Last year the London Knights lured defenceman John Carlson out of his NCAA commitment and north to the Canadian Hockey League. In similar style, Ethan Werek of the Kingston Frontenacs opted to stay in Canada rather than join Boston University where he was initially headed. Not long ago Trevor Lewis skipped the NCAA for Owen Sound.
This year it looks like John Moore of the Chicago Steel is the player mostly likely to join their club.
I had a conversation yesterday with someone out of the OHL that suggested to me that he wouldn't be surprised at all to see Moore get chosen in Saturday's OHL Priority Draft. Moore, 18, signed a written letter of intent with Colorado College last November but his name has come up a few times in conversations I've had with people who wonder if he'll actually head north to play next year.
I'm told that his name is being circulated in OHL circles as someone to consider for the draft, this wasn't the case in previous years but this is the last spring he is eligible to be selected. I am also told that 4 teams have made serious contact with Moore - the ususal suspects being London, Windsor as well as Kitchener with a surprise team kicking tires who I believe to be the Barrie Colts.
When Moore was a guest on The Pipeline Show last February, he admitted that his future wasn't set and that he'd be weighing all of his options. I recently contacted Moore, one of our guest bloggers this season, but all he would confirm for me at this point is that there has been contact with a few OHL teams and that he is still considering every option available to him. He did tell me that he would likely not be making any firm decision until after the NHL draft in June when he could get the input from the NHL team that ends up picking him up.
You can expect Moore to make a return appearance on TPS this summer when whatever choice he makes has been confirmed. At that time we'll be able to discuss the decision making process, all of the things he had to consider, the pros and the cons of both the NCAA and OHL route in regards to his playing career and to his education. Until then we can only speculate.
What will be interesting to see is who does draft him tomorrow. Kitchener, one of the teams in the hunt, picks third but with Moore decidedly on the fence it would be a big risk to take him that early. Barrie, the team I believe to have expressed an interest most recently, picks 8th. London is in the 19th spot while Windsor closes out the draft order in the 20th position.
Why should only the same three or fours teams be the ones getting the top Euros and the top NCAA defectors. If it's really a level playing field, a no one really believes it is, shouldn't Sault Ste. Marie or Sudbury have just as much success landing these types of players?
Somebody told me yesterday that the Erie Otters have interviewed a number of highly ranked players only to have been told "if you draft me, I'm going to the NCAA". Erie picks 10th overall but might have to take a player not ranked in the first two rounds just to ensure they get someone who will actually report to them. That is complete crap and it makes the league look stupid.
If I'm a team like Peterborough in the 6th overall slot... I seriously consider drafting Moore. That way, if one of those other teams are that interested in Moore than Peterborough can get fair value for him even though there may be little to no chance the player would consider suiting up for Chris Pronger's old team. Moore was Chicago's captain this year and also played in the USHL All-Star game. He's considered a top 20 pick in this June NHL Draft too so he's obviously a player who would be worth a ton to any team he'd be willing to play for.
Would a team really draft Moore simply to stick it to London, Windsor or Kitchener? I don't know but part of me would love to see it happen.
For Moore, I'm sure he's going to get a great education package from the OHL or from the NCAA so the school part isn't really an issue.
What must be the biggest factor is where he thinks he'll develop the best as a hockey player. 35-40 games in college with more time to train off the ice or 68 regular season games plus the playoffs in the OHL. Things like being able to partake in NHL training camps and end the year in the AHL are other pluses to the CHL route whereas college players don't have either of those options.
Moore will definitely be drafted on Saturday but who takes him and whether he picks the OHL over Colorado College and the NCAA won't be known for some time. From now until that time, and even beyond then, you'll be able to read a series of blog entries written by the player himself - the next installment of Moore From the Pipeline is expected on Monday.
SATURDAY EDIT: Moore was taken by Kitchener with their first pick in the second round (23rd overall).
(Photos courtesy: OHL and USHL)