Scouting and recruiting is about seeking and finding potential players for a team for the future seasons. More specifically, it is about identifying players for the following season. It is part of a hockey player's life from the age of 5 and up to be scouted and recruited. Although this is done by coaches for the young age players, there is a position called Scout at the older age group in minor hockey. For the purpose of this section, scouting and recruiting refers to the person in the position of "Scout."
Role of the Scout
The main role of the scout is to uncover the hidden talent of a hockey player. Both teams and leagues have scouts in order to provide general managers, head scouts and coaches a better understanding of a player's skill level. Scouts represent the eyes and ears of their team.
The draft is the process whereby teams select players to their protective list. It always occurs at the end of the playoffs before the summer break. A draft list is a list of players' names that a league puts together for teams to choose from at the draft. The league scouting staff is responsible for compiling the names that go on the draft list.
Team versus League Scouts
Most teams and leagues have one Head Scout with the other scouts reporting to him. At the team level, scouts complete player evaluations that highlight a player's ability to play hockey. A team scout is interested in identifying and rating eligible players, discovering available players and finding out about their background. At the league level, scouts complete player evaluations that highlight a player's ability to play hockey. A league scout is mainly interested in identifying and rating eligible players for the draft.
Talent versus Team Scouting
Talent scouting is about uncovering and evaluating the talent of players for the upcoming seasons. This information is captured by the scout and provided to the general manager. This information is consolidated with other scouts' reports and used for the draft.
Team scouting is also known as pre-game scouting. A person - usually the coach, general manager or scout - watches another team play before his team plays them. This person observes how the other team plays in certain situations and makes notes. This information assists his team and the coaching staff in preparing an effective game strategy.
Eligible versus Available Players
An eligible player means that a player has met the league's age requirements. Different leagues will have different age criteria. It also means that the player has not yet been drafted by any team or been put on a team's protected players list. An available player means that a player does not belong to any team and is not on the draft list.
A strong team of scouts work together. Each scout is usually given a territory. Throughout a season scouts cross over into each other's territory. This increases the probability of making a non-biased assessment.
League scouts watch all players and rank them from excellent to weak. In North America , there are 3 different major junior leagues and each differs in how they rate players. For example, in the Ontario Hockey League, league scouts work a certain region and are expected to see all draft-eligible players. They rate the players and upload those ratings to the league's website for the teams to view.
What Scouts Look For In a Player
||- How a player acts towards playing, his coach, his team mates,
| the officials, his opponents and the fans.
|- How a player uses his basic skills.
| - How a player uses his skills in situations.
Many players can perform in outstanding ways during a practice but falter during the pressures of a game. Regardless of a player's age, scouts will always assess certain basic characteristics. A player will receive more scrutiny from scouts as he moves up in calibre.
How to Amaze a Scout
Players that can make quality decisions in key moments will certainly catch a scout's attention. When a player has the patience to wait the extra second and make a good play instead of having a knee jerk reaction to a situation and losing an opportunity, it shows that he is in control. However, keep in mind that it is imperative to play the game for fun and enjoyment and not to impress the scout.
How to Become a Scout
Retired people seem to be the best positioned for a scout's job since the commitment can be quite time-consuming. You need the time to be able to watch games 4-5 hours a night for 6-7 days a week. This can be challenging for a person who holds a full-time job over a hockey season.
If you want to become a scout, make sure that you network. Make contact with general managers, coaches and head scouts of teams. Communicate to the league scouts. Sometimes it's also about being in the right place at the right time. The more you communicate, the more chance you have of creating your "right place" and your "right time."
Skills of a Scout
Scouts must have the ability to foresee players' potential, going beyond observing what they are doing today. They watch players over time to see their growth and improvement. They also get to know them outside the on-ice environment and learn about their attitudes, relationships and behaviour. Scouts need to be like "fortune-tellers" - they must predict if a player can perform a year down the road at the required level. They need to figure out if the player will grow more or if he has already peaked. They must be able to explain or describe the player's ability or style and view the player with objective eyes. They also look at a player on several occasions to see consistency as well as signs of improvement.
Here are some basic key skills that proficient scouts excel in:
- Networking with player's coaches and parents
- Knowing a player's surroundings and lifestyle - this gives a complete picture
- Looking beyond seeing if a player can skate, pass or shoot
- Finding out how a player acts and what inspires him outside of hockey
- Recognizing what could be in a player
- Being sincere when dealing with players directly
- Having strong communications skills
What Scouts Must Do
- Complete player profiles
- Indicate the number of times a player has been viewed
- Indicate the types of games watched (season, playoffs, and tournaments)
- Write an assessment on skills
- Obtain feedback from coaches
- Interview parents
- Acquire players' individual statistics
- Sit alone in the stands to focus without anyone else's opinion or comments to distract you.
- Do not sit with other scouts to watch players and discuss their abilities like a committee.
- Be prepared to do mundane repetitive tasks of note taking.
- Do your homework by talking to others. Get feedback from parents, teachers, and previous coaches.
- Watch players with an undisturbed focus.
- Speak to key people around the players you are watching.
- Write specific evaluations, not simply generalities.
- Avoid falling into the trap of "player evaluation by poll". Don't listen to others about how good a player is or can be.
- Make your own observations.
Some teams and leagues like a numbering system while others prefer letters. The important point is that the rating system is defined in order for it to be clear to everyone. When rating players, keep the following suggestions in mind:
- Express yourself clearly when logging or reporting on the player's ability.
- Write what you see.
- Be specific.
- Be descriptive.
- Avoid general terms, for example, "skates well, good shot, good hands." Instead write, "has quick acceleration from stationary position" or "has hard shot from the blue line."
- Game situations will affect the rating of players. For example, in a situation where a player is in open ice stickhandling the puck, he should not lose the puck. However, if he is in traffic with 2 or 3 opponents on him, then there is more probability of him losing the puck. You will most likely be more lenient in his rating in the second situation than the first.
Scouts primarily look at a player's individual skills and decision-making skills. For instance, when evaluating skating, a scout watches for the type of stride, speed and the player's body positioning. They will ask:
- Can this area be corrected or not?
- Is skating affected with or without the puck?
- Does the player get the job done, in spite of how he skates?
The above thinking process should be applied for each skill including passing, shooting, stick handling and body contact.
The following are other factors that the scout will evaluate and rate:
Utilizing a Form for Rating
- Identifies position - players have a comfort zone on the ice or a preferred area where they may take action that they would not take in other zones. These decision-making skills are evaluated when players are with and without the puck.
- Watches players' interaction with other team mates, coaches and officials during the game.
- Looks at how a player comes off the ice to his team's bench.
- Makes notes on how player reacts to a call by an official.
- Observes how he communicates to a line mate.
Having a standard form will greatly improve the quality of a scout's report for the following reasons:
- It can make it easier for note taking when you are watching a game.
- Descriptive terms and situations are pre-printed on the form.
- The form can be used as a checklist.
- It makes it easy to quickly make clear notes on the spot.
- The form will make it easier to remember the details long after the game is finished.
- The form is a structured way of taking notes and will help keep you focused on different aspects of the game.
Other Means of Uncovering Talent
Games are not the only way to find good players. Other avenues are:
- Hockey schools
- High schools hockey teams
- Private skating sessions
A great scout will do all of that AND go the extra mile by looking for potential players in uncommon places.
Salaries for team and league scouts are mostly a break-even deal. Other than paid expenses for gas and special assignments, there is no compensation. Some people will receive more compensation than others will for their duties. In general, there is no money to be made. Most teams and leagues pay their scouts monthly.
The biggest perk for a scout is to be able to say that you were affiliated with a particular team. Most of the time, you get to wear a jacket or some other paraphernalia to show for it.
Scouts really do this job for the love of the game.
Learn more about SCOUTING AND RECRUITING
Here is a course on becoming a scout.
This site has training and development ideas to become a scout.
This page explains what you need to know about college hockey scouting.
The Hockey Source does not necessarily endorse all the information on the linked pages it provides.
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