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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Treliving on the challenges of 2021 NHL Draft scouting

Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving joined the Dean “Boomer” Molberg and the Sportsnet 960 The Fan morning show on Monday morning to discuss the team’s season and the run-up to next week’s trade deadline.

In response to a question from Rhett Warrener about scouting during the pandemic, Treliving outlined the challenges facing teams in the run-up to July’s entry draft.

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It’s a real challenge. But that’s the biggest challenge of this year, is the amateur level. We’ve got a fairly large staff. But you’ve had different challenges in some cases. So you look at the OHL, they haven’t played this year. Now, some of those kids you’ve tracked them pretty hard. There’s a number of kids that have gone to other places to play, whether it be the USHL, whether it be Europe. So you’ve tried to track them as best as possible. But you’ve got an entire league, a major junior league, that hasn’t played a game.

There’s two scenarios. Let’s look at a player who hasn’t played a game in that league who is a draft eligible. So really, the only viewings you can go back to is you can go back and watch his games from last year. Think about that for a minute. A player who is draft eligible this year and you’re watching all of his games again, on video, from the year prior. So you can go back and look at every player who was selected in the most recent draft, or any draft, and you can see what their play was like the year before and the challenge that it would be for you to do say ‘hey listen, we’re going to make a selection of this guy.’

So that’s one scenario. And then the other one is the player that is playing, but the challenges of their schedule, ’cause a lot of leagues, use the Quebec league or the Western league, the two other junior leagues that either started late like the Western league or like the Quebec league that have been starts and stops, you try to plan to get in to see people and their schedule gets started and stops. So we’ve been able to see some of those players, or those players play for some schedules. There’s been some European leagues where we’ve been. Sweden probably has had the most consistent, I guess would be the word, year, so we’ve been over there. The European leagues have been hit and miss. There’s been some players in Russia at the junior level or the KHL level that have had somewhat of a consistent year.

So it’s been a real challenge. A real challenge. But you do as best as you can. We get on calls, Zoom calls, on a monthly basis with our staff and as normal now as the season starts to wind down we’ll start putting our list together. But it’s been as unique a year as we’ve had because I don’t think you could ever say going int a draft, a group of players may not have played in their draft year. It makes for a challenge, but like I said, everybody else is going through it too and we’ll be ready when draft time comes.

The trade deadline is 1 p.m. MT on April 12. The 2021 NHL Draft is July 23 & 24.