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Injury-riddled draft class presents different challenges for scouts

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames
Alex Galchenyuk played two regular season games and six playoff games with the Sarnia Sting this season.

CALGARY, AB -- While injuries are an inevitable part of hockey, the draft class of 2012 has been incredibly unique in the fact so many highly touted prospects have missed significant portions of time with various maladies.

Two of the most notable players hobbled by injuries for the majority of the 2011-12 campaign were Alex Galchenyuk and Morgan Rielly.

Galchenyuk sat out for all but two regular season games and six postseason dates thanks to a knee injury injury he suffered in a preseason tilt. Rielly missed over five months after a anterior cruciate ligament tear just 18 games into the year.

Nail Yakupov, who many believe will go first overall this year, also missed chunks of time with injuries.

"The question in evaluations comes in how much you knew about a kid before and how much you saw him this year," Calgary Flames head of amateur scouting Tod Button said. "The highly touted guys, you usually see them more so you're not worried about them. I know Galchenyuk and Rielly missed a lot but we had as many viewings on them last year as we have on a lot of kids.

"You have a better feel for those guys."

The Flames have drafted players in the past who have missed large amounts of time with injuries and that has helped them refine their scouting tactics and evaluation methods.

"We've drafted a couple kids in the past that we thought we knew well and they missed parts of the year and maybe in hindsight, we didn't know them as well," Button noted. "But that helped us change the way we scouted and put more emphasis on different tournaments.

"The summer tournaments are important - the summer evaluation. Their underage years are important too."

For Button and his crew, the biggest concern is the prospects medical evaluations. These will dictate where players will slot in their final rankings.

"The injuries won't affect the top guys. We're comfortable with them and our evaluations. As long as the medicals come back and says they're 100 percent, we're good."

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