I put 65,000 miles on my truck this year, a scout’s life is spent on the road. You spend eight or nine months away from your family and friends at different rinks in North America, looking at different players and watching to see what they can do and analyzing the different traits they possess to see if they can be NHL players. There really is not a lot of feedback or fanfare until Draft Day, or as Assistant GM Ron Hextall put it, the "Scout's Super Bowl."
To me you are looking for players that excel in a lot of different areas. Some players may be great skaters, or might have an elite hockey sense that makes them NHL ready. I think it varies for everyone. The higher in the rounds you find more of those traits and the lower in the rounds you find fewer of those traits. It is a matter of getting to know the young men to find out if the biggest trait is there and that is their want and desire to be an NHL player…and that they will do what they have to do to be there.
Every draft you can listen to scouts around the NHL that says one draft year is stronger than another or this year’s is stronger than last year's and you really can’t listen to any of it. Every single year there are players that come out regardless of how the draft is viewed at the particular time. You may think it is a poor year, but five years from now, it could be viewed as strong. There are always good players, you just have to find them.
You always take the best player available. You are talking about 17 and 18-year-old young men, in most cases, they are a few years away from playing in the NHL and your needs may change by then. It will be very difficult to say we are going to need a defenseman in two or four years, because you don’t know that. I think it only becomes an issue when you have two players that are exactly tied that you start to put in to play what is a better asset to the organization position wise.
The NHL Draft is much different than any other sport, I guess the only sport it could be comparable to is baseball, where you project players two-to-four years down the road. You just don’t know until you can get that player into a different environment and on the ice at our development camps to find out exactly what we have.
All the work will end tomorrow with the Draft...and then I have about a week off and than I have to get back at it.-Tony Gasparini, LA Kings Amateur Scout