Burlon, Domi, Cianfrone, Goose Comment Count

Brian May 11th, 2011 at 5:58 PM


maybe, yes

This afternoon was last weekend all over again as far as the hockey team is concerned. Max Domi's NCAA dreams turn out to be the usual fiction designed to evade the OHL draft:

  • Rumors that Domi is going to be traded to prospect-pirating London are rampant. Deals are always bad news since OHL teams essentially always have the kid they're trading for locked up.
  • These rumors are immediately shot down by Kingston, with Doug Gilmour calling them "garbage." Apparently Domi is not allowed to talk to other teams until camp, but OHL rules are flouted so frequently they may as well not exist.
  • People more knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the OHL laugh at this as a technicality to make it look like something other than Kingston drafting Domi specifically to trade him to London, apparently the only place he'll report. Kingston has to wait until September for their camp to open, whereupon Domi will fail to report. This will get them a compensatory pick next year, at which point London will trade them some stuff and Domi will go there.
  • Michigan Hockey Net noticed that Domi's post-draft tweets about going to Michigan have been erased.

So scratch that. Domi's not coming to Ann Arbor.

In better news, Bob Miller is reporting that Bryson Cianfrone is indeed a Michigan commit and Michael Spath is reporting that Brandon Burlon might not be headed for the pros quite yet. His decision to bolt, even if temporary leaves him with some work to do in class and with the stern glare of Red Berenson, but I'll take some chance of Burlon and a commitment from an otherwise top-ten OHL draft pick over no chance and no Cianfrone.

Now we can all fret about Cianfrone actually showing up, and when that would be. Most likely it he would join the Compher/Motte/Allen class in 2013.



May 11th, 2011 at 6:07 PM ^

Fwiw I'm hearing that London and Windsor are going to try to make a move to get Domi when the time comes. I asked some people in the know just so I could pass it on to you guys but that's all I could really get. Obviously it's all speculation at this point but it would be hard to keep him away from either of those organizations.


May 11th, 2011 at 6:20 PM ^

It would suck if we lost Domi to the OHL. I was looking forward to seeing him at Yost. I think we have a log jam at forward if we get both Cianfrone and Domi though, so it might all work out. We'lll wait and see.


May 11th, 2011 at 6:54 PM ^

I swear they actively work together to keep high end recruits from leaving the OHL. If one team doesn't nab the guy, trade him and see how the other team does. I know Blue Ice mentioned that that's what happened with Eric Lindros back in the day


May 11th, 2011 at 7:20 PM ^

I don't think it's anywhere near that cut and dried given the abject hatred invovled (see Rychel, Warren in Windsor and Hunter, Dale in London as a quick example but there are literally dozens). I suspect the ownership in Sarnia would not cross the road to piss on either Dale or Mark Hunter in London to put them out if they were on fire.

As for Lindros, I don't buy that for a minute. The guy was, and remains in Sault Ste. Marie, a pariah for his shunning a good community of real hockey fans so he could get traded to Oshawa. To this day old timer hockey fans will disparage Lindros' mom for forcing that trade. Now, do I think David Branch had a hand in brokering that thing...quite possible...but realistically, every OHL team that Lindros identified an interest in going to (including Oshawa, London etc.) was willing to send pretty much everyone on the roster and/or futures to the Sault for Lindros. 

On the Domi case, the fact is that London runs a minature pro operation (seating 9100, luxury boxes, restaurants, facility run by GlobalSpectrum etc.). They averaged only 3000 less fans than the god damned Phoenix Coyotes last year (in *Junior*). If Domi just wants to develop a pro level game then he is best served to go to the OHL. I

Blue In NC

May 11th, 2011 at 10:59 PM ^

Forgive Clarkie.  I think he is well informed (much more than I about these things) and maybe well intentioned but I have seen enough posts to know that he will defend the OHL whenever possible, minimize (or completely hide) its shortcomings and state that the OHL is always the best choice for a hockey player to develop a pro game.  This in spite of the fact that an increasing amount of high-end NHL talents came throught the college ranks, many of whom went on to have HOF careers in the NHL.

The list is too long but it seems like Toews, Chelios, J. Johnson, etc. did just fine by getting a QUALITY education and playing college hockey.  Those kids may play in London and it's a nice arena but it's no Yost and they will never have that experience.  I think Johnson expressed similar thoughts before.

Feel free to correct me, but to the OHL, the players are a business asset much moreso than a college hockey player.  If that is what the player is looking for then fine.  But the OHL employs the other side of its business "negatively recruiting" against the NCAA.  My impression is that it's a bit ugly at times.  

Of course I am sure that I am wrong and the OHL is the best and only model for kids looking to have an NHL career.


May 11th, 2011 at 11:59 PM ^


I think you are over simplifying my analysis. Let me clarify a bit. Please, though...never let the facts get too in the way of an emotional response with ALL CAPS included.

It is easy to look at the outliers like Toews, Chelios, Kariya, Johnson, Comrie etc. and point to the positives about the college experience developing elite pros. I get it; there are a great many positives about the NCAA experience and the degree potentials but developing elite pro prospects is not their thing. It happens but not in volumes enough to attract the most elite players. Indeed, at an elite level most of these kids seem to want to purely prepare for the pro game and, if they are so skilled, believe sincerely that they could start playing it at 18 or 19. The best way to achieve that end, for generations, has been to play major junior hockey based in Canada (now expanded to the USA).

A review of the most recent draft is rather instructive and tells us that 9 of the first 10 picks were CHL players from the Major Junior ranks and that 18 of the 30 picks came from that same system. From a depth of talent perspective, it is interesting to note that 15/30 in the second round and 20/30 in the third round also came from Major Junior. Interestingly, one player from the college ranks, Riley Sheahan of Notre Dame was picked in the first round and that was by the Wings with the 21st overall pick. by comparison, six players were picked from the USHL in the first round and, of those, Jack Campbell went to develop his game in Major Junior as did Jared Tinordi (once committed to Notre Dame but moved to the...ack...London Knights)

You are absolutely correct in noting that players in the OHL are a business asset but I think you are missing the context...that's the point. Here in Canada where most people know at least a few people who have played Major Junior it's clear that the league is one step away from the NHL. Young players want to devote the vast majority of their time to working toward that goal and rightly or wrongly perceive the OHL/CHL model as their ticket. I have posted often my view that the CHL is nothing less than minaturized professional hockey (except the players don't get paid as well). The end game is this: it does clearly better prepare more players, more all stars, more hall of famers, more average players for careers in the NHL. Those facts are just not disputable. 

I don't come down so hard on the OHL about the education piece since they do offer an extremely attractive scholarship package and for each year of playing junior award a year of university tuition in canada including fees and books. Most players also negotiate a 'top up' with the teams before signing which will also cover residency costs. Unlike the NCAA., the CIS (University in Canada) allows all former Major Junior players to have eligibility and so these players have another four years of exposure to scouts/pro teams NHL or abroad. 

The OHL may not be the only model but it is the most effective one if your goal is to get to the NHL. 

Blue In NC

May 12th, 2011 at 12:41 AM ^

I get it that you think that is the "best" way to get to the NHL.  Of course, the numbers are skewed since most of the "high-end talent" does not play college hockey (taken from your other post).  But that doesn't mean it's the right way or the best way for everyone.

Obviously, Michigan has produced a good number of NHL players and interestingly, many of the ones  that have been least successful have been the ones that left early for the promise of an NHL career.  I suppose you can make generalizations but it seems to me that Michigan (along with a few other colleges) has been enourmously successful in developing and producing NHL talent, despite not getting high-end talent (again, according to your post).  I really don't see the argument that a prospect has a significantly improved chance at making the NHL by not playing for Michigan.  Too many counter examples for me to ignore.

And interesting that you bring up the Wings.  Generally the Wings have been "college-adverse" but now even they have Abs and Eaves in the lineup, Jimmy Howard playing in net and one of their top prospects playing for Maine (not counting Sheahan).


May 12th, 2011 at 6:25 AM ^

Not to nitpick too much (I actually agree with most of your analysis even though I'd rather see the elite players come to Michigan instead of the OHL), but using the number of current college players drafted isn't quite right. There are very few players who have accelerated their education enough to where they can play in the NCAA before being draft eligible. Riley Sheahan is more of the exception than the rule. So saying "hey, the OHL has 15 kids to the NCAA's 1" isn't really an apples-to-apples comparison. If you consider the first round picks that actually made it to the NCAA (so we'll ignore Campbell and Tinordi even though I'm not entirely convinced the NHL clubs didn't sway their players towards the CHL), there were actually 8 current (Sheahan) or future (Schwartz, Forbort, Bjugstad, Bennett, Hayes, Coyle, and Nelson) NCAA players taken in the first round, which is quite good.

There were also 8 in the second round, 8 in the third and 8 in the fourth. Considering the advantages the CHL in general has (games per season, age to start playing, money, etc.), the developmental leagues in the US are doing quite well and the number of former NCAA players in the NHL shows that the NCAA teams aren't holding these players back from making it to the big show.

Blue In NC

May 12th, 2011 at 9:48 AM ^

Exactly, thanks for finding the numbers to support this.  And I think it's even less of an issue when you are comparing Michigan vs. the OHL since UM (and several other programs) has a proven track record of getting kids to the NHL and having successful careers.  IMO, going to Michigan would have very little "detriment" to Domi's development.


May 12th, 2011 at 8:52 AM ^

The OHL has an attractive scholarship package?  You must be joking.  What you didn't mention are the rules regarding first earning that year of scholarship (being on a roster after a certain date), then the domicile rules restricing how much you earn, and then all the rules for redeeming that scholarship (only have a limited time to redeem after finishing in the CHL or else you lose it).  I've seen estimates that less than 20% of OHL players ever use ANY of their earned "scholarship" money.  Compare that to the over 80% of NCAA hockey players who EARN A DEGREE.

Major-Junior may produce more NHL players than any other league, but they also produce more ditch-diggers as well.  Going the CHL route doesn't guarantee you'll make it to the show, you're still much more likely to never play in the NHL.  Then once you come to the realization in your late 20's early 30's that you're not going to make it, you don't have a degree to fall back on, and the scholarship money you earned has expired.

I fully agree that the CHL offers a slightly higher level of competition.  If my son was a can't miss NHL prospect (Crosby/Lindros/etc) then I might consider the advantages of a more NHL like schedule/higher level competition/etc that the CHL offers.  But for 99.5% of the prospects out there, the NCAA represents a better life choice.


May 12th, 2011 at 12:54 PM ^

You kind of misinterpret where I am going with all of this; as one who knows several OHL scholarship reciepients I will say the tuition, books, fees and room/board negotiated covers all of their costs. These individuals did not find the OHL requirements overly onerous. 

The second point would be that the OHL and Major Junior does produce far more ditch diggers and car salesmen. Listen, a great deal of these kids live hockey 24/7 from the time they are 8 years old through AAA and onto the OHL. I'd blame the parents here and say they are pushing kids to an unreasonable dream but, realistically, a great deal of these young folks are absolutely not university material anyway. That said, they might well be exceptionally good at hockey. 

Your assumption that for 99.5 percent of the prospects that the NCAA would be a better life choice is pretty ridiculous if only half the kids in the OHL were either a) interested in university or b) capable of taking on the demands it entails. These kids grow up on making it to the league and are celebrated at every level until they either make it or don't. When they don't there is a university option that is reasonably funded. That said, if you're talented enough to play OHL for 3 or 4 years then you're certainly talented enough to play minor pro in the ECHL or in Europe etc. I see where you're going but your assumption that these kids could take on the college life, or even want to in many cases, is far from reasonable. 

One last thing...many Canadian kids don't want to play the NCAA 'style' which is far, far softer than OHL/CHL and does not include the fighting, violence and general mayhem typical of Junior. Also, after kids graduate high school many of them want to work on their games 'full time' and many do while playing Junior. I'm not saying it's right...I'm saying what is...


May 12th, 2011 at 1:57 PM ^

Point taken Clarkie.  I agree, my 99.5% "number" was offbase... there are plenty of kids out there who either don't have the desire or the tools necessary to successfully go the college route.

I was mainly objecting to your ascertation that the OHL offers an "extremely attractive scholarship" option.  In comparison to other scholarship options out there (i.e. the NCAA) the OHL option is rather unattractive.  Like you said, kids who go the OHL route generally are able to make a pro team in the ECHL or Europe (where the majority will make less than they would as a cashier at Canadian Tire)... and they are pushed in that direction, at which point they lose whatever scholarship dollars they have accrued.  If it was an attractive option, I think that more than 20% of OHL players would take them up on.

Anyhow, we do have a lot of common ground.  We agree that the CHL offers a more competitive (NHL-esque) style of hockey.  And for the kid that would most likely end up a ditch-digger (whether or not they played hockey) might as well go the route that gives you the best shot at that lotto ticket.  But IMO, for the kid who can handle the academics (and who isn't a can't miss, once a decade talent), I think the NCAA is the better long term option.

Blue In NC

May 12th, 2011 at 2:26 PM ^

Very fair post.  My somewhat harsh initial response was because IMO little of these differences (both positive and negative) tend to be mentioned by the pro-OHL crowd.  I think to many of us, it's a bit like a bait and switch to these recruits/players.  Often it appears that the pro-OHL crowd seems to imply that all the best players play in the OHL, it's the best development path for everyone, you are really hurting your NHL chances if you don't go OHL and that they offer a comparable education package anyway.  You can tell from my response, I think all four of those claims are bogus.

For those that are university material, have a legitimate NHL shot and have the good fortune to get a scholarship offer from UM, I would say that many or most times the Michigan option would be the superior one.  Again, not in all cases.  But I think the pro-OHL crowd questions that in every case and many of them use somewhat shady methods and arguments in making their sales pitch.  And I see it over and over.


May 12th, 2011 at 4:54 PM ^

...a great deal of these young folks are absolutely not university material anyway.

How many guys out of the rivals100 do you think are theoretically "university material". Frankly, a lot of top football prospects seem to come from inner city/poor environments where they would not be deemed university material but I doubt anyone thinks that offering them a college education is not in their best interests.

It's the same for the OHL players, they might not all be university material but after being on a team for 2-4 years and wondering what to do next when you aren't NHL caliber, at least they will have received an education if they went the NCAA route instead of being left with a high school diploma (if that?)

I'm sure many a former college athlete is thankful that they had a degree to fall back on. See the article on Jason Botterill who is now an Asst GM with the Pens


May 12th, 2011 at 5:23 PM ^

I like your idea conceptually but having played against these players and having known many of them it's kind of hard to describe the culture...it is not one that *values* education. If anything, many kids are socialized to just play hockey and things like education would be considered a distractor to the end goal of getting in the league. Major Junior lets kids focus on purely hockey once they are done high school.

I'm not saying it's right but a lot of parents think their kid is the next Pat Kane.


May 11th, 2011 at 7:40 PM ^

is involved in these kinds of shananigans.  Did he honestly think he was going to Michigan or was he just using us as leverage the whole time?  I really hope it's the former and not some parent or agent telling him to send out disingenuous tweets about being excited to come to Michigan.

I can only imagine if we had a similar system for teenage football players what some of the board feedback would be.


May 12th, 2011 at 6:34 AM ^

While the recruiting in football is full of self-serving parents, coaches, players, etc., it's a bit different than hockey. The kids are generally younger when they have to make a decision (15/16 as opposed to 17/18), the OHL can trade the rights to sign the players like commodities on the stock market, and the elite players (mostly the Canadian ones, but some Americans as well) use the threat of going to the NCAA to basically select what team drafts them.

If some group ever sets up a "junior football" league full of top-level 15-20 year old players and has a draft and pays players and develops the players for the NFL, the exact same thing would happen. There will always be kids that want to play for a specific NCAA team (Jack Johnson for example), and there will always be kids that want nothing more than to play in the CHL (90+% of kids in Canada).


May 11th, 2011 at 7:46 PM ^

I'm what you might call an newb when it comes to hockey recruiting. I have far too many questions about the whole thing.

I understand the OHL is considered a "junior" league.  If it is a "junior" league, is there an age limit?  Is the OHL comparable to the minor league system for the MLB?  Also is the NHL and OHL associated with each other in any way?

If a player signs with an OHL team, is he deemed ineligible by the NCAA?

I have never seen an OHL game, so how competitive is the league?  How does it compare to the top teams in the NCAA?

Thanks to anyone who tries to answers these questions for me.


May 11th, 2011 at 8:01 PM ^

The age limit for the OHL and the other major junior leagues is 20, although there is a limit to how many 20 year olds can be carried. (I think it is three per team). Once a player signs, he loses his amateur eligibility in the eyes of the NCAA. There's also a limited amount of time players can spend unsigned at a team's camp before losing eligibility. 

In my opinion, the OHL has more high end talent, but the overall level of play in the big NCAA conferences is probably a bit better since college hockey players are a bit older than junior players.


May 11th, 2011 at 9:29 PM ^

Without question the OHL has higher end talent (most teams have at least two or three 17/18 year olds preparing as top prospects to play in the NHL). The age differential is basically the difference between OHL and NCAA teams (the NCAA teams with more more mature/bigger and more experienced players). That said, the OHL is much, much more physical and violent. It is unquestionably a tougher game and is played with a very different intensity. It is basically a smaller or more localized version of pro hockey.

Interestingly, you see more or less the same situation in CIS (Canadian University Hockey) versus the OHL . Teams in the CIS are comparable in talent to NCAA teams (i.e., U New Brunswick over UMass Amherst and Vermont this past year; University of Western Ontario over Lake Superior State but losing to Michigan) and games with OHL teams are very competitive. Most players in CIS are former Junior players. This said, if you go to a CIS game it is not the same nasty, violent game. It's just a different game.


May 12th, 2011 at 2:26 AM ^

Thank you to you and SJUBlue.  What happens to the players after they turn 20 and are not drafted into the NHL?  Are there even higher leagues for the players to pursue hockey or is it most likely the end of the line.


May 12th, 2011 at 11:20 AM ^

Former major junior players ere eligible to play for Canadian colleges in the CIS (Canadian Interuinvesity Sports). I'm not sure if tuition is covered by the school or former team or anyone.

Besides that, there are plenty of pro leagues for players who never got drafted or signed by the NHL. They could go to Europe or hang around some lower leagues in North America. Not many of those are likely to ever lead to the NHL, but there are plenty of places to play hockey if they want to.


May 12th, 2011 at 11:14 AM ^

We can argue about OHL vs. NCAA division 1 (it's definitely not as clear-cut as you make it out to be), but the CIS is certainly not comparable to its American counterpart. It's difficult when they're mostly limited to former junior players with limited pro potential. No doubt there are good teams in the CIS, but the head-to-head record speaks for itself. Take this past year as an example.

There were 48 games between NCAA division 1 and the CIS teams in 2010-2011; the NCAA took the "series" 38-9-1. The only shocker was Denver losing to Lethbridge, all the rest of the NCAA teams that lost were mediocre to sub-par. New Brunswick and Western Ontario, the two teams you cited, accounted for 6 of those wins and were both top 5 CIS teams (each also lost a game to Providence and Michigan, respectively). The usual caveats about matchups and locations apply, but this is not how "comparable" leagues fare against each other.


May 12th, 2011 at 5:17 PM ^

Given that most CIS players are former Major Junior or Junior B players who did not go pro after their junior careers and were not "stars" you certainly are looking at the lower echelon of CHL/Major Junior players. However, at the top end of the CIS, final 4 teams for example, I would be confident that they could compete with any team in US college hockey at a respectable level and certainly win as much as they lost (they'd take out Sparty). The talent level in CIS teams, given that the best of Canadian players are generally identified around age 12 to 14 and moved to Junior/US College, is certainly lower than US college teams. That said, the depth of quality hockey players from Junior is strong and we see this among the top end CIS teams. 

For example, since the mid 1990's the University of Alberta is 8 and 4 vs. NCAA Div. 1 teams with one game at home and 10 on the road including beating ND in Grand Forks in 1997 when ND won the National Championship. Alberta, allegedly, has a standing challenge to any NCAA team to come to the Rexall Place for $50k in appearance money but receives no takers. One should note that Alberta is the top end of CIS hockey. 

I would agreee that 38 -9 -1 is not particularly competitive but, then again, neither is 1 - 9 vs. Tressel. I think UNB, Alberta, Western Ontario, McGill would do quite reasoanbly well in CCHA competition given the opportunity.


May 11th, 2011 at 8:32 PM ^

If I understand correctly, the OHL is one of 3 junior leagues that make up the CHL (Canadian Hockey League. The other two are the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and the Western Hockey League (WHL). The OHL appears to be the strongest of the three. I'm not sure how they interact though.

I'd think even though there's a 20 yr old age limit, that OHL teams are better than most NCAA teams. Maybe not BC, Michigan, NoDak, etc but OHL teams have a lot more NHL talent than your average NCAA team.

I just started reading this yahoo blog which is helping my understanding of Canadian junior hockey, maybe check it out:



May 15th, 2011 at 10:05 AM ^

If you think that hockey fans only go to watch hitting , fighting and violence (seems to be one of the bigger points you are making about the CHL) you are wrong. Yes, a well timed hit and physical play is central to entertaining hockey- but so is up and down action, skating, excellent goaltending and playmaking. The CHL has the edge in certain catergories depending on what team you are watching (for instance Windsor or London vs. Missisauga or Brampton.)  Same difference in the NCAA.  We have been fortunate to see NHL caliber players at Michigan. We still strive to see that and based on the recruiting product Berenson chases, I don't see why we can't. I agree, the OHL is different, but in many ways the hockey (as you describe as very fast and seriously violent with big time hitting) is nothing more than pond shinny at times with useless scrums and cheapshots. To each his own. 

If a player chooses the CHL over the NCAA just from the fighting aspect, then it doesn't sound like he is a college candidate to begin with. Domi's biggest point at looking at the NCAA was to avoid the noteriety his name brings and the challenges the CHL hacks would provide. It sounds like a good angle for a talented, non-fighter. Not much validity otherwise, but an interesting twist to the usual CHL vs. NCAA argument. I hope the kid makes the best choice for both parties. 


Jimmy Ballgame

May 12th, 2011 at 11:30 PM ^

OHL hockey is fun to watch, but I'd disagree with the notion that OHL teams are better than most NCAA teams.  The OHL may attract more elite talent, but that talent is extremely young.  The majority of solid CCHA players would excel in major junior.  Take Robbie Czarnik as an example.  He had 5 goals and 16 points points in one full season for Michigan.  In the OHL this year he had 33 goals and 77 points.  If you go to a Plymouth Whalers game and a Michigan game, it's pretty obvious that NCAA players are much further along in their development and maturity.


May 12th, 2011 at 6:59 AM ^

I'm working on a diary post about this topic but I've been busy with exams so it is taking me longer than I expected. Check for it in a few days.