Scott Luce doesn’t remember exactly where he was – maybe in Minnesota after watching a high school tournament or Fargo after scouting a junior game – when he turned on his laptop late in the evening to catch replays of last week’s Panthers games.
Wherever he was, Luce was happy to see a Panthers’ lineup filled with players he helped scout and draft as the team’s director of amateur scouting.
“It’s always nice to see young guys perform well when they’ve actually been called-up to the National Hockey League,” Luce said. “It doesn’t mean they’re ready for a full-time NHL career, but it’s a great confidence builder for them and it’s very positive for the organization and the scouting staff.
“We’re always sitting on pins and needles waiting to see if these guys project to be the guys we thought they would one day be.”
Luce, in his seventh season with the Panthers, has been responsible for drafting a number of Panther players. Along with David Booth, Nathan Horton, Rostislav Olesz and Anthony Stewart, Luce also drafted a number of rookies making an impact on this year’s team, including Michael Frolik and, making their NHL debuts the past two weeks after being called up from Rochester, Michal Repik
and Kenndal McArdle.
Luce reiterated that all prospects are different and need to find their identity at each level.
For instance, the Panthers always believed Frolik, the 10th overall pick in the 2006 Entry Draft, “would have an NHL skill set sooner rather than later, and it was just a matter of strength and mental maturity to see when he could play (in the NHL),” Luce said.
“Obviously, he’s adjusting quite quickly,” he added. “But that’s why he was the 10th overall pick.”
|Panthers forward Kenndal McArdle (Getty Images) |
McArdle, the 20th pick in the 2005 Entry Draft, has taken a bit longer to develop due in part because of an injured-plagued first season last year in Rochester.
“When you factor in injuries, it always puts a blip in development,” Luce said. “I think Kenndal has done a tremendous job rebounding from a very difficult rookie, pro season. I think he’ll go back to Rochester with a lot more confidence because he has a few games under his belt in the NHL. Kenndal brings an immense amount of energy, speed and passion to the game. He has to adjust to making quicker decisions and playing to his projected identity.”
Repik, who scored his first goal in his NHL debut last week in Ottawa, will have to work on his strength and figure out how to play in the NHL with his size, Luce added.
“He’s been able to do it at the junior level and American League level, where prior to his call-up he was leading the Amerks in scoring,” he added.
But Luce isn’t sitting back and resting on his successes. After having spent 12 days on the road scouting in the midwest, Luce is off for New England and four prep school tournaments as he helps look for the Panthers’ “next piece of the puzzle.”