The battle rages

In his WHL debut on Wednesday night, Adam Tambellini tallied four points — the same total he had in three months at UND.

This is the reason he left UND. He wanted to play in a league where scoring is much easier because he’s not playing against older, more physical and mature players.

As Dave Hakstol said in his weekly press conference, this isn’t an easy place to play. College hockey is a tough league. And offense doesn’t often come easy for young players, especially ones that have filling out to do.

That doesn’t mean it’s a poor place to develop, though.

It’s interesting that the player we’ve compared Tambellini to all along is Brock Nelson, isn’t it?

Both were tall and scrawny upon their arrival and needed to fill out. Both have a knack for being great goal-scorers. Both have big frames and can use that as an advantage in a number of areas. Both have great skillsets.

Strangely enough, both players also had the same number of goals at Christmas of their freshman year. Tambellini 2, Nelson 2.

Nelson ended up sticking with it. He had a nice second half to the year, blew up his sophomore year and now, in what would have been his senior year, he’s a regular on a scoring line for the New York Islanders.

I think if Tambellini would have stayed, he would have become a great college player much in the way that Nelson did. He was just starting to figure it out. But now we’ll never know.

There are plenty of questions that will probably never be answered. The first one: How long has Tambellini been checked out?

Tambellini was not property of the Calgary Hitmen. Tambellini told the Hitmen site that, “I singled out Calgary as the one place I wanted to come to.” So, he had to force a trade behind the scenes. How long has that been in the works?

The other thing you’re going to hear from the north is how Calgary is a better place to develop and reach the NHL. The numbers don’t necessarily reflect that.

Players who have come through UND/Calgary in last 10 years

NHL games: UND 3,893 — Calgary 2,774
NHL goals: UND 798 — Calgary 416
NHL assists: UND 1,174 — Calgary 822
NHL points: UND 1,972 — Calgary 1,238
Players with 100+ NHL games: UND 12 — Calgary 8

In the past six years, a total of 16 players have left NCAA hockey midseason for the CHL. Only one of them has played in the NHL (Charlie Coyle). That’s not to say that Tambellini won’t eventually reach the NHL. He certainly has a high ceiling and a lot of potential. But it’s not an easy road.

35 thoughts on “The battle rages

  1. Bozek must have left prior to six years I’m guessing. Also Brock played on a scoring line a handful of games before vanek got there and two games ago when okposo was on paternity leave. He spends most of his time on the third line. Either way I agree with your assessment….Brock is fastly becoming a regular for his NHL club.

  2. Makes you wonder how long this has been going on for tambo. Also Majors poaching current college players. So who aren’t they going after rather than who are they targeting. Just a joke. It will be an ongoing battle for years to come.

  3. I know there have been guys in the past that have had to make tough decisions in the face of Major Junior recruitment. I think early on in Drew Stafford’s career he was pressed and thought about taking that route after he already wore a Sioux uniform. Good decision for him to stay.

  4. Brad, I appreciate being able to read facts, not some of the wild opinions that get written on the midweek chats. Hearing other opinions is fine, too, but they should be formed after learning the real story.

  5. I really don’t understand how scoring more in the WHL looks better than less scoring in the NCAA? Do these players think that NHL scouts are clueless in that they don’t understand the level of competition and development? Am I missing something?

    • Methinks the conventional rationale is that more games = more experience = more development. He certainly had to be planning this move for awhile though, but doesnt everyone plan their life’s course one way or another? I’m certain his teammates and the coaching staff are very disappointed at the way it all happened however…..

      • They are both great development leagues…with the CHL being 100% developmental (with college hockey you of course are attending school). While college hockey you are going up against older kids, in the CHL you are playing with the best talent (16-20 year olds) in the world, for the most part. I think, from a development standpoint, if many of these top notch kids would come to play college hockey that would be better for them as they would play bigger kids, however, the true fact is that many top prospects go to the CHL so others will follow. What many CHL die-hards forget is that there are such things as late bloomers and that is why college hockey is such a great league. My only dissatisfaction with this whole thing is his approach to the whole situation. Poor timing.

        • This comment is a joke!

          Brad just showed the stats NCAA vs CHL above. If you want to look at the top 30 NHL point getters right now. The list is littered with NCAA players. I don’t know how you could say that one league develops more talent than the other. In fact it’s a hard argument to win. How many major junior players are there in a given year vs how many NCAA DI players? I suspect the junior leagues in Canada simply have more players. You would be hard pressed telling me players like Toews, Oshie, Parise, Vanek, Kessel, Okposo, Suter, Greene, Backes, (Only a few of the WCHA players in the NHL)…..would say they were cheated out of development.

          Your comment is bogus.

  6. Great Stats Brad. You gotta hope for the best with the kid, but statistics don’t lie. Tough loss for UND, especially down the road, but an even bigger loss for Adam. But, life goes on I guess.

  7. Nice article and stats, Brad. It kind of seems like he was never really here mentally to begin with and if so that can ruin a locker room in a hurry. Regardless, the games will still be played and life goes on and all we can hope is that the coaches can get the right kids with the right mix talents in the future to lead the team to some titles.

  8. Maybe the guy was never checked in. Sounds like he should have not come to UND in the first place. Kind of leaves UND in the lurch but I know there are other players who will step up and get a chance to play.

  9. The sad thing is that he took a place in the lineup that someone else could have had who was willing to stay the entire year and help the team.

    • Completely agree. A player could have been at UND the entire year contributing and improving. Left UND in a tough position. Also will take playing time and opportunities from somebody on his new team.

  10. Couple of points:

    -the WHL is not necessarily an “easier” league to score in. I would love to see some numbers to support that. Statements like that make this sound like sour grapes.

    -Tambellini scored 4 points against a team whose record is 12-29-4, while playing for a team who is 29-8-5: not sure I would expect him to continue that kind of production against the upper echelon teams in that league.

    -your stats would mean more if you combined them with the teams records over those years. I know UND’s results, but is Calgary a continual power, occasional cellar dweller, what?

    -I agree that once you are committed, you stay….at least until the end of the year.

    -I have asked this before, but before you all go jumping to how much better College hockey is, how many of you have actually attended a CHL game? Brad, I believe the last time I asked, the answer was 0. If that is still the case, a weekend road trip to Brandon, MB would at least provide some exposure. The leagues are very close, both at the top end and bottom ends. Both leagues have very good teams and very bad teams. Go see a couple of good CHL teams, and you will be impressed with the level of play….it is good hockey, just as NCAA has good hockey and bad hockey, depending on the participants in the game.

    -I would like to see the NCAA not consider the CHL to be ineligible for college hockey. Their stipends are minimal (I know, money under the table, etc), and think about how much better all of hockey would be if colleges could have access to ALL the best junior leagues in the world. I know it won’t happen, but I think it would be amazing.

    • The WHL and CHL is far easier to score at than is college hockey. College hockey is far crisper, faster, tougher, than is the CHL. This is coming from someone who has been to 15+ WHL games. I’m sure scoring numbers would reflect that too.

      • Clearly the scouts and NHL GM’s (including Tambellini’s dad apparently) totally agree with that assessment.. The games are both good, depending on the teams. UND/UM or Mich/Mich State is great, UAH/Fairbanks or MTU/UAA, not good hockey. Calgary/Swift Current or Portland/Kelowna, great, Saskatoon/Lethbridge, not so much.

        So which teams have you seen 15+ times?

        If you are “sure” the numbers bear that out, post them here (and don’t feed me QMJHL numbers, everyone knows there is no defence in that league).

        All I’m saying, is that both leagues play very good hockey, and to dismiss one out of hand is short sighted and does no one any favors. Kids are going to go where they feel their development will be optimized. Should they do it in the middle of the year, no, but it happens.

    • Here are your numbers to support that statement.

      A look at skaters who have left midseason in the last six years and how they did in each league in the exact same year. There are 15 skaters. Only one produced more in CHL than NCAA (Vermont’s Robert Polesello). More than half of them produced TRIPLE in the CHL what they did in the NCAA:

      Alain Goulet – .29 ppg in NCAA, 1.09 ppg in CHL
      Sam Lofquist – 0 pts in NCAA, .73 ppg in CHL
      Rob Czarnik – .50 ppg in NCAA, 1.14 ppg in CHL
      William Wrenn – .05 ppg in NCAA, .45 ppg in CHL
      Charlie Coyle – .88 pgg in NCAA, 1.65 ppg in CHL
      Carlos Amestoy – 0 pts in NCAA, .49 ppg in CHL
      Yasin Cisse – .15 ppg in NCAA, .52 ppg in CHL
      Taki Patziris – .29 pgg in NCAA, .29 ppg in CHL
      Cam Reid – .68 ppg in NCAA, 1.03 ppg in CHL
      Robert Polesello – .80 ppg in NCAA, .50 ppg in CHL
      Peter Quenneville – .80 ppg in NCAA, 1.13 ppg in CHL
      Nelson Armstrong – .17 ppg in NCAA, .52 ppg in CHL
      Daniel Milne – 0 pts in NCAA, .70 ppg in CHL
      Dakota Mermis – .21 ppg in NCAA, .41 ppg in CHL
      Adam Tambellini – .25 ppg in NCAA, 4.00 ppg in CHL

  11. One more time, this is the legacy of college hockey. Players show up to be seen by pro scouts. Their loyalty is to themselves, not the school they play for, whether they mid-year like this guy or Okposo, or after 2 or 3. There seems to be a disconnect between fans, who are about the team, and players who are about themselves.

  12. Brad, surely Tambo (and esp his father) see the numbers you have posted. Do you know why Tambo and others see the CHL as the way to go….as opposed to USCH? Here is the problem Brad (would love to hear your comment): no matter what the numbers show, this seemingly new exodus of recruits to CA is undoubtedly having an impact on USCH. How did this all start? Do the numbers prove that going to CA is the best way to make it to the NHL (when you include all junior leagues…not just the CHL)? This recent change in perspective by recruits is worrisome, and UND could be affected more than any other school. Maybe you can do some research on this and present it to USCH officials….and I am serious. What do you think?

    • A more accurate set of numbers would be to look across all college hockey teams versus all CHL teams, not just UND and Calgary. There are too many variables (team quality being the biggie) in such a narrow sampling. The real numbers would be averages of all teams/players. Bottom line, numbers are a useful tool, but not the only story. I doubt that any players or their families actually break down those specific stats Brad mentions while making their decisions. Be it number of games, playing time, developmental stage, percieved ceiling, team quality, etc, the variables boil down to each kid and their family making a (hopefully) informed decision with regards to their future and development.

      • The nature of college sports results in a few teams getting most of the pro-level prospects, especially in hockey. North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Boston College and a couple others get almost all of the guys who get selected in the first couple rounds and have the best chance of becoming productive NHLers. Of course the Hitmen haven’t produced as many NHL goals/assists/games in the last 10 years. I doubt any CHL team has as much as UND (maybe London, but idk). With most CHL players being acquired through drafts (bantam/midget or import) rather than recruiting like in NCAA, the talent is going to be spread out more evenly over the 60 or so CHL teams. So comparing one of the preeminent NCAA programs to any CHL team proves almost nothing. Like SiouxFan said, if you want to compare college to junior, then compare NCAA to CHL, not one tiny subset of each.

  13. Can the author post the actually list the guys and numbers? As far as the Hitmen stats….they sounded off, and based on just some players who have played there since 2003, the numbers I got were very different. And this isn’t even all the guys, just guys that I pulled off the Hitmen website that have played since 2003 that I know played a decent amount (or remembered watching) I did this quickly, and won’t claim perfection, but the games and points are different with my findings.
    Alzner 305 52
    Falk 128 17
    Getzlaf 598 570
    Galiardi 250 94
    Ladd 578 333
    Postma 46 9
    Schultz, J 399 75
    Segal 305 22
    Sjostrom 489 104
    Stone, M. 88 24
    White, R 122 13
    Total 3308 games and 1313 points

  14. Not sure the most recent numbers, but a good indicator of the accuracy of the comparison at hand would be to compare recent NHL drafts. Over this same period how many players from Calgary and UND have been drafted into the NHL. Output numbers are nice to look at but could be swayed by one or two good players.

    • I know little about the CHL, but I assume kids are playing in the CHL prior to their draft year. Most ‘NCAA kids” are drafted prior to coming to college so they are being drafted based on HS, USHL, etc or just pure potential. If the NCAA kids were drafted similar to say NCAA football players (after playing 2-3 yrs) I think you could chart a kids draft status based on development in the college ranks with more accuracy. Hope that makes sense.

    • Sorry, I didn’t log on until now. You have Segal playing 305 games. He has played 103. Sjostrom and Boychuk were gone by 2004. Here are the numbers. Calgary: Getzlaf 598, 172; Ladd 578, 148; J. Schultz 399, 11; Alzner 305, 6; Galiardi 250, 40; Falk 128, 1; R. White 122, 3; Segal 103, 11; B. Carson 90, 2; Stone 88, 14; Postma 46, 4; Kohn 22, 0; Pushkarev 17, 2; C. McMillan 16, 2; Plante 10, 0; Dupont 1, 0; Foucault 1, 0. Totals 2,774 416. North Dakota Parise 587, 227; Zajac 513, 105; Greene 490, 13; Stafford 484, 124; Toews 453, 182; Oshie 334, 78; Lee 209, 5; Bochenski 156, 28; Porter 137, 10; Smaby 122, 0; Frattin 112, 17; Jones 106, 1; Chorney 61, 1; VandeVelde 36, 1; Nelson 35, 4; Malone 31, 1; Finley 21, 0; Murray 4, 1; Watkins 1, 0; Genoway 1, 0. Totals 3,893, 798.

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