The Road to Minneapolis began long before anyone even knew it would end there. There were published reports about Ryan Nugent Hopkins and Adam Larsson (currently projected as No. 1 and No. 2 prospects in the 2011 entry draft) as early as the 2009 entry draft. It is fair to assume that NHL scouting staffs had them on their radar for at least the previous season. So, the Road began at least as early as Fall, 2008.
NHL scouts traveled thousands of miles and spent up to 400 nights each in hotel rooms. They interviewed countless coaches, teammates, friends, billet families and parents of prospects as well as the prospects themselves and filed as many as two dozen reports a year on the best of them.
Along the way, there were surely twists in the road. A scout might have certain targets in mind in any given week of travels, but he always has to be open to a relative unknown who might be of greater value. That's how Bobby Orr was "discovered," for example.
In the end, all the traveling, watching, interviewing and reporting have just one objective. That objective is to ensure that on draft day, Steve Tambellini, Greg Sherman, Dale Tallon, Lou Lamoriello, Garth Snow and the other 25 NHL general managers are as well prepared as can be to make the choices that will decide the future of a franchise.
What will that choice be? Will they trade the pick or try to move up for a certain targeted prospect? Will they stand pat and pick the "best player available"? Or decide that the available talent is so evenly matched that it's worthwhile to trade down and obtain more picks and prospects?
I will look at these options from a NY Islander perspective. Feel free to comment as to how your team should or might approach them.