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Different approach to Combine

by Adam Kimelman
TORONTO -- Les Jackson, director of scouting and player development for the Dallas Stars, has been doing his job for a long time, and is one of the more respected talent evaluators.

What he's learned over the years has shaped his approach to the Scouting Combine, which is different than many others.

Jackson said in the grand scheme of what he does, he doesn't gain a lot from the Combine, either in the interviews or the fitness testing.

"We take the season to evaluate the players and watch them," he told "Individual scouts in the areas meet with the players, find out about their backgrounds. We don't even really interview players at the Combine itself."

Jackson said he believes the interview set-up at the Combine doesn't do justice to the player are the teams.

"It's intimidating to the player," he said. "In my view it's not fair to the players and it's not fair to the guy doing the evaluations. The guy who watches him all the time should do that work -- you get the best value. You follow up with the coaches, the trainers, whoever is involved with that team. Talk to the individual player himself. To me, it makes more sense.

"It's a better way to do it, in our view. You're in their environment, we make them feel comfortable, its' usually one-on-one. The kids are a lot more comfortable."

"I leave that to our strength guys," he said. "They do their evaluations. That's not an area where I have any expertise. They meet with the players and they watch how they work out."

The Stars have the 13th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and Jackson said he's sure he'll find a good player at that spot. He also said he sees this year's draft crop as deep and talented.

"There's always good players all the way through the draft," he said. "This year I think is a good year. You're going to get a good player at 15, 30, 40, 50. If you're doing your work, there's good players. There's obviously some high-end guys there. Where we're picking, we'll do fine with the players that are available."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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