Should I go to a Prospect Exposure Camp for CHL Scouts to see me?
WHL / OHL / CHL Exposure
Let’s start with the obvious facts and then we will examine potential value by age group.
These leagues have an abundance of scouts ALL over the Canadian Minor Hockey landscape. They will have already seen you at some bantam or midget event if they were going to find you. In the WHL, every scout and his dog is at the U16 & U17 provincial events in BC, Alberta (Alberta Cup) and the Prairies, whereas the OHL scouts put on their own OHL Cup event which showcases the best draft eligible players.
Where do you think you are more likely to get noticed? The event showcasing the BEST 80-160 players of your age group in front of EVERY CHL team and their entire scouting team or a regional event after that event with lesser competition and lower quality talent?
Non U16 or U17 Provincial Player
Now, if you didn’t attend the select group of U16 or U17 evaluation camps then you do need to take whatever steps necessary to get yourself on the radar of these teams in a proactive way. I would argue that it is THIS group of players that would benefit the most from such a showcase event when hoping for CHL exposure.
However, Please Note, if you are an American player, you may NOT have been seen quite as extensively, and this type of event may in fact be your MAIN opportunity to get noticed, if that is route you are exploring. Keep in mind that the CHL has started to move towards hosting their own US Regional events like the WHL US Prospect Camp, which of course reduces the value of private events.
Value by Age Group: 19-20 Year Olds
At this point, you have 1 or 2 years of Junior Eligibility left in total, with it being almost impossible to become a 20 year old in the CHL as a rookie. So if you aren’t there already, you won’t be at that late date because of roster restriction. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but if you aren’t on the radar of the CHL by this point, then you are probably out of time. I think that this is pretty self-evident as a prospect / showcase event is typically for younger players. Your value would lie more likely at the Junior B or Tier II level for exposure.
18 Year Olds
This depends on entirely on where you are at in your hockey development. As you have 3 years left to play junior hockey, you can’t afford to waste anymore opportunities. If you are a last year midget player, you should be on someone’s invite list to main camp at some level of Junior Hockey, preferable Tier II or Major Junior.
If you are NOT, then you need to be thinking Junior B or Tier II so you can better build your resume. With the advent of elite Midget leagues in most provinces now, CHL scouts are getting to see more midget players then ever before. If you are a 3rd year midget player who hasn’t jumped to at least Junior B, or you didn’t play at the Major Midget level (elite level of Midget) then you need to think about your realistic potential. Your window is shrinking for the CHL and maybe this type of event would mark one of your last chances to make an impression. Decide on 1 or 2 showcases that you think provide the most exposure and work your butt off, you need to catch someone’s eye real quick!
17 Year Olds
At this point, if you aren’t already playing Junior or were NOT invited last summer to the U17 camps, then you need to get whatever exposure possible IF you want to continue your career to the CHL. I’d say that this age group above all others is when you have the greatest need for an exposure camp. It isn’t too late by any means, but you have lost 1 year already and you are likely to be at least 1 or 2 years away if you are in this situation, so very quickly your window to play has closed substantially.
16 Year Olds
Well you just finished your first year of midget. If you are in Ontario, you are getting ready for the OHL draft, if you are in western Canada you have already gone through that process 1 year ago and just spent a year under the WHL spotlight. As you know from my prior article, most of you are NOT playing in the CHL next year, other than the ELITE players and even if you do, you will be limited to less than 15 games per season. So, you will have 1 more year to strut your stuff for the scouts in either minor hockey or Junior B. The utility of this type of venue is more valuable for you in terms of finding a Junior B or Tier II tryout then a CHL spot because you are most likely at minimum 1 year away anyway.
15 Year Olds
This is your draft year in the West and in the East the scouts are stating to circle the wagons. This is the U16 Regional Teams year, which will attract the top 100-150+ in each area, depending on population. If you fall out of this range, then an exposure camp could very well represent your last chance to get noticed before the draft.
U12-U15 Age Groups
The U14 age group is a good preview spot for CHL teams and players as they enter that future draft year, so there is some reasonable value at this stage, but remember they will see you ALL season as well. This event might just make them take more notice then they would have other wise! Once we are talking U13 or Younger, then your value in this type of event falls under the heading of learning to tryout and showcase yourself for future Junior B or Tier II clubs. As for CHL exposure, it is a bit premature at this age group, if you are going to such an event it should be for other better reasons.