TJHN Summer Camping

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TJHN Summer Camping July 26, 2012 7:45 AM

We have had a busy summer here at TJHN. The explosion of AAU Tier III hockey, some contraction in the NAHL, rumored USHL expansion, and keeping tabs on what is happening on the east coast has kept TJHN staff and volunteers on the road an average of five days a week. To date TJHN has visited no less than 34 camps and showcase events this summer.

Scouting USHL, Major Junior, NAHL, Tier III, Midget Major, and Midget Minor camps to identify top prospects has provided great experience and insight into how many of these teams will be taking shape over the course of this season. On top of these camps we have attended several showcase events, seeing some of the best young players from North America and Europe.

One of the most interesting things to note was the increased amount of European and Canadian players attending USHL and NAHL camps this year. Speaking to many of these players, the most common reason given for this is the allure of plying NCAA hockey. The USHL’s increased import limits have definitely helped attract these players.

Digging deeper into the import player pool though, one thing has become fairly clear; the upward trend is not in most cases inclusive of Europe’s top level talent. The top level players in European programs as rated by NHL Central Scouting, are still trending toward staying at home or playing in Canadian Major Junior.

Some very highly rated Canadian players are now looking to buck the tradition of Major Junior based on some conversations. Having spoken to some players taken in various Major Junior Bantam Drafts in 2010 and 2011, players are clearly seeing the USHL and NAHL as options for their development now. One common reason given by players for exploring these options has been the NHL’s increased attention on both the USHL and NAHL, and the increased attention on NCAA players.

Perhaps the most common statement from Canadian players exploring these options has been toward Major Junior. Not that players dont respect or want to go to any of those great programs, but they are expressing a desire to keep options for NCAA hockey open longer than in the past. They have mentioned that players can develop at a different rate and having the ability to play more frequently at a younger age in the US based programs is very attractive. Many have said that playing in nearly every game, rather than getting limited ice time as a young player in Major Junior will be what makes them choose to play in the US.

Having scouted more than a dozen USHL camps this summer, TJHN has spotted nearly every NHL team watching players at some point. TJHN has also seen NHL scouts at several NAHL camps. It would appear that the NHL Draft, and free agent signings of players that have passed through the USHL and now NAHL has had a positive impact on the talent pool, and the value perception of both leagues from a player standpoint.

As summer ends, and the new season approaches, TJHN will continue the tour of camps at all levels. With approximately five weeks to go before things officially kick of for 2012-2013, we will be spotlighting players at all levels in all leagues. There is some great young talent being developed and we hope to feature some of the best.

If youre a player that would like to be scouted or profiled, please send us a resume.

Joseph Kolodziej

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