Friday, May 09, 2008

Not So Fast, My Friend

WCH favorite Mike Emrick made a comment in the third period of last night's game between Detroit and Dallas that caught the attention of TNABACG.

Emrick was wondering aloud how Toby Petersen, a kid that played at Bloomington Jefferson HS just outside of Minneapolis, ended up going to Colorado College, rather than becoming a Gopher. The implication is that it's basically a given that the top players from the Twin Cities area will matriculate to the University of Minnesota, and ultimately on to the NHL.

It's a seemingly logical theory, except that it doesn't seem work in practice. It's undeniable that Minnesota gets basically their pick of the top-rated high school players from the Twin Cities, but the numbers look much different by the time you get to NHL alums. Out of the 25 players to hail from the Twin Cities and their suburbs that played at least one game in the NHL last season, only 6 are alums of the University of Minnesota, just slightly worse than one out of four.

Here's what the list looks like. (Note: I used Let's Play Hockey Magazine's list of former college players that played in the NHL, and used Hockeydb for hometowns. I don't have a specific definition for Twin Cities suburb, but basically Maple Grove, Hastings, Coon Rapids, and Blaine all made the cut; Red Wing didn't.)

Minnesota Alums

Jordan Leopold
Paul Martin
Barry Tallackson(The NHL lists him as from North Dakota, but Minnesota listed him as from St. Paul)
Kyle Okposo
Jeff Taffe
Erik Johnson

Non-Minnesota Alums
Andrew Alberts(Boston College)
Casey Borer(St. Cloud)
Tim Conboy(St. Cloud)
Bret Hedican(St. Cloud)
Joe Jensen(St. Cloud)
Dave Tanabe(Wisconsin)
Toby Petersen(Colorado College
Tom Gilbert(Wisconsin
Mark Parrish(St. Cloud)
Brandon Bochenski(North Dakota)
Josh Langfeld(Michigan)
Zach Parise(North Dakota)
Jack Hillen(Colorado College)
David Backes(Minnesota State)
Ryan Carter(Minnesota State)
Mike Lundin(Maine)
Matt Smaby(North Dakota)
Tom Preissing(Colorado College)(Born in Illinois, but grew up in Minnesota)
Tim Jackman(Minnesota State)(Born in North Dakota, but grew up in Minnesota)

It would make sense that the non-Minnesota alums list would be a little longer since there are so many players in the Twin Cities and Minnesota can only recruit so many, but it's kind of surprising that there is that big of a gap, considering Minnesota is starting with the better talent in nearly every case.


gmf1a said...

You forgot Tom Preissing - Colorado College

Anonymous said...

It's pretty simple: the top players do go to Minnesota, but Minnesota's system just fails to produce pro players. Not like North Dakota and Wisconsin does.

Pioneers04 said...

If you go back a couple more seasons you can add Adam Berkhoel to the list too- U of Denver.

Shane Frederick said...

Add Tim Jackman, Minnesota State, to your list.

blah blah blah said...

I know others will put it as more of a flame on you, Chris, than a rational thought, but let me comment something:

First, the argument may be more valid than you think. True, there are more Twin Cities boys who went to other schools that have made the NHL than those that went to UMN, but if you compare them individually, then the argument is valid. SCSU (if I counted correctly) is second with 5 (that in itself is a big story...a team that historically has faced being the punchline of the NCAA tourney, had to endure St. Cloud and its pathetic University academia-wise, and of course, Coach Dahl).

Second, what it really amounts to is a crap shoot. How they stand up in college may not always translate to the next level (see Sejna, Panzer, Demarchi, Lessard, Goehring, Bonin, etc.) And others may get into the NHL by some miracle and suddenly just become electric (Dustin Penner is a big example, Tim Thomas, Carter from MSUM, and I'm sure I'm missing a few). You don't know what you are getting when you get them. That's why recruiters simply try to recruit guys who impress the scouts and project to develop well and fit into your school's system (to oversimplify the whole thing).

Who really knows.

Anonymous said...

I think Twin City kids should move onto new horizons when it comes to who they play for. Staying home does not grow you as a person. I think if they move onto other programs they will find growth within themselves and more likely become NHL'ers. Simple psychology. Even if Mankato or St Cloud is as far as they go. Gophers should pick up nothing but small town kids like Roseau, Warroad, Hibbing, etc.

Anonymous said...

Who cares what the Twin Cities situation looks like when they have recruited a good percentage of players from outside of that area in the past? Its not as if all they do is focus on a 30 mile radius surrounding Minneapolis.

Not to mention comparing one school to a combination of ten or so teams.

Anonymous said...

Add Ryan Malone and the Huskies have the Gophs tied.

Anonymous said...

Unless the Twin Cities magically annexed Ryan Malone's hometown of Pittsburgh into the Twin Cities area, he has no bearing on the discussion. Get a map and his biography because you look totally clueless anon 11:41.

Anonymous said...

I think you missed a few U of M guys. Thomas Vanek, Keith Ballard. Phil Kessel, Ben Clymer, John Pohl, Wyatt Smith, Ryan Potulny, Erik Rasmussen played 71 games in 2006-2007. Goligoski had couple of games with the loaded penguins.

Anonymous said...

And not everyone qualifies academically for Minnesota

Anonymous said...

Ryan Malone is from Pittsburgh, he played at Shattuck through his junior year.

Anonymous said...

matt niskanen?

444 said...

If I am not mistaken Ryan Malone isn't from the state of hockey.

Anonymous said...

Is it really that much of a mystery?

During this same time the Gophers have had Vanek, Kessel, G. Potulney, R. Potulney, Chucko, and Irmen from outside Minnesota. Plus the Gophers recruit the whole state not just the metro. To use recent recruiting as an example When you take Aaron Ness and Jake Youso you miss out on Jake Gardiner and Danny Mattson. Minnesota just produces too many good prospects for the Gophers to get every great player.

I could understand the critique if someone had great success at each level. But besides Gilbert, who has else has won a National Championship? I mean other than Leopold, Martin, Tallackson, and Taffe. We know none of the St. Cloud kids ever won a NCAA game let alone a championship.

So, nice try. Better luck next time.

By the way, was Gerbe really from Michigan? How did Red miss him?

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, but three other things to consider:

1) College hockey teams exist to win championships, not produce NHL players.

2) Such a statistic would have been more damning 20 years ago. These days, kids are playing all over -- in camps, national teams, select teams, NTDP, USHL, Shattuck -- and they're seeing a much larger world than the one that exists in the Twin Cities. A lot of people would love to argue this, but there are things to like about those other institutions, and a lot of them aren't all that far away from the Twin Cities.

3) Some top kids don't want to go to the U primarily because the school continually gets top talent; they'd rather be the top dog somewhere else. That's their prerogative, and it's not always an unwise choice.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong. If I recall I think the reason Toby Petersen didn't go to UMTC is because as part of him signing with a team the team had to agree to also include his brother. At the time Woog wasn't willing to do that and CC was.

Anonymous said...

" think you missed a few U of M guys. Thomas Vanek, Keith Ballard. Phil Kessel, Ben Clymer, John Pohl, Wyatt Smith, Ryan Potulny, Erik Rasmussen played 71 games in 2006-2007. Goligoski had couple of games with the loaded penguins."

Again another clueless poster. Maybe you should read the actual post before you comment on it. Or maybe Clem Haskins had someone read for you?

Anonymous said...

Maybe one should ask Garth Snow what he thinks of the Gopher program as a development model.
Perhaps players feel that they can develop better elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Coaching anyone? Pretty clear Lucia cannot develop players to the next level. Bash Garth Snow all you want....but he is right. Lucia and his system don't work beyond the college years for players. Go Badgers!

RR said...

Toby Peterson and Tom Preissing were both recruited by Don Lucia when he was coaching at CC.

RR said...

Correction: Toby Peterson played for Lucia at CC and Preissing had been recruited to play for CC while Lucia was still coaching there.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, those guys that played for the Gophers are on average higher "impact" NHL players than those from the non-Gopher list.

Although, I'm proud to say Parish and Hedican fall into the "impact" category for the non-Gophers!!

Still though, it's all a mater of how predictive the scouting is. Woog and Lucia did just fine in that department, but credit should be given others for maybe doing a slightly better job at prediction. (Dahl?)

Anonymous said...

Whoever said Thomas Vanek is missing the point completely.

Anonymous said...

"If I am not mistaken Ryan Malone isn't from the state of hockey."

Yes he is.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who bashes the Gophers then throw a "Go Badgers!" at the end of it has to be a St. Cloud fan. They like to throw insults and then hide behind someone else's back.

Anonymous said...

No, Malone is not from MN. He may live here now but he was basically in Minnesota for one year prior to college and that wasn't in the Twin Cities but rather in Faribault. He is from Pittsburgh. End of discussion.

If you are going to bring players into the discussion, how about keeping it within the scope of the meaning of the blog's post?