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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 1:08 AM

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

Long road trips take their toll on players

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- Have you ever wondered if a scout takes into consideration a long road trip for a potential prospect in an upcoming game he intends to view?

  The mighty moose at tourist info center in Moose Jaw
Well, NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards does.

While Edwards will always chart and view players equally, he also knows they're only human.

"Last Sunday, for instance, Guelph was in Brampton in the afternoon and they played Sarnia the night before [on Saturday]," Edwards recalled.

Actually, Guelph suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to Erie on Nov. 4 before making the 2.5-hour drive to Sarnia (a 6-5 victory) the following night and then getting on a bus at 11 a.m. on Nov. 6 to travel to Brampton (a 3-1 loss). So that would be three games in basically two-in-a-half-days.

"That takes its toll on these guys, and not many leagues do it that way," Edwards said. "Now, on the flip side to that, if a player I'm scouting stands out despite the travel time and game action, then that's a kid that certainly will get close attention."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 9:54 PM

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

Defenseman Pulock impressing scout Edwards

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards was looking forward to catching a glimpse of 2013 draft eligible prospect Ryan Pulock on Thursday in the final game of the Subway Super Series.

Despite the fact Pulock just turned 17 on Oct. 6, he certainly gave Edwards plenty to think about. In addition to earning a regular shift alongside Colorado Avalanche draftee Duncan Siemens, Pulock also deposited a goal 16:54 into the second period off a slapshot from the point.

"He's shown very good mobility and he handled the puck well a couple of times," Edwards said. "He certainly fits right in … he was a good replacement. Sometimes, you have a tendency to cut a guy a little more slack if he's younger but he's essentially the same age as everyone out here."

Pulock was replacing Moose Jaw defenseman Morgan Rielly, who is out until April (torn ACL).

"But Pulock has proven himself just fine out here against the fast Russians."

Pulock (6-foot-1, 201 pounds) is in his second year with the Brandon Wheat Kings. As a 16-year-old rookie in 2010-11, Pulock led all Brandon defenders with 8 goals and 42 points. He has 8 goals and 26 points through 22 games this season.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 9:08 PM

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

A phenomenon he will never forget

MOOSE JAW, Sask. -- There was some pretty severe weather in Moose Jaw on Thursday. In fact, it kept NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards from continuing onward into Swift Current following the final game of the Subway Super Series at the brand new Mosaic Place.

Still, according to Edwards, it was no where near the coldest he's ever felt in this part of Western Canada.

"I remember when it was minus-54 degrees Celsius [on a trip to Moose Jaw] and guys were going out at the end of the second period to start up their cars," he said. "I remember saying to one of the local guys, 'Aren't you worried about getting your car stolen?' He told me 'Well there's no one really going to hang around and wait to steal a car in this weather.'

"After the game, we put the heaters and defrosters on and started driving back to Regina. I had to physically scrape the inside of the window with the scraper even with the heaters on. We were coming along here [Edwards pointed to the road in front of him while driving] and we could actually see the lights of Regina in a distance. When it's that cold, it's obviously clear and we could see the lights. I've never seen anything like it before or since; it almost looked like it was a glass wall of ice just shooting straight up into the air. I know it had to do with how cold it was and the moisture in the air was just freezing … I don't know the exact phenomenon, but it was neat and something I'll never forget."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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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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