by Todd Anderson
While it's impossible to know which players will be available when the Ottawa Senators approach the podium with the 28th pick at Saturday's NHL entry draft at GM Place in Vancouver, research from their scouting staff will aid the team in making an informed decision.
"We have names that we think will still be available when we pick," said Ottawa Senators director of amateur scouting Frank Jay, a seven-year member of the club. "We're prepared."
When looking for potential prospects, Jay and his staff concentrate on players they feel they realistically have a chance of obtaining through the draft. Finding unknown diamonds in the rough doesn't happen often.
"The cream of the crop stands out immediately. We don't spend a lot of energy on those guys because in the past half-dozen years, we've had a pick in the last half of rounds. We're not in the market for those (top picks)."
In order to have a good sense of what talent is out there, the Senators have scouts spread out around the world. In Europe, Vaclav Burda and Boris Shagas work the rinks.
"Vaclav is in his third year with the team and has been an outstanding addition," said Jay. "Boris is in his late-60s and is a legend in Russian circles. For many years he was the main scout for the Central Red Army teams."
In North America, George Fargher, Gord Pell, Bill McCarthy, Bob Janecyk, Lewis Mongelluzzo and Patrick Savard report to Jay.
"George has been with the team for nine years and he covers the Western Hockey League and tier II," Jay said. "Gord is also a guy I look for direction from the west. Bill works in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.) and covers high schools and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
"Bob works in Grand Rapids, Mich., and he's our expert on the American front. I have Bob co-ordinate the U.S. scouting communications. He meets with our part-time scouts more than me. Lewis has been with the team for seven years and he works in New England. He covers two NCAA divisions, high schools and junior teams. He also does some pro scouting of the East Coast Hockey League and American Hockey League Patrick works part time with us in Quebec and covers the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League."
With the introduction of new rules limiting the obstruction in the NHL game, Jay says scouting philosophies have changed.
"You look at a big, physical, nasty defenceman who's not that quick. He's not as attractive now as he has been for a long time. Now if you can't skate, you better have some real top qualities in other areas. Over the years our team has built on skill, skating ability and finesse. You need some other elements, of course. We look at that, too, to tweak our team."
While the Senators scouting team is excited to see the fruits of its labour come into play on Saturday, it's also looking ahead to the future.
"We've already started (scouting) for next year," says Jay, a schoolteacher who retired in 2004 after 26 years. "Each season I ask our staff to report twice a year on underagers, as we call them, players who are eligible for next year's draft. I also ask the staff to report twice a year on previously drafted players from all teams. We have a reasonable running knowledge of our marketplace for now and for next year."
After scouting with the Ontario Hockey League's Oshawa Generals (where he also won the Memorial Cup as general manager in 1990), St. Catherine's Black Hawks and Erie Otters, Jay began his NHL career with a part-time scouting position with the New Jersey Devils in 1982. He was promoted as the Senators director of amateur scouting in July 2005, after serving his first six seasons as the club's chief amateur scout.
For more information on the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, visit ottawasenators.com's Draft Central by clicking here.