Interview with Prospect Guru Corey Pronman

In Hockey on June 19, 2010 at 4:41 pm

By Ryan Wagman

The following transcript is a re-posting of an interview I recently conducted with Puck Prospectus and PremiumScouting’s prospect guru Corey Pronman, as we look forward to the upcoming NHL Entry Draft

NHL Draft: Interview with Corey Pronman

Ryan Wagman: Corey, thanks for taking some time for my readers. Tell us about your newest project.

Corey Pronman: The site is called Premium Scouting. The purpose of it is to bring regular reports, analysis and news on pre-and post NHL draft prospects throughout North America and the world as well as reporting on the leagues themselves. What will make this site unique is how frequent the content will be.

RW: When do you expect it to be up and from where will the reports be coming?

CP: It will be up in late- June and the reports come from scouts from all around the world.

RW: How did you get started in the world of scouting? What’s your hockey background?

CP: Really it’s just like any other job, you start at the bottom and work your way up. I obviously love hockey and scouting to me was more of a hobby, just going out to the rink and micro-analyzing players once a week or so, I enjoy it, so I offered a junior team my services and just got into it that way. Being in an area like Florida which is just starting to produce quality players into the junior and college ranks with limited coverage was a big bonus for me also, as not many teams gets coverage down here.

RW: How typical is your arrangement?

Being in Florida, do you feel the NHL’s movement into non-traditional, warm-weathered areas like Florida, California, Phoenix, Nashville, etc.. is bearing fruit? Are more kids from these areas taken in by the lure of the ice?

CP: Well the southern expansion is definitely working. It may not be immediate, over-whelming effects that some pundits or mainstreamers may want to see, but the effects are there. California is a major hockey state now. Cali-born players are in the Olympics, in the World Juniors, in this draft (Etem) and next year’s draft a in my opinion top 5 pick in Shane McColgan. Geoffrion born here in Florida and raised in Tennessee won the Hobey Baker.

There’s more kids being taken from non-natural areas into junior A, tier 2 college, NAHL and USHL teams etc. One of the junior teams that has been in contact with me was intrigued with the Florida region because of the Florida players that had come into their organization.

It’s still not great, there is no Crosby or Stamkos, Tavares or Hall coming out of Oklahoma yet (even though Seth Jones – a Texas-bred defenseman may be the first sunbelt top pick in the 2013 draft – that’s obviously a ways away though) but the difference is significant from 10-15 years ago.

A lot of people get into the game from their parents, who move down here from New York, Michigan, Minnesota, etc. There is a small handful of pure Floridians growing up with the Panthers. If they could actually put a product down, it would help tremendously, though. Also the hockey in the state gets watered down because of the lack of coverage, the second a player is labelled as decent, they move north. Or the local Bantam AAA or Midget AAA organizations form a travel team to play in bigger northern tournaments.

RW: A few weeks ago, we engaged in an interesting discussion about providing “comps” for prospects. You were very much opposed. Can you tell us more about why you do not like the practice?

CP: Doing player comparisons in my opinion can give false impressions of players to the readers, even if it’s completely unintentional. You may mean to say a player plays a style similar to Joe Sakic, but others will read it and say, “Wow he’s like Joe Sakic?!” By doing complete profiles, with proper detailing and clear explanations of the player, doing comparisons is unnecessary as long as you give the most proper picture of the player possible.

RW: As a scout, what are some of the thing you look for in a player? Both positive and negative? Also, in what ways can junior-level statistics be deceiving?

CP: When looking at a player, the key to scouting is looking at a player and seeing how are they going to fit down the road at a higher level. If a player tries to toe drag between two defenseman going 5 miles an hour and gets away with it in the QMJHL, that looks pretty and all, but he’ll get flattened doing that in the pros. You’re essentially looking for the skills of a player or what in baseball they call tools. Mainly their skating, puck skills, shot, hockey sense, size/strength and if you want to call it a skill (albeit debatable), work ethic as well.  For example, every year there’s some wonderkid in the CHL or some league that’s small but puts up big numbers, however he lacks the high-end skills to compensate for his lack of size/strength to be a productive player at the higher levels.

Red flags, asides from lacking the skills I mentioned, would be intangible issues or lack of work ethic. Hockey is a very tough game to play and the willingness to work, to learn, to be a quality player and person is essential to getting through the grind of developing through the minors and to overcome the hurdles of the pro game.

RW: In your view, what is the main difference between scouting at the Junior level and scouting for the pros?

CP: Well when you’re scouting junior or pre-draft, you’re projecting, you’re trying to make an educated guess of where player X is going to be in 5 years. Doing pro scouting, you kind of have an idea of what the player is and you’re mainly doing as much in-depth evaluations of the current player as possible. Pre-draft scouting is by far the hardest and more complex which is why a guy like Hakan Andersson will never be without a job in hockey.

RW: Would you be willing to give the readers a scoop on a draft prospect who may be underrated but will surprise?

CP: There are quite a few names I could bring up, Jordan Weal or Joey Hishon come to mind even Troy Rutowski. A guy I really like that even though he’s in the bottom-end of most top 30’s, is Jaden Schwartz out of Tri-City in the USHL. I really don’t understand why more people aren’t talking about him. I had him at #10 in my mid-season rankings, he may slide down for the end of year, but this is a talented kid.

He is very smart, shifty with the puck and can make some great distributions and decisions to continually create offense.  He is a complete player as well, good in his own end and can kill penalties. He destroyed the USHL in a league where he won the scoring title with 83 points as a 17-year-old. Mind you in the USHL 75-80 points is usually what makes you a lock for a scoring title, not a tremendously offensive league. That point total was also double that of the 2nd place Tri-City Storm player, showing he wasn’t benefiting from a great team.

His skating could stand to get better and his size will be in question, but to a team picking around 20, I recommend taking a chance on Jaden Schwartz.

RW: What do you think about the growing trend of players going right from the draft to the NHL? I did a study a while back, and while used to be 2-3 per draft, there are now 4-5. I think it has a lot to do with the new salary cap world – what’s your take?

CP: The cap is an obvious factor. Not because people want to rush their prospects, but because they have gaps on their rosters and they need cheap production to fill those roster spots.  With how quickly these players under the current CBA reach free agency, I’m sure there’s nothing more a team would like more than to keep them out of the NHL if possible.

RW: Corey – thank you for your time and patience.


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