New Trend In College Hockey?

It has widely been reported that Boston College will bring in defenseman Noah Hanifin, a big-time talent who spent last year on the U.S. Under-17 team (until he was bumped up).

Now, according to, Michigan is close to adding Hanifin’s teammate, defenseman Zach Werenski, out of the U17s.

Both players had to accelerate their education to have the option of going to college a year early. Now, instead of advancing to the U18 team as usual, they both may wind up playing college hockey this season.

Could this be a new trend for top-end players from the NTDP?

If so, it may not be a bad thing for college hockey.

A large number of top-end players who age out of the NTDP are moving to the CHL instead of college. If the option of going to college after the U17 year is available, it might help keep some elite players in college hockey.

Perhaps if the way was paved for guys like Patrick KaneCam Fowler and Seth Jones to take that route, they could have ended up in college, too.

There is an asterisk to this type of move, though. It has to be someone who is ready to make that jump, and very, very few players are ready to make that jump (also has to be someone who can handle the academics of accelerating – many cannot).

It would be a move reserved for players like a Kane, a Fowler, a Jones. By all accounts, Hanifin is one of those types of players. He proved that he can play at an elite level in the World U18s. Now, he may open the door to a new option for college hockey.

9 Responses

  1. Tom

    So the team that just won the title the past 2 years did so with senior led 22 & 24, year olds yet theses guys are gonna count on 17 years olds. Seems counterproductive

    1. Stone

      Hard to pass up on a blue chipper, regardless of what age he is. Those teams both had young studs, too.

  2. brsioux

    It seems to me that there are always a few mature young men who are ready to make that transition to playing with college aged players but…… I fear that if this becomes the desired path, there will be plenty of immature 17 year olds placed in adult situations without the necessary support and they will make choices that will haunt them the rest of their lives. At best – some of these same kids will just not develop as men or hockey players the way they otherwise would.

    The Dillon Simpson’s of the world are very uncommon. Aaron Ness did the same thing a few years ago and it sounded like he was a mature young man.

    I wouldn’t worry about the hockey as much as I would worry about everything else that goes with college life.

    1. I agree with you that if this becomes a trend, you will see several kids who are not ready to play college hockey try to do it. As you said, the Dillon Simpsons, Jonathan Toews, etc., are not common.

    2. SiouxperKev

      Completely agree. We write countless posts ripping college players for leaving early for the pros saying they are not quite ready and need to develop more at the appropriate level. As we all “know”, very few underclassmen are truly “NHL ready” so they end spending years “developing” in the AHL, ECHL, etc. when us college fans wish they would have stayed and worked on their game in college. 17 yr olds in college is basically the same scenario. Most are just not ready to make the move.

  3. Kroger

    I believe Jack Eichel is in the same boat, having a late October birthday. I know Nick Bjugstad also took additional classes to graduate early. I’m all for it. Whatever college hockey needs to do to keep major recruits interested in the college route. Even if it’s only for one or two years.

  4. MoreSioux

    Obviously this would be a nice tool in the box for College Hockey, but how much do you think we risk with guys like Tambellini(I know he left for “PT”), a high end talent, using a 17 yr(he was 18) old scholarship offer as leverage on the OHL. Doesn’t this all just move the broken cog?
    I agree with your idea from a few posts back where a coach needs the stones and pull an offer. Everyone knows there are only a couple schools left in the running for a Chip player, maybe one team needs to take that chance at souring the apple cart for the whole, and pull an offer. I don’t know how they recover from that in credibility, but, I would say this move by BC and possibly Mich.(big weight storied coaches with lots of respect) are a sign that the coaches are trying to protect their game after meetings two weeks ago.
    Perhaps this could be figured, if Eves is left out of the gentlemen’s agreement. 😉

    1. It’s certainly possible that the kid could go to the CHL. Tough situation. But I think this would be a very, very few select number of kids who would be able to do it. Maybe one or two kids in the country per year.

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