Flyers general manager relies more on scouting staff
by Kevin Kurz
(Voorhees, NJ, April 26) - While the NHL likes to make a big deal about the final Central Scouting rankings that were released on Wednesday, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it was a list that the Philadelphia Flyers and the other 29 teams were holding their collective breath for.
After all, the Flyers have a staff of 10 amateur scouts that scour the globe for hockey talent throughout the season and formulate their own opinions.
"There’s a number of scouting services that have end of the year rankings. They’re all different, just as I’m sure 30 teams would be different,"said Paul Holmgren. "It’s a tool that we use as a staff, but when we get together for our final meeting that’s when we will come up with our finalists and that won’t be until early June.
"I’ve said all along that there are five or six guys that are in the mix for us with the first pick in the first round. I’m not sure that’s changed. Knowing our [scouts] the way we do, we’re going to have some differences of opinion that we’ll have to work through."
That being said, Holmgren has a lot of respect for Central Scouting and the work that they do. He just pays more attention to it at the beginning of the season.
"Central Scouting has a tremendous staff that does a lot of work. We generally use it earlier in the year because they have guys that go to far, out-of-the-way places and maybe identify players. I think our staff is far-reaching enough that we know the players fairly well, and anybody that comes up on the radar screen through Central Scouting and their hard work we will follow up on."
Holmgren recently returned from the Under-18 championships in Finland to see a number of players that could be one of the Flyers’ two first-round picks in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft in late June. That tournament almost certainly altered Central Scouting’s rankings a bit, but Holmgren cautions against making blanket judgments on players based only on a strong (or weak) string of games.
"I’m sure there’s lots of instances where that’s happened to teams and I’m sure it’s happened to the Flyers over the years where you see a guy play great in one game or one tournament,"he said. "That’s why I think it’s so important to make sure your staff’s coverage is so good. We see guys at varying points in the year and we have a good handle on not only how they were at the start of the year but the middle and end of the year. It’s more important to focus on what they’ve done the whole year."
The next step now for Holmgren and his staff will be to continue to work on their own final draft rankings. That, however, will not be finalized until the beginning of June. Philadelphia still has scouts attending the Canadian junior league playoffs, and the NHL combine at the end of May could also influence their thoughts on certain players. Holmgren also plans on bringing several of the prospects to Philadelphia to meet with them personally and get to know them off of the ice.
There is also the chance that Philadelphia would be open to taking calls for their two first round picks. That talk wouldn’t happen until closer to the draft, however.
"I think the closer you get to the draft, the more interest there is in the draft,"said Holmgren. "There’s a lot of scrambling when you get close to it, and then during the draft there’s a lot of scrambling. I expect there will be some action."
Still, there is plenty of time before the actual pick on June 22 in Columbus.
"It’s hard to look at the calendar and recognize that it’s April 26. Hopefully next year at this time we’re playing,"said Holmgren.