Many successful teams have what is called a “super scout.”
The Detroit Red Wings have Hakan Andersson, their Director of European Scouting and the New York Rangers of yesteryear won the 1940 Stanley Cup largely of the work of Al Ritchie, who found most of their talent in Western Canada.
My fantasy hockey team has a super scout, too. He’s my older brother, Jim. He and I have talked hockey and compared notes about drafting and prospects for more than 25 years. When he lived in Ontario and I lived in Quebec, we’d share notes on the top prospects in the OHL and the QMJHL. Occasionally, we’d take trips together to watch prospects and I learned a lot from him. Jim has covered the OHL for about 30 years and is plugged in. He talks to coaches, scouts and GMs and watches a lot of hockey.
He’s recommended players such as Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Logan Couture, Steve Mason, Jordan Staal, Jeff Carter and Bobby Ryan all before they were drafted by NHL teams and some when they were as young as 15. My keeper league doesn’t have age restrictions on draft picks, so I’ve been able to watch some fine talent ripen on the vine.
When he gives me information, I listen. Has he always been right? Well, I’m bigger than him so I can say that no, he hasn’t always been right. But he’s been right a lot more often than he’s been wrong. In the scouting business, that would be an accomplishment.
The players I’ve listed are a testament to his hockey savvy and he’s played a big part in helping me win the championship of my 22-team keeper league.
So, now that I’ve introduced you to my super scout, I’m going to share something with you that might make you raise your eyebrows.
I’m going to say something that will be unpopular in Leafs country and if Brian Burke ever reads this, it will make him think I’m an idiot. That’s OK, Brian, sometimes, the feeling is mutual. (Case in point, you might want to get your rebuilding team out of the cellar before you start trading your first-round picks – especially if you’re going to trade them in pairs. OK, that was an easy shot, but seriously, if you had done your homework on Kessel, you would have quickly learned that he was not your kind of player.)
Here it is folks. Based on my super scout’s reports, I’m going out on a limb and saying that Peter Holland will be a better NHLer than Nazem Kadri.
Jim knows what Kadri has done in junior, but he wonders if he’ll be able to do it at the NHL level. Until this season, Kadri’s numbers matched Dave Bolland’s, but Kadri doesn’t finish as well as Bolland. Kadri also doesn’t have the speed, quickness or defensive acumen that Bolland has and the physical play isn’t there because he lacks the strength.
Kadri has heart and is a better playmaker and a very good puck handler and would have been a solid pick late in the first or into the mid-second. Jim calls Kadri a "tweener." He lacks the ability to make it as a top-six scorer and won’t make it as a checker. In junior, he’s able to score because he’s smart with the puck, but will struggle to do it in the NHL because he lacks start-up speed and he’s not a natural goal-scorer.
Here’s a quote from an e-mail he sent me.
“He needs more jam. He has some of the same challenges as Rob Schremp for the next level. He has a much better attitude than Schremp, but he's going to have to grow his game to justify a pick that high. I could be wrong. I was certainly wrong on Bryan Little for the same kind of reasons, but I think Little has more grit and is more physical.”
So, less than a year after the 2009 draft (in which Kadri went 7th and Holland 15th) Jim is saying that Holland is looking like a better pick than Kadri.
When he makes statements like this, you have to realize he’s looking beyond the numbers – although Holland has decent stats. Holland had eight points in a five-game opening round loss to the Knights. In the regular season, Holland had 30 goals, 50 assists in 59 games.
Kadri had 35 goals and 58 assists in 56 games, but even though they were drafted in the same year, Kadri was 19 and in his fourth OHL campaign. Holland was 18 and in his third year. They’re birthdays are a mere three months apart, but I’m talking hockey age – a player’s age as of Dec. 31.
One drawback about Holland – and the same was said about Jeff Carter in junior – is that he needs to put in a more consistent effort.
As I present this contrarian view, I realize some might not agree. It’s easy to go with the flow and write something that everyone will agree with. But what would be the point?
Sometimes you need to listen to other opinions. So, while I won’t worry about whether you agree with this, I hope it doesn’t just make you say: “No way, Kadri’s better.”
Nor should you be quick to agree with me or Jim. This is all designed to make you think.
Consider, too that on Dobber’s latest prospect list, Kadri is ranked No. 10 while Holland is No. 169. Maybe Kadri is too high. Maybe Holland is too low. One thing I’m fairly confident in suggesting is that the long-term upside between the two is not that far apart.
What does this all mean?
For the fantasy hockey GM who owns Holland: Don’t sell low.
For the fantasy GM who owns Kadri: You might want to sell high.
For the fantasy GM who doesn’t own Holland: Try to buy low and hope they haven’t read this column or other optimistic reports on Holland.
For the fantasy GM who doesn’t own Kadri: Don’t buy high.