NHL Pyramid: UND Fighting Hawks 2018-2019

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee Violent Turtle Photography)

Every year for the past few seasons, Toronto Maple Leafs’ fan and Youtuber extraordinaire, Steve Dangle, has created a prospect pyramid for the Leafs and inspired countless blogs and videos with this system. A few years ago, I created an NCAA adaptation of this with the NHL Pyramid for UND. Let’s see what this year’s tiers look like for the Fighting Hawks. This pyramid will focus on a player’s chance to make the NHL, and play at least enough games to no longer be considered a rookie.

Tier One: 75 percent or better chance 

Jacob Bernard-Docker, Jonny Tychonick, Grant Mismash, Colton Poolman

The pair of incoming recruits were both drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the first and  second rounds, respectively. Bernard-Docker, and Tychonick have played together before on a defensive pair. The two compliment each other quite well. Bernard-Docker is more of a two-way defender that can make the occasional play on offense. On the other hand, Tychonick is an offensive dynamo who is able to generate offense in bunches. Both have strong components to their game. Each defender also had the advantage of spending this summer with the newest Senator and former UND defender Christian Wolanin. They know what it takes to get drafted, and spending time learning about what to expect from Wolanin, combined with a coaching staff featuring head coach Brad Berry, who has a track record of working with and developing defenders in the pro game. How long they each spend here will be a function of their personal goals, and what happens with the Senators this season. One good thing UND fans have going for them with Bernard-Docker and Tychonick is their drafting team. Ottawa has seen what three years can do for development with Wolanin. They will not be rushed to the pro game, as the Senators already see the reward for waiting for a player to develop.

As for Mismash, the second round pick  of the Nashville Predators is in the mix for another spot on the World Juniors’ roster this year. One thing that stands out to me about his game is his consistency. Even if his stats don’t reflect themselves in the box score, he is improving in the defensive end with his positioning. The Predators’ prospect looks to earn himself more time this season, and be a key contributor for the Fighting Hawks in all situations.

As for Poolman, he is the only undrafted free agent to make this list. He has already turned down NHL offers, according to Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald. Poolman is a strong two-way defender that will be called on to lead the younger defensive corps the Fighting Hawks will have this season. He did earn an invite to Vancouver Canucks’ development camp. As a junior, look for him to embrace his captaincy for UND and lead the team from the back end. He will not jump up into every single rush for the Fighting Hawks, but when he does he usually makes good things happen. Every NHL team has a need for strong, puck-moving, and responsible two way defenders. Look for more from Colton this year, and look for him to consider his options when the season ends.

Tier Two: 50-75 percent chance

Nick Jones, Peter Thome, Colin Adams, Rhett Gardner

Each of these three players has a strong quality to their game, and something to add on this season. Nick Jones is coming off of a season where he averaged nearly a point-per-game (30 points in 34 games). He is a smaller forward who does not let his height define him. Jones plays a solid two-way game, and this season his chances of earning an NHL deal hinge on his ability to replicate his success, and show scouts his defensive prowess on the penalty kill. The NHL is filled with superb forwards under six feet, no reason why Jones can’t develop into one with a consistent well rounded game this year. His continued development and leadership will be a strong benefit to a younger UND team this season.

As for Thome, to me his rank this high is for a few reasons. First, he earned multiple games in net from a national champion goalie (Cam Johnson who signed a pro deal with the New Jersey Devils upon his season ending) because of his calming play. The Minneapolis native is 6’4″ and uses every bit of his frame to cover a lot of net.Thome plays a smooth game as a netminder. He does not make a lot of highlight reel saves because his positioning and frame allow him not to have that as a constant need. The Columbus Blue Jackets’ prospect gained key experience going up against high-powered teams last season in his limited time. What Thome can build on this season, is lateral movement and puck handling this year. If Thome can improve his lateral game to help his defense out, combined with his superb glove play and positioning he could rise to the top tier here relatively soon. The other issue for Thome is Columbus itself. While Sergei Bobrovsky is locked in as the starter,  Thome will have to develop for a few more years at UND and then look to move up from Columbus’ AHL team, the Cleveland Monsters’ soon.

The Blue Jackets have three goalies that are drafted and not signed, just like Thome. His toughest competition within the system comes from Elvis Merzlikins playing overseas for HC Lugano in Switzerland this year. Look for Thome’s game to take the next step as he moves into a full time starting role for the Fighting Hawks this season.

As for Colin Adams, he showed flashes of brilliance with his goal scoring prowess this year. He scored a goal in two of his first three games last year. Adams only finished with five tallies but still profiles as a strong sniper able to generate offense as needed, especially on the power play. With one year under his belt, I look for him to have an improved season as long as his defense can allow him to generate more ice time and therefore more goal scoring chances. Good, and cheap goal scoring is always in demand in the NHL, Adams developing his game to get more time on the ice will allow him to better showcase his skills. He put up 51 goals in two seasons in the USHL. If Adams can earn more ice time he will score more this season. The Islanders will be closely watching their prospect develop this season.

Finally, while I think Rhett Gardner has developed dramatically in his time at UND, he is in this tier more as a function of who else the Stars have and the amount of time I expect him to spend in the AHL. Rhett will get an NHL look and very soon, but he will be competing against Riley Tufte and other forwards who possess Rhett’s same defensive prowess, but are able to score a few more goals more consistently than Rhett has shown so far. Will Rhett Gardner play in the NHL? In my opinion, yes. Will that happen before a longer stint in the AHL than some other Stars’ prospects, I don’t know. Gardner has a senior season ahead of him to build the offensive side of his game and become a leading goal scorer for UND.

Tier Three: 25-49.9 percent chance of making the NHL

Jasper Weatherby, Gabe Bast, Gavin Hain

The Oregon native is a strong power forward that the Sharks thought enough of to trade up to get in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Draft. He developed in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) with the Wenatchee Wild. He put up 106 points in 104 BCHL games. Weatherby is 6’4″ like Thome and will see immediate chances on UND in at least a bottom-six role. If he showcases the gains he has made in his game over the summer, combined with the needs of the team he could get even more time. UND develops all types of forwards, but, like Austin Poganski before him, he is a strong two-way player that will develop into an all around player at the NCAA level.

As for Bast, he came off shoulder surgery as a freshman and only played 27 games on defense for UND. I think he is a potential gem for the Fighting Hawks for a few reasons. Bast’s physical style of play and responsibility on the back end will help open up opportunities for UND’s offensive-minded defenseman this season. In addition, there is offensive potential not discovered at this level for Bast. He can generate offense as shown in his last full season of junior hockey, he put up 40 points (9 goals, 31 assists) in 49 regular season games for Penticton.

Gavin Hain was also drafted this offseason by Dave Hakstol’s Flyers. Look for him to compete for time on ice with sophomores Jordan Kawaguchi and Colin Adams, just to name a few. He will develop here for a few years, and has an impressive background playing for the USA National Development Team before coming to UND.

Tier Four: Everyone Else

As for every other UND player, I hope to be proven wrong. This team has a lot of depth this year, including senior leader Hayden Shaw.  The point is to say that this team, like every college hockey team, has a lot of depth and players develop at irregular intervals and times.

Also, college hockey championships are not won without depth players. Regardless of NHL capability, every player on this roster is here for a reason and belongs on this team.

Finally, UND has over 40 players playing in pro leagues around the world. To me that means that all players are being scouted every game by pro organizations around the world. Look for a lot out of everyone on this team this season. I hope multiple people not named on this list make the NHL and prove me wrong.

 

 

Better Game, Same Result: UND Settles For Second Three-on-Three OT Loss in Two Nights

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 12,002 loud fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, Denver Pioneer Logan O’Connor created a turnover, and started a break away in the second three-on-three overtime session at the Ralph in two evenings. Just like last night, the result was the same. Denver defender Ian Mitchell took a feed from O’Connor on the ensuing two-on-one breakaway and found the back of the net 01:19 into the extra overtime to give the Pioneers four points on two ties for the weekend.  While UND ended the weekend with  two ties, it finished tied for eleventh in the pairwise with Minnesota.

In the first period, Kohen Olischefski took a feed from Ryan Barrow, went to the goal line and fired one into the opening short side against Cam Johnson. The puck just went through the small opening to give the Pioneers another lead. In the first, Denver controlled possession through large swaths of play. The Fighting Hawks did not get a shot on net for the first 13:52 of the game. They ended the first frame with only 13 shot attempts to Denver’s 21. The Pioneers had eight high percentage scoring  from the low slot area. UND only generated one.

In the second period, UND picked up the pace. They got more pucks on net and forced Denver to defend more in the first half of the period then they did in the entire first period.

A few minutes into the second, Liam Finlay interfered with Cam Johnson in the blue paint. This gave the Fighting Hawks their first chance on special teams all night.

They did not waste their opportunity.

About halfway through the power play 09:26 into the second stanza, Christian Wolanin took a feed from  Shane Gersich and fired a perfect shot past a completely screened Denver netminder Tanner Jaillet. The Ottawa Senators’ prospect’s eight tally of the year equalized things. The score would remain the same through the end of the second and third period. While UND out shot Denver 16-11 in the last two regulation periods, they could not solve Tanner Jaillet the rest of the way.

 

Thoughts Heading into the Bye 

  • The NCHC is capable of getting six or seven teams into the tournament. This conference has every team but Colorado College and Miami in the top 13 of the pairwise heading into February.  Accounting for the Atlantic Hockey Tournament winner, and Hockey East Tournament winner, the top 14 teams would make the tournament in the pairwise right now.
  • UND looked much better on special  teams this weekend, they only allowed one power play goal on the weekend. Their penalty kill was much more aggressive and forced Denver to make quicker decisions with the puck while limiting time and space for their skilled forwards to generate high percentage shots.
  • If UND can use this weekend where it was missing its top two centers, Rhett Gardner and Nick Jones, along with top four defender Gabe Bast, to help develop players like Josh Rieger and Matt Kiersted, both of whom played well in their replacements then this weekend could help UND down the road. In addition, defenseman Casey Johnson slotted in at forward and helped UND in spots in the game. The Fighting Hawks’ ability to develop their depth players during this long season of injuries will prove crucial in the long run.

Expansion Draft Three Thoughts

The NHL Expansion Draft is now complete. The Vegas Golden Knights have their initial roster. They selected 30 players and traded for a few more. By the end of the night Vegas ended up with 12 picks in the 2017 draft. Five of those picks are in the first two rounds. Here are some quick thoughts on what took place tonight.

  • Why on earth did Florida give up Reily Smith just to lose a 30 goal scorer in Jonathan Marchessault? I get that Florida is not a cap team, but in my mind you cannot justify giving up a player who is just a year removed from a 50 point season in a third line role. Smith will bring some needed depth scoring to Vegas right away. To me this was the worse trade of the night for a team losing a player to the Golden Knights. While yes, the Panthers gained five million dollars in cap room, they lost two promising players who can score with some regularity. The Panthers still have a bright outlook next year, but they now need a bit more out of their up and comers and have to hope Jaromir Jagr comes back for another season. Florida just gave up 88 points between the two from last season to rid themselves of five million dollars in cap room.
  • Look for Vegas to pick up another goalie or more shortly. Tonight they selected Calvin Pickard, Marc-Andre Fleury, and J.F Berube. Berube was selected as part of a deal with the Islanders where Vegas also took on the contract of injured forward Mikhail Grabovski, and Jake Bischoff. The former Isles goalie has an expiring contract, and Vegas needs multiple goalies for its AHL and ECHL teams. Pickard is a serviceable backup that can start when called upon. Look for the Golden Knights to draft multiple goalies as well. Jake Oettinger out of Boston University would be one possible choice for them. He could move through their system quickly and start for them in three years.
  • Vegas has a lot of options with some of the players it picked up. Teams are willing to pay a premium for quality defenseman like Marc Methot, and Vegas wants more picks and assets to help them build for the future. Dallas has let teams know they are looking at moving their third pick and need help on their blue line. The Golden Knights have plenty of options and could put together a package to get that pick.

 

 

Hawks Fly Past the Huskies 5-2

GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA

In front of a crowd of 10,143 loud fans, the University of North Dakota vanquished the St Cloud State Huskies by a three goal margin. Rhett Gardner opened the scoring at 13:39 of the first period with a shot fired off a Husky stick to give the Fighting Hawks an early lead.

Less than a minute later, Shane Gersich got the puck at the blue line and raced in to score a breakaway goal. The Capitals prospect is the first UND sophomore to put up 20 goals in a season since Brock Nelson in the 2011-2012 season.

UND remained in control until 9:43 remaining in the second period. Jacob Benson buried a power play marker on a nice cross-ice feed from Mikey Eyssimont into a wide open net.

With 3:33 remaining in the second, Brock Boeser buried a power play tally to put the Hawks back up two.

On the Boeser goal in the second, defenseman Tucker Poolman notched point number 30. The Winnipeg Jets prospect is the first UND blue-liner to hit that mark since Chay Genoway back in the 2010-2011 season.

After the Huskies answered back with a Jimmy Schuldt goal 10:48 into the third UND was on their heels for a bit, until Austin Poganski scored another key goal on a superb breakaway  less than two minutes later to put the Hawks back ahead by two.

Joel Janatuinen would add an empty-net tally with 44.4 seconds left to secure the three goal victory.

Winnipeg Jets prospect Tucker Poolman was named the game’s first star for his two assists. Both of his assists helped set up UND goals that pushed momentum in their direction.

Tomorrow night UND looks to complete the sweep at Ralph Englestad Arena. The puck drops at 7:07 PM.

 

 

 

 

A Hockey Love Story: Aaron and Kelly Dell

Aaron and Kelly Dell’s love story adds up to ten teams, eight cities, and roughly 10,000 miles.

Call it a hockey love story.

Aaron dreams of being a National Hockey League goalie. This means he travels a lot — time spent far from loved ones.

But Kelly isn’t waiting quietly. She’s blogging. Crazy Pucking World: Life of a hockey wife is brutally honest and full of funny things that Aaron has said over the years. Kelly had people tell her that “I would have slapped him, if he said that to me.” She just laughed stating that “just how Aaron is”, I always know what is going on with him because of that. Sometimes though he can be almost too honest, but he always makes sure you are laughing by the end.

Kelly and Aaron relationship has been built on trust and mutual respect. Not many couples could have made it through the struggle of going from an undrafted University of North Dakota goaltender, preserving throughout the minor leagues and now is the backup for the San Jose Sharks.

Kelly had just graduated from high school and Aaron had just finished his freshman year at the University of North Dakota. The pair dated for two years before they were walking around the mall one day. They went into a jewelry store and had been browsing, when Aaron picked out the perfect ring. They looked at one another, “Should we do this?”. A month later they were married in Aaron’s parents back yard in Airdrie, Alberta. Kelly only cared about two things when it came time to walk down the aisle. She wanted a white wedding dress and real flowers. Aaron wanted was to pick the cake which was marble with a custard center, topped with bride and groom rubber ducks, which Kelly collects. After the ceremony, in a perfect homage of Canada and Minnesota style, a bonfire was lite and beers were had.

When talking to Aaron about Kelly, you could hear his love for her in his voice. Even though Kelly and Aaron both said the other one said, “I love you” first. One thing is for sure, they love each other enough to live nearly 2,000 miles apart. The distance has not been easy though. Aaron said that Kelly has always been supportive of my goal of making it to the NHL and besides my parents, she is my biggest supporter. He said “she (Kelly) is my teammate and it’s great that she understands and supports me, so we don’t have to fight between hockey and her.”

One of the things that they share, besides a love for hockey, is the drive that each have. Aaron said it is one of the things he loves most about her. They connected on that from the get go.  “I have to have a lot of drive to do what I do and I couldn’t imagen being with someone who didn’t understand that.” The biggest thing Aaron has learned over the years of being in long distance marriage is how to communicate, which Kelly joked about “sometimes it’s painful to get him to talk, but it means a lot when he does because he doesn’t open up to very many people, even teammates!” Anyone who knows Aaron knows this. Jayson Hajdu, UND Men’s Hockey Media Director, “You never picked Aaron for press conferences. He is just so quiet.”

Kelly watches all of Aaron’s games, whether it be in person or on the television. Aaron said that when they first started dating, he was mildly nervous for her to watch him play. Kelly laughed and said that she gets nervous enough for the both of them. She is looking forward to March when they play two games in Minnesota against the Wild. They have a lot of friends and family that are attending those games. She equated it to when Aaron played against the Minnesota Gophers during his time at UND, they have always had such a rivalry and she would also get nervous for him. Kelly said that one of the great things about Aaron is that nothing offends him, which is a great quality when it comes to being a goaltender, because no matter how well he played in the net the loss would get blamed on him.

The amount of love that they share is memorable and reminded me of what is extraordinary about life.

Love. Respect. Friendship.

A Snarky Sentence-30 Quips on the NHL

With the NHL season starting tonight here is a quick one sentence outlook for each NHL team. It will be snarky, it may not be nice, and its all in good fun. Plus I guarantee I will be wrong on at least half of these sentences by the end of the season.

Eastern Conference -(team order is random… not projecting order of finish)

  1. Atlantic Division
    1. Toronto
      1. Give up hat tricks for Patrick? (Brandon forward  Nolan Patrick who is the projected number one pick as of today).
    2. Boston
      1. Slow and slower…the 2016-2017 Zdeno Chara experience.
    3. Florida
      1. Father time leads the future.
    4. Ottawa
      1. Scoring not named Karlsson..does enough of it exist?
    5. Detroit
      1. Everybody gets another first round playoff exit!
    6. Canadiens
      1. Is Price alright?
    7. Tampa Bay
      1. Win now because not enough not enough money exists to pay for later.
    8. Buffalo
      1. So many free agents, so little depth.
  2. Metropolitan
    1. Carolina
      1. Can they Ward off last place?
    2. Pittsburgh
      1. How many weapons does Crosby need?
    3. Washington
      1. Any year now Ovie.
    4. New York Islanders
      1. Who steps up with Tavares?
    5. New York Rangers
      1. The king needs more scoring to help in defending the Garden.
    6. Columbus
      1. Does Bob still have it?
    7. Flyers
      1. Can Hak do it again?
    8. New Jersey Devils
      1. Help out Schneider, please.
  3. Pacific
    1. Anaheim
      1. What can Randy do that Bruce couldn’t?
    2. Los Angeles
      1. How much grit can one team have?
    3. Edmonton
      1. Larsson may be good, but he’s no Hall.
    4. Calgary
      1. Can Elliot stop the goalie carousel?
    5. Vancouver
      1. So fast, so little secondary scoring.
    6. San Jose
      1. Can Bodker speed a return to the Cup?
    7. Arizona
      1. So fast,so skilled, so unproven.
  4. Central
    1. Chicago
      1. So many rookies, so much leadership,Western Conference Finals?
    2. Minnesota
      1. Slow, overpaid, and no depth.
    3. Colorado
      1. Can the defense help out?
    4. Winnipeg
      1. People should ham up Laine’s skills more.
    5. Dallas
      1. Seguin will be sensational.
    6. St. Louis
      1. The Tarasenkshow continues.
    7. Nashville
      1. P.K. will play well, can Rinne still produce?

Manitoba Moose-Jack Roslovic

Columbus, OH native Jack Roslovic  was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1st round in 2015. A center and right wing, he has played in multiple leagues over the years.Jack scored 52 points during his two years  in 59 USHL games with the USA National Team Development Program.

Even though he is only 19 Roslovic plays a very physical game with an offensive edge and has great foot speed.

Currently playing for the Manitoba Moose, I had the opportunity to watch him play and get to talk with him after the game.

When asking why he decided to sign this year instead of returning to Miami University. He thought it was the best for his development and that the Jets could do wonders for his career.

Over the summer, Roslovic worked on getting bigger, faster and stronger. I asked him what he thinks he needs to work on to make it to the next level, he said he just needs to work the systems and listen to the coaching staff.

We also talked briefly about his time at Oxford and what he would miss most, the guys and the brotherhood he felt when he was there.

I asked him what player past or present that he models his game after and his response was no one. He studies as many players as he can so that he can combine parts of their game and develop his own style.

The Hawks Pyramid to the NHL

Well, a few days ago, blogger and YouTube Star extraordinaire Steve Dangle invented a new way to rank each team’s NHL prospects. He used a pyramid system to group prospects rather than listing them one through whatever arbitrary number is used. (click his name for a video with a primer on the pyramid idea)

This system is excellent in my view because it gives more flexibility and because it removes pointless dogmatic arguments. I am using this system in college hockey. I will write about a few teams. The main one of course is going to be the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. The tiers will be separated by the chance to play at least one game in the NHL at some point in each players’ pro career upon leaving UND.

The highest tier is the highest chance of playing even one game in the show. Each tier decreases in probability.

Tier One

75 percent or greater

Brock Boeser, Tyson Jost

Well, most UND fans have seen the scoring prowess of Brock Boeser. His shot is NHL ready now and he has one more year to work on his speed before making the jump to Vancouver. He will play an NHL game as soon as this year.

Jost is another first round pick that plays a responsible two way game and has a knack for making plays all over the ice. His mere presence on the ice made his Canadian team better at the U18 World Championship this past April . Tyson will kill penalties and play key special teams minutes this year. If he can develop his shot a bit and generate say a point a game he could make the jump this year as well. The Avalanche do not have a better unsigned center prospect in their system than Tyson Jost.

Tier Two

50-74.9 percent chance

Tucker Poolman, Austin Poganski, Christian Wolanin, Cam Johnson, Rhett Gardner

This is where some of the more developed players reside. Poolman could have jumped to the Jets this year but stayed to play with his brother Colton among other reasons. Gardner earned a late round pick from the Dallas Stars thanks to his stellar work in all three zones. He has a role now as a faceoff specialist. Rhett reminds me of Corban Knight. He can win a faceoff any time and can play in all three zones. Cam Johnson earned a development camp invite to the Penguins based on his superb play this past season including Midwest Regional MVP in Cincinnati on the way to backstopping UND to its eighth National Championship. Poganski has a strong presence on the ice as a reliable net-front presence and is UND’s best penalty killing forward going into the season.

Tier Three

25-50 percent chance

Gage Ausmus, Matej Tomek, Chris Wilkie, Shane Gersich

All four of these players will have roles on this team. Ausmus is UND’s first two year captain since Chay Genoway. Gage reminds me of Andrew MacWilliam. He is a great stay at home defenseman that does not do much offensively. His defensive skills allow his partner to jump up into the rush more knowing that they have a strong backup.

Tomek did not play at all during the regular season last year due to both being injured and then being outplayed by Cam Johnson and Mat Hrynkiw. If Tomek earns ice time he will have a chance to elevate his ranking,however the Flyers drafted another goalie this year in the first round. That goalie is Carter Hart. The Everett Silvertip will be ready for the NHL before Tomek may even be a starter here. The Flyers have six other prospect goalies and all of them but Tomek played last year. Matej has a lot of work to do to improve his stock in the Flyers organization but has the potential to do just that.

Wilkie and Gersich remind me of Rocco Grimaldi. They are both smaller players who are strong on the puck and need to score constantly to be considered valuable to their team. Both can improve their spots with the increased time they will get on the higher lines this year.

 

Tier Four

0-24.9 percent

Everyone else

The most likely person in this tier to play an NHL game at some point Johnny Simonson. He has improved each year and has gotten better on the puck. His goal scoring is catching up to his speed. Simonson still has two more years to showcase himself for an NHL team.

Ranking college players is even more imperfect than ranking pro prospects. Someone in tier four could make the league before someone in tier one. This is just a snapshot in time based on expectations and past performance. What are your thoughts on this system.What are your tiers? What are your tiers for some other teams? We will write about more teams as the season goes on. Also let me know what I missed in the comments.

 

 

Season Review/Look Ahead:Johnny Simonson

Last season, Johnny Simonson had an expanded role with the Fighting Hawks. He played a third line role and improved from his freshman season.In his second season Simsonson generated 17 points in 43 games playing a third line depth scoring role. Simonson is a 5′ 10″ forward who relies on speed and grit to help UND win. While Simonson had more chances last year, we look for him to have a breakout season this year. Since the Grand Forks native will have a bigger role, we expect him to double his total points in the season this year playing either a top nine or top six scoring forward role. His play will determine if he earns any significant special teams time. I expect Simonson to have at least 20 points due to his increased ice time and higher skilled linemates.

This past year, Simonson improved some areas of his game like his playmaking. He still has work to do to make getting knocked off the puck harder. If he has a good rest of the offseason, Simonson could be a breakout star for the Fighting Hawks this season. Like Drake Caggiula before him, we think an NHL team could be waiting to sign him if he produces. We hope Simonson has a difficult decision to make next offseason regarding turning pro.

Grade: 7/10

http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=118020

 

Another Reason to Love Hockey: The Future

One reason I absolutely love hockey is because of how prospects develop. Let me use this entry to showcase that point.

Hockey is a unique animal when it comes to drafts. Most players are drafted when they are 18 or 19. A tiny fraction play in the NHL the year after they are drafted. Most head off to college, or return to their respective clubs be they junior or international. While there they are developing and improving daily and trying to earn a contract.

Earn a contract? That is right. All hockey prospects have to earn a contract based on skills and performance after being drafted. If not, and your rights with the team run out, you may find yourself out of a chance to ever play NHL hockey. Plenty of first rounders go unsigned and never see the NHL. For instance, from the 2007 NHL Draft, five first rounders have never played a single NHL contest. Three more have played 20 or less games. This goes to show that drafting is an inexact science. Imagine if Edmonton picked P.K Subban that year instead of Alex Plante in the first round. Plante played 10 games in the NHL and Subban has played 434 games so far. Subban was picked  43rd by Montreal. Plante was picked 15th by Edmonton.

Let’s also discuss what happens for players who are not drafted. Plenty still get a chance to play. Torey Krug went from Michigan State to earning a pro contract with the Bruins. Recently Drake Caggiula and Troy Stecher have earned chances to play at the next level with the Oilers and Canucks.

All of this shows that the draft is an imperfect art. Just because you are drafted high does not mean you will succeed. On the other hand, those that go undrafted often have better careers than some players picked in the first round of both of their draft years.

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/draft/nhl2007e.html