If you’ve made it this far, you’re either a hockey junkie or an extremely unfortunate wanderer. So you might as well keep going one way or another.
Each existing NHL team will have its own draft board page that contains multiple sections. It’s all written as if I were the Atlanta Thrashers’ GM in 1999 in preparation for the team’s expansion draft. I have done as much as possible to remove any type of hindsight or other revisionist biases from this and simply write as if it’s 1999. This means that we’d be ecstatic to take Vadim Sharifjanov from New Jersey, but would have to weigh it against passing on him to take Kevin Dean in exchange for the Devils adding in Sergei Vyshedkevich. Trust me, that’s the type of dual scenario that would have kept an actual GM awake for hours in 1999, and would have garnered little more than a shrug just two years later.
The first part of a draft board page is a simple message about what it is that we’re looking for: NHL talent. Pending unrestricted free agents are largely ignored, as are marginal guys who can’t stick in the NHL long-term, fighters, chronically injured players, or unsigned European prospects. There are very few exceptions to these, all on teams that have nothing outside of these very players available to select from.
The last part is the individual assessments of every player that made it onto our draft board for consideration off a team’s unprotected list. For these players, there’s a case for taking them and a case against.
One important note is that I’m not a scout, merely a historian. I can go back and look through the primary sources of the time to develop an overall picture, but I can’t elevate a certain afterthought prospect because someone in an actual scouting department really liked his shiftiness and his wrist shot. I have seen what some old scouting reports actually look like, but there’s no way to find, compile, and then print the enormous amount of information that isn’t usually made available to the public. If a player has an injury history, it’s noted; if something about his particular skill set is notable, that’s in there as well. It may be slightly exaggerated, as can happen behind closed doors when scouts start arguing on behalf of someone that they want. As such, it can appear biased or slightly inaccurate, which is what happens.