On a day when the big talk was about trades and the first 4 picks of the draft (or rather how the top ranked Seth Jones fell to 4th), the 51st NHL Entry Draft produced some interesting news in the collegiate ranks. With such a deep draft, it was debated whether an NCAA bound player would even make the first round. Also, there was wide speculation on who would be drafted first out of the NCAA signee pool.
But those questions were answered when the Montreal Canadiens made their 1st round choice. Below is the full list of MAC players taken in yesterday's draft.
Michael McCarron (C, WMU, 25th overall, MTL) - McCarron made huge history yesterday, becoming the first Bronco player to be selected in the 1st round in program history. He also was the first college player to go, and the only college player to go in the 1st round. That last note is big in that the NCAA hasn't seen a dry spell like that since 1998. McCarron was ecstatic, and now must make a huge decision on his future. More on that later.
Aidan Muir (F, WMU, 113th overall, EDM) - Muir, an expected 2014 commitment for WMU, went in the 4th round to the Oilers. Muir also was a huge splash in the USHL draft in May by going 1st overall there. Aidan is expected to play in the junior league for a season or two before joining the Broncos.
Anthony Louis (F, Miami, 181st overall, CHI) - Louis was the last player selected in the 6th round by the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks, and will join the RedHawks this season. A 5'7" centerman, Louis had 43 points in 53 games with the USA U-18 team. He will join a stacked forward core that features Riley Barber and Austin Czarnik, making the RedHawks one of the scariest teams offensively in the nation.
That's it! Only 3 players went this season.
Now back to McCarron, and some clarification. The whole recruiting/drafting/juniors thing is a little confusing, so let me help you sort everything out.
When a player signs on to play college hockey, he is usually playing junior hockey or with the U-17/U-18 team. Those teams get players from midget teams and (very rarely) high school teams. When he signs his LOI, that doesn't necessarily mean that he is set to join his college team the next season. He can choose whether to stay at his current team, go to the NCAA, or, if the player is good enough, go to the Canadian Hockey League. If he chooses to stay, he must resign each season he chooses to.
Now if a player is drafted by the CHL or NHL, that player must make a decision between the NCAA or high juniors. This is key because the NCAA sees the CHL as a professional league and thus any play in the league results in the player becoming ineligible for the NCAA. In McCarron's case, the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (one of 3 leagues the CHL is comprised of) also have rights to the talented forward. McCarron himself chooses his route.
Now, what are the main differences between the CHL and the NCAA?
|Fast, skilled||Play Style||Physical, intense|
A quick hit on each point. The games are important in that each way the CHL plays a lot like the NHL in both style and schedule. Players really live out the grind of a season in the CHL like they would in the NHL, with fast play. The NCAA counters with fewer, more meaningful games. With fewer games, practices, conditioning, and strength training are more available as well. This allows development physically and mentally, with players playing each game as a near must-win.
Also, the age range is important. CHL players "graduate" at 20. After that, they must sign a pro contract or move on. NCAA players can continue to develop or leave at any time. McCarron is 18, so he would have 2 years in the CHL vs a possible 4 at WMU.
Lastly, there is the education factor. Some colleges in Canada are offering scholarships to players who complete seasons in the CHL on a one-to-one basis. That means that if a player chooses to, he could go to college after playing in the CHL. This is versus the in-college approach that the NCAA allows. There, a player would gain his education while simultaneously growing as a player.
So what will McCarron choose?
When I spoke with him in December, long before he was drafted by the Canadiens, he said he was "99.9% sure [he was] coming to WMU". He had spent the last two weeks training in Kalamazoo and told media members yesterday that he will "probably make a decision in the next week".
McCarron is a large, physical forward. He likes to fight and hit hard. He also has said that education is huge in his family and that the training time in college would allow him to continue to grow physically. We will find out soon whether the top incoming college player chooses the CHL or NCAA however, that much is sure.