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From the Point: NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr

 

NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr joined Junior Hockey Magazine to discuss returning to rinks from coast to coast, the bureau’s Players to Watch report, and who makes a good comparison  for 2022 NHL Draft favourite Shane Wright:

Junior Hockey Magazine: You must be so excited being back in arenas given what your entire staff has had to go through the past 18 months.

Dan Marr: I am based in Toronto. The last couple of weeks, it has been so gratifying to be back in the rinks and watching games. The caliber of the games has been very competitive. I felt so bad for the OHL players who never got to play last year. We don’t have a book on them. We normally have a book on them going into the season, so our group has started the year hitting the rinks hard. We tried to get live views of every team before we put out our rankings. We had to really do some extra homework on the Ontario kids.

JHM: What has it been like trying to come up with a list given all the restrictions placed on your staff?

DM: It wasn’t just in Ontario either. Quebec and Western Canada had limited views last year so again we didn’t have a good book on the players. Typically, the summer events are very helpful. Everybody that was able was at the Canada U18 camp. Because Canada didn’t participate at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, we didn’t cover that, but we did with our European scouts and by video. We were at the U.S. Select 17 Camp. We were trying to play catch-up and trying to pay attention to the underagers who played in 2020-21. Our list doesn’t have 32 ‘A’ ranked players yet but that is our job. We go out and identify players and then we have our whole hit list where we have to see which of the ‘B’ prospects will move up to ‘A’. We just have to keep going to games and they will come to us.

JHM: Give me a brief description of how you categorize a player as ‘A’, ‘B’, or ‘C’.

DM: This is the program we developed with the scouting directors 10 years ago. An ‘A’ prospect is a first-round candidate, a ‘B’ is a second- or third-round candidate, and a ‘C’ is a fourth, fifth, or sixth rounder. When our list comes, the general managers and scouting directors are really focused on the ‘A’ and ‘B’ prospects because the top three rounds are normally the players who have the most successful advancement to the NHL, but they are not going to ignore the ‘C’ prospects either. It is our job to whittle down the list to players who we feel are good NHL prospects and candidates to be drafted. Last year, 88 percent of the players we had ranked were drafted. It is a scouting tool for the 32 NHL clubs, but it is also our job to promote the players, the NHL Draft brand, and in turn, we promote the leagues.

JHM: Give me a comparable to Shane Wright.

DM: With Shane, it is not difficult. When I have looked back, if you take the best parts of Nico Hischier’s game and Matt Barzal’s game, that is what you are going to get from Shane Wright when he plays in the NHL. Both of those players have a determination to their game and a compete to where they utilize their skills and assets to contribute and make things happen. This is why they are very impactful players with their NHL clubs.

JHM: What happens next?

DM: Over the first week in the OHL, we made a number of moves of players who went up from ‘C’ to ‘B’ and a couple from ‘B’ to ‘A’. I anticipate that will continue on, and the same with the QMJHL, where Nathan Gaucher and Tristan Luneau are easy ‘A’ players, but we have a group of ‘B’ players and we are watching to see which ones move up. It is the same in the WHL. Matthew Savoie from Winnipeg had a tremendous U18 camp. He is a very exciting player to watch. He just finds a way to contribute out there. We are going to have some other players from these leagues who we know are going to move up. Our next public ranking will be in January when it is a comprehensive player ranking of seven rounds.

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