Watching a quality player like Alex Ovechkin is an act of enjoying beauty and in my opinion, so is listening to Connor McDavid talk. Similar to Bobby Orr, McDavid asserts himself in a humble fashion when it comes to his own game. Others have noticed this and hearing his praises of good character is equally gratifying.
Well, the human race does, in fact, crave the experience of awe and wonder. After a thorough review of the Los Angeles Kings’ prospects currently playing in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), a number of commonalities had come to light, one of which was particularly unique – quality character.
Quality character in hockey presents itself in good sportsmanship, but that’s not all. It’s the basis of leadership, perseverance, and work ethic. It is the standard that every player seeks to achieve.
So how surprised should we really be, to learn that out of all OHL players who played during the 2015-16 season, two of the top three nominees for the William Hanley Trophy as the OHL’s most sportsmanlike player were LA Kings’ prospects?
Michael Amadio of the OHL’s North Bay Battalion won the trophy by a long shot on April 22, 2016. The third place nominee for the award was the Kingston Frontenac’s Spencer Watson.
#LAKings sign Michael Amadio to a three-year ELC. 2014 third round pick ranks fourth in the OHL with 48 goals for North Bay.
— LA Kings Insider (@lakingsinsider) March 13, 2016
Amadio was drafted at No. 90 in the third round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Watson was drafted at No. 209 of the seventh round of the same Draft. Just over a year ago, TSN’s Travis Yost came up with a system to measure the probability of a draft pick ending up as an eventual NHL talent. He defined NHL talent as a player who has played at least 50 games in the NHL and it does seem like a reasonable way of measuring NHL talent. Based onYost’s projections, Amadio has a 30 per cent chance of success at the NHL level and Watson has a 20 per cent chance of success.
Considering the odds, Amadio and Watson are moving forward against them, or so it seems at first glance…
Assessing The Odds of A Quality Player
Having an eye for quality character is an excellent skill for not just an NHL organization to possess, but also for the scouts of that organization and here’s why.
Scouts assist in the selection process of prospective talent by critiquing the skills and characteristics of that talent. The relationship between the scout and the coach is one of full disclosure, as it is the scout who essentially vets a player for being coachable.
If you think about it, who’s more likely to improve? The mediocre player who knows he has much to learn or the one-man show who already believes he knows it all? The coachable player receives instruction and applies it to his game. Someone with a bigger ego may not be as receptive to such guidance or have the humility to accept it.
By drafting a player who ranks lower on the skills chart and higher on the character chart, it makes sense that he may be more coachable than his greater-skilled counterpart. Furthermore, his perseverance would push him through the hardest part of the development process: putting up with all the naysayers. In fact, it would also make sense that his development from mediocre to above average would even start before graduating the CHL. It makes complete sense that his potential may never have been considered, let alone taken into account when he entered the CHL.
#LAKings announce that they've signed Spencer Watson to a three-year ELC. 5-foot-10 19 y/o had 43-46=89 w/ OHL-Kingston. 7th round, 2014.
— LA Kings Insider (@lakingsinsider) April 14, 2016
But no probability projection can be referenced for prospects who’ve signed entry level contracts with the Kings. Of the King’s 2014 draft class, they drafted 10 players and half have been signed to date: Adrian Kempe (No. 29), Roland McKeown (No. 50, signed by the Carolina Hurricanes), Alex Linteniemi (No. 60), Michael Amadio (No. 90) and Spencer Watson (No. 209). To be fair, though, Alec Dillion (No. 150) does expect to sign a Kings’ contract soon. Of the LA Kings’ 2013 draft class, seven players were drafted and one still hasn’t been signed: Dominik Kubalik (No. 191).
Although the Kings did not spar well in this year’s run at the Stanley Cup, their player development system is irrefutable. On top of that, there’s something to be said about players with character, player’s who persevere even against all the odds and players who hold greater value than what the eye can see.
I’m a Hockey Journalist based out of Barrie, Ontario, a Contributing Writer for The Hockey Writers covering OHL, and NHL prospects with an insatiable thirst for all things LA Kings, and PR gal for Abel Sports Management.