Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Central Scouting's Gary Eggleston on New England Draft Prospects

I had the honor of talking to Gary Eggleston today, longtime New England scout and Central Scouting's most experienced talent hound for the region. His responsibilities have expanded beyond New England as you can see below, but he's forgotten more about hockey than most of us will ever know.

Here's his bio from (published in '06 so it's a little dated):

In the Eastern United States, Gary Eggleston is the longest-serving scout with Central Scouting -- in his 26th year in this capacity. Gary calls Boston, Mass., home and is responsible for all Eastern U.S prospects including, NCAA conferences, Hockey East and the ECAC Hockey League, Eastern Junior League, and the vast array of New England prep schools. Gary will also crossover to see top prospects throughout North America.

We chatted extensively about Kevin Hayes, Charlie Coyle, Bill Arnold, Connor Brickley and Brian Billett, all of whom are the top-ranked New Englanders for the upcoming draft. Three of them graded out in the first 30 spots, which speaks well to the class's depth this year. A fourth, Danny Biega, is not a native son and hails from Quebec, but led the Salisbury School (along with New York goalie Andy Iles) to last year's New England prep championship and is now skating well for Harvard.

Biega, one of three brothers skating for Ted Donato with the Crimson was 31st on the midseason rankings and in listening to Eggleston rave about his ability, smarts and shot, I have to think that he'll move up into the first round when all is said and done. I saw Biega in the prep championship tourney last spring, and along with Chris Kreider, he was clearly the best player on the ice, keying Salisbury's come-from-behind win in the semifinal game against Andover.

Billett's low spot on the goalie list (25th) is perplexing to me, but Eggleston explained that it had a lot to do with inconsistent (read: poor) play over the summer and injury woes that kept him off the ice in the early part of the season. He's expected to move up, because he's played very well lately and his numbers with the NH Jr. Monarchs (EJHL) are solid.

Also intriguing is the omission of Deerfield Academy defenseman Nick Lovejoy. The younger brother of current Penguins farmhand Ben Lovejoy has size and ability on his side. The older Lovejoy at one point was thought of as a solid draft candidate back in 2004, but he was passed over completely and looked like a bust after leaving Boston College for Dartmouth (not the greatest program for producing NHL players). But, to Lovejoy's credit, he earned a contract with Pittsburgh as a free agent and has seen some NHL action.

At this stage, I wouldn't write his little brother off. If he has the same kind of natural size and ability, and the same kind of drive and desire to be a player that his older brother has shown, then Nick Lovejoy may be someone to watch in the later rounds.

I've written a feature on the prospects for the New England Hockey Journal website and it should be up on soon. I'll link to it when it's up for those interested.

UPDATE: Thursday, Jan. 14: Here is the link to the story on the New Englanders ranked by the CSS at midterm:

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