(Santa Monica, CA) – With the beautiful ocean and beaches, along with the 70 degrees-and-sunny weather in full view from their hotel suite in Santa Monica, California, the Flyers scouts would be forgiven if they were having trouble thinking about hockey at the moment.
That’s obviously not the case, though, as Paul Holmgren, Chris Pryor and the group of amateur and pro scouts are busy preparing for the NHL Entry Draft on Friday and Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles (Friday, 7:00 p.m., Versus; Saturday, 1:00 p.m., NHL Network). Slideshow
: Scouts in the War Room
“What a great atmosphere,” said Pryor, the team’s director of hockey operations. “Everybody knows the job and what we have to do, and it’s an exciting time for our [scouts] because they work extremely hard all year. They are looking forward to Friday and Saturday, and being out here on the beach makes it even more enjoyable.”
|From left: Neil Little, John Riley, Chris Pryor and Dennis Patterson review their draft notes from the team hotel in Santa Monica, California, on June 24, 2010. (Flyers Photos) |
Pryor keeps close tabs on the amateur scouts throughout the season, and the NHL Entry Draft is a culmination of a year’s worth of work. It’s his job to essentially speak on behalf of the group to Holmgren, who ultimately makes the decision on whom the team will choose.
“We all believe in each other and trust each other, and try to get a group consensus on guys as much as we can,” said Pryor. “That’s one of the reasons that, I think, we’ve done a pretty good job. We trust each other and respect each other’s opinion.”
The Flyers have one pick in each of rounds three through seven, beginning with the 89th overall selection. Pryor and the staff knew that a first round pick this year was unlikely after it was sent to Anaheim as part of the blockbuster deal for Chris Pronger
“We knew going into the year that we’re probably going to be picking somewhere where we’re picking now. In saying that, all through the year our preparation has been, not to overlook some of the [first round] guys, but keep an eye on the guys that are going to be in that general area where we are picking.
“Where we are picking right now, a lot of things can happen.”
Most of the heavy lifting by the staff is over with and the few days here leading up to the draft are more for finalizing the overall list. It’s also a chance for Holmgren to update the staff on any last-minute trades or transactions that could develop, and give them a chance to get ready for what may or may not occur.
“You have to be prepared in case something does happen, and talk it out as a group if it does,” said Pryor. “At the end of the day, if nothing happens, you have to make sure you’re comfortable with what you’ve prepared.”
With the Flyers making a deep run into the postseason this year (it’s a little hard to believe that Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final was just 15 days ago), it could be assumed that the Flyers staff has less time to prepare for the draft this year.
That’s not the case, said Pryor.
“I think that’s one of the strengths of our group. We always have been, as far as I can remember, good at communicating and talking throughout the year. We consistently do that, so when we finally do get together and have our meetings, all we are doing is tying up some loose ends.”
Since the number of choices in this year’s draft are fewer than normal, the Flyers seemed to put more of an emphasis this year on signing free agent prospects. Players such as forward Mike Testwuide
(NCAA - Colorado College), defenseman Erik Gustafsson (NCAA - Northern Michigan) and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky
(Russia) were added over the past few months and will likely begin next year with the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms.
The moves instantly added some depth to the organization without having to wait for this weekend.
“It’s just like adding some draft picks,” said Pryor. “[Flyers scout] Ross [Fitzpatrick] worked hard in that area to try and get a group of players that we had an opportunity to take a run at, and we happened to land a couple, and we’re excited about it.
“We have some kids that we think have a viable chance in the near future to become parts of the big team, and I think you’re going to see that in the next year or so.”