Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 06/29/14 at 12:52 AM ET
The NHL Draft marks the end of one cycle of scouting and the beginning of another. After a few weeks' worth of rest, NHL teams' scouts will head to the Czech Republic to watch the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, they'll take in Team Canada and Team USA's World Junior evaluation camps (Team USA's camp is handy as they play Finnish and Swedish prospects), and they'll take in the month's worth of exhibition games and "tournaments" that precede European pro league's seasons--and that's just August.
In September, while NHL teams hold their prospect tournaments, OHL, QMJHL and WHL teams hold their training camps and open their seasons, NCAA hockey gets ready for an October start, and junior hockey leagues across the U.S., Canada get underway.
With the "Fail for Connor McDavid" line already being parlayed around in Buffalo, NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale reports that the 2015 draft's other top prospect, Jack Eichel, was at the draft in Philadelphia, hoping to make the U.S World Junior team and watching his U.S. National Team Development program friends hear their names called by NHL teams:
Eichel was taking in all the sights and sounds of the 2014 draft at Wells Fargo Center this weekend in support of his teammates on the United States National Team Development Program Under-18 team. He certainly had a lot to cheer about; 12 members of that USNTDP team were drafted.
"That's why I was here, to support those guys and see where they were taken because they worked so hard and they really deserve to be drafted," Eichel said. "I was happy to see Dylan Larkin go [No. 15] to the Detroit Red Wings. He's an unbelievable player and person. It was great spending two years with him. He's an unbelievable skater and he goes so hard in practice."
Eichel (6-foot-1, 191 pounds) led the USNTDP with 32 goals and 71 points in 43 games despite being the youngest player on the team (turns 18 Oct. 28).
"His speed and strength are uncommon in a player his age, and those attributes allow him to get separation on the ice offensively and excel defensively," U-18 coach Danton Cole said. "I would also add that his compete level is very high and he wants to win regardless of the situation, even at the end of practice. The bigger the moment in our games, you can tell he wants to end it and he has the ability to do so. Coaches like that in a player."
Morreale continues, and the cycle of finding the "next ones" never really ends.
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