New Avalanche scouting director ready for challenging NHL draft: “With mystery comes opportunity” – The Denver Post
NHL 

The NHL entry draft always comes with plenty of question marks, but this weekend’s figures to be even more challenging than most.

Many amateur leagues around the world played shortened seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and some like the Ontario Hockey League didn’t play at all. In-person scouting was curtailed because of international travel — particularly to Canada — so video and word-of-mouth often replaced live viewings.

But Wade Klippenstein, the Avalanche’s new director of amateur scouting, says he is up for the challenge.

“With mystery comes opportunity,” he said in a video conference call Tuesday. “… We’ve come up with some creative ways to try and simulate what we didn’t see, whether it’s through our analytics department, whether it’s through video or other means. I think every team has done their best with what we have to work with. It’s not ideal. It’d be nice to have a lot more live viewings on player,s but I think there is incredible opportunity with this draft.”

The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Avalanche could benefit from seeing a few players slide.

The Avs have four picks in the seven-round draft, but their first selection does not come until No. 28 in Friday’s first round. They acquired the 61st pick late in Saturday’s second round from New Jersey as part of trading defenseman Ryan Graves to the Devils last week, and also have third- (92nd overall) and seventh-round (220th) picks.

Klippenstein, who previously was an amateur scout for the Avs since 2016, replaces Alan Hepple, now the director of pro scouting for the Arizona Coyotes. Hepple’s contract wasn’t renewed by the Avs.

Klippenstein, 51, said Colorado’s approach to the draft has not changed.

“We really do stick to that best-player-available (philosophy),” he said. “When we build our list, we build our list without the idea of exactly where we’re picking because that could change at any time. So it’s the best player available each and every time.”

He added: “This draft, like a lot of drafts, has some spots where there is good depth. This year it will be a little different than others. There is some mystery to this draft, some low viewing spots. If you look at the Ontario Hockey League, the depth there is still to be determined. I would say it’s an average draft. Average is probably the best way to describe it.”

Klippenstein has massive intel on the University of Denver, the perennial NCAA power that annually develops NHL talent. He was an Alaska-Fairbanks teammate to Pioneers assistant coaches Tavis MacMillan and Dallas Ferguson in the early 1990s and the trio coached the Nanooks for three seasons from 2004 to ’07. MacMillan was the head coach.

“It’s strange how life takes turns and goes full circle sometimes,” Klippenstein said. “Both guys were teammates of mine, not only as players but also as part of a coaching staff in Alaska. Some of my best memories in hockey, some of my best friends in hockey. So it’s a great dynamic.

“It’s neat how it’s coming back together here with me working with the Avs and those guys being at DU. Two great hockey minds that I lean on quite a bit sometimes, and vise versa, so it’s been a great relationship going back to the early 1990s. It’s been a long run together in this hockey world with those two guys.”

Source: Read Full Article