100 games a season: Gare Joyce's puck blog

Just like being in the scouts' & press' lounge, without the bad coffee and day-old Timbits

Location: Toronto

I've written for ESPN The Magazine and espn.com the last five years. My work has made the "notable" list of the Best American Sports Writing seven times and won four Canadian National Magazine Awards. My most recent book is Future Greats and Heartbreaks: A Year Undercover in the Secret World of NHL Scouts. I've written three other sports books: When the Lights Went Out: How One Brawl Ended Hockey's Cold War and Changed the Game; Sidney Crosby: Taking the Game by Storm; and The Only Ticket Off the Island: Baseball in the Dominican Republic.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Three-Game Sunday: The Scouting Hat Trick

So much for the day of rest. The O neatly schedules three games in the Toronto 'burbs that are almost manageable--first in Brampton at 2, then in Mississauga at 4 and Oshawa in the evening. Thus NHL scouts can get two-and-a-half periods with the Battalion (today vs Soo), the game in Mississauga (on this occasion vs Colbert's Saginaw squad) and after an hour on the 401 Oshawa in evening (this time out vs Belleville).

Game 1: The Soo dropped the Bunker-busting bomb on Brampton. Watched Leaf 2006 first-rounder Jiri Tlusty with interest. He was the Soo's second best Czech, scoreless while David Kuchejda picked up the hat trick. Tlusty sorta plays at one speed, no great urgency. Some neat hand skills but seems used to playing with more room and time. Next year it's either the Leafs or back in Soo--Marlies not in the equation. A good thing. Even though he got three goals in six games with the Marlies early on, I'd bank on his ticket back in Soo.

Game 2: See-saw affair to a shoot-out, Mississauga winning. Always get a kick out of seeing Ryan O'Marra play. I wonder if Lucas Lobsinger (IceDog G) is related to Tom Lobsinger who was Canada's second best high school miler ever (behind only Kevin Sullivan).

Game 3: Oshawa is rolling even with Tavares being just a footnote on the scoresheet. Hey, maybe Brett MacLean read the post the other day about the inflationary effect of playing with a junior star.

In Games 2 and 3 a hint of what we're looking at in '08 ... a draft that will compare with the 85s. Two rock-solid defencemen, Mississauga's Pietrangelo and Oshawa's Del Zotto. Gonna be a helluva draft year in the O next year with these two, Stamkos and, ahem, the shadow of Tavares. Funny thing, two guys, one a coach, another a scout, put Stamkos neck and neck with JT, the scout actually giving Stamkos and edge. All four of these kids will be in the hunt for the spring 18s if their teams are out early. Count on underage on that Canadian squad.