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 10:02 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Second period report card from Brandt Centre


REGINA, Sask. -- Through two periods here at the Brandt Centre, Team WHL is holding a 3-2 lead in Game 5 against Team Russia in the Subway Super Series.
 
Kelowna's Colton Sissons was a lot more active with the puck in that period, according to Central Scouting's Chris Edwards.
 
"He handled the puck a lot more … came out of the corner and took it to the net and, on the power-play, he handled the puck pretty well," Edwards said. "He went to the net and put up a good screen. In the first period he was a physical threat and in that second, we saw more of his puck handling ability."
 
Edwards has also been impressed with Russian goalie Andrey Makarov, who is in his first season with the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League. It'll be interesting to see where Makarov sits when Central Scouting releases its preliminary list of the top players from each league on Thursday.
 
"Makarov has played well; he has a good glove and was at the top the crease, challenging," Edwards said. "He was sucking up point shots and not allowing rebounds."
 
His opinion of Red Deer's Mathew Dumba hasn't changed.

"I really like what I see in Dumba," Edwards admitted.
 
Hmm … that Dumba-Duncan Siemens pairing could be one to watch in December when Hockey Canada makes its final decisions on the roster for the upcoming 2012 World Junior Championship.
 

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 9:22 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Taking notes and checking them twice


REGINA, Sask. -- So, NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards witnessed a pretty entertaining first period here at the Brandt Centre in which the Western Hockey League stars built a 2-1 lead against Team Russia in Game 5 of the Subway Super Series.
 
On Russia's opening goal, Red Deer's Matt Dumba went to one knee before the Russian player wired a shot into the top far corner.
 
"He was trying to block the shot and trying to get out of the way of the goalie at the same time; I blame the goalie more, but it was one heck of a shot," Edwards said. "From what I've seen here in the first, Dumba's a really smart guy and heady. On his second shift of the game, he gave the puck away, but that's going to happen to a guy playing a lot of minutes. He had a great hit later in the period as well."
 
He was also impressed with Dumba's big hit midway through the period where he separated the player from the puck to the delight of the fans.
 
"I'd like to see him do it a little more," Edwards said. "I'm surprised a guy like that can hit like that. He also won puck battles and was engaging guys. He looks solid on his skates and really sure on his skates and he moved it up ice quickly. I've liked everything I've seen so far."
 
Edwards was also impressed with the overall size and strength of the other 2012 top prospect participating in the contest -- Kelowna's Colton Sissons. He didn't get much puck time, but was whistled for an elbowing penalty that Edwards didn't consider a big deal.
 
"He was pretty good on the forecheck and solid when he decided to throw the body," Edwards said. "You know, you have to be careful out there with the way the game is called now. You have to protect the head a little bit. He didn't handle the puck too much that period, so I didn't get to assess that. Coming out of that period, I'd say Sissons is a hard-working and aggressive kind of guy."
 
During the period, Edwards also had an opportunity to chat with his teenage niece, Sara (Blair) of Toronto. Anytime is a good time when a scout has an opportunity to speak to a family member while on the road.
 
"She's a big hockey fan and I wanted to tell her to check out the blogs on NHL.com," Edwards said with a grin.


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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 8:34 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Preparations prior to puck drop


REGINA, Sask. -- In the hour leading up to the contest between Team WHL and the Russians at Brandt Centre, NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards sat down beside scouts from the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars and began reflecting on the upcoming contest and the players.
 
Calgary amateur scout Blair Reid even discussed one player not in action for Russia on Wednesday but earning plenty of accolades in the Ontario Hockey League of late -- Sarnia's Nail Yakupov.
 
"He showed up on the game sheet when he played against the OHL stars in Ottawa and me and Blair were just talking about his overall game, how he really showed off his puck-handling ability," Edwards said. "He can get open."
 
Edwards set the lineups for the game and was glad that Russian goalie Andrey Makarov would be in action as it enables him to catch a viewing of another 2012 draft eligible prospect in addition to Western Hockey League blue chippers Matt Dumba of Red Deer and Colton Sissons of Kelowna.
 
Edwards also informed me that representatives from all 30 NHL teams were present for the game, including Al Murray of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tony McDonald of the Carolina Hurricanes. McDonald, of course, struck gold at the 2010 Draft with the selection of Jeff Skinner in the first round.
 
"You could see some GMs in the crowd as well at some point as Steve Yzerman was in Ottawa; probably to see Yakupov," Edwards admitted.
 
Edwards just watched closely when the players took their pregame warmups. "You just watch how the players skate and, sometimes, you can pick up other things, but you won't really know until the actual game begins," he said.


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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 5:02 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

The 'Big Man' has arrived

REGINA, Sask. - The 'Big Man' has reached Regina!
 
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards arrived in the Saskatchewan city on Wednesday afternoon, looking as if he was ... ready for a nap.
 
"Hey, I was in the war room in Toronto [Tuesday] night charting the Devils-Bruins game, got to bed late and got on a flight to Regina at 8 a.m. [Wednesday] morning," Edwards told NHL.com. "I'll be raring to go tonight though."
 
              NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards
Hey, did I mention it is minus-7.6 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill here in sunny Regina? I'm not joking. The sun is literally blinding me as I'm sitting here writing in my hotel room, yet, you can churn ice cream if you opened my window.
 
"The sun?" asked Edwards. "The sun means nothing here, so don't talk to me about the sun. It's going to get dark rather quickly too."
 
Edwards is not in the same hotel as me and videographer Steven Hoffner, but we will get together at 6 p.m. ET for the drive over to Brandt Centre. Unfortunately, Eddie informed me that the day he leaves for Western Canada also happened to be the day his stove at home broke down.
 
"Isn't that just typical," he said. "On the day I leave, the stove breaks and now my wife has to deal with that."
 
So it begins folks; the life of scout is never predictable or forgiving.
 
But, besides that, it's all systems go from this point forward. Let the pigeons loose! The gray Nissan Altima is going to be put to the test over the next 72 hours. Following the fifth game of the Subway Super Series on Wednesday at the Brandt Centre in Regina, it's 45 minutes West to Moose Jaw for Game 6 of the Series at Mosaic Place.
 
Then it's a 2-hour drive West to Swift Current before making a 4-hour trek to Lethbridge. Can you dig it?
 
"We'll get to the arena tonight and I'll pick up the lineups in the scout's room and then watch pre-game warmups," Edwards said. "No doubt the theme of this trip is life on the road as it's never-ending."
 
He then looked at me and said: "You sure you want to do this?"
 
Did you ever find yourself teetering on the hind legs of a four-legged chair, struggling to regain your balance. Well, that's the feeling I got after Eddie raised that question. But, hey, I need to experience this. This is what hockey is all about, right? I've been to NHL games and have seen the stars; now it's time to get dirty in the corners with the men who find them.
 
Throughout tonight's game, I will be sitting alongside Edwards, asking questions about his scouting routine. I'll blog as often as possible to provide you with all the insight. If you have any questions of NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards, please email me at any point during my trip at mmorreale@nhl.com with those inquiries. I'll post your question and Eddie's response at some point over the next four days.
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 10:03 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

The scouting journey begins in Regina, Sask.


REGINA, Sask. - The wind is whipping, the snow falling and it's minus-13 degrees fahrenheit here in the capital city of Saskatchewan. Woo-hoo!
 
No worries though. I have a parka, gloves and toque. I'm all set for the big scouting excursion. Not to mention plenty of coffee grinds, work boots and a Winter Classic scarf. Thermals, sweatshirts, some music and several maps. Also, I just want to make mention that I'm three blocks away from the Schizophrenia Society of Saskatchewan and two miles away from Brandt Centre -- site of Wednesday's fifth game in the 2011 Subway Super Series featuring Team WHL against Team Russia.
 
Funny, I really can't remember the last time I actually heard wind howling this loudly outside my window. I do now.
 
On the first stop of our four-city Western Canadian scouting trip with NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards, the crew at NHL.com will take a glimpse of tomorrow's stars today. The Subway Super Series is currently tied, 2-2, following back-to-back wins by the Ontario Hockey League on Nov. 10 (10-7) and Nov. 14 (6-3), so it's all up to Team WHL.
 
"This is a great way for Hockey Canada to evaluate players in one setting," WHL assistant coach Ryan Huska said. "This is a big time evaluation for them and it's their opportunity to show that they deserve the invite come Christmas [for participation in the World Junior Championship], so it's important. We really do look at these games in regards to our invites to Christmas camp."
 
Don Hay, who is head coach for Team WHL and also the head man for the Canadian National Junior Team competing at the 2012 World Junior Championship, agrees.
 
"We've identified the players who have played well for their club teams in all three leagues and it gives them the opportunity to come out and compete with the best players of our league against international competition," Hay said. "You really get to see them in an environment that is very competitive."
 
The series concludes on Thursday at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw. We'll then travel to Swift Current before concluding our journey in Lethbridge on Friday.

Here's what our itinerary looks like for the week.

In addition to checking a few top prospects eligible for the 2012 Draft in Pittsburgh, including defenseman Matt Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels and forward Colton Sissons of the Kelowna Rockets, we'll be documenting the 'Life of a Scout' through the eyes of veteran Ontario Hockey League scout Chris Edwards.
 
Scouting is no easy task, particularly for a husband and father of two (Reagan, 3 weeks old, and Abby, 4 years old). We'll get to the bottom of what life is like on the road with one of the more respected individuals in the scouting fraternity. Edwards has spent the last 12 years travelling through more than his share of snow drifts in Ontario and Western Canada.
 
Over the next three days, we'll find out, among other things I'm sure, what he looks for in a player, how information is logged, his relationship with other scouts not employed by Central Scouting, if he ever played a practical joke on a fellow scout, life on the road and who might be the finest player he's ever scouted.
 
Stay tuned …

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Friday, 11.11.2011 / 1:13 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Alfredsson back in for Senators

After skating with the team for the first time Wednesday since suffering a concussion late last month, is appears Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson has the green light to make his return to the lineup on Friday at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.

"I was happy with what I did, so I don't think it's an issue at all," Alfredsson told the team's website. "I'm just going to take it one day at a time and we'll go from there."

Alfredsson was injured Oct. 29 against the New York Rangers when he was hit by the Rangers' Wojtek Wolski. On Tuesday, he passed the required baseline test.

"Isn't that good news?" Senators head coach Paul MacLean said. "I can't wait until (Friday)."

The Senators have gone 1-3-1 without Alfredsson and slipped three points out of a playoff spot. For the season, Alfredsson has 4 goals and 7 points in 10 games. Of the Senators' 16 games this season, 11 have been decided by one goal, so having Alfredsson's veteran knowledge certainly will be a welcomed addition. The Senators have won six of those 11 one-goal contests.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
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Posted On Tuesday, 11.08.2011 / 1:42 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Maurice: No explanation for Staal's struggles

NEWARK, N.J. -- Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice couldn't really put a finger on the reason captain Eric Staal has struggled so mightily to open the 2011-12 season.
 
"There is no explanation for it, or else we would have dealt with it," Maurice told the media following his team's practice at Prudential Center on Tuesday. "He's just trying to find chemistry with other people and he has taken that pressure of his offensive game completely to heart.
 
"I don't think it's the breakout game that will ultimately send him on his way, either. Eric competes as hard as he can away from the puck, and he'll always make sure that part of his game is good. The stats don't always tell you I was right, but his last six minuses had nothing to do with him."
 
Through 14 games this season, Staal has 3 goals, 5 points and a League-low minus-16 rating. He has been held pointless in five straight games, during which he has a minus-7 rating.
 
Staal was asked if last year's hit on his brother, Marc, had anything to do with his slow start.
 
"That has nothing to do with it," he said. "I don't know, I just haven't found a groove offensively yet. I think it's early, I've had a lot of looks and lot of opportunities and chances around the net but just haven't been hitting the back of the net. As far as (the hit) being on my mind going into every game, it's not even close. Hopefully I can stay with it, get things turned around and help us win some games."
 
Despite his offensive woes, forward Jeff Skinner still sees the relentless determination each and every practice.
 
"Every player goes through tough times, scoring droughts and slumps, and you can't really judge a player based on that," Skinner said. "Especially a guy like Eric, who dominates games and does so much more than put points on the board.  He logs huge minutes (20:02 of ice time per game) against other team's top line and top defensive pair. He wins big faceoffs on the penalty kill and blocks shots and he's physical. He still brings all those things to the game, even though he's in sort of little slump. But that's what makes him a good leader."
 
Said Maurice: "Eric doesn't play a perimeter game and he pushed his offensive game to places he had a hard time recovering from early on this season … but he hasn't done that the last five or six games."
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It was the look in his eyes. Hockey is the most important thing in his life. He wants to be a hockey player, and nothing's going to stop him from being a hockey player.

— Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on forward Alex Galchenyuk's potential