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A Scout's Eye: Closer To The Draft

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
A Scout's Eye is a blog written by Panthers Director of Amateur Scouting Scott Luce as he takes you behind the scenes of what a scout really goes through as they prepare for their big holiday, the NHL Entry Draft. Scouts are the reason for the home-grown product, those players that are drafted by the team and then make a huge difference for them.

Luce is in his fifth year with the Panthers, after joining the club's scouting staff on July 11, 2002. He oversees the club's amateur scouts and works closely with Panthers General Manager Jacques Martin, tracking prospects throughout the world.

Luce has been responsible for the Panthers drafting notable players such as Nathan Horton, Rostislav Olesz, David Booth, Michael Frolik, and Michal Repik.

Well, the Stanley Cup Finals are turning into quite an entertaining series. Game 5 was one for the ages last night. Looking forward to Game 6 tomorrow.

The last two weeks have been full of work for the upcoming draft. On the 23rd of May, the Scouting staff arrived in Toronto to complete our List for the upcoming Draft. Having already done the European list at the World Under 18's in Kazan, Russia, the scouts had to put together regional lists from Quebec, Ontario, Western Canada and the United States. We do two regional lists per day and then tackle the Overall North American list on the third day. After completing the North American list, we merge it with our European list.

There are lots of conversations and discussions on each prospect of interest to our club. Once we agree on what a prospect can potentially bring to the table, we put them in order of interest. This is the difficult part as we quite often have very different opinions as the prospects are at different stages of their development. Sorting through where a High School player from Minnesota projects versus where a Canadian Major Junior player from Saskatoon can be a chore in itself. After three days of meetings, our list is complete and we now shift gears and prepare for the NHL combine which is also taking place in Toronto.

A change of venue for the Combine leaves me a little irritated as we had a big boardroom at the previous location. I walk into our room only to find one round table and some chairs scattered about the room.  My concern is having up to 10 staff members in the room interviewing a prospect every 25 minutes from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM might get a bit stuffy. We adjust the room and make due. The important part is to make the prospect feel relaxed so we can get a true feel for his character and personality. This 20 minute meeting is the culmination of our scouts due diligence on each prospect. We talk with all sorts of people to determine if the prospect is a fit for our organization. Billets, teachers, former coaches as well as their parents are all spoken with to gauge the quality of his prospect.

The current group of prospects were very genuine. There were not many of the canned answers and each prospect did a good job on their self assessments. This is important because if we are projecting the player to be a forth line energy player and he thinks he can be a top line forward with only 20 pts to show for his season to date, there needs to be some discussion on how he can get to that level.

Three days of interviewing close to 80 prospects leaves us mentally drained, but the scouts split up as some go up to Teen Ranch for our Development Camp and others stay and monitor two days of Fitness testing for the prospects. I stay and watch both days of testing and then head up to Teen Ranch for a day to touch base with our prospects. The testing went very smooth as not many players were unprepared for the rigorous tests. The Windgate test on the Bike always seems to get the best of a few prospects, but that is why they keep the garbage pail close by. I like to watch this test as it is an opportunity for me to view the battle in each prospect. See if they will fight through and persevere. I am currently waiting for the final results and when I receive them, I will review them with Andy O'Brien, our Strength and Conditioning coach, who will provide his own feedback on what he saw during the testing. This is always a good exercise as Andy does not see the prospects play, just workout, so sometimes the opinions do not match.  We may have a skinny forward that currently lacks strength, but is an offensive wizard.  We ask Andy to project how much weight he can add to his frame without hindering his skating or skill set.

Combine over and headed to Teen Ranch for a day with our prospects. I always look forward to this as it is a time to see the changes in our prospects. I congratulate all of our recent signees and wish them luck as they embark on their pro careers. I remind them that it is not always a sprint and that it takes time to finally realize their dream of playing in the NHL. That said, it is up to them to make the commitment to themselves and the Panthers moving forward. I leave Teen Ranch thinking that we are much deeper at all positions than we have been in quite some time.

Scott Luce

Scouting Trip To Kazan
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