Signing Day Could Become Vital In The Future

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NCAA Signing day could become vital in the future

Signing day has become, perhaps, college football’s biggest holiday with schools and fans waiting anxiously for players to make their college destinations official.

In the college hockey world, where players often commit two-plus years in advance of signing and almost always stick to it, signing day passes without registering a blip on the radar.

That may soon be changing.

Legislation is being developed— either with the oversight of the NHL or through the transfer agreement between USA Hockey and Hockey Canada — to bar Canadian major junior teams from stealing a player who has signed a letter of intent until after the player’s freshman year.

And while this is happening, there is a behind-the-scenes movement by some coaches to try to ditch the longstanding gentleman’s agreement between coaches that they won’t recruit players that have made verbal commitments.

If either happens, letters of intent will become big deals to the college hockey world.

The Canadian Hockey League, which routinely tries to poach college players and recruits, is driving these developments to an extent.

UND has lost two highly regarded recruits to the CHL since July in first-round draft pick J.T. Miller and possible 2012 first-rounder Stefan Matteau. Both had signed letters of intent. Miller bolted in July, leaving UND with few options to find a replacement before the start of this season.

And while the CHL routinely pursues college players, NCAA teams are not allowed to do the same because CHL players are currently not eligible for college.

If no agreement is reached with the NHL or the CHL, it’s worth exploring the possibility of opening up CHL players to colleges.

The NCAA would have to change its stance on the CHL, but anything is possible.

The positive for college hockey would be that teams could pluck CHL players, including high-end guys, to replace recruits it loses. If the CHL is open to colleges, it also may be more likely to agree to new transfer rules.

The negative for college hockey is that all of the high-end players may immediately go to the CHL, knowing that the college hockey window would remain open.

Verbal commitments

In the meantime, verbal commitments have been taking center stage at recent coaches conventions.

Currently, college hockey coaches do not recruit players once they have made a verbal commitment. In other NCAA sports, coaches routinely pursue them until they have signed letters of intent.

Verbal commitments, early commitments and long lists of future commitments are serious areas of discussion right now.

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