Yes, this is a relatively tired topic, but it's the summer when relatively little is happening and the line about the CHL being the "fastest route" is at its peak usage. Plus, it's always good to bring some actual facts and numbers into the discussion.
I read an interesting tweet from hockey blogger Steve Dangle this morning, pointing out that 32 players who were drafted ahead of New Jersey Devils playoff sensation Adam Henrique have yet to play in the NHL. For those unfamiliar, Henrique was the 82nd overall pick in the 2008 draft.
That got me thinking: I wonder who those 32 players are, and what routes they chose? Yes, that's a very arbitrary line to use, but I'm not the one who picked it, so it's tough to argue bias.
Here's the data:
CHL (19): Kyle Beach, Chet Pickard (goalie), Jake Allen (goalie), Nicolas Deschamps, Eric O'Dell, Mitch Wahl, Jared Staal, Eric Mestery, Tyler Beskrowany (goalie), Peter Delmas (goalie), Danick Paquette, Shawn Lalonde, James Livingston, Josh Brittain, Jyrri Niemi, Andrew Campbell, Mathieu Brodeur, Michael Hutchinson (goalie), Adam Comrie,
Notes: I decided to make note of goalies, since typically they take longer to develop, though maybe I shouldn't, since we've seen many goalies bolt for the CHL giving the "faster route" line as well. Eric O'Dell gave up a scholarship to St. Cloud to play in the OHL. Mitch Wahl and Adam Comrie are both Americans that went to the CHL.
NCAA (6): Daultan Leveille, Corey Trivino, Justin Schultz, Brandon Burlon, Danny Kristo, Justin Daniels
Notes: I think it's safe to say Schultz is on this list by his choice and not the NHL's. Kristo is maybe in that category as well. Trivino's off-ice issues have been well-documented. I'm not sure a less-structured, more willing to look the other way environment would have helped matters.
Left the NCAA to play in CHL (3): Robbie Czarnik, David Toews, Corey Fienhage
Europeans (4): Anton Gustaffson, Dmitri Kugryshev, Jori Lehtera, Kirill Petrov
Notes: Kugryshev played in the CHL the year after being drafted.
Those raw numbers ignore the obvious though, which is that the CHL has more players drafted overall than the NCAA or Europe. So let's look at the drafted players who have made the NHL.
CHL (32): Steve Stamkos, Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Alex Pietrangelo, Luke Schenn, Mikkel Boedker, Josh Bailey, Cody Hodgson, Tyler Myers, Colton Teubert, Zach Boychuk, Luca Sbisa, Michael Del Zotto, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Cuma, Greg Nemisz, Tyler Ennis, John Carlson, Thomas McCollum, Phil McRae, Yann Sauve, Luke Adam, Colby Robak, Maxim Sauve, Cameron Gaunce, Travis Hammonic, Patrice Cormier, Marco Scandella, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Michael Stone, Lance Bouma, Zack Smith
NCAA (9)-Colin Wilson, Joe Colborne, Jake Gardiner, Cody Goloubef, Aaron Ness, Patrick Wiercioch, Zac Dalpe, Derek Stepan, Jimmy Hayes
Europeans (8)- Nikita Filatov, Erik Karlsson, Mattias Tedenby, Jacob Markstrom, Vyacheslav Voynov, Viktor Tikhonov, Roman Josi, Evgeny Grachev(played one year in CHL after draft)
And how does all that data work out as a percentage?
For the CHL, 32 picks out of 51 made it for a percentage of 62.7%
For the NCAA, 9 picks out of 15 made it for a percentage of 60%
For Europeans, 8 picks out of 12 made it for a percentage of 66.7%
All those numbers end up looking remarkably similar. The lesson here is that there aren't really any shortcuts or "fastest routes," and that a player isn't really giving anything up by choosing to take the NCAA route and giving himself some insurance if he ends up in the other 40%.