While the Stanley Cup Finals are still going on, we have officially entered the off-season for Junior Hockey. But just because it's the off-season doesn't mean things have suddenly stopped.
Let's recap and get caught up on somethings:
Both the USHL and NAHL playoffs are complete, so we at TJHP would like to send a congratulations to both the Sioux City Falls Stampede of the USHL and the Aberdeen Wings of the NAHL for winning their respective leagues playoffs.
On a side note: I really do not like how the NAHL makes every team in the Semi's have to play a best of 3 series, and yet for the league Championship, it's just a single "winner takes all" game. Those teams and kids busted their ass and played some grueling and tough series against other teams in the playoffs and then hey, guess what? You only get one shot (this isn't Lose Yourself By Eminem) and hope your team plays its absolute best game of the year in order to win the Championship. I have an idea though... the league played the Championship game on a Tuesday, so why not extend it another 3 days, say one of them being Wednesday for a game 2, and if you have a game 3, you play it on Friday Night which would be PRIME TIME for all those Junior Hockey fans and probably pump your attendance numbers up.
I know, genius idea. Maybe I should apply for a job with the NAHL?
A few weeks back the USHL held both their Phase 1 and Phase 2 drafts which was interesting to view and see where all these players who might one day make their rosters are coming from. Phase 1, which is the futures draft, was full of kids being selected from Minnesota (which led the way by a long shot), Pennsylvania, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The rest of the field was were pretty much spread out. Phase 2 was less on where kids were from/born (though Minnesota again led the way) but more of what program or league they were coming from. It was cool to see some of the names of players I grew up watching (Rolston, Dineen, Gonchar though it's his nephew, Recchi, and Rob Blake) and then seeing their kids be getting drafted into Tier 1. The "Shot in the dark" pick of the draft was seeing Sioux City Muskeeters taking Cole Caufield, who if you live under a rock, is a top 15 if not top 10 NHL draft prospect for this years draft and is also committed to Wisconsin this fall, with their 20th round pick. I guess it could be a "steal" if the kid decides to leave Wisconsin, but I think I have a better chance of getting that job with the NAHL than that happening.
In other news, tryout camps, pre-draft camps and showcases have been in full swing. I actually just recently got back from the CCM Showcase in Colorado which I'll have a separate blog about later as well as a Podcast with Gresko, Hoff and myself soon discussing it and other odds and ends. Safe to say though I thought it was ran very well for the most part and was flooded with roughly 20+ teams split among "tender" aged players and "future" aged players as well as coaches and scouts from all over the junior hockey landscape which was definitely a plus for all the players.
We also next week Tuesday, June 4th, have the NAHL draft coming up, so that will be also interesting to see what states and programs are producing talent for the future (these are key for young players to see where to try and go for their own development).
So until next time!