Speculation and Misconceptions Continue to Surround Draft List

It’s that time of year where draft eligible players and their families stress out about the release of the first QMJHL Central Scouting List. 

Speculation is at an all time high right now and there’s a lot of buzz about the top secret list and its subsequent release date. 

Why is it so important?

Why is this particular list the be all end all?

Yes, the list is supposed to be top secret. So how the hell do parents, players and agents find out all about it?  Well, like a lot of things in the game of hockey, it leaks like a sieve.  Obviously, I’ve written a lot about the subjectivity of early season rankings and lists, but let’s face it the young players that don’t make the list will be devastated. Players that don’t end up on the final list of the year are ineligible to get drafted.

Clearly there’s a lot of attention on these lists even though there’s a lot of subjectivity to them.

Let’s get one thing straight, this article isn’t about taking anything away from all the hard work that the QMJHL’s “19th” team does creating the list, all of the scouts that work for the CSR are great people and tremendously passionate about the game and the process. This is about messaging and communicating and how a slight adjustment in that aspect could change things for the better.

Parents, coaches, agents and most importantly players just want to know about the process, how they are ranked and the criteria behind it. That’s why the first list is supposed to be top secret. Hell, all the lists are supposed to be top secret except for the final list. Should it be up to the QMJHL CSR to communicate the process clearer? Is it up to the coaches to discuss what scouts are looking for? Is it up to the agent to discuss what scouts are looking for?

You see that’s where this process gets quite murky, that’s the disconnect! No one knows what to expect, it’s all so damn speculative.  Why is the entire scouting process and ranking system so secretive? Well, that’s easy, because it’s so competitive! 

Teams don’t want other teams knowing who they are interested in, that’s why everything is so hush hush.

What if the scouting fraternity would be willing to discuss the process that goes into ranking and selecting players. Why should that process be so top secret? 

Why aren’t more scouting agencies discussing how they rank players?

Obviously, scouts wouldn’t have to get into the specifics, but just imagine if the CSR or any scouting group for that matter gave an in-service to players at the first of the year discussing the process and clearing the air when it comes to all the misconceptions about Draft rankings. Could you imagine the caliber of hockey we would see then? Just imagine if players didn’t have to speculate about what the people that are ranking them are exactly looking for? 

Players would relax and play to their identity rather than worrying their ass off about some list, about getting points and looking and playing a certain way to impress scouts.

If parents and players knew going into the season, what to expect would there be the same amount of controversy surrounding the release of the list? 

Obviously, there would still be disappointment if the player doesn’t appear on the list, but at least they would know that perhaps they aren’t meeting the criteria. There’s no question there would still be confusion around their absence or positioning on the list, but it would be a good start.

As of right now it’s a guessing game, with everyone involved speculating the reasons why they are ranked where they are or not on the list at all. 

Again, that’s where things gets murky.

What if the player, family and coaches believe the player is perhaps being missed or not given a fair assessment? Well, that’s an issue for sure. Hopefully that never happens, unfortunately some players still slip through the cracks.

Should the CSR be responsible for telling players why they aren’t on the list?  Of course not, they couldn’t do that it would take forever to do that.  Believe it or not, the old adage rings true, “It only takes one team to like you.”

This might be a striking revelation, but I’m sure everyone knows this by now, but QMJHL teams can add players to the list. 

That’s right, Q teams can add players that don’t appear on the CSR’s list, to the list before the final list is published. Perhaps the most concerning issue for some surrounding this topic is just how many players can be added.  

What if a QMJHL team wants to add 35 players to the list, there’s something wrong with that picture isn’t there?

The release of the QMJHL CSR’s first list is the first official ranking of the year, it should be top secret, but it’s not. Some might complain that the CSR should be more transparent, but again how does the list fall into the “wrong” hands? How do parents and players find out? That’s a big issue and that causes even more problems and resentment in the long run due to speculation and secretive nature of the process.

One could say it all comes back to messaging or it all goes back to communication.

Believe it or not the vast majority of players and parents these days just want to know where they stand, they just want to hear the truth. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, some won’t want to hear that or deny it, but that’s their problem. Being transparent in the scouting world is perceived to be counterintuitive.

Another massive misconception out there is that the CSR has something against the player. That’s just not the case. They have a certain criterion that they follow and some players fall into that and some players don’t. Are they always, right? Of course not, they get it wrong sometimes as well, no one’s perfect.

When it comes to the CSR List, they try to make it as accurate as possible, they try to have eyes on every player on that list. They definitely focus in on the vetting process while compiling their list, but there’s no perfect list or process to that. Mistakes can be made, there’s no question about that, but those mistakes only add to the speculative nature of it.

Another misconception that needs to be addressed is overagers. 

Obviously, the CSR’s focus along with all the QMJHL teams are on 2006 born players. Undrafted 2005’s shouldn’t be overlooked, if anything they should be on the list if deserving. Where a “player” plays shouldn’t hold that player back when it comes to a ranking system. Minor Midget or U16 AAA players should be evaluated and ranked if deserving. The CSR have all the provinces represented which is important, they have eyes on prep schools and other organizations.

However, I really hope this statement rings true, “it doesn’t matter where you play, or how old you are, if you’re good enough you will get noticed, evaluated and ranked.”

There are players playing at the U16 AAA ranks that should be ranked. There are 16 year old kids that should get ranked or appear on the list.  Those players deserve recognition if deserving. Putting it bluntly they need to be added to the list. Unfortunately, some of those players slip through the cracks which is sad really.

Politics are politics, let’s just hope the political aspect of the game stays far away from the scouting aspect. How many players should appear on the list? What’s the breakdown of the list? How is the list complied and formed?

How many times do scouts evaluate or observe a player before they write a report on them and rank them? Are 16 year old, undrafted players given the same consideration when it comes to the CSR list?

These are all valid questions and if they were answered and discussed openly they would no doubt reduce the amount of speculation and misconceptions surrounding the topic of the ranking system and draft lists.

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