Interview with Neutral Zone’s Head Western Canadian Scout Donald Godreau

Tyler Fiddler Behind the Bench Leave a Comment

Can you tell us who you are, your job title, and what it all entails?

I’m the Director of Scouting and Recruitment for Mount Royal University Men’s Hockey Team and Head Western Canadian Scout for Neutral Zone.

I got my start into scouting with ISS as a regional scout. It was part of their internship program. A lot of my attention was aimed at the Bantam draft and the NHL draft. 

After my internship with ISS, I met with MRU’s Head Coach Bert Gilling and our relationship started to grow. I’m on the road a lot watching 20-year-olds and writing game reports. As time has gone on, my role has expanded, and now I’m communicating with players and trying to get a sense of what path they plan on taking after they graduate from the WHL or Junior A. 

I’m also in my fifth year with Neutral Zone. I started as a regional scout covering Alberta, mainly focussed on Bantam and Junior A. I’m now in my second year as Head Western Canadian scout. 

With Neutral Zone, we focus a lot on NCAA eligible players and the NHL draft. 

Scouts used to be enamored by size. What kind of shift have you seen in the scouting community regarding this?

It’s been interesting to see the game change from rough and tough to speed and skill. Personally, size doesn’t play a factor for me. The important things for me and many scouts are speed, hockey IQ, and playmaking ability. 

Obviously, with anything, you have some scouts that value size and target those types of players. But I think as a whole, the scouting community has changed their perspective on smaller players. 

What challenges have you dealt with in regards to limited games and viewings when evaluating players this year?

This year has been unique. For me, I’m trying to gather as much information as possible. I’m reaching out to the players’ former coaches and other scouts to learn more about these kids. 

The other challenging part for scouts, once hockey hopefully starts back up, is all the major tournaments have been cancelled. Tournaments are great for scouts because you get to see 3,4,5 games of a player. It just means a lot more time on the road. 

What sort of impact will we see in regards to the Bantam Draft?

From my sources, I’ve heard the WHL board had a vote about pushing back the Bantam Draft this year, but that was voted against, so as of right now, nothing has changed. 

For those who don’t know, usually, the Bantam Draft occurs for 15 years old. I think the smart thing to do would be to push the draft back one year. This way, players would not be impacted, and it would align the WHL with what they do in the OHL and QMJHL. 

What message do you have for players and parents worried about the negative impact that limited games will have on them?

They have probably heard plenty of this answer, but all I can say is stay patient. There are many great hockey minds across our country, and if a player is good enough, someone will take notice. 

The main message is to control what you can control. Continue to find other ways to improve, such as shooting pucks, at-home workouts, or reading a book.

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