Submit an Article to JuniorHockey.com »
Daily Dish: Major Choices - Junior Hockey News
Published: Monday, 16 May 2011
"He is only fifteen, how are we suppose to make the right decision?" A concerned parent asked me last week.
"The numbers don't lie." I responded. "Players selected with the 100th selection and higher would be much better off at another level." I added. "Why is that? My son was the best player in this area, and the Western Hockey League is not going to draft him if they think he is not going to be able to contribute." The parent continued.
"The 2010 NHL Draft selected 43 players from the Western Hockey League, but over 300 players were in the bantam draft, you do the math." I responded.
The numbers present a harsh reality and the bantam draft can be a lot like rolling the dice in Las Vegas, for both the teams doing the drafting and the players being selected. Major junior teams do not project where each player is, but have to guess where he is going to be.
Most teams follow the simplest of rules and just pick the best player available. Considering that these kids can be a foot or more taller than another because of the various stages of puberty, it is extremely difficult to even determine what kind of player a ninth grader is go to be at age eighteen.
For the major junior teams, if a bantam draft prospect plays for a year and does not meet expectations, he is simply dropped from the roster. For the player in that situation, the options than become extremely limited. Imagine being washed up at age seventeen.
"What if it was your son?" The parent asked me. "My son's progress, in the classroom, would be equally important as his progress on the ice, from age 10 and older." I explained. "If he was selected in the top 20, I'd seriously consider the major junior option." I added. "If he is the number 75 overall pick, he is going to also be a serious prospect for just about any college team, and the NHL will still be an option after graduation."
Reality is a tough pill to swallow and a lot of parents do not want to face it. The bottom line is simple, don't gamble the future of your child with a roll of the dice. The decision needs to realistic and informative. Players and parents also don't have to decide now. If the kid is THAT good, he is going to have a limitless number of options later on. What do you think?
Too often parents, no matter how hard they try think with their hearts and not with their heads. Quite often too they receive bad advice from scouts, teams and coaches who can make money on the player. Hockey does not last forever, an education will last a lifetime.
This is probably one of the best articles I have seen on this subject, although it would be nice to see even more detail. Although to really objectively cover this subject in an article would take probably a few articles in a series!
The 3 CHL leagues are certainly great options, but there are other options that offer the same level of competition, and do not affect a players eligibility for collegiate play here in the US and Canada (Jr. A Tier II in Canada for US players is another option for those players over 18). You have the USHL, NAHL at the Tier I and Tier II levels, and you have about a dozen Tier III leagues.
I think the best thing to do is the homework-is my son going to develop as a player, person and how does this all look if something happens like an injury? How is their education program? What is their billet situation?
The other point that can't be emphasized enough is picking 14 year olds and then projecting where they will be in 3 or 4 years. Talk about throwing darts with a blindfold on! How many great players at the PeeWee, Bantam and Midget levels can make the adjustment successfully to Junior hockey at any level? Whether they play Major Junior or Junior A Tier I, II or III in the US, they are still playing against bigger, stronger and faster players.
Find the level that is appropriate-listen to the scouts, coaches, players and parents for input-with the obvious caveots of looking for bodies to fill camp quotas. Do the research on a team, its staff, the league. Look past the headlines and ask the questions that are important to your son and his goals.
With the resources that are available to players and their families today like FastHockey.com, Pointstreak.com and American Junior Hockey, there is an abudance of information available to help a player and his family make an informed decision. There are GREAT programs at the Major Junior level, USA Hockey Junior A Tier I, II and III. There are also some not so great programs.
Log in to post a comment
* Article disclaimer:
This site may contain advice,
opinions and statements from various authors and information providers.
Views expressed in this article reflect the personal
opinion of the author, Stephen Heisler, and not necessarily the
views of JuniorHockey.com.
JuniorHockey.com does not represent or endorse the accuracy
or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other
info provided in the article, or from any other member of this site.