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The USHL And Major Junior – Publishers Opinion On NHL Draft Results

Yesterday our Coach raised a lot of eyebrows with his assessment that the USHL is now just as good as the OHL, WHL and QMJHL.  Maybe because that opinion came on Canada Day those eyebrows were connected to some nationalistic tempers as well based on some of the emails I received.

Looking at the numbers Coach pointed out here (Confessions Of A Junior Hockey Coach – The USHL Is Just As Good As All Major Junior Leagues) it is pretty hard to argue against those NHL draft facts.

Is his opinion one that goes against the old school opinion?  Absolutely.  But is it wrong?  Definitely not.

The United States, and not just the USHL, is pumping out highly skilled hockey players like never before.  We are not talking about role players here, we are talking about very good NHL players.

Some may argue that the top players taken in the NHL draft were Canadian, a proper argument on its face.  That said, how many first and second round picks have we seen not pan out in the long run?  While the odds of a first round pick being an impact player are greater, the odds of a third round pick becoming an impact player are not too bad either.

The emails I received though stem largely from a sense of Canadian pride.  “My league is better than your league”.  Alright, I get it, you have historically been the world leader in player development.

But lets look beyond how the individual leagues did in the draft.

Canada 80 players chosen.

United States 64 players chosen.

Eleven other countries including all of Europe 65 players chosen.

Canada by the numbers is no longer dominant.  They may yet have a slim lead, but it is in no way dominating.  When all of Europe, including Russia, Sweden and other powerhouses only out produced the United States by 1 player, and that player came from Australia, what does that say?

The entire province of Ontario produced 35 picks.  The State of Minnesota out produced the entire province of Quebec 15 to 11.  Oh, and Minnesota at 15 picks with a population of 5.5 Million, the Province of Ontario has 13 Million people. The per capita ratio of draft picks leaves Minnesota just about on par with Ontario.

Comparing the big “M” states with Ontario.  Michigan, Minnesota, and Massachusetts and similar populations, and you have an even draw when comparing draft numbers.

I imagine about now, my Canadian friends are about to start cursing me.  This is not an exercise in bragging rights, or to say my country is better than your country.  Canada is the birthplace of hockey.  I and most others respect that tradition.

But tradition does not regulate the future.  The future now is in the United States.  Some will say that’s not true, or that its not good for the game.  I would disagree.

The game now is a global one.  Growth of it anywhere is a good thing.  Will it matter when the United States is out producing Canada in draft picks?  Not to those who simply love the game.  And before you start saying it will never happen, you need to talk to some NHL people, its not a matter of if, but when it will happen.

Everyone is entitled to have their nationalistic pride, but if your a fan of the Leafs are you going to complain if the player who finally ends your Stanley Cup misery was born if Buffalo?  I didn’t think so.

Joseph Kolodziej – Publisher

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