* Be sure to check out the video link at the bottom!
There are a lot of guys walking around reading from the same list of draft ready players. It doesn't matter which sport we are looking at, the top ten players are generally the top ten on every scouting list. Not always the case but close.
With hockey I come across a lot of players who are not in the top ten. We have great conversations about playing at the high levels, getting a scholarship, going pro.
Invariably there is always the pause where the Dad or sometimes the player himself that ends the chat with "but I won't get scouted anyhow, I'm not that good."
Have you ever heard that, maybe you were the one saying it?
True, there is a lot of competition for teams in any AAA, Junior or above sport. The thing is; it's not only the top players who get scouted.
There are a few points which I consider to be absolutely true. One is that the top 3-5% of the players in the highest level division will no doubt get the easiest ride to a National team roster or scholarship. The other is that you naturally have to be able to play at the level you are gunning for.
Here however, are a couple of common myths I hear around scouting:
Myth #1: You have to be the best player on the team. Not true. You do have to be one of the best team players though. If you are driving down to the net without passing the puck for example; you know what? I don't need a selfish player like that. I need to see a player who can rush (yes) but can also work through the zone with teammates to open up a scoring opportunity with 4 other players.
Myth #2: You need to be on the top line to be seen. Not true either. You do however need to be consistent with your game play every time you step onto the ice. No team is made up of 4 lines of the same caliber. There is a role on a team for every type of player, let's find the right spot for you!
Myth #3: Scouts don't watch tier 1-3 hockey. Not true. While it is natural for us to gravitate to the AAA level tournaments you need to consider a few things about that.
1 - Yes, the top level of players are there en masse. Focusing on a AAA tournament is the easiest way to see the bulk of high end talent. As many of us are volunteer scouts, going to the AAA tourny is good bang for our buck. Just because you are not there doesn't mean you are unseen. Scouts are very cognizant of the fact that high costs hinder a lot of families and that every team typically has a hidden gem or two.
2 - Tier 1-3 hockey is watched, less so to be fair though. Often times I will gravitate down to watch AA - T3 games to look at the talented players & how they work with less skilled players to move the puck and set up options. This level of 'grinder' is sought after by many teams as someone who can hold their zone while perhaps the top scoring line gets a rest.
3 - Money. It's a real issue. The costs of academy or AAA hockey is astronomical and out of reach for many families. For that reason alone we come across a lot of players who had to drop down a level due to the insane fees. It doesn't take long to watch a few shifts and talk to a few parents to learn the story behind a player and why they are playing there.
In conclusion, you CAN be scouted if you are not the top player; even if you are not playing AAA this season. There are factors that come up that scouts are aware of and there are also ways for you the player to get your name in front of these scouts. It takes some effort and patience but can be done. Have a great week!