George McPhee‘s scouting staff is growing at a rapid rate with the announcement of David Conte as the organization’s newest Pro Scout. He has been with the New Jersey Devils since 1984 including serving as the VP of Hockey Ops for the last 23 years.
Aside from being a part of three separate Cup winning teams, Conte’s track record is pretty ridiculous. Just look at the list of players he’s been directly involved in bringing to New Jersey.
His former draft picks include Brendan Shanahan, Bill Guerin, Martin Brodeur, Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rolston, Sergei Brylin, Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta. Additionally, Conte was influential in the signing of undrafted players such as John Madden and Brian Rafalski. –NHL.com
But, recently the Devils have been nothing short of miserable when it comes to early round selections. Since 2008 his first and second round picks were John Quenneville, Steven Santini, Stefan Matteau, Damon Severson, Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill, Jacob Josefson, Eric Gelinas, Mattias Tedenby, Brandon Burlon, and Patrice Cormier. Aside from Larsson, not much to get excited about.
He left the Devils in 2015 over what was described as a “mutual agreement.” However there were some rumors that Conte was upset he was not tabbed as the successor to Lou Lamoriello when the legend left New Jersey. Conte quickly denied those reports, but the fact he was out of the organization later that year and hired in Vegas shortly thereafter indicates otherwise.
The 66-year-old has a remarkably simple approach to scouting hockey players.
We are looking for players that will contribute to the organization. We don’t care if you are Russian, Czech, Canadian, French Canadian, American. If you can play, you can play. If you are older, if you are younger, if you are smaller, if you are bigger, it doesn’t matter. You can play, you can play. –David Conte
Unfortunately, Conte’s Devils haven’t really been able to “play” since their Cup run in 2012, finishing 5th, 6th, 7th, and 7th place the last four years.
He is taking a pretty sizable step down going from the top scout in New Jersey to a professional scout in Vegas. One has to wonder if this is a short term hire to help with the Expansion Draft.
Either way, Conte certainly comes with a wealth of experience and is probably the biggest name on the staff aside from McPhee. The reviews from around the league aren’t as good as they were on McPhee, McCrimmon, and Dosnkov, but Conte has definitely seen it all, which is a common theme thus far in this organization.
Finally, for those asking, Conte does have a link to the Washington Capital organization, but it was well before McPhee joined the team. So, we’ll officially file Conte under the “Not a Cap” list taking the tally to Ex-Caps 6 (McPhee, Prior, Lugerner, Kucera, Boettinger, Nichol)- Not A Cap 3 (McCrimmon, Donskov, Conte)