Madden Talks Draft Prep, Recent Promotion on GullsCastJul 3, 2020
In a normal year, new Anaheim Ducks Assistant General Manager Martin Madden would spend this time inside Great Park Ice and FivePoint Arena, getting a look at a new crop of prospects going through drills and scrimmages at the team's annual development camp.
As we all know, 2020 is not a normal year.
The former Director of Amateur Scouting - who earned a recent promotion - is still in thick of draft preparation. With Anaheim grabbing the sixth overall selection during the 2020 NHL Draft lottery, Madden and his team of amateur scouts see an opportunity to add another dynamic, high-ceiling prospect to the organization's depth chart.
Madden recently joined our GullsCast podcast to talk about the unusual nature of this year's draft, his promotion and some young Ducks looking to make their mark:
On how COVID-19 impacted the scouting process for the Ducks organization
For sure there was an impact, no doubt. For many kids, the regular season was coming to an end so we did get a good amount of live viewing on most of the main prospects for this draft, but we did miss two important pieces of information – postseason play in the junior leagues and the end of season World Junior Championships, which is a great way to make direct comparisons between the top players from different countries. Those are the main things that we missed in our evaluations. As you eluded to, we went back and complimented our live viewing with more video viewings than we usually do. Other than that, we’ve gone through our meeting/interview process basically along the same timeline as we have in the past and tried to keep resemblance of the same flow we’ve had in the past. It’s worked well for us.
On the talent level of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft
To me, that’s a difficult question to answer because when you’re preparing for a draft for a team, the Ducks in our case, we get the focus really on a group of players that we think will be available in our range. If I compare it to last year, I will say there are some similarities. The top group for this draft is even deeper than it was last year. Having said that, last year’s group was also excellent and saw us trade back up into the first round in the high teens, 16, 17, 18 we’re still allowing teams to come up with kids that will impact the league relatively soon. I think this group of 10-12 player at the top of this draft will have an impact and, in that way, it is a very good draft.
On the expectation of the impact the Ducks’ sixth overall selection will have on the organization
In that range, you want to add a key piece that will impact the team in terms of production and time on ice. I think we’re definitely going to look at a top-four defenseman, a top-three forward or a starting goalie. That’s a level of quality at the number six spot. Depending who is there, it can be a year out before they play full time or two years out. I think you’re not looking at somebody who will come in five years from now when you’re picking in this range. Having said that, that’s just a projection and we’ll see how the player develops.
On evaluating a prospect's character in the draft
That’s also an interesting question to ponder because we’re looking for the whole package. You want good people and you also want players who will have an impact and not just contribute in some way down the line. We’re trying to project the best production possible at all levels of an organization that a player can impact in the room, but mostly on the ice. You want to come up with leaders as much as you can as well. We’re looking for the whole package of what a player accomplishes for us. When we’re dealing with 17 and 18-year-old kids, there is some projection in many facets of their personality and their play, which makes this process very interesting.
On the importance this draft holds for the organization’s near future
They’re all important. We had three picks last year as well relatively in the same range. We are excited that the top pick this year is also in the top-ten and amongst a good group of players. You want these top-two round players to be impact players. As such, those are three important picks for the next five years of the franchise. We realize that and we take that responsibility very seriously.
On the additional responsibility with his promotion to the Ducks Assistant General Manager
For the last decade, I’ve been focused most entirely on the amateur draft and Bob [Murray] has used me as a sounding board for judging other organization’s prospects and value of picks when he’s talking about trades. Moving forwards, I’ll probably still spend about two thirds of my time on the amateur draft and the rest will be spent with the Ducks in terms of player personnel positions and pro scouting when we’re talking trades with another team and assessing the next phase of young pros. Probably a piece that I’ve been missing when it comes to pulling the trigger on trades. I have not spent much time watching young pros play live. I’ve watched TV and video quite a bit, but it’s not the same as seeing the pro game live so I’ll be doing more of that in the coming years.
On the difference between scouting pros and amateurs
I think the key things you’re trying to evaluate are the same. The major difference is you’re not making as much of a projection and you’re looking to fill a specific role when you’re assessing pro players. When you’re assessing amateur players, you want to be able to project the most impact down the line five, six, seven year later. When you’re dealing with pros, you’re looking more at a short-term fix or medium-term contract length. It’s a more direct evaluation than it is at the amateur level.
On young players developing in the AHL before reaching the NHL
Obviously, if a player is so good that they don’t need the seasoning, so be it, but I think most players gain by having to fight their way through the American League. It’s a completely different game, it’s a different lifestyle, it’s about standing on your own and playing with and against players who are making a living and fighting for their livelihood. I think when you come into the pro level in 2020-21, it’s nice to see that there are a lot of very talented players who are fighting to get to that highest level. As such, the American League is a great steppingstone for most players.
On the importance of coaching staff and veteran players in developing prospects
I think Bob [Murray] has said it very often, it’s difficult to develop winning players in a losing atmosphere. That supporting cast at the American League level are the veteran players and they have an impact that is really important in the success of your club so that great people who are really good American League players support that kid’s development tremendously, as much as the coaching staff and development staff – it’s all part of the process. They are a valued part of the way that these players will develop in San Diego.
On the Ducks organization’s prospects entering their professional careers
Bryce Kindopp as well that we signed to a free agent contract out of the WHL. He’s a right wing, two-way, solid all-around player that will find a way to impact the Gulls this year. Brayden Tracey, our second first-round pick last year, will come out the following year and will have a major impact I think in his first year pro. The player who probably has the best chance to have a major impact for the Gulls next year is Lukas Dostal who had a tremendous year in the Finnish Elite League last season. I think he’s shown a maturity beyond his years. Even though he is a true freshman in terms of pro, he will be playing his 20-year-old season and I think he’s ready to lead the way and earn the number one spot at the American League level.
On personal accomplishments with the Anaheim Ducks
I had to answer this question last week as well and we can pinpoint to a number of different players that we’ve picked in different spots, but I think what I’m most proud of is the way we’ve grown together as a staff on the amateur side for these 11-plus years. Basically, we’ve had the same group all along. Two major players on our staff have moved on over those 12 years, but we’ve grown closer together, we’ve grown as individuals, we’ve grown on the professional side, we’ve continued to strive and stay motivated to have an impact and help the Ducks grow as a team. I think that’s what makes me the most proud – my associates.