The NHL trade deadline is Wednesday, and it is one of the busiest times of the year for each club’s Hockey Operations department and the club’s pro scouting staff in particular.
Here is a Q and A piece featuring Kings Senior Pro Scout Rob Laird as he discusses the day and his job on the whole:
Q: Can you please describe your job and some of the responsibilities that go with it?
A: In short, the pro scouting staff evaluates players for trades, free agency and for players on waivers. So we’re looking at established players in the NHL. We hit the AHL pretty good and also view Europe. So that’s the main function of the pro side.
Q: Who does the department encompass and what are the responsibilities of those individuals?
A: Alyn McCauly and myself handle the bulk of the NHL teams. We’ve hired a full time scout, Joe Patterson, who does the AHL. We have Christian Ruuttu who scouts Europe. And of course we rely a lot on Jack Ferreira and Rob Blake who see a lot of hockey. We also interject with our amateur staff somewhat. They have a lot of background information on the players. So we’ll give them a call and maybe find out a little about their background and character. It includes everybody. I’ve got to include Lee Callans too. He does so much for us putting things together, he kind of leads our meetings and he’s the man behind the scenes that really holds things together.
Q: Obviously no one year is the same, but is there an average of how games do you see, reports you file, miles you travel and hotel nights you spend?
A: I’m not sure if I can answer that question but ballpark maybe 150 live games and then you’re watching all kinds of videos. So that probably puts in well over 200 games. Regarding miles I know I’ve got my two million with Delta so that’s all I can tell you about that. It’s a yearly job now and we do get a little time off in the summer but we like to meet as staff several times and go over players and player lists. There’s a lot of accountability with the job and it seems to be growing each year in that regard.
Q: You’ve been at this job for a number of years. How has your game changed? How has evaluating a player changed? What are a couple of things that jump out in your mind first and foremost?
A: What’s changed in the scouting business is the technology obviously. This is my 20th year. My first year we were writing our notes on paper and of course now everything is on laptop. But the biggest thing for me from now and when I first started is there’s a lot more of accountability on the job, from owners down to the general manager. We’re here to help our general manager to make the right decisions and add players that someday would help the Kings or help them right now. I just feel there’s more accountability in this business from the early days.
Q: Finally, regarding the trade deadline. There’s no one-way to approach it. Obviously it depends if the team is a “buyer or a “seller.” We can’t look too far ahead but generally speaking how does this club approach the trade deadline, as you want to best describe it?
A: Well actually it starts from the first game of the season. Our job is to evaluate players by position and also within the position in different categories. Now as the season progresses some teams may be falling out of the playoff race and a few weeks ago we started to focus on those players or teams a little bit more who may be “sellers” at the deadline. But you have to do your business year-round in order to be prepared for that date.
Interview by Jeff Moeller; special thanks to Martin Ibarra