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A Scout's Eye: When September Comes

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 ninth 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 Dale Tallon, tracking prospects throughout the world.

Luce has been responsible for the Panthers drafting notable players such as David Booth, Michael Frolik, Michal Repik, Keaton Ellerby, Jacob Markstrom, Dmitry Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson.

A Scout's Eye Archive

Well it has been an eventful summer for the Panthers. Starting with the addition of Dale Tallon as our new GM at the NHL Scouting Combine to now, several changes have been made in our organization. Mike Santos is our new Assistant GM, Gord Murphy has been added as an Assistant Coach, we hired new scouts (Kent Nilsson in Sweden, Pete Mahovlich and Al Tuer on the Pro side and we brought Vadim Poderezov back into the fold in Russa), a new Head Coach in Rochester (Chuck Weber) along with a support staff that will include a goalie coach as well as a strength and conditioning coach. The naming of Brian Skrudland as our Director of Player Development will greatly help all of our prospects around the world.

The Draft came and went quickly as our staff was busy throughout the two day process. Having thirteen selections in a seven round draft was a challenge, but our staff came prepared and we were able to secure several prospects that we had significant interest in. I look forward to watching this Draft class develop as it will add both quantity and quality to our strong core of young players currently in the system.

After recharging the batteries in July, August saw me return to the Scouting trail. First stop was Lake Placid, New York for the USA Under 20 Camp. Team USA had three of our prospects (Drew Shore, Nick Bjugstad and Connor Brickley) take part in the first phase of the camp. Team White and Team Blue faced off in scrimmages to determine which players would earn the right to move on and play the Swedish and Finnish Under 20 teams in a round robin format. Unfortunately, Drew Shore injured his shoulder early in the camp and was sent home to start his rehab. He should be ready to go when Denver University starts their season. He'll have to play well early on if he is to earn an invite to the Final Camp in Decmber.

Both Nick Bjugstad and Connor Brickley were selected to play the Swedes and the Finns. The Finnish team had Joonas Donskoi on its roster, so we had three 2010 Draft Picks playing in this Under 20 Tournamnet. Although the Finns did not fare well, Jonnas had a good camp and was happy to finally receive his draft bag full of Panthers clothing and of course his Draft Hat. Connor played to his identity as an energy guy that is difficult to play against. Both teams were well aware when he was on the ice as he likes to take the body and play a physical game. Nick had a breakout camp in that he was an offensive force in most of the games he competed in. Coming right out of High School hockey in Minnesota is a big step to this level and he made it look like a seamless transition. Brian Skrudland was able to meet with all four Panthers prospects and they were anxious to hear his feedback and advice. The best part was hearing Brian explain to the prospects what its like to play in Florida and the expectations that have to be met moving forward. Brian brings tradition and passion when he is speaking and developing our prospects. I am really looking forward to working with him.

After Lake Placid, I left for my yearly excursion to Bratislava and the Ivan Hlinka Tournament. It is an Under 18 tournament and it is where all the NHL teams get to see the best of the best heading into the 2011 Draft. Canada is the favorite heading in almost every year and their dominance is evident with the number of Gold Medals won. This year was no exception, but Team USA put up a great fight in the finals as they lost 1-0 to Team Canada in a hard fought exciting final. Europe looks a little stronger this year as the Czechs fielded a better group of prospects as compared to the last two years. Canada had several players that should develop into 1st or 2nd round selections in the 2011 Draft. 

After the tournament, we met and put together our Priority List to start the season. As stated previously, our scouts will scout from a quantitative basis to begin with and then switch to a qualitative basis after our Mid Season meetings.

Rookie Camp is less than a week away now and our staff is looking forward to seeing our young players perform against the Nashville Predators Rookies in two games. It will be a great opportunity for the fans to see our fresh crop of prospects and get to know their games.
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