With the NHL Draft quickly approaching, LAKings.com sat down with Kings Amateur Scout (Western Canada) Brent McEwen
, as the Kings hockey operations department prepares for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
LAKings.com: What are your general impressions of the talent that is available in the 2009 Draft?
Brent McEwen: Every draft has good players. You have good players at the top and you have good players throughout the draft. This year is no different. I think the type of player near the top is different from last year. Last year was heavy on top-end defenseman and this year there is not that depth on the blueline. This year features some high profile forwards. Overall, there are a lot of good players. It is about making sure you pick the right ones.
LAKings.com: How do you define your role as an amateur scout over the last 11 months to prepare for the weekend?
Brent McEwen: Even during last year, when we were getting ready for the ’08 draft, you are still identifying young prospects who will be eligible next year. At the end of last year’s draft, we have a pretty good list in every region and in every area. That is the starting point. Then when the summer camps start for those under 18, you go into those camps and you also have guys heading over to Europe. You don’t start right away but in July you are back watching hockey. But you already have an idea of who you want to see based on the previous year.
LAKings.com: How does your background as a coach and general manager help you evaluate these young players?
Brent McEwen: The opportunity to be a GM allowed me to deal with players who are the same age as the ones we draft now. It gives you insight as to what characteristics of a player come into play at the junior level. You forecast what skills will transfer to the pro level. You can identify with some good players you had who made it and you can look at some good players who didn’t make it. From that sense, it was really good. As a coach, you know what players are supposed to do on the ice so you watch for that. You look for instincts and you look to see if they play within their systems well, if they take direction and if they are disciplined. Both go hand-in-hand really.
LAKings.com: What is the hardest part of evaluating a young player?
Brent McEwen: The most important part of a player is their hockey sense. You look to see if they can adapt, adjust and think the game. You see if they can play in a coordinate fashion with their teammates. The most difficult thing to really get a handle on is if they are a really skilled player, and then can dominate as an individual, but maybe not have to think the game as well. As a pro career goes, though, and you reach higher levels, you have to do a better job at that as other players are that much better. You see the skill and their physically traits they bring, but hockey sense is the most important skill - and the most difficult skill - to project
LAKings.com: How many games and how many players do you see over the course of a year?
Brent McEwen: It is more than 200 games a year. My vehicle has a lot of miles on it and you get in a lot of rental cars and you catch a lot of flights. You are probably in a hotel room 150-160 times a year. It is a lot of time away from home and a lot of travel but it is what we enjoy doing. Once the draft is over, though, usually everybody is happy to get some time off.
ABOUT BRENT McEWEN
Brent McEwen has been an amateur scout for the Kings since 2004. Prior to joining the Kings, McEwen enjoyed a varied background as a general manager, coach and teacher.
From 1997-2004, McEwen worked for the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League, where he held the title of general manager, hockey and business operations. He also was active in the League where he was chairman of the team services committee; a member of the officiating and education committees; and alternate governor.
Prior to joining the Blades, McEwen spent four years in Europe. For one season he was the national team head coach for the Norwegian Ice Hockey Federation. In 1995-96, he was the head coach for Rogle BK of the Swedish Elite League, and prior to that he served for two seasons as the head coach for Vita Hasten of the Swedish Division 1 league.
Before joining the professional ranks, McEwen for 10 years worked at the University of Saskatchewan where his responsibilities included working for the College Hockey Program; Development and Management of the Hockey School; and teaching.
A native of Whitewood, Saskatchewan, McEwen, 52 (5/11/56), graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1983. He and his wife, Ellen, have two children: a son, Duncan, and a daughter, Kirsten. They reside in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.