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The Road to College: Should Hockey Players Take the NCAA Route Instead?

SASKATOON, SK - JANUARY 5:  Jordan Schroeder #19 of Team USA skates with the puck while being chased by Brandon Kozun #17 of Team Canada during the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship Tournament Gold Medal game on January 5, 2010 at the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.  Team USA defeated Team Canada 6-5 in overtime.(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images
Bobby KezneikCorrespondent IMay 10, 2010

The NHL Entry Draft is an event that gives young athletes an opportunity to become a professional ice hockey player.

Most of the draft in the NHL consists of players from Canada who play in either the OHL, WHL, or QJMHL. Very few draftees play in the United States of America in the NCAA.

Statistics show that over the last nine drafts, only 27 players from the NCAA have been drafted in the first round. That is 27 out of 270 players in the first round of the draft. That is only 10 percent of players who go the NCAA route will get drafted in the first round.

What really is surprising is that since 2005, only three NCAA players have been drafted in the first round. That is three out of 150. At this rate, in the next 1,200 First Round selections, only 24 players that play in the NCAA will be drafted in the first round.

The massive drop of players being noticed in the NCAA tells either one of two things. Either the NCAA is becoming immensely less competitive or, the scouts are following into the media's footsteps.

If I lost you, I'm basically saying that the media in Canada is a tad biased towards Canadian athletes, rather then American or European athletes.

Despite this large decrease of NCAA players being drafted in the NHL, history shows that a lot of the players who have been drafted first round and played in the NCAA, are all very talented players.

Zach Parise, Ryan Kesler, Rick DiPietro, Dany Heatley, Mike Komisarek, Drew Stafford, Ryan Whitney, Dave Steckel, and R.J. Umberger took the college route to the NHL. Most of those players have had successful careers in the NHL.

In the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Jordan Schroeder was the only NCAA player to be selected in the first round of the draft. He is currently one of Vancouver's top prospects.

Many players who take the college way, will enter the NHL at the age of 22, instead of most junior players who enter the big league at the age of 18 or 19 or 20.

Evander Kane was selected fourth overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He is currently the youngest player in the NHL and was put on the team in his very first season.

He had a rather disappointing showing. Evander Kane posted 14 goals and 26 points, OK, maybe it's not a horrible season for a rookie, but I'm just trying to prove that if Kane spent maybe a year or two until he grew older not only as a person but as an athlete and hockey player, then he could enter the league at the right time and produce at his full potential.

What's the rush? He'd only be entering the NHL at 20 years old.

Tyler Bozak of the Toronto Maple Leafs was signed in the off-season in 2009 to a two-year deal after finishing his last season in the NCAA which goes for a four-year program. Over 20 teams were interested in Tyler Bozak.

The Toronto Maple Leafs also signed goalie Ben Scrivens from Cornell. Ben's numbers in his four years at Cornell are absolutely outstanding.

I hope I am not just being fooled by numbers, though.

Nonetheless, I would encourage all general managers of the NHL to look more deeply into the NCAA. I guarantee that there is much more talent than shown on TV, websites, or magazines that largely focus on the Canadian Junior type of up and coming hockey players.

Just a thought, but mark my words, the NCAA is much more talented and I hope to see much more NCAA talent making the jump to the NHL in the near future.

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