Oiler Scout: “So son, you think you got what it takes to make it in the NHL. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to win games? Forecheck hard. Backcheck even harder. Block shots. Play physical. Take a hit to make a play. Stand up for a teammate when a statement needs to be made. Well, what do you say?”
Prospect: “Yes sir. Whatever is required I am willing!”
And so, most conversations likely go. The challenge is figuring out which player really means it and which player is just following the question-answer play book. Of course, most scouts would have you believe that their sets of questions are somehow more probing and discrete than others and that the true character of each prospect is magically revealed through their process. However, we all know for each question created an appropriate answer is developed and taught to each prospect.
So, how then is the true character of each prospect determined? Well, their body of previous work has to be the guide. Actions speak louder than words. The problem is however, unless your prospect is Sidney Crosby, you really cannot determine how your prospect’s perceived character will carry into the NHL. As we have been witness in Edmonton for the past few years, success at the junior level seldom translates into instant NHL success. The character of each prospect is tested as they strive to find their way. Unfortunately, being on an unsuccessful team more often than not, delays the process as the prospect struggles to find confidence. Thus, your current Edmonton Oilers.
Although I have no stats to suggest otherwise I just can’t help feeling that this team is going to start turning the corner soon. In the past when they lost, they really stunk. But many of the games this year they deserved better. They are close and hopefully with some good fortune the confidence and the character within these players which made them leaders in junior will re-emerge at an NHL level and lead to consistent positive results.