Mark Seidel’s Blog: Keeping perspective and the NACS Top 100

Folks, it’s good to be back writing my blog and I certainly hope you enjoyed the mock draft we put together.

After reading some of the comments, I wanted to remind readers the mock draft is designed to show who we think each team will take, as opposed to our overall rankings. Our mock draft is compiled by speaking with scouts to gain an understanding of the decision-makers’ patterns and philosophies teams follow when preparing for the draft.

For example, we project certain teams will draft a defenseman, despite the fact they have a slew of great young blueliners in their system. We may know their philosophy is to put a premium on defensemen or that they aren’t as optimistic about the future of a certain prospect as their fans may be. These are just some things to keep in mind, but please keep the comments coming because I love being challenged and discussing the feedback with my colleagues. They force people to analyze their opinions and give them some critical thought, which ultimately helps make North American Central Scouting a better company.

But on with my blog.

I spent a day traveling with a friend, regaling him with experiences I’ve encountered over the past 15 years of scouting. I thought I’d share two of them with the readers because each provides a key lesson. Whenever I do public speaking to young people, I try to mix in some of these stories to drive home certain principles for them to learn as they get older.

The first story is about Jonathan Cheechoo, the San Jose Sharks’ former Rocket Richard Trophy winner. People who know me are aware Jon is my wife’s nephew. Because of this relationship, I have spent more than a few nights with the Cheechoo family watching him play. In the fall of 1998, Jon was a rookie with the Belleville Bulls and not yet drafted by any NHL team. His father, Mervyn, called me to say he was driving from Cochrane to Sault Ste. Marie (in Ontario) to watch Jon play. We agreed to meet in Espanola, Ont., and go to the game together. We met at 4:30 p.m. and made it to the Soo just in time to see the puck drop.

When Jon hit the ice for his second shift of the game, he lost track of his defenseman, who cut to the slot and rang a shot off the post. Lou Crawford, the Greyhounds’ mercurial head coach, immediately yanked Jon off the ice and didn’t play him for another shift the rest of the night. At the end of the game, we went down to see Jon, who was understandably upset about his lack of ice time. When Jon grumbled about the decision, Mervyn told him Lou was trying to make him a better player and it was his own fault for losing his man. Jon simply had to learn from his mistake.

Afterwards, Mervyn had to drop me off in Espanola and hurry back to Cochrane to catch the morning train to Moose Factory. When I think of that day, I remember Mervyn’s passion for both hockey and his son. He had taken a water taxi to Moosonee, followed by a five-hour train ride to Cochrane and a six-hour drive to Sault Ste. Marie, just to see his son play. He made it just in time to watch his son skate one-and-a-half shifts. And when Jon complained about his ice time, Mervyn supported the coach’s decision and encouraged Jon to take responsibility for his slip-up in the defensive zone.

Mervyn’s hockey parenting was admirable when compared with the vast number of parents who drive 10 minutes to the local arena and go squirrelly when their child doesn’t play on the power play. Mervyn never made the game about himself or his son and it’s that kind of maturity, guidance and support that helped Jon defy the odds and become a star in the NHL.

My second story is about the current first father of hockey, Henry Staal. This story originates from the holiday season in 2004 when his third son, Jordan, was representing Ontario in the World Under-17 Challenge in Lethbridge, Alta. Team Ontario had started slow in the tournament and was faced with a do-or-die game against the powerful Americans, who featured Erik Johnson, Kyle Okposo and James O’Brien, to name a few. If Ontario didn’t win the New Year’s Day clash, they would have been eliminated – a huge disappointment for a team that had high expectations. 

Unfortunately, the Ontario side got off to a slow start and trailed 5-2 halfway through the second period. It was at that point Jordan took the game over by himself, dominating in a way I have not seen since. He scored two goals – the tying and insurance goals – while physically punishing the Americans and winning every draw he took. Simply put, he was a man among boys. Several NHL scouts were speechless at what they witnessed.

When the final buzzer sounded and the teams were lining up on their respective bluelines, I was standing with Jordan’s father Henry and agent Darren Ferris. In awe of Jordan’s play, Darren commented “a blind, deaf, mute could pick Ontario’s MVP.” You can understand our shock when the award was presented to Ontario’s goalie, Jason Guy. Although he played well, he did not register a performance in the realm of what Jordan had just done. When Darren and I began voicing our concerns, Henry scolded us for being silly: “Who cares about an MVP award? We needed to win the game to advance and we did that. The last thing in the world I care about is who got the MVP!”

We were equally surprised and embarrassed, but respected Henry’s perspective on the game. On later reflection, I was certain if Jordan said anything about not getting the MVP, Henry would have given him the same speech he gave us to remind everybody about the meaning of teamwork. These humble traits would certainly help guide Jordan through the rest of his formative years and ensure he made the most of his talents when he made the jump to the NHL.

These days, it’s not uncommon to hear about parents going crazy over their children’s hockey careers. I share these two stories to illustrate the positive impact fathers can have on their sons and how, if the proper example is set, the child can make the most of his opportunities.
So the next time you see a parent yelling about Little Johnny not getting enough ice time or Little Susie being overlooked for a personal award, think of the impact that a positive relationship with the game can have.

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Here is NACS’ latest Top 100 NHL prospect rankings as we head toward the June draft in Montreal:

Ranking Name Height Weight Position Team Birth date
1 John Tavares 6’1 200 RC London Knights Sep-90
2 Victor Hedman 6’7 220 LD MoDo Dec-90
3 Matt Duchene 5’11 194 LC Brampton Battalion Jan-91
4 Brayden Schenn 6’1 193 LC Brandon Wheat Kings Aug-91
5 Evander Kane 6’1 180 LC Vancouver Giants Feb-91
6 Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson 6’1 200 LW Timra Apr-91
7 Jared Cowen 6’5 220 LD Spokane Chiefs Jan-91
8 Dmitry Kulikov 6’0 190 LD Drummondville Voltigeurs Oct-90
9 Nazem Kadri 5’11 182 LC London Knights Oct-90
10 Simon Despres 6’3 214 LD St. John Sea Dogs Jul-91
11 Ryan Ellis 5’10 180 RD Windsor Spitfires Jan-91
12 Jordan Schroeder 5’9 175 RW University of Minnesota Nov-90
13 Scott Glennie 6’1 182 C Brandon Wheat Kings Feb-91
14 Peter Holland 6’2 188 LC Guelph Storm Jan-91
15 Ethan Werek 6’0 191 LW Kingston Frontenacs Jun-91
16 John Moore 6’2 189 LD Chicago (USHL) Nov-90
17 Jacob Josefson 6’0 187 LC Djurgardens Mar-91
18 Landon Ferraro 6’0 169 RW Red Deer Rebels Aug-91
19 Zack Kassian 6’3 211 RW Peterborough Petes Jan-91
20 Jeremy Morin 6’1 189 RC US Under-18 Apr-91
21 Ryan O’Reilly 6’1 205 LC Erie Otters Feb-91
22 Kyle Palmieri 5’11 191 RC US Under-18 Feb-91
23 David Rundblad 6’3 190 RD Skelleftea Oct-90
24 Stefan Elliot 6’2 185 LD Saskatoon Blades Jan-91
25 Calvin de Haan 6’0 165 LD Oshawa Generals May-91
26 Olivier Roy 6’0 165 G Cape Breton Screaming Eagles Jul-91
27 Drew Shore 6’3 194 C US Under-18 Jan-91
28 Tyson Barrie 5’10 188 RD Kelowna Rockets Jul-91
29 Taylor Doherty 6’5 217 RD Kingston Frontenacs Mar-91
30 Philippe Paradis 6’2 190 C Shawinigan Cataractes Jan-91
31 Tim Erixon 6’1 189 LD Skelleftea Feb-91
32 Dylan Olsen 6’2 207 LD Camrose Kodiaks Jan-91
33 Tommi Kivisto 6’2 198 LD Red Deer Rebels Jun-91
34 Nick Leddy 5’10 179 LD Eden Prairie Mar-91
35 Matt Clark 6’3 205 RD Brampton Battalion Oct-90
36 Cody Eakin 6’0 180 LC Swift Current Broncos May-91
37 Louis Leblanc 6’1 176 C Omaha Landers Jan-91
38 Edward Pasquale 6’3 215 G Saginaw Spirit Nov-90
39 Carter Ashton 6’5 212 RW Lethbridge Hurricanes Apr-91
40 Bjorn Krupp 6’3 190 LD Belleville Bulls Mar-91
41 Alex Hutchings 5’10 184 LC Barrie Colts Nov-90
42 Chris Kreider 6’2 205 LW Andover Academy Feb-91
43 Jimmy Bubnick 6’3 195 RC Kamloops Blazers Jan-91
44 Anton Burdasov 6’3 202 RW Traktor May-91
45 David Gilbert 6’2 183 C Quebec Remparts Feb-91
46 Brandon Pirri 6’0 160 LC Georgetown Apr-91
47 Tomas Tatar 5’11 176 C Zvolen Dec-90
48 Michael Latta 5’11 202 RC Guelph Storm May-91
49 Anton Lander 6’1 197 LW Timra Apr-91
50 Zach Budish 6’2 230 RC Edina May-91
51 Tomas Vincour 6’3 203 C Edmonton OilKings Nov-90
52 Scott Stajcer 6’1 185 G Owen Sound Attack Jun-91
53 Charles-Olivier Roussel 6’1 198 RD Shawinigan Cataractes Sep-91
54 Richard Panik 6’3 202 LC Trinec Feb-91
55 Casey Cizikas 5’10 188 LC Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors Feb-91
56 Nate Schmidt 6’1 199 LD St. Cloud Cathedral Jul-91
57 Erik Haula 5’11 170 LW Shattuck St. Mary’s Mar-91
58 Michael Fine 6’0 197 LC Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds May-91
59 Brandon Maxwell 6’0 195 G US Under-18 Mar-91
60 Seth Helgeson 6’5 225 LD Sioux City (USHL) Oct-90
61 Tony Rajala 5’10 163 LW Ilves Mar-91
62 Daniel Delisle 6’4 223 LC Totino Grace Sep-90
63 Gabriel Lemieux 6’1 170 LD Shawinigan Cataractes Sep-90
64 Marcus Foligno 6’3 203 LW Sudbury Wolves Aug-91
65 Taylor Beck 6’1 209 LW Guelph Storm May-91
66 Blake Thompson 6’4 204 RD Sioux Falls (USHL) Jul-91
67 Cassidy Mappin 6’0 186 C Red Deer Rebels Dec-90
68 Rylan Schwartz 5’11 172 LC Notre Dame June-90
69 Filip Novotny 5’11 185 G Sparta May-91
70 Chris Brown 6’2 190 RC US Under-18 Feb-91
71 Jordan Szwarz 5’10 190 C Saginaw Spirit May-91
72 Ryan Bourque 5’10 163 RC US Under-18 Jan-91
73 Oliver Ekman-Larsson 6’1 175 LD Leksand Jul-91
74 Marek Hrivik 6’1 181 RW Slovak U-20 Aug-91
75 Carl Klingberg 6’4 202 LW Frolunda Jan-91
76 Jesse Blacker 6’1 190 RD Windsor Spitfires Apr-91
77 Brooks Herrington 6’3 202 RD NH jr. Monarchs Nov-90
78 Brett Flemming 6’2 172 RD Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors Feb-91
79 Matt Mackay 5’11 190 LC Moose Jaw Warriors Nov-90
80 Dannil Sobchenko 6’0 180 RC Yaroslavl Apr-91
81 Daniel Weiss 6’3 196 RW Berlin Feb-91
82 Nathan Lieuwen 6’4 190 G Kootenay Ice Aug-91
83 Sami Vatanen 5’9 160 RD JYP Jr. Jun-91
84 Collin Bowman 6’3 200 RD Kelowna Rockets Jun-91
85 Dmitri Orlov 5’10 200 LD Novokuznet Sk. Jul-91
86 Joonas Nattinen 6’2 180 RC Espoo Blues Jr. Jan-91
87 Joel Hanley 6’0 180 RD Newmarket Jun-91
88 Dmitri Shikin 6’0 190 G Elektrostal Aug-91
89 Frederic Piche 6’0 180 G Acadie-Bathurst Aug-91
90 Bryce Williamson 6’0 190 RW St. Albert Dec-89
91 Andrej Stastny 6’3 200 C Trencin Jr. Jan-91
92 Matej Stritesky 5’11 180 RD Most Sep-90
93 Tyler Randell 6’1 191 RW Kitchener Rangers Jun-91
94 Ryan Howse 5’11 198 LW Chilliwack Bruins Jul-91
95 Anton Myllari 6’2 230 RD Vasteras Feb-91
96 Eddie Lack 6’4 185 G Leksand Jan-88
97 Daniel Maggio 6’2 195 RD Sudbury Wolves Mar-91
98 Thomas Brandl 5’10 180 RW Landshut Feb-91
99 Deven Stillar 5’11 200 LW/C Melfort Feb-90
100 Georgiy Gurianov 6’5 202 RW Walpole Jun-91

Please look forward to my next piece on the best assistant coach in the Canadian Hockey League, Bob Jones of the Windsor Spitfires. Until then, thanks for reading.

Mark Seidel is the chief scout for North American Central Scouting and co-hosts the radio show “Breakout; The Hockey Show; NHL 2009” on the Prime Sports Network. He is also a regular contributor to Hockey Night in Canada on Sirius Radio as their draft and junior hockey insider. Read his other blog entries HERE.