Thursday, January 6 2022

This year there are about 150 Scouts expected for Edmonton and 120 more for Red Deer, with many exchanging tickets for that day or that, that game or that.

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Last year there was a “No Scouts Allowed” policy in place.

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No general managers. No Amateur Scout Directors. No junior WHL, OHL or LHJMQ scouts. No college scout from the NCAA. No European scouts. No bird dogs. No hockey operations people. Anybody.

This year there are about 150 scouts expected for Edmonton and 120 more for Red Deer, many of them exchanging tickets for this day or that, that game or that.

“This year is pretty spectacular for scouts,” said Tyler Wright, director of amateur scouting and player development for the Edmonton Oilers.

Last year, the IIHF didn’t even allow Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland to take a peek at the tournament’s 10 teams in the same building where his office is located. And the CEO of the Hockey Hall of Fame and his wife live across the street in a condo on the top floor of the JW Marriott where, a few floors below, the teams were housed in their bubble.

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This year more than makes up for last year’s recruiting situation at the event which kicks off with a Boxing Day card featuring Russia-Sweden and US-Slovakia in Red Deer and Finland-Germany and Czechs-Canada. in Edmonton.

Over the years, the World Junior Championship has grown into more of a 19-year-old tournament where GMs go to check the development of their previous draft into a better-over-better competition than the total screening festival that it was before.

But this year, it features not only players from both generations of the same 2023 NHL draft, Canadian Connor Bedard and Russian Matvei Michkov, but also Slovakians Maxim Strbak and Dailbor Dvorsky.

And as for the players eligible for the draft for the first time (born in 2004 and late 2003), there are 25 this year.

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Some of the players in demand for the upcoming NHL Draft in June are not just projected Canada’s first pick, Shane Wright, the sixth player to achieve outstanding CHL status.

It is believed there could be as many as eight top-10 picks in this year’s draft. After Wright, there are Joakim Kemmel and Brad Lambert from Finland, Logan Cooley from the United States, Danila Yurov from Russia, David Juricek from Czechia and Juraj Slafkovsky, Filip Mesar and Simon Nemec from my most interesting team of the tournament, Slovakia. .

And when was the last time there was a top pick in last year’s draft like Canada’s Owen Power who chose to stay in college for another year.

And, yes, there will be no shortage of pre-selected players. The Carolina Hurricanes alone have a record 10 on display. Detroit has eight. Florida, Minnesota and Los Angeles have six each. Ottawa and the New York Rangers have five.

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Teams with four players already drafted include Anaheim, Buffalo, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Nashville, New Jersey, Vegas and Winnipeg, while Montreal, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Toronto each have three players to watch. Edmonton and Seattle have two each and Arizona, Calgary, Colorado, San Jose, Vancouver and Washington each have one.

Only the New York Islanders and back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning don’t have a single player drafted.

Overall, this is an undeniable exceptional assortment of Boy Scouts.

Last year was far from the visual feast. Last year the only advantage was that you could go to the refrigerator between periods when during the year no food will be allowed.

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“Last year I watched it, like everyone else, from the comfort of my living room,” Wright said.

It’s one thing if you are a hockey fan. It’s definitely different as a Boy Scout.

“It was tough because you’re at the mercy of a camera angle and a switch in a TV truck,” said Wright, who said a lot of screening involves looking at a player in the distance. of the washer.

“It’s really hard to get a reading on the skating and the pace. The speed is a little different.

“For goalies you don’t always get the best angles as to how he might have been straight at the puck and things like that. You have the luxury of customizing your angle when you’re in an arena. We have seats behind the net and next to the net. You can have one guy next and another behind to take your notes and collaborate later.

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This year, there is excellence to be experienced in all areas.

“It’s a different tournament this year,” Wright concedes.

“You have potential generational players. We went to the U-18s and Michkov scored 14 goals and Bédard had 16 points. And having the number of qualifying drafts that we have this year is a lot – a lot – compared to other years.

“At the same time, it’s a great tournament to assess your prospects and those of other teams. This year, you tick a lot of boxes for a tournament.

“That’s what makes this year’s tournament so exceptional. You tick a lot of boxes. With the potential generational players and so many draft-eligible guys, it’s a bit unheard of. “

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