Ah yes, the NHL draft is a wonder to behold, and more a wonder for those young men who are fortunate enough to be selected. It is not the culmination of your hockey career, it is really the beginning.
More than that though it is a statement on where our game stands in the process of development of athletes throughout the world. The statement made this weekend is easy to see; The USHL is now just as good a development league as the OHL, WHL and QMJHL. One could argue that it may even be better.
The number simply do not lie.
The USHL have 35 players selected in this year NHL draft. A very large number for the league to be sure, and very impressive as well.
By comparison the OHL have 41 player selected, the WHL have 37 player selected, and the QMJHL have 17 player selected. Clearly the USHL number fit right in with the Major Junior Leagues. This is not the first time the USHL have more player selected than the QMJHL either.
But when you look further into the number, the truth become more clear.
There are another 16 player that were selected that actually came from the USHL before playing in Major Junior. The real total for the USHL then is 51 player selected.
The USHL can not help when player leave for Major Junior after the first season or two because the player agent, advisor or NHL team tell them to do so would make that particular player development better. It is after all the free country and player right to make the moves. You rarely see this in reverse of the player going from Major Junior to the USHL because that player is not NCAA eligible, and the USHL is largely the NCAA development league.
If you take those additional 16 player away from the Major Junior team, the 51 player from the USHL lead all leagues easily.
Oh yes I know people will disagree and we all have the point of view that is our own, but the number do not lie. I did not make the number up, it is the fact of the draft.
If the USHL was not as good, why would Major Junior team try to recruit USHL player every season? Player do not get recruited unless they are good correct? If the USHL is developing those player do they not deserve the credit? To say it is they do not deserve credit, is to say that Dominik Hasek did not earn his NHL Hall of Fame credentials as the Buffalo Sabre, but did so instead when he was an Ottawa Senator.
This of course is the way of the world. Everyone want to take the credit for development. In truth though the development is really in the eye of the person who first identify the talented player and put him in position for success, not the last team to have the player on the roster.
Perhaps in stead of being mad with the numbers the Canadian people reading today should congratulate the United States born and bread players for actually making this accomplishment. Perhaps it can be a notice to all that perhaps there is room for new leadership in the game with different philosophy on development.
Perhaps it should do nothing but put the world on notice that the United States is now leading the way, and the rest of the world now needs to catch them.
Congratulations USHL. This foreigner is happy to have the competition and you deserve the credit.