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Prospect Pipeline - Intro To A New Series

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Hello, gents and that one female over there.

First time posting here so don't shatter my dreams of world recognition just yet because I'm hoping to provide something that I don't see a whole lot of on this site and that is;

Prospect information!

Prospects are kind of my thing. I play fantasy hockey almost exclusively to justify my obsession with following young boys and their NHL dreams. It's less creepy that way, right?

So what you're going to find here from me is basically information on prospects that I like and you should too. I'm probably not going to talk much about 1st round picks or blue chip prospects because they get talked about all the time. Instead I'll be digging a bit deeper to hopefully unearth some gems for you guys while hoping people in the leagues I'm in don't use this site.

My inaugural post here though isn't going to jump into any prospects just yet.

"Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime."

So with that in mind, I'm going to open by giving you my fundamentals for prospect assessment and the things to look for to help you make smart picks all on your own.

When I'm evaluating a player I look at a lot of variables but typically I focus on four key things;

1. Flaws: When you're looking for information on a prospect, try to find reports on what he needs to work on. Finding out what a player needs to work on can tell you more about his chances at success than what he's good at ever will. Every player has flaws, they aren't a great shooter, they aren't a great skater or they could stand to use their teammates a little better. All fine. The kiss of death? "Lacks hockey sense." You can be the most skilled player in the world but if you don't know where to be or when to be there, you're probably not going to succeed at a high level and you can't learn that stuff. You just have it or you don't. Another big one is questionable, poor or inconsistent work ethic. Be wary of a player who regularly disappears. Some guys overcome it and some are just too gifted so we roll the dice and look past their work ethic but make no mistake; it's a big red flag.

2. Skill set: Obviously knowing what the players' bread and butter is, is important as well. Got a lightning shot but also a deft playmaker, hard to knock off the puck, back checks and can play in all three zones? You've caught my attention! Being too good defensively will sometimes pigeonhole and player into that role at the NHL level even if they have offensive prowess. Most players will have a strong point to their game but be wary of players who are one dimensional. Being one dimensional isn't the worst thing in the world but you better be damn good at that one thing. If a player isn't a strong skater or is small in stature, you're going to want to make sure he is described as having a high hockey IQ.

3. Opportunity: Looking at depth charts is vital when considering players you want to draft for your fantasy squad and the same applies when assessing prospects. Having opportunity to succeed is essential for prospects. When you hear about career minor leaguers and busts, more often than not it isn't because they lacked skill, it's because there was always someone ahead of them. Even average players can thrive in the absence of other competition. For fantasy purposes we're most likely looking for guys who will be slotted into top 6 roles at the NHL level. As well pay attention to possible line mates, that sniper could thrive with this playmaker.

4. Gut feeling: What does your gut feeling say about this player? If everything above seems to check out with a player but there's something that just doesn't sit right with you, let someone else roll the dice.

Scouting is an inexact science. Sometimes players just don't develop the way we'd hoped and sometimes they come way out of left field but if you use these basic fundamentals, you can greatly increase your odds of picking a winning ticket.

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