The Edmonton Oilers Director of Amateur Scouting Stu MacGregor is in Calgary watching some of the top prospects in the upcoming 2014 NHL Entry Draft compete against one another in the CHL BMO Top Prospects Game. He provided some insight to edmontonoilers.com and OilersTV on just what he was looking for this week.
“Just to see how the players perform,” he said. “There’s a bit of pressure for the higher-ranked players or any player that’s been invited because they’re one of the players that’s been identified by Central Scouting as being a top-end player. So, there’s pressure for the players to see how they react to it and see how they perform against all of the best players in the CHL.”
In addition to prospects like Aaron Ekblad, Leon Draisaitl and Sam Reinhart, there are many young players climbing the draft charts.
“There’s a lot of eyes on them. They know it and they want to perform well.”
“Obviously, you’re here to see the Reinharts, the Ekblads, the Virtanens, the Draisaitls,” MacGregor said. “They’re the high guys that are ranked by Central Scouting. But, there’s a lot of players that are moving on and up. Julius Honka from Swift Current has played extremely well, Aaron Irving is a player with the Oil Kings that’s preformed well this year and earned his opportunity and right to come here. Brayden Point, an add-on, has a great opportunity for him. He’s always been a highly skilled player that has an opportunity, due to an injury to Sam Bennett. These are the kind of guys that, they’re all great players and they all have their own positives that they’ll bring to the table and it’s a good opportunity for them to show everything they have.”
Gathering the top players in the CHL together on one sheet of ice is beneficial to scouting departments, like the Oilers, as they hope to gauge each young prospects’ compete level.
“I think it’s great advertising for the CHL but, at the same time, it’s also good because you get to see them all play against each other in a competitive environment. They’re all basically the same age, within one year, and they’re competing against top players and so you get an idea, all on one ice surface, of them showing their best against each other and you get a good, solid comparison.”
Specifically, MacGregor says the Oilers are there to look at players who can help the club within the next 2-3 seasons.
“In most cases, they’ll be competing to try out for your team in the next 2-3 years. That’s what you’re looking for. Players that are competitive, good hockey sense, good skills and that are going to show up and play hard.”
Some players who were not on Edmonton’s radar early, have made the case to get in on the discussion with strong 2013-2014 seasons, so far.
“That happens all the time. Players surprise with how well they’ve done. There’s probably a variety of players that it started out the year that you hadn’t considered, but have shown themselves to be excellent prospects.”