At any given time during a season, there is an average of five unprotected players on the ice with each United States Hockey League, North American Hockey League, and Canadian Junior Hockey League club. Should USA Hockey and Hockey Canada make the protected rosters more transparent and available to the public? Doing so would stop the practice of leaving players in limbo (or not telling them about their unprotected status), allowing them to identify other opportunities.
I'd also like to see junior active rosters reduced to a twenty-two player maximum. Four lines, with a pair of goalies, makes more sense than a handful of healthy scratches and "others" that are hanging around town waiting on the injury bug to hit.
The CJHL already has affilate players so why not a twenty-two plus eight affiliate player list for American teams. I think USHL teams would love to have eight guys playing in the NAHL that they can call up at any time. The NAHL could do the same thing, distributing the players among the NA3HL teams. Those affiliated players should be exempt from the player fee, giving the pay-to-play operator the opportunity to accept the assignment or simply reject it.
Junior hockey prospects need to play. It's just too bad that so many upper level teams are more concerned about keeping prospects from their competitors than they are about the overall development of the players.
Author: Stephen Heisler
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with the Heisler Group. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.
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