Amateur Scouting Meetings 6

Scouting can be a frustrating but rewarding world. As fans we all have the benefit of hindsight to see how a player turned out, but the challenge with scouting, especially on the amateur side, is projecting how a players will turn out five, six, seven years down the line having only seen them as a kid. With the NHL Draft Combine kicking off this week it seems like as good of a time as any to get to know our Amateur Scouts before they head down to Buffalo to interview prospects. So without further ado take a look into the background of our eleven Amateur and European Scouts.

Don Boyd

Amateur Scout

Don Boyd

Hometown: London, ON

Scouting region: Crossover scout that travels to all regions but primarily Ontario.

Scouting journey: Don has seen it all across an extensive hockey career. He was an Assistant Coach at University of Michigan and UND before moving back to Canada to coach for seven years in the WHL and OHL with the Regina Pats and London Knights. With the last six years in London spent manning the GM duties, Boyd was set for scouting in the big leagues and was an amateur scout for the Nordiques for four seasons.

After a second coaching stint in the OHL with the New Market Royals and Sarnia Sting Boyd had his first stint with the Senators joining as a scout between 1995-1997 before spending the next two seasons in St. Louis. From there Boyd spent eight seasons as the Director of Amateur Scouting with the Columbus Blue Jackets including one season as the Assistant General Manager.

One last brief stint in the OHL saw Boyd as the Director of Player Personnel for the London Knights before returning to the Senators for the last 11 years. He has led the Amateur Scouting team this season.

How many games do you watch a year: Upwards of 240 to 280 games a year, the most has been in the 290's. Fortunately working out of Ontario there are a lot of opportunities to catch double headers.

What’s something about scouting you think the average fan should know: We're trying to build a team so we're not always looking for that highly skilled player, we're looking for so many different combinations of assets that a player has. It's more than just this guy can really skate, or this guy can really score so he's going to play. We put our list together not always by team needs at the time because realistically the players we draft may not always play for four or five years.

The other part is the behind the scenes work that goes into the travel. you have to plan your travel schedule, flights, rental cars, hotels, and you have to build the schedule yourself to make sure you're where you need to be. Then you can find out 12 hours before the game that the player you're going to watch isn't playing.

What’s your most proud scouting moment: We've drafted 19-year olds that have been passed twice and they've gone on to play for us in the league because we were patient and willing to take chances on people you really believe in.

What’s your favourite question to ask a prospect: These young guys are so prepared now and that's a credit to them, by the end of the week at the combine I don't know if we could surprise them with any other questions.

However, asking prospects about what their teammates and coaches would say about them yields good insights. We are going to ask their teammates and coaches and we're not afraid to tell them that. We can pick up the phone and ask these guys who we have worked with in junior hockey and college that we've built relationships with along the way and know we can trust their judgement.

Offseason hobbies: While hockey scouting has become a 365 day business and Don is adamant that the love of the work keeps you hungry to be active in the events through out the year he does take some time to take a break and for abour two weeks in the summer to hit the links.

George Fargher

Amateur Scout

George Fargher

Hometown: Vernon, BC

Scouting region: Crossover scout covering all regions but primarily Western Canada

Scouting journey: 29 years as an NHL scout 28 of which have been with the Senators. Prior to becoming an NHL scout George spent two years of scouting with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL.

How many games do you watch a year: Close to 240 games.

What’s something about scouting you think the average fan should know: The average fan wouldn't know how much time and work is goes into the 2 hours and 15 minutes you spend watching the game. There's travel to and from the game, doing reports, getting prepared for the next day to fly or drive to the next location. The least time over the course of the day is the game itself but it's the most important part of the day.

What’s your most proud scouting moment: Drafting Derek Grant out of the Langley Chiefs of the BCHL. We didn't have a lot of viewings on him that year but I had seen him a quite a few times and we took him in the fourth round. He turned out to be a solid NHL player that played over 400 NHL games.

Also, I had a part in the Brady Tkachuk pick and we all know how good of a player he turned out to be.

Parker Kelly we signed as a free agent I had some input on that, it was rewarding for him and for myself. It really comes down to the team decision and working with the other area guys to make sure we get the best

What’s your favourite question to ask a prospect:In years past it was always interesting to ask the prospects do they have a job and what their first job was. The way things have changed these players don't have jobs and are spending their summers working out, conditioning, and summer skating but we come up with ways to try to determine their make up and character at the combine.

Outside of hockey what hobbies do you have: During the summer George plays a lot of golf trying to get out three times a week. He also tries to go boating on the lakes around Vernon to relax.

Bob Janecyk

Amateur Scout

Bob Janecyk

Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

Scouting region: Crossover scout that travels to all regions but primarily US and Ontario.

Scouting journey: After a pro career that saw Janecyk play in 110 NHL games as a goaltender, he worked in a coaching role working with Rick Dudley’s goaltenders in the IHL and from there he moved into his scouting role with the Ottawa Senators where he’s been for 25 years now.

How many games do you watch a year: Around 240 games this year.

What’s something about scouting you think the average fan should know: We’re travel agents. It’s a lot of driving, a lot of travel.

What’s your most proud scouting moment: You’re proud of the guys that are taken early that pan out and then the later round picks that turn out that’s really rewarding in what we do to help the team.

What’s your favourite question to ask a prospect: It used to be what they did in the summer. Did they have a job, and if so what type of job? As things have progressed most kids don’t have time since they work year-round. Now he comes up with questions on the fly to try to keep prospects guessing.

Outside of hockey what hobbies do you have: In the summertime he’s off fishing with his family around the many lakes of Michigan.

Mikko Ruutu

Chief European Scout

Mikko Ruutu

Hometown: Helsinki, FIN

Scouting region: Europe

Scouting journey: After getting drafted by the Senators Mikko had to quit playing young due to an injury. He was asked if he had interest in scouting while he was starting his Masters degree in Real Estate Investment and Finance and has been scouting with the Senators for 19 years now.

How many games do you watch a year: Close to 300 games, European tournaments provide an opportunity to see a lot of games in short order sometimes.

What’s something about scouting you think the average fan should know: The importance of personality and character when you’re scouting for the NHL, the compete level is so high. You may see a really good player but that doesn’t always translate to the next level, the competition is so fierce.

What’s your most proud scouting moment: The collaborative group effort that goes into any given draft pick that works out is really rewarding.

What’s your favourite question to ask a prospect: If there are any concerns about a certain aspect of their game he tries to find a question to highlight concern that which they haven’t prepared for. Since prospects are so prepared and coached for the interview process these days it can be difficult to catch them off guard by the end of a week of interviews. However, when he can catch them a little off-guard and the prospects aren’t able to give the answer that they think he wants to hear and rather have to speak from their heart it provides great insight.

Outside of hockey what hobbies do you have: Spending as much time as possible with his kids, taking them to their various hobbies.

Anders Ostberg

European Scout

Anders Ostberg

Hometown: Stockholm, SWE

Scouting region: Europe

Scouting journey: Anders has been a scout for 13 years, the last seven with the Senators. Before joining the Sens he started his scouting career spending three seasons with the St. Louis Blues before moving on to Swedish club Örebro HK for three seasons as their Head Scout and Director of Scouting.

How many games do you watch a year: 250-270 games mostly in Sweden since there is so much ground to cover but also in Finland, Czechia, Germany, and other European countries.

What’s something about scouting you think the average fan should know: The grind is real. You’re constantly travelling and switching time zones, it’s not the cushy job many people think it is. From around August-September to April-May you never have a Friday or Saturday off.

Also, the element of hindsight. It’s easy from the outside to look back five years later and think why didn’t you take that guy but projecting a player’s path isn’t always that easy.

What’s your most proud scouting moment: The teamwork that goes into any given draft pick. It’s a team effort, we win and lose together and you have to check your ego at the door.

What’s your favourite question to ask a prospect: How they can analyze their own game. If they understand what it will take to make the jump to the next level.

Outside of hockey what hobbies do you have: I listen to a lot of music. Occasionally will visit the opera house in Sweden.

Christian De Blois

Amateur Scout

Christian De Blois

Hometown: Quebec City, QC

Scouting region: Primarily QMJHL but crosses over into OHL, WHL, and Jr. A prep schools in USA

Scouting journey: Christian has been in scouting for 17 years first getting his start with the Moncton Wildcats for five seasons before moving to the Saint John Sea Dogs for six years, four of which as the Head Scout. From Saint John he went to Shawinigan to scout for half a season before taking on the role of Assistant Director of Hockey Operations which he held until he became a full-time scout for the Senators in the 2018-19 season.

How many games do you watch a year: 175-250 games, this year it was about 185 games. In the early months of the season you may only be home five days per month.

What’s something about scouting you think the average fan should know: The amount of time spent on game reports and your lists. It can be anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours per day and it’s a big part of the job that if you’re not in the industry you may not be aware of.

What’s your most proud scouting moment: The opportunity to do this at the professional level is a humbling experience in itself. Getting to know the group of guys you work with and the camaraderie that comes with it, we all enjoy each other’s company.

The 2020 draft is one that sticks out, it was an important draft for this team and my second with the team.

What’s your favourite question to ask a prospect: How do you perceive yourself as a hockey player? Self-evaluation is really important, sometimes you do get the right answer and sometimes you get something you weren’t expecting.

Offseason hobbies: In the summer golf is a big one in the summertime, but also just being at home and staying around the people you don’t get to see as much when you’re on the road.

Dan Boeser

Amateur Scout

Dan Boeser

Hometown: Lakeville, MN

Scouting region: USA

Scouting journey: After playing in College and five pro seasons across the UHL, IHL, ECHL, and AHL, Dan Boeser was a high school coach and then coached in the USHL with the Chicago Steel before making the move to scouting with the Senators where he’s been for seven years.

How many games do you watch a year: 200+ games in person and a lot of video support throughout the year. A lot of the games in the Midwest he is able to drive to but his time spent on the East Coast requires more extensive air travel.

What’s something about scouting you think the average fan should know: The amount of work, time, people that goes into picking just one player. It’s multiple calendar years going back to their underage year and through his draft year. Then you get together at meetings and hear everyone’s opinion and weigh different things which you then multiply over the hundreds of players we’re all following. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into every pick.

What’s your most proud scouting moment: The sense of pride comes from the whole process of diving into these kids that you’re interested in, drafting them, and watching over the next three, four or five years, their path and ups and downs and seeing everything come together with them playing games with the Sens. It makes all the work really worth it you see it all come to a head at the NHL level.

What’s your favourite question to ask a prospect: How do they see the next four-five years going for them after the draft. It gives a sense of which players understand what’s ahead and are willing to go on that path to get to the NHL. There are very few guys who step into the NHL right away so it gives insight to player awareness.

Outside of hockey what hobbies do you have: In the summer I spend it with my wife and three boys. We have a sport court in the backyard and play basketball and pickleball in the summer.

Kyle Flanagan

Amateur Scout

Kyle Flanagan

Hometown: Canton, NY

Scouting region: Primarily Ontario, while helping out in Western Quebec and a little USHL

Scouting journey: After college Flanagan had a seven-year pro career, finishing with the Belleville Senators in 2018 and went right into scouting with the Senators from there.

How many games do you watch a year: From about October to March Kyle goes to about 200 live games. The travel is extensive but he can cover off a lot of games through showcases with 8 games in a day 15-16 in a weekend.

What’s something about scouting you think the average fan should know: How hard it is to project a 17 or 18 year-old, eight years down the road and what they will be at their very best. It’s a humbling and frustrating part of the job because you’re constantly wrong while trying to be right. The best part is we all get together and try to make the best decision. There are so many players throughout the world and in the years leading up to their draft year as well.

What’s your most proud scouting moment: Looking back on my first year and coming from playing professionally I thought it would be an easier transition and found out quickly how hard this job is. Looking back now at that first year and learning from the 3-4 guys who have been doing it for 30 years how much I’ve learned. You can’t make up for experience you have to put in the work. My favourite part of the year every year is the learning curve, you constantly learn something new.

What’s your favourite question to ask a prospect: What kind of adversity have they been through in their life.

Also, do you want to be a hockey player. There’s a difference between playing hockey and being good at hockey vs being a hockey player.

Outside of hockey what hobbies do you have: Golf and fishing

Todd Stirling

Amateur Scout

Todd Stirling

Hometown: Boston, MA

Scouting region: Northeast in the college ranks

Scouting journey: Todd coached at the college, junior and minor league professional levels before making the jump to scouting. He’s been a scout for seven years and with the Senators the entire time.

How many games do you watch a year: 125-150 games in person per year.

What’s something about scouting you think the average fan should know: It’s not just about watching hockey games. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work to learn about the players to find about more than what you see on the ice. You need to know more about these players than what you would believe.

What’s your most proud scouting moment: When we drafted Cam O’Neill in the mid-rounds a few years ago he was from my area. After we picked him, he was home and I had the chance to call him. It was emotional for him, you could hear his family in the background, and it almost makes you emotional because of the pure excitement.

What’s your favourite question to ask a prospect: Give me some weaknesses of your coach. There’s usually a lot of running around on the question. It’s a stumper because it catches them off guard as they’ve never had the opportunity to critique their own coach versus the opposite.

Offseason hobbies: Trying to get back into golfing, but spending time with my family is what I try to get the most out of in the offseason.

Bob Strumm Jr.

Amateur Scout

Bob Strumm Jr.

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Scouting region: Western Canada – WHL, Tier II leagues across Alberta, BC and the rest of Canada

Scouting journey: Bob has been a scout for 11 years beginning as a part-time scout with the Portland Winterhawks which then turned full-time. From there he was offered a part-time position midseason with the Senators in 2016-17 which turned into a full-time job in 2021-22.

How many games do you watch a year: 175-215 games a year, with the large territory covered Bob is usually home five to six days per month during the season.

What’s something about scouting you think the average fan should know: All the planning and travel that goes into the job, it’s a puzzle. Your support system is really important with how much travel there is and how much time you spend away. For a single two-hour game you may commit six to seven hours in commuting alone.

“It’s amazing how much you look forward to the next night, the next game.”

What’s your most proud scouting moment: There’s moments I reflect on the very first draft I was a part of in Chicago and to be standing on the floor it gave me chills and made this dream feel real.

Beyond that someone like Parker Kelly who went undrafted, wasn’t highly drafted into the WHL but he’s just a relentless worker and a character kid who has earned everything that he’s got. Those types of stories are just as special as drafting someone right at the top.

What’s your favourite question to ask a prospect: What would your teammates or coaches say about you? We do talk to their coaches and teammates and get the opportunity to see if it lines up.

Offseason hobbies: Just being active when I’m not travelling. Run, hike, swim, golf is a big one in the off-season. Getting that fresh air when you can.

Andrew Gordon

Amateur Scout

Andrew Gordon

Hometown: Halifax, NS

Scouting region: QMJHL

Scouting journey: After playing 15 years professionally including 55 games in the NHL Andrew hung up his skates and went right into scouting joining the Senators for the last two seasons covering the Maritime division of the QMJHL primarily.

How many games do you watch a year: 75 games in person and a lot of video support to research the players he doesn’t get to see as often.

What’s something about scouting you think the average fan should know: The amount that we love the game is an underrated aspect of the job. You’re driving through snowstorms to Sudbury to watch a guy that might play terribly, and you turn around and comeback and you’re going to chase him the next night, there’s a level of passion for this job that comes with it.

What’s your most proud scouting moment: Just being hired, given the respect and opportunity to do the job and do it well. I didn’t know what my career was going to look like after I stopped playing, I really wanted to do this and it’s hard to get in. In essence there’s 32 jobs, if you want to be a QMJHL scout, there’s 32 of them.

What’s your favourite question to ask a prospect: I like to ask players about their offseason training regimen and who they train with. If you’re the biggest guy and the strongest guy, are you being pushed? Are you the pace car or are you chasing, their answers give an insight on how they view themselves and their work ethic.

Offseason hobbies: I’m a stay-at-home dad, most of the time I have a baby to take care of.