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A Scout's Eye: Early Season Update

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 seventh season 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 assistant General Manager Randy Sexton, 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, Michal Repik, Keaton Ellerby, Jacob Markstrom and Dmitry Kulikov.

A Scout's Eye Archive

Well, it is hard to believe that November is just around the corner already. It seems like yesterday that I was in Bratislava scouting the upcoming NHL Draft eligible prospects of interest from around the world. That tournament saw Canada dominate from start to finish as they took home another Championship. The top line of John McFarland - Tyler Seguin - Tyler Toffoli was too much for the other countries to match. Throw in Brett Connolly and Quinton Howden as big tough to contain forwards and they had a great mix up front. Erik Gudbranson and Brandon Gormley anchored the back end with Calvin Pickard and Louis Domingue providing solid goaltending when needed. As you can see, the lineup was full of high end prospects in this Draft and they all performed well for their country.
The one noticeable stat was the number of underage players that competed in this tournament.  Over 40 players were not eligible until the 2011 Draft.
Rookie Camp, Training Camp, Exhibition Games and trip to Finland came and went in a blur. I did not go to Finland as the Major Junior schedule had begun and I had to get early exposure on our pre identified 2010 prospects of interest.
Late September and early October saw me blanket the OHL. With several draft prospects and several of our drafted prospects playing in this league, all viewings were of good quality. Looks like it will be an interesting scoring race in the OHL as Seguin and Taylor Hall will battle it out until the end to see who can out score the other.
AJ Jenks of Plymouth is scoring at a point a game pace and taking on a leadership role this season. Scott Timmins of Windsor is a point a game player on what should be another strong team this season. Garrett Wilson of Owen Sound is just under a point a game and playing a strong power forward game. Adam Comrie in Guelph is off to a strong start stat wise as he is the third leading scorer on his team with 13 points in 13 games.
What is interesting is that all of these prospects play in the Western Conference of the OHL which will be a very hotly contested conference all season long. Windsor has the edge with last years success behind them now, but the remaining teams will battle hard to try and avoid an early playoff matchup with Windsor.
Colby Robak of Brandon in the WHL leads his team in plus/minus and has 11 pts in 16 games as he is logging tons of minutes. Brandon is hosting the Memorial Cup this spring, so Colby will get lots of experience this season.
Mid to late October was spent following the start of the NCAA season and checking in on our college prospects who are for the most part off to quick starts. As I am writing this, we have prospects on 4 of the 5 top rated teams in the country .
Marc Cheverie (Denver) has recorded a shutout in his last three starts. I saw him pitch a goose egg at Ohio State and he looks more confident in the crease and is using his size and technique very well. Denver should be a contender this year as long as Marc can continue this solid play.
John Lee (Denver) has really developed heading into his Sophomore season. He is logging more ice and is a solid defender who keeps improving.
Drew Shore (Denver) is tied for third in team scoring and is looking forward to earning a top 6 role as a Freshman. As he adds strength to his frame, he will become more effective in the NCAA.
Matt Bartkowski (Ohio State) is well on his way to eclipsing his Freshman point total. His increased physical presence was evident in the weekend series I saw against Denver earlier this month.
Derrick Lapoint (North Dakota) is coming off a serious leg injury and has played well early on this season. I see Brian Foster (University of New Hampshire) this weekend, as well as Minnesota (Josh Birkholz) and have North Dakota ( Lapoint, Corban Knight ), Boston University (Wade Megan), Western Michigan (Ryan Watson) scheduled for early November.
Matt Rust at Michigan is being asked to take on some additional offensive responsibility this season and he has responded early as he leads their team in scoring with five points after four games played.
It is early in the season, but coupled with Rochester's strong start and how are prospects are currently performing, it is exciting to see the depth we have in our system. We will continue to try and add both quality and quantity to our prospect pool as we scout the world this season in preparation for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Thank you for you support of the Panthers.

Scott Luce
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