Kate Crandall of the Colorado Springs Gazette wrote an excellent article, discussing the state of college hockey recruiting. She highlights most of the major issues that coaches today are facing.
One of the big points that the article brings up is how kids are committing at a much younger age. As it happens, I was just thinking of writing a post about early commitments, because the 1987 birthdates were really the first group that had kids commit to college in the 10th grade. INCH had an article about it way back in 2003. At that point, 6 kids had committed before the summer of their junior year of high school. How did those players turn out?
Jack Johnson-Playing in the NHL
Jack Skille-Signed an NHL contract
Andrew Cogliano-Will likely sign NHL contract either this summer or next summer
Joe Ryan-Never made it to college. 4 years in QMJHL, and 2nd round NHL draft pick
Jason Lawrence-40 points in 2 seasons at BU.
Ryan Turek-4th round NHL draft pick. Only 2 points this year.
Overall, that doesn't look so bad. The only real disappointment is Ryan, since he ended up going the major junior route, but it still a good player. Turek is the only one that played an extra year of junior hockey. I'd say the early returns on the early commitment phenomenon are pretty positive. I'm sure that eventually somebody will make a mistake and get burned by it, and when that happens, that one anecdote will be used over and over as an argument against recruiting kids early, but it generally seems to work out pretty well.