Chris Pryor

A pro scout on player size

By Chris Pryor

 

The game has changed dramatically over the years. From the rules, equipment modifications, standard ice size, etc., but the one area that has stayed constant is the size of the players keep getting bigger.

Now, there are exceptions. If you look at the 30 teams in the league there are undersized guys on almost every team. From  Martin St. Louis, Tobias Enstrom, Nathan Gerbe, Brian Gionta, etc., there are small players playing and playing very well, BUT it is more the exception than the rule.

In the scouting world this same rule holds true. Scouts are well aware that there are good small players out there and some of them might play. But over time if you start drafting small, before you know it, you are small. Then when you go up against bigger teams, the percentages become less and less in in your favor. A lot of the times, teams will draft a bigger guy, knowing that there are smaller guys out there that are better players NOW, but hopefully down the road the bigger guy develops.

Unlike the college game (and there is no disrespect intended), the two games differ.  There are no Olympic size sheets of ice, no full face masks and fighting is allowed, to speak of a few. Even though the rules have opened the game up, you still need to battle for space and opportunity. At the end of the day, a guy who is 6-2 to 6-4 probably will win those battles vs. a guy that is 5-8 to 5-10.

The smaller player in today’s game must have not only high-end skill, but also high-end quickness, compete and drive. It is a tough game for 82 regular season contests, let alone the playoffs where the intensity gets ramped up every round. If you don’t bring those intangibles night in and night out, you will not survive, whether you’re 6-2 or 5-9. But being a smaller sized player makes it only more difficult.
 
Chris Pryor is the director of hockey operations for the Philadelphia Flyers. He is in charge of the amateur and pro scouting departments. A native of St. Paul, Pryor spent eight seasons as a scout for the Flyers. He played parts of six seasons in the NHL with the Minnesota North Stars and New York Islanders. If you have a question for a pro hockey scout, e-mail it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .