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Eyes Of The Scout

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings

The hockey world in late June shifts its attention to the annual NHL Draft.  Currently the Kings are slated to choose 13th overall.  This year’s Draft will be held June 26-27 in Florida.





LAKings.com caught up with three members of our organization’s amateur scouting staff – Christian Ruuttu, Tony Gasparini and newcomer Chris Byrne -- to help preview this year’s event.  It is, after all, the “Super Bowl for the Scouts.” 
LAKings.com: Since last year’s draft, how do you describe your last 12 months in anticipation of this year’s draft?



Byrne: Last year I had just joined the club so I was fortunate enough to come and watch a lot of what we do.  I came in and met everyone but I also got a good feel for the group.  Coming to Kings development camp, and then a tournament overseas, was a good start to my year.  I got to see a lot of prospects and then I started to watch a lot of junior games.  That is my focus – the OHL in particular – along with some Quebec Major Junior games.  We mark our games on our scouting software so I would say I saw around 200 games during the season.  All our scouts watch a lot of games and travel a lot of miles.

LAKings.com: We are slated to choose #13 this year after choosing #29 last year.  Does that change your approach this time around?

Byrne: This is my first full year and obviously you prepare not only for the first round but all the rounds.  There is always that chance to move up or to move down, but I guess you can say there are certain areas you focus a little more on and then there are some areas you focus a little less on depending on slot.  It is tough not making the playoffs and this, I guess, is the only positive.  We get to pick higher than we have in the past.  This team has been real successful so we haven’t been in this area of the first round for a while.

LAKings.com: Since last year’s draft, how do you describe your last 12 months in anticipation of this year’s draft?

Ruuttu: For what we do, there are a lot of similar patterns from the previous year.  On the amateur side things really start in mid-August with the Hlinka Tournament.  That is an eight-nation tournament of under 18s.  Then we go from there.  This year probably the biggest difference is the KHL plays in Helsinki and those pro games are close to my house.  Overall, it is a lot of digging.  It is making sure we interview the kids, making sure we are going where we need to go.  This year it was more trips into Czech Republic and Switzerland than in past years.  As for live games I saw 270 this year plus another 70 on tape.  That is over eight months. 

LAKings.com: We are slated to choose #13 this year after choosing #29 last year.  Does that change your approach this time around?

Ruuttu: No to be honest because we start our prep work as if we are going to choose first.  You didn’t have a good season if you are picking first but you have to be ready for everything.  We thought we would pick late again because we thought we would be in the playoffs again.  But it doesn’t change how we prepare in my opinion.  A scouting staff prepares for all scenarios.

LAKings.com: Since last year’s draft, how do you describe your last 12 months in anticipation of this year’s draft?

Gasparini: Upon the conclusion of last year’s draft, my prep work actually started sooner than most of our guys.  I go directly from the Draft to the USA Hockey Festival that features select 17 years old.  Those guys then are a year away.  I spend a week there and then it is basically business as usual.  After Development Camp we have a little time off and then we hit the road starting in August.  As we move into September the games start.  I call the time right after the draft the ‘calm before the storm.’  As for games, it comes to around 250 per year with a whole lot of travel in-between.

LAKings.com: We are slated to choose #13 this year after choosing #29 last year.  Does that change your approach this time around?

Gasparini: I don’t think our approach really changes based off of the initial position we are in.  We have been fortunate enough to be picking where we have been picking the last few years and this year we happen to be at 13.  How we do things as a staff doesn’t change one bit.  It might be a different type of player we are evaluating then and we generally have a different number of picks each year.  We have a lot to consider every year.
 

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