Saturday Musings: Columnist Matt Mackinder
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On Saturdays, College Hockey Prospective is pleased to welcome voices, on a rotating basis, from around the world of college hockey on topics that have caught their attention. Today, Matt Mackinder takes a look at the early pro signings that have already occured as the post-season winds to a conclusion.
By Matt Mackinder, CHP Columnist
And this is only the beginning.
It’s only March 17 and already, three NCAA Division I players have forfeited remaining eligibility to take the NHL’s big bucks.
Jaden Schwartz bolting Colorado College for St. Louis was almost a foregone conclusion. Most of us expected that. Most WCHA defensemen yearned for it.
But the other two – Connecticut forward Cole Schneider (Ottawa) and Vermont forward Sebastian Stalberg (San Jose) – kind of came out of nowhere.
Now, I’m all for a player advancing his career and hell, if the NHL is going to notice me and make me an offer, I think I’d be a moron not to listen. In some cases, you like what you hear and you accept the offer.
In other cases, (cough! Jack Johnson! Cough!) you leave the money on the table and go back to school. You might get traded, but that’s a risk you take, I suppose.
College teams will move on and at least when guys flee in March and April, schools have the summer to find near-suitable replacements.
I don’t have a problem with guys leaving early – if it’s the right situation. Then again, I’m no agent or hockey insider, so I can only guess at what really goes on behind closed doors.
I look at a guy like Brock Radunske who left Michigan State in 2004 for Edmonton’s riches and played a grand total of zero NHL games. In fact, he hasn’t even played pro hockey since a 37-game outing in Europe back in 2007-08.
Then you have Kyle Okposo. He left Minnesota in the middle of the ’07-08 season to go sign with the New York Islanders. I’m not sure which is the better half of the equation, but he’s one of the NHL’s rising stars and if he wasn’t playing on the Island, I’m sure more people would know who he is, or even just how to pronounce his last name.
Jeff Petry leaving Michigan State for Edmonton – good move. Erik Johnson leaving Minnesota for St. Louis has worked out, as has Kevin Shattenkirk bolting Boston University for Colorado and James van Riemsdyk leaving New Hampshire for Philadelphia.
Every player is a different case. Matt Hunwick and T.J. Hensick were considered bona fide NHLers and both stayed all four years at Michigan. Hensick has been up and down between the NHL and AHL, while Hunwick is a fixture on Colorado’s blue line.
My point is this. People under names like “MadDogKiller2898” and “HockeyIsEverything666” can assume and post all they want on message boards about why so-and-so shouldn’t have left school, he’s an idiot and he’ll suck, and that’s fine. We live in a free country.
But just sit and think and wonder what you would do if you busted your hump for 18, 19, 20 years to achieve a dream and the NHL wanted to bring you aboard.
These are scenarios Torey Krug (Michigan State), Justin Schultz (Wisconsin), Dan DeKeyser (Western Michigan), Tyler Biggs (Miami) and maybe even Matthew Peca (Quinnipiac) will be presented with in the coming weeks.
Some will be back.
And you know what? That’s all part of life, people.
Matt Mackinder has been in the journalism biz for 15 years and has contributed to such publications as Michigan Hockey Magazine, Rubber Hockey Magazine, Red Line Report, USCHO.com, MichiganCollegeHockey.com and Sports Review Magazine. Matt lives in the Flint, Mich., area with his wife, Stephanie, sons, Ethan and Wyatt, daughter, Madelyn, and dogs, Eddie and Max.