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A Scout's Eye: The Home Stretch

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 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, Michal Repik, Keaton Ellerby and Jacob Markstrom.

A Scout's Eye Archive

The past month has flown by. After attending the World Under-18 Championships in Fargo, North Dakota, I met with our European scouts to finalize our European List. Some intense discussion amongst the staff as we debated back and forth on several of the high end prospects in this years draft. Sweden as a country has the most quantity and quality prospects this year. They have good depth both at the forward and defense position. Factor in the late birthday prospects and the total number of interesting prospects for Sweden is the most we have seen in one draft in some time.

Team USA did an amazing job of securing Gold in  the World Under-18 Championships. Several of their top end players really brought their games to a new level throughout the tournament and with 29 other teams watching, saw their draft stock rise for sure. It was a well run tournament and the Fargo - Moorehead hosts were very hospitable.

Returning to Canada, I saw both the OHL and QMJHL finals. Windsor ran away with the OHL, but Shawinigan and Drummondville played a thrilling 7-game series which saw Drummondville come out on top in the end. Some very good back and forth play throughout the series.

Calgary was upset by Kelowna in the WHL finals, so the Memorial Cup shaped up as follows:  Rimouski (Host-QMJHL), Drummondville (QMJHL), Kelowna (WHL) and Windsor (OHL).

Windsor took the Memorial Cup in grand fashion as they rallied from two straight defeats to win four straight games to claim the title. Caron, Ellis, Blacker, Barrie, Kulikov were some of the higher profile names in this tournament.

North American Meetings started just before the Combine and took three days to bring together the WHL, OHL, QMJHL and USA regions. Lots of potential possibilities with our 14th pick and after merging our European and North American lists, we are confident that we will add a quality piece of the puzzle to our current depth of prospects in our system.

The Combine came and went in a six day blur. Close to 80, twenty minute interviews spread over four days takes a toll on the body and mind. Two days after watching the prospects complete their physical testing with Andy O'Brien at my side gives us a great read on each prospects potential from a purely physical point of view. This Combine saw only one prospect that was behind in his training. It is amazing to see the dedication put forth by all of these young hockey players. Before, we could weed out more than a dozen each year, but not anymore. Out of the 80 odd interviews, very few left us with an insecure feeling about their mental state and focus as a young athlete.

Now the home stretch will see us complete our due diligence on all of the remaining prospects of interest. Draft Day is fast approaching.

Development camp opened this week, so it will be good to touch base with all of our prospects up at Teen Ranch.

Colby Robak was named to the Canadian Under-20 Development Camp, so that is a great opportunity for him to advance his development curve. Also, I spoke with Derrick Lapoint this morning and he has been cleared to start his rehab program and is now 100%. He is slightly ahead of schedule and stated that he would work as hard as possible to get back in top form and help his University of North Dakota team prepare for next season.

That's all for now. Will touch base with a post-Draft wrap up later this month.

Scott Luce
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