Defensemen – Import Players
This is the second article that examines the facts on Defensemen at the Junior A Level (Tier II) in North America using data from the BCHL. To read Part 1 please click here! Today we will examine one narrow issue, that of Import Players. A lot of my clients and the majority of players look outside their home province or state for Junior A Hockey opportunities. The spring and summer each off-season is full of tryout camps trying to capitalize on this very desire. Each year, players are only allowed to transfer out of province/state (excluding Americans in the USHL/NAHL) if they are 18 years of age or older (1994 was the threshold birth year during the 2012-13 season).
How Likely is it for an Import Defenseman to Play in a Junior A League?
The statistics are quite interesting as 61 of 111 Total (54.95%) defensemen in the BCHL are British Columbia born defensemen or Non-Imports. That means that there are average 3.125 Import defensemen PER Team in the BCHL or 45.05% (50 Total). So, close to half of the players in the league are from out of province, I’d say that that means the import market is an important one to most Tier II leagues.
Import Nationality Break-Down
Of the 50 imports, 20 (40%) were Americans and 30 (60%) were Canadians from other provinces. To take that one further step, Americans make up 18% of all defensemen in the League while 27% of blue liners are scouted and signed from other Canadian development associations. It is fair to say that Teams are looking everywhere possible for elite talent.
Age Breakdown – Is Older Better?
There were only 7 (of 111) 1994 American imports in the entire league. That means that it is around a 5% chance for an American player to sign in a top flight Tier II Canadian Junior League during his first year of eligibility. It is more likely that they would make it at some point during their final 2 years of Junior eligibility. Overall, 19 or 38% of the defensive imports were 1st Year (1994) eligibility transfers. Also, 19 of ALL imports were 1992 birth year veterans. This means that every team in the BCHL has on average 1 veteran import defenseman and 1 1st Year Defenseman manning the blue-line. Interestingly, there were only 7 1992 birth year defensemen from British Columbia in total. I would argue that since 5 of the 7 were un-committed to the NCAA, the overwhelming majority of locally born defensemen had already moved on to either NCAA or CHL opportunity before their final year of Junior eligibility.
Combine the lack of BC born veteran defensemen with the statistics demonstrating that 62% of total imports signed are older players, Top Tier Junior A Leagues like the BCHL seem to prefer recruiting elite echelon import players who have already established themselves as legitimate NCAA prospects elsewhere. Certainly, more then pure rookies as there is definitely a need for older, experienced Import players to address this discrepancy.
Next article we will examine the comparison between age and size with regards to defensemen.