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NHL Scouting Staffs - Carolina Is Shorthanded

The Hurricanes have the second fewest number of scouts listed as any team in the league

Bruce Bennett

The Carolina Hurricanes are known as a budget team.  Most would recognize that term as being frugal when it comes to player salaries, but being a budget team can also mean being cost conscious in other parts of the organization.

When compared to other teams around the NHL, it appears that the Hurricanes are especially tight with a dollar when it comes to their scouting budget.

After a compiling of information made available on every team's home page, I put together the following chart, which shows the total number of scouts listed for each franchise.

The highest total is 24, a number which is employed by the Jets, Maple Leafs, and Sabres.  The lowest total is seven, by Columbus.  The Hurricanes are next lowest with eight, but that is including Marshall Johnston, who is in his 70's and is near retirement.

The average number of scouts per team is 15.

NHL Scouts by team
Western Conference Eastern Conference
Number Number
Team of Scouts Team of Scouts
Anaheim 12 Boston 13
Calgary 14 Buffalo 24
Chicago 14 Carolina 8
Colorado 14 Columbus 7
Dallas 15 Detroit 18
Edmonton 19 Florida 12
Los Angeles 14 Montreal 17
Minnesota 14 New Jersey 19
Nashville 12 Islanders 12
Phoenix 13 Rangers 17
San Jose 11 Ottawa 12
St. Louis 14 Philadelphia 21
Vancouver 20 Pittsburgh 18
Winnipeg 24 Tampa Bay 14
Toronto 24
Washington 18

How important are scouts?  Not only do they help to decide who the organization drafts each year, but the pro scouts travel to watch each NHL team play and determine what players might be worth trying to acquire, either via trade or free agency.

For instance, does it seem that proper scouting and due diligence may have helped the team before signing players such as Tomas Kaberle or Anthony Stewart, both of whom were not the players they once were and never lived up to expectations once signed by Carolina?  The Canes had to waste a draft pick when they sent Stewart to Los Angeles in a subsequent deal.

Of course, quantity does not mean quality and the Canes amateur department seems to be doing an excellent job of late.  But, it only seems logical that more boots on the ground and eyes in the sky can compile more information which would help management to make better, more educated decisions.

There is only so much time available and so many miles a single scout can travel.  Some teams have scouts specifically assigned to Europe, and some do not.

Many consider the draft to be nothing but a crap shoot, so why not increase your odds?  Also, the winners of the draft are sometimes determined in the later rounds and that is where the good scouting staffs really earn their money.

Perhaps that is how some teams find gems like Jamie Benn in the fifth round or Keith Yandle in the fourth?

Building a successful base of talent through the draft is especially important to small market teams and it would seem that it would be money well spent to have a few more quality scouts in the mix, for any team.

While the club has hit a couple of home runs recently in Jeff Skinner and Justin Faulk, there have been some lean years and the Carolina prospect pool is not highly rated in most circles.

For instance, in the 2009 draft the Hurricanes are the only team to choose someone in the first round, who never has played a single game in the NHL, (Philippe Paradis.)  Thanks to a shrewd trade by Jim Rutherford, the Canes were able to acquire Jiri Tlusty for Paradis, but still, that poor pick belongs to the scouting staff.

When a franchise often operates in the red, tough choices have to be made regarding expenses.  But it would seem that putting more resources into assessing talent, by increasing the number of scouts at least to the average number in the league, would be a wise allocation of funds.