Yesterday, the Rangers formally announced some front office changes. While the moves were expected, as new President John Davidson was going to bring in his guys, they were met with a bit of criticism. JD brought in a bunch of guys he had been working with in Columbus, including his son in law. As per usual, I have some thoughts.
1. Nepotism is the word being used to describe the hirings by JD. Specifically with Chris Morehouse, who is JD’s son in law, and Marshall Davidson, JD’s brother. Hockey is full of nepotism, and one of the criticisms of JD in the past is his desire to keep those close to him as members of his staff. It is something to keep an eye on, especially since Morehouse will be the head of North American scouting. Let’s see how we do with North American players in the coming drafts.
2. It’s worth noting that JD brought in these guys because the Rangers did not previously have a formalized North American scouting group. There is certainly some nepotism here, but if the results are there and it formalizes a missing chunk of scouting, then I’m all for it.
3. Speaking of results, Morehouse and Davidson were scouting with Columbus since 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, respectively. Morehouse was the Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting the past three seasons. In that time, let’s look at their mid-late round hits, keeping in mind that basically anything after 2016 is too soon to tell for these kinds of picks:
- Oliver Bjorkstrand (2013, 3rd)
- Markus Nutivaara (2015, 7th)
They also hit on Zach Werenski (2015, 8th overall) and Pierre Luc-Dubois (2016, 3rd overall).
Suffice it to say – that’s not that much success in Columbus from a drafting perspective. They had three 1st rounders in 2013 and hit on just one (Alex Wennberg). That is certainly leaving me wanting. We will need to see how the 2016-2019 drafts pan out for Columbus to get a better read, but they do not have a good track record right now.
4. Summarizing points 1-3: There are some good points of view here, that the Rangers never had this kind of scouting group formalized. However the track record is lacking. Gordie Clark still has control of the draft, so we will need to see how his influence on the new guys pans out. Clark is obviously swinging for the fences with high ceiling players in the past few drafts. If that’s the trend, and this new scouting department finds high ceiling players, then perhaps the difference is organizational direction and drafting strategy.
5. One other thing to keep an eye on is Clark’s future with the club. He’s a Sather hire, and if JD really wants to have his presence felt, then Clark might be one of the Sather guys to move on. That said, Clark has had tremendous success in his role, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. JD is smart enough to know that.
6. All in all, this is a move that is tough to evaluate until you see how these guys perform on the job. It’s like any new hire in your job. You think you hired the right people, but their results will speak for themselves. We may not have any idea how these guys do until next year’s draft or beyond.