Tuesday, April 15, 2008

NCAA and the NHL

Let's Play Hockey Magazine had an interesting article by editor Kevin Kurtt that counted all of the former NCAA players in the NHL. By their count, 252 former NCAA players played at least one game in the NHL last season, which is almost a third of the players to play in the NHL this season.

Regardless of which side of the fence that you sit, it's impossible to deny that the NCAA is doing a great job preparing kids for the NHL, and that NHL opportunities for NCAA players are increasing.

The article also points out that seven of the top 20 rookie scorers in the NHL last year, which is promising. It was pointed out to me last week that the NCAA has a fairly low representation among the very top scorers in the NHL. Part of the reason for that is that college hockey seemed to have a pretty down cycle of talent around the turn of the century. The other reason is that most of the players in that super-elite category are top 5 draft picks that were ready to play in the NHL at 18 or 19. For those players, the CHL may be the best route. The league allows them to play against slightly older, more talented competition as a 16 and 17 year old. The NCAA has a pretty strong barrier to underage players in that you have to graduate high school before playing college hockey. Were it not for academic requirements, players like Pat Kane and Peter Mueller probably would have been NCAA players as well. The same will likely be true of a kid like Matt Duchene one day.

The problem is that there is a huge gap between the number of kids that get told they fall into that super-elite category and the number of kids that actually fall into that category.

For the vast majority of kids, they'll be on the borderline of the NHL, and it looks like the NCAA is doing a tremendous job of getting those borderline NHL players into the league.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Out of all those players, how many actually got thier degree, graduated college?

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin alone has Reinprecht, Burish, Dowell, Gilbert, Hussey, Elliott, Bourque, and Piskula(this summer), etc all receiving their degrees and Heatley is still taking a summer class each summer to attain his degree and diddo for Robbie Earl.

I thought we were talking about development anyways.

Anonymous said...

The above poster missed Brad Winchester, Andy Wozniewski, Alex Brooks, and Brian Rafalski all receiving their degrees at Wisconsin. I believe Sean Hill also got his degree in 98' if I seem to recall.

Anonymous said...

Hell just looking at the first two teams, Anaheim and Atlanta, out of the 17 college players on the team 12 of the players all received their degree. 12 out of 17, whats the percentage CHL'ers? 14 out of the 17 stayed at least 3 years in college.

The Rink Rat said...

Speaking up for the east, allow me to add Tanner Glass, Lee Stempniak, Dominic Moore, Chris Drury, Brian Gionta, Brian Boyle, Andrew Alberts, Martin St. Louis, Tim Thomas, Mike Mottau, Jesse Winchester (played a game for the Senators after Colgate's season ended, and will get his degree this year with his class), George Parros, Pat Rissmiller, Doug Murray, Greg Moore, Dwayne Roloson, Noah Welch...I could go on, but it's really late.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Wisconsin fans can type. Good to see you guys/gals can write, and second, that you are awake and following college hockey. Whenever I read these blogs, most or all of the wisdom comes from MN and ND, and it pretty much stops with those two states. Thanks for playing Wisconsin. I am a unbiased fan with no particular team, but love college hockey and it's fans.

Anonymous said...

Phil Kessel, the NCAA poster boy didn't get a degree, and he has been a healthy sratch the last three games. While Milan Lucic has playd each game for the Bruins.

As for some of those numbers, the line "at least one NHL game" come on, lets look at fulltime players.

Any stat can be played with...

MJB said...

Correction: After doing it again the number is actualy 136.

Anonymous said...

The number 252 may look impressive at first.

Then compare it.

Their were 521 ex-CHL players who played at least one game in the NHL during the 2006-2007 season.

Can the statement be made that you are more than twice as likely to play in the NHL if you play in the CHL?

Chris said...

"Can the statement be made that you are more than twice as likely to play in the NHL if you play in the CHL?"

Not successfully. There are 60 CHL teams that operate on relatively equal footing in terms of spreading out their talent. The NCAA has 59 Division I teams, but only 44 teams had a player in the NHL last season. Only 30 programs had more than 2 players in the NHL.

Add in that CHL teams use more players since they can add and drop players throughout the year, and proportionally, a player's odds are better at one of the bigger NCAA schools than a random CHL team.

Anonymous said...

And that's 136 more than NHL players graduating using their CHL education package.

In summary

Players with degrees using the NCAA
136-179

Players with degrees using the CHL
0

hmmmmmmm..........

MJB said...

Chris, why didn't you post my comment right before my 11:30 post? I spent a while figuring that out.

GoldenHorde said...

Who annointed Phil Kessel posterboy for the NCAA?

If we get to choose how about Jonathan Toews, top end Canadian talent choosing the college route to actually get an education.

The success Toews is having actually has a chance to change the way the best young players think about the NCAA route, I highly doubt any of them are following Kessels career.

Chris said...

My bad on deleting that. I just saw there was a correction and only posted that one. I didn't realize there was pertinent info in the first one that wasn't in the second. Try posting it again.

Anonymous said...

""Blogger Chris said...

"Can the statement be made that you are more than twice as likely to play in the NHL if you play in the CHL?"

Not successfully. There are 60 CHL teams that operate on relatively equal footing in terms of spreading out their talent. The NCAA has 59 Division I teams, but only 44 teams had a player in the NHL last season. Only 30 programs had more than 2 players in the NHL.

Add in that CHL teams use more players since they can add and drop players throughout the year, and proportionally, a player's odds are better at one of the bigger NCAA schools than a random CHL team.

12:14 PM""

Chris,

Agreed. That is why it was asked as a question. On the face, it has no more, or no less validity than the 80/20 graduation number, or the 75/78 NHL draft number that playcollegehockey.com identifies.

""Add in that CHL teams use more players since they can add and drop players throughout the year, and proportionally, a player's odds are better at one of the bigger NCAA schools than a random CHL team.""

Not necessarily true. Argument can be made that the NCAA isn't developing these players, but, rather identifying them. The majority of these players are either already drafted, or, identified as high-end prospects.

Phil Kessel's odds of making the NHL were likely identical regardless of whether he went to Minnesota, or Saginaw.

There are a lot of conclusions, or theories that can be made about the dispersion of talent in the NCAA.

Regardless 521-252 is still a fairly large disparity.

Anonymous said...

""Anonymous Anonymous said...

And that's 136 more than NHL players graduating using their CHL education package.

In summary

Players with degrees using the NCAA
136-179

Players with degrees using the CHL
0

hmmmmmmm..........

12:18 PM""

Did you actually look up "0" or is it a guess?

I would think that their are CHL-CIS players who graduated that played in the NHL last year.

Will the players who stayed in school and got their degrees be able to use their degree to make up the 2-3 years of income the CHL player generated in the NHL ahead of them?

Anonymous said...

Kessel? Is he even still in the NHL?? That guy seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.

Along with Toews, I would point out Paul Stastny for the CO Avalanche. Another recent NCAA player having a great NHL career.

Anonymous said...

I say this every time this topic comes up, don't know why I waste my time, but here goes again:

Both the CHL and NCAA are good at helping players reach the next level. Like most things in the world, there's no clear black and white as to which is better. The NCAA is probably better in a bunch of situations, the CHL is probably better in a bunch of situations.

NCAA fans can get a bit elitist in bringing up the value of a college degree, the CHL fans can get a bit elitist because, well, it's the CANADIAN league!

I think Chris brought up a good point this go round - that the NCAA may be a bit better at helping to get those borderline NHL players over the hump. The real elite players (elite as 15-16 year olds) are probably better off in the CHL, more often than not, because of the age gap between when you can start in the CHL and when you can start playing in the NCAA.

Of course there are going to be a few elite players who are better off going the NCAA route (I would argue Turris is one such player) and some borderline NHL talent that are better off in the CHL (maybe some of those less concerned about a college education?).

If it could be agreed that those generalizations are somewhat true (and I know that's asking way too much already), the big problem you'd run into is most kids and their parents think they are elite players at 15-16. I wonder what the % of players who play in the CHL at 16 that end up being NHL regulars is? Honestly curious, not arguing nobody should play in the CHL at 16.

I think that's why, if the NCAA is ever to be serious about being a place to groom STUDENT athletes, they should find a way to allow players to come to the NCAA after playing in the CHL (without sitting out a year or whatever). They like to brag about how most will, "go pro in something other than sports," yet they refuse to allow these CHL types to come and get a world class education and play the game they love at the same time.

Like so much with the NCAA, it just seems ass-backwards.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post!

I have long argued that CHL players should be made elligible and there finally is some "buzz" to this actually happening in the not to distant future.....not because the NCAA is being the nice guy here but because in all honesty college hockey has been getting its butt kicked in recent years by the CHL in attracting the top players.

Like the ole saying goes, if you can't beat em join em!

Almington said...

It totally inaccurate to say that anyone that leaves college after three years doesn't get a degree or to say that former CHLers never get degrees. On the flip side, just because a players stays all 4 years does not me that he DOES get a degree.

Now, the NCAA should never allow former CHL players in the NCAA, when a player decided to join the CHL they are deciding to forgo the ability to play in the NCAA and pursue a professional hockey career. Should the NCAA allow players who entered the NBA draft out of HS and were drafted but never played in the NBA the ability to change their mind and go to college? No, once the player makes the choice they have to live with the consequences.

For the most part, the CHL is a better option for the elite players who have the potential to play in the NHL at 18 or 19. For the next level of players who would use up their CHL time and then toil in the AHL/ECHL for 1 to 3 years untill they make the NHL then it's a toss up, neither path towards the NHL is better or worse. For the borderline player who would use up his CHL time and then bounce around the lower minor levels or go to a CIS university, then the NCAA route might be a better path, the have the opportunity to earn a degree and if they develop and distinguish themselves on the ice they have a chance at earning an NHL contract. This is just a set of generalizations and their are exceptions to every rule.

Now considering that the CHL has a significant advantage in securing the services of Canadian kids since the NCAA coaches can't even talk to then until the player's junior year of high school and that the majority of players in the NHL: are Canadians makes it clear that the CHL is going to have more players in the NHL. Add to that (as was pointed out) that the 60 CHL teams are being compared to only 20 to 30 NCAA teams. and it no surprise that the total numbers are the way that they are.

I don't really care if the CHL is "winning" more of the battles over the top talent with the NCAA but I don't want to see the NCAA shoot themselves in the foot and help the CHL win the war.

Anonymous said...

For the NCAA to declare players professional who play in the CHL is only self serving, and a disservice to the kids.

I know why they do it, but, I think it is for the wrong reasons.

A kid who plays in the CHL is deemed 'professional', because he is playing against NHL contracted players.

When the US World Jr. team plays against the same players, they are not deemed as professional.

A CHL player doesn't have the option of forgoing his $50 per week stipend, to maintain amateur status either.

Anonymous said...

"Players with degrees using the CHL
0"

I meant to say "NHL players with degrees using the CHL education package 0".

Tom Douglis said...

As long as NHL general managers remain 70% Canadian (as they are now) the CHL will produce more NHL players, not because the players are any-better trained, but because that's the route the GMs know best - the CHL is probably what the GMs did back when they played themseleves, and they have a greater network scouts and coaches as the people they trust in the CHL. If the GM ranks ever become 50/50 Canadian to American, you will see college hockey rise farther as feeder for the exact same reason - Americans will know the NCAA system better and trust it more.

Good players are going to play in the NHL no matter where they develop, but the real power in hockey development lies not so much in players, but in the relationships between GMs, their scouts and the coaches.

Anonymous said...

When the facts don't support, come up with a conspiracy theory.

Doesn't work here.

GM's with a CHL background - Regeir, Rutherford, Gainey, Sutter, Tallon, Howson, Jackson, Holland, Lowe, Risebrough, Maloney, Wilson, Pleau

NCAA background - Burke, Waddell, Chiarelli, Martin, Lamoriello, Snow, Holmgren, Shero, McPhee, Hull, Lombardi, Poile, Nonis.

That is 50/50.

Anonymous said...

You guys must be NAIVE to think that ALL CHL players don't have degrees. Just look at Hunter Tremblay, who played in the OHL, went on to the University of New Brunswick, and then just signed a NHL contract.

Also, if you look at the rosters at the U of Alberta for hockey, University of Calgary, University of Ottawa, Toronto, BC, PEI, etc...you'll see that the majority of the players used to play major junior!! DUH! Using their scholarship money...what a concept.

And...while playing major junior, a good chunk of the kids take a few courses (not necessarily a full course load, but still). And if hockey doesn't work out, they've already had a few courses under their belt and then can start going to university/college full-time.

Lastly...are you trying to imply that Matt Duchene wasn't academically eligible? Matt Duchene is a SMART kid, he was a scholastic player nominee. He chose the OHL because 1) he got offered a full-ride scholarship since he's a top prospect 2) he wanted to play with his friend, Cody Hodgson and 3) thought that the 2 years in the OHL would help him develop more instead of playing in Junior A (tier 2). His mother is a teacher, I'm sure education is VERY important to them.

So...DON'T ASSUME GUYS!

Anonymous said...

As for Toews...why he chose the NCAA route? It's obvious.

1) UND was a lot closer to his home than any WHL team.

2) The guy is a PARTY ANIMAL!! Did you not see the commotion he made last year...he had to do community service because of his bad deeds!
I don't know if you know, but WHL players have a CURFEW (11 pm I believe) and a BILLET family so they don't necessarily have as much freedom to "enjoy themselves" (drinking, smoking mary-j, etc) They don't live in dorms like the college kids!

3) He knew he was a top prospect. He knew no matter the route (WHL or NCAA), he has the tools to be a dominant player so regardless of the route, his own work ethic would bring him success at the NHL level.

4) He might have wanted to avoid all those long bus rides since WHL players play 2x games than college kids.

Anonymous said...

NCAA