NHL team scouts are a tight-knit bunch but they’re also madly competitive, and all of them are looking for that one player overlooked by their peers; the player only they noticed and who their team can steal on draft day.
Sometimes the only way to do this is to avoid giving any attention to that player, and to downplay any talk about him. This is hardly relegated to amateur hockey scouts. “I went to see Guns N’ Roses at the Troubadour and there were a lot of A & R people,” Geffen rep Tom Zutaut told Spin in 1999. “So I left after two songs—I didn’t need to see any more to know they were going to be the biggest band in the world. On my way out I said ‘They suck, I’m going home’ knowing full well I was going to sign them to Geffen come hell or high water.”
Earlier in the year, Kyle Woodlief of Redline Report suspected as much about Rouyn-Noranda Huskies defenseman Jérémy Lauzon:
“When we talk to NHL scouts about [Lauzon], it might as well be ‘Jeremy who?’ We think (hope) there’s some major league sandbagging going on, because we love him.”
And what’s not to love? Lauzon has good size (6’2″ 193 lbs), plays tough, skates with enviable mobility, sees the ice well and can put the puck in the net. This past season he was reliable in all situations for the Huskies. While his 36 points on the season ranked him #21 among QMJHL defensemen in scoring, his 15 goals were good for third overall in the Q, while his 12 even-strength goals were tops.
As a league the Q tends to be conspicuously short on solid defensemen, but 2015 is an exception: Jeremy Roy, Nicolas Meloche, Thomas Chabot, Jakub Zboril, and Alexandre Carrier all come to mind, and maybe the reason Lauzon isn’t seeing a ton of attention is because of this rich draft pool.
If team scouts are trying to keep his profile low, scouting services are not: Chris Roberts of Hockey’s Future calls him “a mobile, two-way defender who has a rocket for a shot”; ISS has him at #77; Future Considerations has moved him up to #44; and NHL Central Scouting, which was created to provide scouting information for all teams, ranked him at #42 among North American skaters, up from his midterm ranking of 65.
The reliable John Moore recently published a video profile of Lauzon:
Jérémy Lauzon isn’t likely to cause a riot in Montreal but he is an excellent defenseman whose game has received little attention until recently. Maybe he had innocuously gotten lost among an especially strong draft year, or maybe those scouts were doing their best bit of sandbagging. Either way, the secret is out about Lauzon; may the smartest and luckiest team win.
[Feature photo credit: Jean Lapointe / Ryoun-Noranda Huskies]