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One-on-One with... E.J. McGuire (Part 2)

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
As part of its 2008 Draft Coverage, caught up with the NHL’s Director of Central Scouting, E.J. McGuire to talk about Central Scouting’s role in the draft process, this year’s draft class, and some of the prospects of note in this year’s draft. Read below for Part 2 of the Q&A, which focuses more extensively on prospects available in this year’s draft.

One-on-One with… EJ McGuire Part 1 | Part 2 At the end of the first part of our Q&A you mentioned some prospects moving up in draft rankings. By the very nature, if someone is moving up, someone else has to be moving down. Can you discuss a couple of prospects who seem to be sliding and give us some insight as to why?
EJ McGuire: Well, a guy like Alex Pietrangelo developed mononucleosis toward the end of the season and you don’t get that over night. That illness often manifests itself long before it’s diagnosed. Toward the end of the season he was showing the fatigue effects of the long season and then it comes out why. Injuries or illness are something that might drop a guy’s stock. Or economics, like the highest rated European skater in our Final Report, Nikita Filatov from Russia, whose stock is dropping for circumstances beyond his control. Earlier I mentioned how skilled Filatov is so why would he possibly be available at No. 9, you might ask? Well currently there’s no transfer agreement between the IIHF and the Russian Ice Hockey Federation. A guy last year in Alexei Cherapanov, who is a wonderfully skilled player, fell to No. 17. In this year’s case it may be Filatov. That’s a sidebar that’s worth watching at this year’s draft. Filatov may be the talent of a top-three pick. Another prospect who seems to a “wild card” among draft pundits is Kyle Beach. Can you talk some more about Beach?
EM: He’s got a reputation as being a wonderfully enthusiastic guy on the ice … and off. He fits maybe an “old style NHLer.” Some games you go to see how well he can skate and you come away knowing how well he can fight and yell at the referee. He’s certainly one of the most colorful players in the draft. And certainly one of the most skilled. So off-ice is probably why other publications may not have Beach as high as Central Scouting?
EM: Probably. Central Scouting errs on the side of on-ice observation. Because we don’t have to live with the prospects after they’ve been drafted. In other words, Central Scouting – and the team’s know this – stops short of asking a Principal at High School or a coach if a prospect is a problem. And I’m not implying anything with Beach, just painting a broader brush for background. Back to Beach, the Nashville Predators will do their homework and will do it well and they’ll say either, “We don’t like what we’re hearing. Let’s stay away from this kid.” Or they’ll say, “You know what, there may be some misunderstanding about this kid.” And just to clarify, we’re not talking anything criminal here with Beach. I’m not trying to make excuses for it, but we’re talking in terms of skipped school and misconduct penalties for yelling at the referee. Earlier you mentioned the depth of the defensive prospects in this draft class. Can you name some of the top pure goal scorers and top creative forwards in this year’s draft?
EM: Unless David Poile mortgages a ton of picks, players, and prospects, he’s not going to get Steven Stamkos, so let’s cross him off the list. Nikita Filatov probably will be gone before No. 9, too, but those two guys definitely fit the bill. After them, if there’s a need for creativity, you’re talking our No. 9 ranked North American skater, Cody Hodgson. He’s the quarterback of the Brampton Battalion power-play. He sees the ice wonderfully well. Skates great. In the old days, he might be considered a bit small at 5’11, 185-pounds, but watch Daniel Briere or Steve Sullivan or Paul Kariya and you’ll see that size is no longer an albatross around these kids’ necks. The next kid in that range would be Mikkel Boedker. He’s a wonderfully skilled player. As much as Hodgson quarterbacks his team’s power-play from down on the side boards, Boedker, as a forward, is trusted with the point position on the power-play. After them it’s another OHL player, Joshua Bailey. Bailey’s a little bit taller than Hodgson and Boedker, but a little bit thinner. He’s creative and snipping scoring. Everything – without unfairly comparing him – that a Paul Kariya is in the NHL, Bailey is to his Junior team right now. So he would be very heavily looked at for team’s needing offensive skill. He’s rated No. 14 on our list, so I would think if things went according to ranking, he’d potentially be in the mix for Nashville’s pick at No. 15, especially if that’s the need for the Predators. In talking about your traditional power-forwards, who are some of the top names in that mold?
EM: Two names. Kyle Beach, 6’3, 203 and skates and has a mean touch. And that mean touch spills over at the odd time into undisciplined play, but some NHL coaches – and Barry Trotz there in Nashville is real good at this – may have a better handle on keeping that under control. The other is Colin Wilson. As an 18-year old at BU, he’s playing against kids who are easily four, five, maybe even six years older than him. Remember in Canadian Junior Hockey these prospects are playing, by the very nature of the league set-up, kids who are only one or at the very most two years older than them. So he’s mature ahead of his year. His dad, Carey Wilson, played in the league, so he’s the son of an NHLer, which may have accelerated his maturity. And I’m not talking genetics, I’m talking the conversations over the lunch table or breakfast table. From the power forward side, those are the top two in the first round. Are there any sleeper names potentially available or names fans might want to familiarize themselves with for the Preds two second round picks?
EM: One is Jared Staal, he’s the younger brother of Eric, Jordan, and Marc, so he’s a name that fans should recognize. He’s ranked 43 for us, but we know he’s going to be an NHLer. He’s got a little bit of filling in to his body to do. And he’s got a little bit of filling in to the comparisons I and all scouts make to his brothers. Another is an interesting story, a defenseman out of the University of Wisconsin who we have 34th, Cody Goloubef. For all the same reasons I mentioned about Colin Wilson, here’s Cody playing at a high level in the NCAA. Cody is a defenseman who jumped ahead of some of the older players at Wisconsin because of his skill. Perhaps another one is Tyler Ennis. We have him rated No. 31. Tyler Ennis is probably only 31 because he’s a real little guy at 5’9, 146 pound. He’s a small, but incredibly skilled player again in the Sullivan, Kariya comparison. He was watched thoroughly last year as an underage when Medicine Hat went all the way to the Memorial Cup Finals and lost in the final game. Tyler Ennis is probably the quickest player all around in the draft; quick hands, quick feet. He’s a wonderfully skilled player – and has to be to survive at that size. Each year there are some family legacy prospects. You’ve already touched on Jared Staal and Colin Wilson, but are there other prospects fans might want to keep an eye on?
EM: Old die hard fans might remember Dick Duff. Duff, a Hockey Hall of Famer, is the uncle of Cody Goloubef. More recently we have rated No. 56 Philip McRae. He’s the son of former NHL tough guy Basil McRae. David Toews is Jonathan’s younger brother. He played last season at Shattuck St. Mary’s and is going to the University of North Dakota, just like his older brother. Also on that Shattuck team, David Carle, is the brother of San Jose’s Matt. Our No. 20 prospect, Jamie Arniel, is the nephew of NHL journeyman Scott Arniel, who is currently the head coach in Winnipeg of the Manitoba Mouse in the American Hockey League. And on the European side, Viktor Tikhonov, the grandson of the old famous coach – not to demean his father Vasily who also was a coach and served as an assistant to the San Jose Sharks several years ago. Is it more difficult to judge family prospects?
EM: Not really. You make note of the kid’s name if it’s a unique name. And in the case of like Goloubef it’s almost more of a trivia item like, “hey do you know who that kid’s uncle is?” But it’s not more difficult to scout. We’re still evaluating them on talent. Some times conversationally it’s neat to have a handle on something familiar. But do I think they have an advantage – and it has very little to do with genetics. The social part is very valuable. Over the breakfast or lunch table, let’s say the Staals, Jared is with Eric and Marc and Jordan and they say, “We’re going to get our workout in before we go out and play golf today and you’re coming with us Jared.” Where as some other prospect has his buddies who maybe aren’t athletes so that prospect may be more likely to cut short his workouts to spend time with his friends. So from that standpoint, I think it is a very positive influence. Or even just talking hockey. When you’re struggling with some part of your game you have someone to talk to who has been through it or has seen teammates that went through it; someone to give you tips how to correct it. Are there any prospects in this year’s draft who didn’t get selected last year but are still draft eligible and should draw consideration in this year’s draft?
EM: A second time eligible goalie who might get drafted is Mike Murphy a goalie for the Belleville Bulls. He had a real good start to the Memorial Cup. He’s in the second year of his eligibility, but it’s not uncommon for a goalie in his year of eligibility – especially on a strong team – to be the backup behind a good veteran goalie and not get a chance to really show how good he can be. So Mike Murphy might be a name to fit that.

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