Monday, June 23, 2008

Headlines: NHL Entry Draft and Other Hockey News

Brian: We start with a college hockey story in June, Jeff's favorite topic. The NHL Entry draft was this past weekend in Ottawa and saw 1 Boston College Eagle and 2 Eagle recruits get drafted by pro teams.

  • Jimmy Hayes - Toronto Maple Leafs (2nd round, 60th overall)
  • Cam Atkinson - Columbus Blue Jackets (6th round, 157th overall)
  • Ben Smith - Chicago Blackhawks (6th round, 169th overall)
Not a bad weekend for these Eagles. What was surprising from this past weekend's draft was the absence of players from US colleges. Only 4 players were taken in the first round, a year after the NCAAs had 11 drafted in the first round. The second round picked up a little where 9 NCAA players were picked in rounds 2-7. Do you think this will be a recurring theme in future NHL drafts where less and less college hockey players will be drafted into the NHL in favor of junior league and European players, or is this simply a down year for talented collegiate hockey players?

Jeff: First, can I get a benchmark average. Is 3 Eagles being drafted a good year for us?

Brian: Well last year only Benn Ferriero was drafted in round 7 (196th overall) to the Phoenix Coyotes. In 2001, when we last won the National title, probably our most talented class in the last 10 years, we had 4 Eagles drafted - Chuck Kobasew to Calgary in round 1 (14th overall), Matti Kaltiainen drafted by the Bruins and Ben Eaves by the Penguins in round 4, and Andrew Alberts (6th round, 179th overall) to the Bruins.

Jeff: Ok sounds like a comparable draft class to years prior for the Eagles. But as for that trend to European players, NEWS FLASH... hockey is DYING in the United States. Popularity of the sport at the professional level has a direct correlation to involvement at the junior hockey level which develops future NHL stars.

Brian: Not sure if hockey is dying but I do think the recurring theme is that the NHL teams are drafting kids right out of high school, the under 18 National team, and the junior leagues. Kids are also probably more prone to jumping from college to the pros before their four years are up now more than ever, a trend we are also seeing more and more of in college basketball.

Brian: The Boston College hockey team will also visit the White House on Tuesday and meet the president to commemorate this year's National Championship. Jeff, what's the closest you've ever come to meeting the President of the United States?

Jeff: I've been to Washington, DC. That would be the closest I've been. In other words, not close at all, and that is perfectly fine with me. What about you?

Brian: I came within a tiebreaking vote of being elected the National president of a certain service organization while in college. If elected, one of the perks was delivering a year-end report to the President in March. So fairly close, but I'm also fine with not having met the President.


luch said...

guys- a heads up for you regarding NHL draft stuff...its like baseball, where you can only get drafted at a specific time (senior yr high school then not til junior year college or whenever you are 21, whichever is first). in hockey, you have a certain draft year ( i think its the year that you turn 19) and if you aren't picked in your draft year, you will be a free agent whenever you choose to turn pro. as you know, in hockey players often do prep school or play juniors or USA U18 or whatever, making them older than average freshmen when they start college. this could be a reason why sometimes there are relatively few draftees that are NCAA players.

Brian said...

luch - thanks for the heads up. check this out. breakdown of draftees by league. certainly looks like a down couple of year for the NCAAs.

luch said...

good call on the site. i knew that I wasn't exactly right but ballpark. like you guys the first thing i noticed looking at this year's first and second round draftees was the lack of NCAA players...

Christian Russo said...

And let's be honest, the players in the NCAA right now are no Crosby, Malkin, and Ovechkin.

As for this year, I only saw one first rounder from a US college (unfortunately he was from BU), and same from last year. Even the great US-born players aren't being drafted while in college. Take Patrick Kane for example, who was the #1 overall last year. He's from NY, but he played in the OHL.

I could be completely wrong (and i don't know too much about the junior leagues or the Canadian leagues), but maybe it's all about competition and the state of hockey in Canada. Maybe these US players just feel like they can concentrate solely on hockey if they're not bogged down by taking classes? Just a guess i'm throwing out there, and i have no basis for this whatsoever. Additionally, we all know that hockey in Canada is taken a little more seriously.

The US is still pumping out great hockey players, but at the same time, they're just not as good as the top players from Europe or Canada. I mean, who's the last really good player to come out of the NCAA? Without really thinking too hard (and i may be biased), I'd have to go with Parise or Thomas Vanek, and they cant' compare to the top non-NCAA players. And also, if you're only a causal hockey fan, chances are you have no idea who Thomas Vanek or Zach Parise even are.

Plus, more and more guys are coming over from Europe. I dont' have the time to research it right now, but i'd love to see a breakdown of how many players were drafted out of the ncaa vs. canadian leagues vs. european leagues by decade. I'd imagine that the number of NCAA players drafted has fallen, as the number of European players have drafted has risen. I don't know... just food for thought.

All in all, who knows when we're really going to see another Brian Leetch or Chris Chelios. I think NCAA hockey players are just outmatched, plain and simple, by the players in other leagues.

Feel free to put holes in and disagree with any of my comments.