LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- During pregame warmups for the Hurricanes and Red Deer Rebels at the ENMAX Centre on Friday, I was able to ask NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards a few off the cuff questions.
First, I was curious to know what player happened to be the finest slam dunk candidate to make it big that he had scouted in his 12 years in the business.
"Sidney Crosby," Edwards said.
Crosby, of course, was drafted by the Penguins out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League first overall in 2005 after earning consecutive Canadian Hockey League player of the year awards with the Rimouski Oceanic in 2003-04 and 2004-05.
"Crosby dominated right out of junior; there weren't any questions asked on the day of our final scouting meeting," Edwards said. "Crosby was one and then we began the debate with No. 2."
While Crosby might have been a definitive star in the making, Edwards had to think a few minutes when I inquired about the player he scouted who wasn't considered a slam dunk candidate in his draft year but certainly turned out to be that type of performer.
"I'd have to say Mike Richards," Edwards said. "I had Richards rated, at the time, between No. 27 and No. 32 in the OHL on the final list."
Richards, who is now playing in Los Angeles, was drafted No. 24 overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003. He had 133 goals and 349 points in 453 games for the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League.
"During his draft year, the new rules were beginning to kick in," Edwards explained. "He was considered a smaller (5-foot-11) player at that time and general managers were frowning on those types of players. But he made the world junior teams and has had a great NHL career. There was the stigma at that time that smaller players wouldn't make it, but Mike had that hockey sense, that playing ability that was rare in a player."
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