What I’m about to tell you is what I personally look for in players that I’m trying to recruit/tender/sign for the programs I am working for. Most of these things are pretty obvious and are on most scouts’ lists, but I’ll give you some more in-depth details that explain what some of these things mean, especially the buzzwords. These are in no special order.
Ice Skating – The game keeps getting faster and faster, and if you want to play at the higher levels, you need to be able to skate. Being able to skate fast though isn’t just the entirety of the category. I’m looking to see how you use your edges; are you able to keep your speed on tight turns? How quick is your acceleration from either a glide or dead stop? How much power and quickness do you get from your lateral movements both forwards and backwards? What’s your knee bend like and are you getting the most out of your stride?
Hockey Sense – This buzzword is thrown around all over and to be honest, it varies from person to person. To me, my interpretation of hockey sense is how well you read and react to the play. When you have the puck, are you able to see passing lanes open up or do you make the right play with the puck? How do you create time and space with the puck? Away from the puck are you able to find open ice that your teammate can try and give you a pass? Are you able to read where the puck is going on say the forecheck or on a back check? As a defenseman do you get the puck out quickly so that your teammates leave the zone with possession? Do you know when to and not to jump into a rush? Are you able to know where your coverage is in the defensive zone and read and react to taking away passing lanes? These are things that can be taught, but they take repetitions and I feel visual learning, whether it’s through watching live games or watching the pro’s play also helps if you watch specifically for these things.
Puck skills – Essentially, I’m looking to see how well you control the puck. Whether it’s you skating through traffic, going one on one with a defenseman, using your body to protect the puck and dekeing are all major things that fill this category. Are you able to “shift gears” with the puck? Are you able to handle the puck at full speed or do you slow down a bit because you can’t control it? Are you stick handling all choppy or are you able to use under handling to carry the puck?
Shooting – Sure it’s great to show off your dart of a slap shot, but in reality, how much are you going to use that in the game? If you are a defenseman, probably once at best (unless you are on the power play getting fed one timers). What I want to see is how hard and quick you can get your shot off. Does it take you forever to glide and then release your shot, or are you able to get that shot off as quick as possible without the goalie even knowing it’s coming? Are you able to change the angle of your shot? Are you able to shoot off the pass whether it’s a one timer or absorbing and shooting? What’s your accuracy like? Are all shots in the goalie’s chest?
Competitiveness/Character - To me, this is probably one of the top skills (it’s a skill because not every player has it) I want to see out of a player. Are you finishing your checks? Are you back checking hard? Are you giving it your all for 30-45 seconds? Are you a team player or just trying to pad your own stats? Are you willing to sacrifice your body to block a shot? What about taking a hit to make the play? How hard are you working on the ice in all 3 zones? I want to be able to hear from your ex or current coach that you were the first guy on and last guy off the ice. That you kept your grades and GPA up (remember, I'm trying to get you somewhere that will move you onto college). That you didn't cause drama on the team and were able to handle confrontation or problems in an appropriate manner.
Again, this isn’t the end all be all list, and this is just the typical gamut I look for in players during games or showcases. I hope some of these things may help you be mindful or notice in your game and areas that you try to improve on. If you see something missing give me a shout on Twitter.