How to Evaluate Defensive Play
What volleyball can teach hockey scouts
The “Big” Piece of the Puzzle
A discussion with scout Yannick St-Pierre earlier today raises a point that merits more detailed explanations: NHL teams are notoriously poor at identifying and evaluating defensive play in draft-eligible prospects.
When I joined the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Player Development department three years ago, I was tasked with tracking the progress of a number of big (6’3”, 200lb+), low-scoring defensemen playing in the OHL:
Keaton Middleton (4th round 2016)
Nicolas Mattinen (6th round 2016)
Eemeli Rasanen (2nd round 2017)
Fedor Gordeev (5th round 2017)
Selected for their size, strength, reach and defensive acumen against junior competition, none of these players are playing in the Leafs’ pro system and none are currently projected to be impact NHLers.
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