Sports: Churn is good: Ken Holland hires new pro and amateur scouts, Archie Henderson and Tyler Wright - PressFrom - Canada
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SportsChurn is good: Ken Holland hires new pro and amateur scouts, Archie Henderson and Tyler Wright

21:45  11 july  2019
21:45  11 july  2019 Source:   edmontonjournal.com

It's not obvious why Tyler Wright should take over amateur scouting in Edmonton

It's not obvious why Tyler Wright should take over amateur scouting in Edmonton I’m far from convinced that Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland made the right decision in bringing in Tyler Wright to become the director of amateur scouting for the Oilers. Wright’s record in the past eight drafts — two heading up amateur scouting for the Columbus Blue Jackets and six in the same job with the Red Wings — isn’t obviously good work. That assessment may well change as time passes and some of Wright’s picks turn into better players than they’re trending to be right now, but the obviously successful picks from those eight drafts are few and far between while the question marks are plentiful.

Churn is good: Ken Holland hires new pro and amateur scouts, Archie Henderson and Tyler Wright© Ian Kucerak Ian Kucerak Ken Holland, the new general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, speaks during a press conference at Rogers Place in Edmonton, on Tuesday, May 7, 2019.

This in from Mark Spector of Sportsnet, new additions to the scouting crews of the Edmonton Oilers: “Changes coming to Edmonton Oilers scouting staff. Former DET Dir. of Amateur Scouting Tyler Wright will join EDM staff, as will pro scout Archie Henderson. Former DET scout Jeff Finley will not join GM Ken Holland in EDM.”

My take

  1. When it comes to scouting, change is almost always good. Even the best teams of scouts get stale, and they get stale pretty fast, so it’s always good to have some churn, some new faces each year. Indeed, one of Ken Holland’s major mistakes as GM of the Detroit Red Wings was sticking with his amateur scouts way too long, which led to a run of mediocre-to-average drafting in his last 15 years with the team.
  2. We’ll have to see if Wright takes over as head amateur scout, the job he did in Detroit from 2013-19. Henderson, one of the toughest men to ever play pro hockey, is on the pro side and again it’s not known if he’ll head up the department or not. Henderson was a pro scout with Washington 1995-2003, and with Detroit 2016-19. Below is a list of major trades made by the rebuilding Red Wings in recent years which has mostly seen Holland moving out his own players for draft picks. Not one of the few players acquired in trade has turned out to be a major positive for Detroit, though Madison Bowey has promise. Churn is good: Ken Holland hires new pro and amateur scouts, Archie Henderson and Tyler Wright© Provided by PostMedia Digital
  3. As head of amateur scouting in Detroit, Wright somewhat reversed a run of mediocre scouting in that organization. In 2014, the Red Wings drafted Dylan Larkin 15 overall, and he’s become the team’s top young player. Detroit appears to have missed with top 2015 pick Evgeni Svechnikov, but two d-men from the 2016 draft, Dennis Cholowski and Filip Hronek, are trending well. So in those three drafts, he appears to have added three good players, which is what is needed from a scouting department, at least one good player per year. It’s not known if Wright did the same in his last three drafts. It’s too early to tell. We don’t even know if top picks like Michael Rasmussen, Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno and Moritz Seider will be busts or great buys, though not one of them is obviously a great buy at this point in time. That could change fast, however.
  4. Jimmy Devallano and Ken Holland built a stellar team of scouts for the Detroit Red Wings in the 1980s and 1990s, with the success of the group extended in part because there was regular turnover. Swedish scout Christer Rockstrom started in 1984 and left in 1990, only to be replaced by Hakan Andersson. From 1983 to 1995, most scouts stayed about four or five years before moving on, the constants being Devallano and Holland and the top, with Andersson doing superlative work in Europe. Indeed, the prolonged success mainly came by plucking about one good-to-great Euro player per season. And even Andersson had something of a dry spell in the 1990s, as Detroit went three straight drafts, 1995, 1996 and 1997, without identifying any strong NHL players. Detroit kept up the good work for almost two decades, but stopped drafted well after finding Johan Franzen in 2004. One issue might well be that the strong core group of five or six scouts assembled in the late 1990s stayed on too long, more than 20 years for some of them, and the department eventually lost its edge. Another way of looking at the more recent weak work is that Andersson, the one scout who carried the entire department for almost a decade, finally lost his magic touch.
  5. As for the current group of Oilers amateur scouts, the two main leaders are relatively new, with Bob Green coming on board in 2013-14 and Keith Gretzky in 2017-18. As for the scouts it appears to be a mix of older and newer scouts, with Jim Crosson, Matti Virmanen and Scott Harlow hired in 2010-11, Per-Erik Eklund in 2013-14, Alexander Naurov, 2015-16, Mitch Holmberg and Brandon Jay, 2017-18, and John Hill and Andrew Shaw, 2018-19. I can’t tell you which of these scouts has excelled, and which is likely to excel, but new GM Ken Holland can certainly review the work of long-time scouts Crosson, Virmanen and Harlow to see if the players they pushed hardest turned out or not. But the overall mix of newer and older scouts seems reasonable. It’s also the case that recent Oilers drafts, from 2015-to-2018, appear to have uncovered a good amount of talent. That said, if top picks like Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto and Evan Bouchard fail to turn out, that will be a major hit for the Oilers and to the reputation of this group of scouts. Even if that’s true, however, Holland has to keep a close eye here on results. As his experience in Detroit demonstrates, even a strong group of scouts can only get great results for so long. Changing out amateur scouts should be the norm in an organization, not the exception.

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