The List

Some are on it, some aren’t. Every young player and their family wants to know where they are on the precious list. What does it mean to be on the list? What does it mean to be left off the list? Why is “the list” so important?

Is it about validation? Is it all about entitlement? Does the list mean you’re going to make it? Why is “the list” so important?

Why are so many players, parents, coaches and agents so concerned over a list? How much time and energy goes into making the list? How many people build the list? How many scouts file reports on each player on the list? How many viewings does each scout have before filing reports and adding a player to the list? Is there an exact number of players that should be on the list or left off the list? How do scouts rank so many players that appear on the list?

Obviously, there’s more questions than answers when it comes to the scouting world and how they build their lists or rankings. Don’t get me wrong, the work of scouting agencies and departments across the hockey world definitely has tremendous value and influence, but at the end of the day when it comes to the list and ranking players, the entire process is extremely subjective.


Subjectivity: the quality of being based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.

The scouting world continues to adapt to the new normal, it is readying itself to make their second full list of prospects for the 2021-2022 season. When building any list, people have to realize it’s all subjective.

The quality of being based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes or opinions.”

Well, let’s get one thing straight, opinions are like noses, everyone has one. So right then and there, people should realize that any scouting list or ranking system is subjective.

It’s opinion based and you can bet your ass it’s influenced by personal tastes, feelings and experiences. Name one scout that doesn’t formulate their projections based on those criteria and I’ll show you a computer-generated program that simply looks at the stats and numbers to rank players. If you don’t think that exists, think again.

Analytics will be the ruination of scouting, don’t believe me, just watch how some organizations draft players and watch for their inconsistencies over the next few seasons. I don’t care what you say scouting is not an exact science, obviously more and more organizations are trying to make it a science, but at the end of the day it all comes back to experience, instinct and projections

Scouts rely on their instincts and experience, it’s their GPS system. Nevertheless, scouts can get it right and can get it wrong, that’s what makes building a list so subjective, but yet so important. When a scouting staff get together, to hash out their final list for the draft, things can get quite interesting.

You see each scout has built their own list, they have their own opinions and thoughts on a vast majority of draft eligible prospects that they have closely watched all season long. Trust me, they have their favorites, because they “like” certain players. That’s where things get interesting, because other scouts have seen the same player. That’s where the subjectivity comes into play.

Each scout knows what they like in a player, know how to project talent, but that doesn’t mean one is right or one is wrong. That’s why players, parents, coaches and agents are so paranoid around finding out where or if they kid and player on the list. It’s validation, but it’s also curiosity. That’s why there’s so much pressure on all parties involved. Scouts talk to coaches, coaches talk to parents and players, agents talk to them all.

Each group is trying to gain the upper hand, each of these so called “players” have a massive stake in the game. That’s why the first list of the season is either validation, motivation or devastation. The second list is just as important or equally devastating.

Some scouting organizations lists are supposed to be private, but don’t get me wrong the hockey world and it’s cultural make up have ways around that. The trickle-down effect of the release of “the list” causes a lot of negative buzz around the rink. Sadly, people don’t understand what the list means, how players are ranked, the criteria behind the ranking system. To be brutally honest, scouts don’t understand at times either. You see any early season ranking or list are even more subjective than any other lists throughout the season purely based on the lack of viewings.

If Player A had a bad game the one or two times a scout had watched him, that report will drastically impact their placement on the list, even though Player A is a solid prospect, they might appear well down the list. You see that’s why some of these lists don’t hold water.

If one scout within the organization files multiple reports on multiple players, their analysis and projections could also be questioned by the rest of the scouting team. That’s when the regional scouts perspectives and opinions sometimes get vetoed. That’s also why the lists don’t hold water and in those cases the regional scout develops some resentment because they feel their hard work, time and energy isn’t valued, especially if they have a player ranked in the 2nd or 3rd round on their list, and that player ends up in the 5th or 6th round on the list. That’s not the greatest way to build trust within your scouting staff, but it is what it is, that’s part of the business.

Instead of having multiple conversations on the player or players in question the collection of scouts or head scout makes the final decision on placement within the list. This causes a lot of confusion amongst the ranks. Clearly everyone sees it differently. Parents sometimes don’t want to hear the truth about their kid. The coaches showcase and promote their brand and their players to the full extent, avoiding the truth. The agent lobby’s the scout to ensure their players end up where they supposedly belong on the list, while the player is constantly questioning their placement on the list while dealing with an insane amount of pressure that comes with their draft year. The player always get caught in the middle. The scout is trying to provide an honest insightful projection of the player while building their list using comparisons between current prospects and their knowledge of both leagues. Both leagues meaning the league they are scouting and the league in which the organization is part of. The entire process is full of subjectivity. With a lot of showcase tournaments being cancelled due to COVID, tensions surrounding rankings and lists will intensify as the season progresses. Everyone talks about the list, but no one wants to really discuss its subjectivity. That’s the real problem with “the list”

Some are on it, some aren’t. Every young player and their family wants to know where they are on the precious list. Is it about validation? Is it all about entitlement? Does the list mean you’re going to make it or not make it? Why is “the list” perceived to be so important?

You want to know why, if you’re not on the final list, you’re not eligible to get drafted? I’ve never understood that one? No wonder everyone gets stressed this time of year.

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