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JT Miller, the CHL, and the future of college hockey

August 1, 2011
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It is old news by now, but I didn’t want to post in anger over JT Miller’s not coming to UND and instead heading up to the OHL. And in truth I’m not angry at him. If he feels like Plymouth is his best route to the NHL then godspeed. I can’t imagine being an 18 year old kid with the ability to play pro hockey in sight. Everything I had worked for my entire life right there. If the Rangers told me to go to Plymouth, I’d listen.

The problem is, Plymouth probably isn’t the best route to the NHL. As Schlossman notes, Zach Parise has scored more NHL goals than every single Plymouth Whaler in the last 8 years combined. As he also notes, the Rangers haven’t had a 30 goal scorer from the CHL since Eric Lindros.

For the record, the Rangers 1st rounders since the lockout

Dylan McIlrath (WHL)

Chris Kreider (NCAA)

Michael del Zotto (OHL)

Alexi Cherepanov (europe)

Bobby Sanguinetti (OHL)

Marc Staal (OHL)

Al Montoya (NCAA)

Other than Staal, who has turned into a very good NHLer, the best pick on this list is no doubt Kreider, who has a national championship and WJC gold medal to his name, and has also played in 2 World Championships (and I should also note that though he has only played in 25 NHL games, Al Montoya has a .922 save percentage).

So why the Rangers would push Miller to the OHL is beyond me, other than perception. Do most of the elite players come out of the CHL? sure. And it stands to reason. You can go to the CHL when you’re 16, dominate for a couple years, then be in the NHL at 18. If you’re Nathan MacKinnon good, why bother with school and playing a 30 game schedule when you can play 60 games and not worry about an education you probably won’t need?

But JT Miller isn’t that good. Even though he was a first rounder, he’s likely a 3rd liner at the NHL level. For a third liner who will be easily replaceable, a college degree might be a good thing to fall back on, rather than an OHL education package that won’t exist when he’s done playing hockey. Also, for a guy who gets by on being able to outmuscle other players, playing with kids his own age and younger isn’t a great way to diversify his game. Getting to practice at UND and play against older guys would force him to improve, not make him stagnant.

If he went on his own, it’s disappointing that he couldn’t honor a commitment he made, but it’s nothing that UND won’t survive. But if the Rangers forced his hand, they may have drastically shortened Miller’s NHL career.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Lord Tunderin' permalink
    August 1, 2011 4:34 pm

    Not really sure why Parise’s stats are relevant to Miller’s decision. Completely different players.

    As you say, he’s likely to top out as a 3rd liner, why not go to the OHL, continue to develop a two way game (it’s not the Q), play 72 games and get used to the travel. As a freshman, would he crack the UND lineup every game? If not, your development is limited by only practicing.

    He signed with the Rangers, for first round money. If he wants to go back to school later, the resources are there.

    • August 1, 2011 4:45 pm

      Yeah he’d definitely crack the lineup every game.

      And that first round money will still be there (plus, as mc79hockey.com has demonstrated, college guys get higher ELCs)

  2. Lord Tunderin' permalink
    August 1, 2011 4:50 pm

    Time value of money applies as well.

  3. Lord Tunderin' permalink
    August 1, 2011 5:10 pm

    Actually, a study of 1st round picks that actually complete a degree would be interesting. Can’t recall the depth of mc79’s post on ELC’s.

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