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When to Sign in the CHL – Regular Players

by Jason Nadeau

When to Sign in the CHL – Regular Players

The eternal question for all hockey prospects in North America is IF they should sign in the WHL or its other CHL brethren the QMJHL or OHL? Now, this issue is so big, I can’t really give you advice worth listening to without knowing your individual circumstances. In fact, my position is that choosing between the CHL or NCAA is entirely dependent upon your own specific situation and there is no general ‘correct’ answer or path to follow.

● Regular Players (5th Round Draft Picks or Later) actually play significantly FEWER games then the AVERAGE of their age group. The average is 31.58 GP and the Regular Players cohort average a paltry 14.26 games played per first season.

WOW! Please stop for a second and really process this information.

14.26 games… that’s less then 1/3 of the entire WHL season. What possible benefit can you get from playing 14 games in such a key developmental year of growth? There is an argument that this exposure helps in potential advanced NHL draft positioning (I will explore this very issue soon). However, from a realistic objective standpoint, can you really conclude that 4-6 minutes of ice-time per night over 14 games is really your best course for all round growth and development? I think you need to step back and see this limited game time for what it is… a waste of time for players who fall into this category.
The main exception was: Stone (1992 – 5th RD) 56 GP/39 PTS. Not too Shabby!!!No one else was even close to this point total.

● There were a TOTAL of 4 undrafted players that played significant games, meaning above the average of 31.58. None of those players had impact seasons with all four having marginal statistical outputs.

Over that 2 year period, the Highest Undrafted player (Rutkowski – 1992) had 64GP/15 PTS.

Now, if you fall into this final undrafted category, please take off the rose coloured glasses and instead focus on what’s important. You need to protect your playing rights, keep your options open and get the most effective amount of ice-time you can. Please do not let ego ruin your future options by pushing you into a losing situation where you give up your NCAA rights to be a ‘signed’ WHLer. I’ve seen it happen too many times to count and it is a bad situation any way you look at it.

● Clubs who had the most players on their rosters from this age group were: Edmonton (6 per Season – Bottom Feeder BOTH years);Tri-Cities (6 – 1st in Division BOTH years); Lethbridge (6 – 5th Overall & Made 2nd RD Playoffs); Kamloops (5.5 per season – .500 Hockey Team Both Seasons). While Edmonton was a bottom feeder in the standings in both seasons and Kamloops was clearly rebuilding, Lethbridge and Tri-Cities were top flight clubs. I think it is safe to conclude that if you are going to sign with a rebuilding club, the data backs-up the argument that you will most likely get MORE games and ice-time to develop and showcase your skill set.

The teams that had the least amount of 1st year players were: Spokane (3 – 2nd & 7th Overall in League); Calgary (3 – Div & League Champions); Brandon (3.5 – 5th & 8th Overall); Moose Jaw (3.5 LAST PLACE & Made Playoffs). Spokane, Calgary and Brandon were clearly high-end teams and as such they did not utilise 1st year players very much. Moose Jaw was the anomaly as it clearly stunk AND did so with an older team.

Therefore, if you are drafted by an elite team, unless you were their coveted 1st rounder, you will most probably NOT get significant ice-time, games played NOR be in a position to put up a lot of points. So even if ‘THEY’ make promises, remember these statistics and give them sufficient weight in your final decision making process. You need to play and put up good numbers to get noticed at the next level.

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