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The Sports Daily > Crease and Assist
Exclusive Interview With ISS’ Director of Scouting Dennis MacInnis, discussing the 2017 NHL Draft & More

One thing I pride myself as a writer is that I keep track of the Minnesota Wild’s prospects where I try to make it a regular feature in my post-game reports so fans can stay up to date.  Usually about a week or two after the Minnesota Wild are bounced from the playoffs do I start to think about the NHL Entry draft and this usually coincides with the release of the NHL Central Scouting final rankings.  About a month after that the Memorial Cup concludes and then the real fun begins as International Scouting Service releases their rankings.

Since 2006, I’ve been purchasing ISS’ draft guide for their in-depth perspective on potential draftees and haven’t been disappointed yet.  They not only give in-depth reports on over a 100 potential NHL draftees, but they also provide lists of wildcard and sleeper picks for those draft geeks that like to think they’re channeling their inner Hakan Andersson and discovering the next late-round NHL superstar.

A few days ago I had the fortune to interview International Scouting Service’s founder and director Dennis MacInnis.  MacInnis founded ISS in 2002 and has built the company into a world leader in its field.  They just released their 2017 NHL Draft Guide a few days ago for the super cheap price of $10 with the proceeds going to help the homeless.  Its a win-win for everyone and if you’re a draft junkie like me its a must have.

So needless to say I was a bit excited when they offered me the opportunity for an interview with Dennis MacInnis, so without further adieu here is the interview.

Crease and Assist:  Since you started ISS in 2002, how has the business of scouting advanced since then?  Does scouting take place remotely since it seems just about any game from youth to college and juniors are broadcast in some fashion or is it still scouts logging lots of miles on flights and in automobiles?
Dennis MacInnis:  One recent addition has been the use of Analytics, obviously anything you can do to gain more information that will allow you to make better decisions is good.  We (at ISS) primarily use analytics in his pre-game preparations, making sure to get a good handle on all the data connected to each player.  Another great resource would be HockeyTV which is the world’s biggest platform of live and on-demand elite hockey broadcasts.  I believe there’s no replacement for the time-honored practice of jumping in your car and heading to the rink.  You need multiple live viewings of a kid to determine their hockey sense, work ethic, 200 ft game etc.
Crease and Assist:  It seems like more and more U.S. born players are being selected in the first few rounds of the NHL draft, what is America doing right development-wise to make this happen and is there anything Canada could possibly learn from their neighbor to the south when it comes to development?  Or is it simply a naturally occurring cycle?

Dennis MacInnis:  Obviously the USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program has done an unbelievable job of developing NHL players.  Another factor is more kids are playing hockey and top athlete’s are choosing hockey over other sports as their career path.  Good example is last years #1 overall Auston Matthews is from Scottsdale, AZ and the growth of the game was never more evident than during Nashville’s playoff run and incredible fan base.

Crease and Assist:  Minnesota prides itself on having some of the best High School hockey in the United States, a major debate locally is whether to stay and play high school hockey or go and play junior.  Does that really matter to scouts and is High School hockey still good enough in Minnesota that its a good place to develop your game as a potential NHL draftee?
Dennis MacInnis:  Minnesota High School hockey league is one of the best in the United States and has produced NHL’ers on a regular basis.  It doesn’t really matter to scouts what level your playing, its all about “projecting” as long as your skill set translates well to next level.  Scouts always like to see players play against the best competition possible.
Crease and Assist:  Casey Mittlestadt is maybe the highest profile high school player to come out of Minnesota since Phil Housley.  What can you say about his game?  Would he have rated higher than 7th had he stayed in the USHL instead of playing in Eden Prairie?  Do you think he will he have to wait very long to hear his name called?  Are there any other Minnesotans we might see get drafted in the 1st round?
Dennis MacInnis:  Mittlestadt is a threat to score every time he steps on the ice and has earned his high ranking here at ISS with his performance this year.  He projects as 2nd line offensive center with outstanding playmaking ability.  Another kid to keep an eye on would be Nick Leivermann, who has matured into one of the top two-way defenseman in Minnesota High School Hockey this year.  He will need to get stronger to progress to the next level but his skill set and athleticism that will give him chance.
Crease and Assist:  At this point, the Minnesota Wild’s first selection won’t be until the 3rd round of the draft.  Some have said this is a ‘weak’ draft, will there still be lots of quality talent to choose from by the time they go to make their first pick?
Dennis MacInnis:  This year might not be as clear-cut, but I do believe there’s good value.  In previous years there were more guys probably NHL-ready to step into the lineup.
Again we’d like to thank Dennis MacInnis for his time in contributing to this article!