Hockey season is always closer than you think, and player evaluations are always the beginning, and can be either the beginning of a great team or the beginning of the end.
See the guys to the right? Pick them if they are available but if not don't despair since most minor hockey evaluations do not have Datsyuk and Zetterberg cruising around the ice.
"Duh, we would like to have Pavel and Hank on our team, but we only get one star since the rest are ,usually taken up after the first round, sometimes we can luck out with our 2nd pick!!!"
So what if I told you that that you probably have star potential with your first 15 picks. "You're Crazy" is a common answer, but consider this:
Detroit doesn't need the first 2 rounds of the draft:
Pavel Datsyuk drafted 6th round (171th)
-was there 170 better players? Nope!
Henrik Zetterberg drafted 7th round (210th)
-sedins, havlat, ryan miller ->206 other guys who can't hold his jock strap -> then Henrik
Johan Franzen drafted 3rd round (97th)
-maybe the other 96 guys were more clutch when their teams needed them
Darren Helm drafted 5th round (131th)
-131 players better than this guy, 24 points his draft year and all you end up with are a penalty killer and an OK skater (see these two videos penalty kill and explosive first step (47 seconds into video, yep that's Niedemayer and Beuchimen )
There are more, but the point is that anyone can get lucky with a late pick that works out, but Detroit seems to have more success than most, WHY???
Great scouting and a commitment to developing players. Most players in that organization do not make it till after they spend some time in the minors.
Hakon Andersson is the scout that found Hank and Pavel, but not because others had not seem them play, but because he saw something others did not. Past there shortcomings to to the players he could see. He likes to watch a player more than 3 time but less than 10, since after that "you start to pick on the player's minor weaknesses."
The other thing that Detroit does when scouting players is to look for players that fit into their system. They are a puck possession team and look for players that fit that mold. They look for Ability to play in the NHL regardless of size or age.
SO, who do I pick???
Here are some guidelines:
- Know your style of coaching and pick players that fit the mold. If you want a fast attacking team and that is what you are going to teach, don't pick big slow ogres.
- Understand your limitations. If you do not know how to teach skating, pick players that can already skate. If you have trouble with defiant kids, don't pick them.
- Understand your strengths and what you can teach. If a player just needs to learn a wrist shot and Joe Sakic is your assistant coach, pick that player.
- Understand the politics of your minor hockey association. Leverage if you can, but only if the players are put first.
- Believe in the kids you pick, tell them why you picked them and tell their parents too!
Pretty Good Guidelines, But how do I pick the sleeper picks?
Most teams are pretty even after the first 2-3 picks when the player drafts come in, so how you pick in the later rounds will have the greatest effect on the success of your team.
Here are tips for finding diamonds in the rough.
- Talk to parents if you can, find out more about the kid. Did he play all summer or is it his first time this year on ice? Is he an athlete or is he a one sport pony?
- Does this player fit into your style of coaching? If not, look for someone else, even in the first round.
- What is the player really good at? Stickhandling, hockey sense, passing.......... Find out if his strengths are above the others and if they are intangibles. Intangibles cannot really be taught, only refined, since they are gifts or the result of great development.
- Are their weaknesses something you can fix? Are they bad skaters, and it is something you can fix? Many people will initially write off bad skaters or cannot see past someone who has trouble handling the puck.
- Attitude................you can teach all of the hockey skills, and if they have a great attitude and a passion for the game, then it will be a season of improving leaps and bounds.
- Try to look past reputations ("That kid never back-checks and is lazy") and see if his bad hockey habits are something you can fix.
Moral of this post:
Make a plan for the kind of team you want and look for players that fit the mold. Don't expect to win all your games, think long term and you will be rewarded handsomely. Look at the players you want and how you will develop them for the end of the year. Remember, you do not want the best Novice players, you want the best Midget players so if you put the kids' long term development first then you have already won. No one in their right mind would give up a chance to play in the NHL, for a Atom AA league championship.
p.s I am sure I missed some stuff so ask questions if you want.