Projecting a Late Round NHL Draft Pick: Who Do You Like?

Who do you like? What do you see in that player? Where do you see that player going in the draft? You hear those questions around the rinks all the time. Is it luck or great scouting that find hockey’s equivalent to diamonds in the rough?

Well probably a little bit of both, but most of all it’s experience. Experience and a very keen eye for talent.

Scouts are projecting talent, projecting potential and they know exactly what they are looking for in a player in each round of the draft.

It’s not an exact science or art form, but they know when they see something in a player that can translate to the next level.

That something could be a very small valuable aspect or multifaceted characteristics that a player or players possess.

You might think it’s easy to determine 1st round talent and that anyone could identify those players, but NHL scouts put time and energy into all potential picks or players of interest.

So what’s the blueprint for a late round pick?

Well that’s a loaded question, but often times it’s the player that flies under the radar. A late bloomer with skill, the rangy smooth skating defensive defenceman or forward that hasn’t been given offensive responsibility or the hard working grinder with offensive upside.

The player that sparks a little later than everyone else catches the attention of scouts.

All these attributes are extremely valuable and can all translate well to the next level.

Obviously, it only takes one scout or one NHL team to like a player for them to get drafted, but it goes a lot deeper than that.

Believe it or not you have probably watched a late round pick and not even know about it. You have probably watched a future undrafted star and had no clue who the player was. That’s normal, it happens all the time due in large part to opportunity, will, effort, growth and development.

You see scouts are zeroing in on those attributes every time they step foot in a rink.

That’s s their job, that’s their bread and butter. They are predicting and projecting the trajectory of the player.

The 5th, 6th or 7th round pick to some are a long shot to make it, but that’s not always the case. For the most part those players just need more time. Time to grow, time to refine their skill sets, but most importantly time to figure out how bad they want it and how hard they are willing to work for it. Most scouts already know their will to compete, that’s why they identified them in the first place.

I’m no NHL scout, but at the at Major Junior level, I try to pick out players that fly under the radar, aren’t flashy, but continue to contribute in their own unique ways. I’m looking at potential in players and projecting them well into their early 20’s.

Those players might not possess game breaking talent, but bring other valuable aspects to the game.

Size, speed, edge control and hockey sense are a must these days. That’s what I’m looking for. It’s the 6’3 200 pound 18 year old defenceman that skates well for his size, that might be rough around the edges that I look at. That’s where you project, that’s where you kind of look into your hockey crystal ball, but more importantly that’s where you would use your experience as your guide.

If that player can process the game, has good speed, agility and a head for the game they can certainly play professionally, it might take some time, but that’s what projecting is all about, looking into the future, seeing potential, looking at a players intangibles. That’s how some scouts project a late round NHL draft pick.

Who have you been watching? Do you study the draft? Do you look at the late picks of the past few drafts to see what they bring to the game or their brand or style of play?

If it were up to you, who would you pick in the 5th, 6th and 7th round? Who do you like? It’s time to go a little deeper with your analysis of players, now is a great time to start!

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