As the NHL's 24 postseason teams set their lineups for the start of postseason play Saturday, the Seattle Kraken are shoring up their own roster. Kraken GM Ron Francis announced Dave Baseggio Thursday as the franchise's first director of professional scouting.
Baseggio steps into the role with formidable and diversified experience. He spent the last 12 seasons with the NHL's Anaheim Ducks as a pro scout, director of pro scouting and assistant to the general manager. Before the decade-plus with Anaheim, Baseggio was a head coach for two American Hockey League teams (Peoria from 2006 to 2008, Bridgeport for the 2005-06 season) and an AHL assistant five seasons in the early 2000s, getting an up-close look at how young prospects adjust to the rigors of professional hockey that include a longer, more concentrated schedule of games plus competing with players who are older and typically stronger.
Francis likes Baseggio's front office and coaching range, plus other characteristics: "Dave played at Yale, he was an economics major and captained the hockey team as a senior. He played professionally beyond that [nine seasons in AHL and International Hockey League and two in Europe]. He's been around the game a long time. He's bright and a good person who will fit into the culture we are building with the Kraken. He will generate a lot of ideas and earn the respect of our pro scouting staff."
Baseggio's staff is growing and stabilizing. Francis announced the hiring of three new pro scouts and contract extensions for the five scouts already in the fold. The new scouts are Andrew Allen, who will scout goalies after four seasons as goaltending coach for the NHL's Buffalo Sabres; Lorne Henning, a long-time NHL executive and coach who won four Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders (two as a player, two as an assistant coach); and William White, who played for Connecticut College before pursuing a scouting career first with the AHL's Manitoba Moose and this past season doing game and player reports with the Kraken.
In addition, Francis said the Kraken's original five pro scouts-Cammi Granato, Ulf Samuelsson, Stu Barnes, Dave Hunter and John Goodwin--have all been extended additional months on their contracts to finish the current NHL postseason, with the intention to re-sign the group for the 2021-21 season when its start dates are determined.
"I am excited, humbled and honored to join the Seattle Kraken," said Baseggio by phone this week. "To help start a franchise from scratch is a unique opportunity."
The from-scratch works starts this week for Baseggio in unprecedented fashion. Baseggio and the scouting staff, along with Francis and assistant GM Ricky Olczyk, will be scouting games on television and video as 12 Eastern Conference teams begin the chase for the 2020 Stanley Cup in Toronto and 12 Western teams do the same in Edmonton, all without fans and only bare-bones hockey operations staffs attending for those teams.
"It's not an ideal way to scout players but it is definitely an opportunity to form our evaluations and gather data for our analytics group," said Baseggio. "We have talked internally a lot about how to get as much out of it as we can. We plan to be looking at a lot of players."
In his time as a player, coach, scout and front office executive, Baseggio said video as a player evaluation tool has increased in value as teams learn how to cut, sift and categorize video. One example is scouts can easily pull up a player's shifts against certain opponents or during tight-game situations.
"I've used video frequently when our team was considering a trade or signing a free agent," explained Baseggio. "I still believe the eye test [seeing a player compete in person] is important but you can learn a lot from video and analytics. You can get to know players from those shifts on video. You can watch for speed and skating skills, determine hockey sense, ability to think on their feet, how they fight for the puck, do they slap a puck away or try to make a play?"
The Kraken scouts will each get a Western Conference and Eastern Conference team to follow for the early Qualifying Round and round-robin seeding tournament. The schedule grid (there will be up to five or six games daily for the first nine days of August) comes into play when deciding which teams, so scouts have time to write up the all-important player reports.
"Ultimately, our business is players," said Baseggio, anticipating his first chance to do business alongside Francis, Olczyk and other Kraken colleagues. "You want to get to know the players, you want to get to know their characters."