Scouting never stops

Randy Sportak, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:47 AM ET

The hockey season may end, but that’s only for those who live the NHL beat.

For those in the scouting world, hockey is a year-round gig.

Sure, it’s not as busy as the regular season. But for Flames director of amateur scouting Tod Button, it’s still very important.

There are three key opportunities to scout in the summer — the Under-17 U.S. selects event with 145 players from across the nation, the Under-18 Canada camp, which was held in Calgary, and the annual Ivan Hlinka Tournament, which is co-hosted by both Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

“The biggest advantage for me is you get to see some kids in a competitive environment who you might only hear about in a conference call,” Button said. “The U.S. under-18 team, we see a lot, the one based out of Ann Arbor, (Mich). But this camp, they held it where they choose the team going to the Ivan Hlinka, and 90% of the kids at that camp aren’t in the program. They’re playing Minnesota high school, USHL, Michigan high school, prep school, Eastern junior league. They’re not difficult to see, but it’s very time consuming, especially the prep school kids. They only play 25 games.”

This summer meant a new twist for Button, meeting and building a relationship with new Flames assistant GM John Weisbrod, who oversees the scouting staff.

Ultimately, though, Button’s job is to be on top of the youngsters for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

“I always think it’s a good draft, but there are some pretty impressive kids out there. It’s exciting,” Button said. “The Ivan Hlinka tournament was really competitive. I got to see some kids at the (NHL’s research and development camp) who didn’t play there, and it was an impressive group.”

The 2012 draft class is a talent-laden crew with exciting forwards Nail Yakupov, Alex Galchenyuk, Mikhail Grigorenko and Filip Forsberg.

However, it’s also a draft rich in defencemen, especially a Canadian crew with Calgary product Matthew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels, Morgan Reilly of the Moose Jaw Warriors, Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips and Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings.

“The seven defencemen in Europe for Canada made me say, ‘Wow.’ When you see that talent early, you can’t wait for the season to start to see them play.

“People have been saying for years it’s the year of the defenceman, but there’s more than just the highly touted ones.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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