Sportsnet's NHL scout player rankings, explained

Back in March, I revealed my player rating format and scale. Some of our readers have been asking for further explanation so they can better understand the primary categories and the associated sub-categories.

With a new scouting season underway, here is a breakdown of what NHL teams look for when evaluating players.

Note: Each team in the NHL has their own process and customizes categories around their organizational priorities. What I am presenting is the format that was used when I was the Director of Amateur Scouting in Florida.


Explosiveness: First three steps from a dead stop
Separation: Pulling away in open ice
Agility: Turns, edges and small area recovery

Hockey IQ

Read/React: Anticipating and reacting appropriately
Game Management: Knowing when to take risk and when to simplify
3 Zone Awareness: Tracking back full length of ice, playing a 200-foot game


Heavy hits: Think Tom Wilson
Heavy leans: Think Pat Maroon
Energy / ltd: Physical heavy hitters can provide energy, but think Brendan Gallagher


Goal scorer: Auston Matthews
Playmaker / distributor: Jonathan Huberdeau
Power play contributor: Alex Ovechkin


Play without the puck: Finding open space offensively, working to assist on back check
D Zone starts: Trusted to win draws or defend in key defensive scenarios
Match up / shut down: Think Ryan O’Reilly (St.Louis) or Zdeno Chara (in his prime)
Penalty kill contributor: Patrice Bergeron / Victor Hedman

Here is an example of an NHL player evaluation:

Here is an example of an Amateur player evaluation:

There isn’t an exact science to evaluating players at either the Amateur or Pro levels.

Different leagues around the world compliment players and their skill attributes with their style of play and have to be converted into the way the game is played at the NHL level.

The analytics department for each team has its own formula for determining upside and fit for both amateur prospects and pro players alike. It’s safe to assume every team in the NHL is very different with their analytics formulas.

The addition of video scouting over the last several years has also impacted the long view on players. Scouting by video is a complimentary addition to live viewings.

When submitting content, please abide by our  submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.
We use cookies to improve your experience. Learn More or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies.