July hasn’t been a great month for college hockey. UND recruit J.T. Miller, Northeastern sophomore-to-be Jamie Oleksiak, BU recruit Anthony DeAngelo and Boston College recruit Brandon Shea all have reportedly pulled their college plans to join OHL teams.
In reading the coverage and the comments about Miller’s decision to go to the Plymouth Whalers instead of UND, you will see two overriding themes.
First, you’ll see a lot of people saying that it’s the right move, because major juniors is the route to go if you want to play in the NHL (and it’s the fast route to the NHL). Second, you’ll see speculation that the New York Rangers pushed Miller to go to the OHL.
This is a battle that UND and other colleges continue to fight — the perception that they won’t develop a player as well as major juniors.
The numbers don’t necessarily tell that story.
In fact, UND’s Zach Parise has scored more NHL goals than every player that the Plymouth Whalers have produced in the last eight years combined (and Parise missed almost all of last season).
Among players produced in the last eight years, UND more than doubles Plymouth in every category.
NHL games: UND 2,648. Plymouth 1,245
NHL goals: UND 551. Plymouth 154.
NHL assists: UND 794. Plymouth 259.
NHL points: UND 1,345. Plymouth 413
NHL players with 100+ games: UND 10. Plymouth 4.
NHL captains/alternates: UND 3. Plymouth 0.
If you want to look at things from a New York Rangers point of view, the Rangers have produced two 30-goal scorers in the last five years (UND has produced eight). Jagr did it once, Gaborik did it once — neither of which played major juniors. You have to go back a decade to find the last time a major junior player has had a 30-goal season for the Rangers (Eric Lindros).
So, if the rumor that the Rangers pushed Miller to go major juniors is true, that is at least a little bit mysterious, because it’s not like they’ve been hitting home run after home run with guys coming from the CHL.
Despite these comparisons with the Rangers and the Whalers, it couldn’t save the Sioux from losing Miller.
It’s not like the NCAA is losing every battle. Jonathan Toews, Danny Kristo, Mike Cichy, Brad Malone and Dillon Simpson are a few examples of guys who had heavy pressure to go to CHL but stuck with their college commitments. But certainly a month like the last one has to be frustrating for coaches.
Will the new conference alignment — and possible new TV deals for the NCHC and Big Ten — help hook younger players on college hockey… and players from non-traditional college hockey markets? Will College Hockey Inc., be able to make waves in the future (it is in its infancy right now)?
We will see. All that’s known right now is that the battle for top players is as hot as ever and college hockey ended up on the wrong side of a bunch of those battles in July.