Thursday, January 18, 2007

One Game: It CAN Hurt Your Draft Status

There's a conventional wisdom that the CHL Top Prospects Game -- since it's just a single game -- can help your status among the eyes of NHL scouts, but won't hurt it if you have a bad game.

And in a way, that's true. NHL scouts understand the nature of the game - everyone has off nights. No player will get written off or dropped on a list just because he doesn't hit the scoresheet or just looks off in the Top Prospects Game (TPG).

I used to believe this conventional wisdom was absolute. Almost no matter how awful your TPG performance was, it could never outweigh the positives a scout may observe at multiple regular season or playoff viewings.

But I changed my thinking of this a bit after the 2005 TPG in Vancouver. I ended up dropping Chris Durand from the first round to the second round on my list, solely based on this one game.


Well, I'd seen plenty of Durand before that game, and I felt I already had a good read on him. In my book he was terrifically skilled, but a marginal skater, at best. And in all those Seattle games I saw in Durand's draft year, his skating didn't keep him from being effective.

But the Top Prospects Game was a real eye opener. Durand was simply overmatched by the speed of that game. That collection of high-end prospects on one ice sheet resulted in a much faster, NHL-paced game than any WHL regular season or playoff game would ever be. And it exposed Durand's marginal skating as a serious flaw - one that might hurt his ability to succeed at the next level.

It's still mostly true that a poor TPG performance in and of itself won't hurt your draft status. But there are other ways that the TPG can expose flaws that can negatively affect NHL scouts' view of a prospect.

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