National Hockey League playing career spanned 13 seasons and included 79 goals, 149 points, 854 penalty minutes and numerous bumps, bruises and stitches in 613 games – including 57 goals, 108 points and 436 penalty minutes in 309 games during four-plus seasons as a Columbus Blue Jacket
. If one word could be used to describe Tyler Wright – the player – it would be tenacious. His dedication and desire has made him one of the most popular players in club history.
Wright hung up his skates following the 2005-06 season and returned to the Blue Jackets hockey operations department in 2007. Since that time, he has brought the same tireless work ethic and commitment that he showed as a player, first in four seasons as the club’s development coach and the past year after adding director of amateur scouting to his duties.
As player development coach, he monitored the progress of Blue Jackets draft picks playing all over the world in the major junior, college and minor pro ranks. This year, his duties changed slightly and as the 2012 Entry Draft approaches, he, along with fellow Director of Amateur Scouting Paul Castron
, have one simple goal – select the best players available on the draft board to secure a bright future for the organization.
The Blue Jackets’ hockey operations leadership – General Manager Scott Howson
, Senior Advisor Craig Patrick
and Assistant General Manager Chris MacFarland
– convened last week with Wright, Castron and the club’s amateur scouts for annual pre-draft meetings. The meetings brought together the club’s regional scouts from around the world for an opportunity to share the information they have gathered throughout the season and present players to the hockey operations leadership group.
With the draft less than six weeks away, Wright said the conversations are the ideal starting point toward developing the final game plan to execute once they hit the draft floor at Pittsburgh’s CONSOL Energy Center
on June 22-23.
And with every amateur scout in the organization participating in the meetings, there was no shortage of passion or energy when it came time to discussing players.
“It’s a very in-depth and intense conversation we have at these meetings,” Wright told BlueJackets.com
. “We meet for about three or four days of regional discussions on picks and players and, eventually, we figure out where we slot them.
“We still have a lot of work to do before the draft, so as far as getting everything in order, nothing is set in place. But it’s a good discussion on which direction we want to go and we use that to help shape our philosophy. Sometimes it can get heated a little bit, but it’s a well-thought out process.”
The emphasis on these meetings was to get an all-inclusive perspective from the scouts who know their region and its players the best. Hockey is truly a global game and this year’s top prospects are spread from Quebec City, Quebec to Sarnia, Ontario to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan to Everett, Washington to Leksand, Sweden to Ufa, Russia and all points in between. This makes it crucial for regional scouts to have extensive knowledge of their assigned area and bring them to the table when the group gets together.
“Paul and I can’t be everywhere at once, so we rely heavily on our scouts and (their knowledge of) their regions,” Wright said. “The number one thing is to make sure you know your region to the best of your ability. Then, Paul and I will come in and watch the kids as well.
“You have to take the best player available when it’s presented to you, whether you’re picking at 1, 13, 18 or wherever - you take the best player. It’s the philosophy we want to go on and part of the process we go through.”
The Blue Jackets, owners of the second overall pick in this year’s draft, will have a number of options available when they go on the clock. The 2012 draft class features explosive offensive players like Nail Yakupov
of the Sarnia Sting
, Mikhail Grigorenko
of the Quebec Remparts
, and dynamic Swedish forward Filip Forsberg
. Many of this year’s top prospects are defensemen. This talented group includes Ryan Murray
), Matt Dumba
), Morgan Rielly
) and Griffin Reinhart
Regardless of the direction the Blue Jackets choose to go, Wright and his staff will stick to their philosophy. They want the best player available, but the player’s success has a lot to do with projection. The NHL Draft
is unique compared to other professional draft models, Wright said, in that teams are selecting players with high picks that may not be impact players for up to five years.
“In football, the kids you draft are on your team that year,” Wright said. “In our draft, it’s more about projection because they are 17 and 18 years old. They have a lot of maturity and growing up to do, both physically and mentally. That’s our job as a scouting staff: to project if and why a certain player is going to be the best player to pick, and the areas in which he’s going to help your team.
“You have to have a philosophy. Sometimes you hit guys early and sometimes it’s late. As a staff, you want to have the hardest-working scouts who know every intangible about these players. We’ll leave no stone unturned in these efforts.”
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