Late last week, word leaked out that the CHL is considering lifting its ban on goalies being selected in the Import Draft.
For the uninitiated, back before the 2013/14 season, the Canadian Hockey League outlawed teams from taking goalies in the draft. The move was made in response to a perceived ‘crisis’ when it came to Canadian-developed goaltending. The main argument was that while teams were still drafting Canadian netminders, those players weren’t getting a proper chance to develop. Teams that were close to contending for a league championship or Memorial Cup were forgoing the development process, picking ready-made products from countries like Sweden and Finland.
Some saw the need. Others saw it as a soft move. Whatever the reasoning, Commissioner David Branch doesn’t believe it will be an exercise in revisionist history if the CHL backs off the ban.
CHL Considering Ending Import Draft Goalie Ban
Since 2014, goalies (and skaters) have found ways to circumvent the entire Import Draft process. Teenagers have emigrated from European countries and entered into the Midget hockey cycle. Doing this has allowed them to enter leagues like the OHL through the Priority Selection rather than the import process. Now, if the ban is lifted, there will be less of a need for players to explore and exploit these avenues.
Reminds me, hearing some rumblings of import goalies coming back.
— Mark Edwards (@MarkEdwardsHP) February 17, 2018
Overall there are two trains of thought on this. One is that you’re going to end up running into the same problems you were before. Somehow, some way, a team will take away a developmental opportunity from a home-grown talent. The second, and popular one since this process was implemented is that you’re returning a valuable level of competition to leagues that the ban removed. This forces those talented Canadians to prove themselves against a wider talent pool.
The process is still being looked at and a decision has yet to be made. In the meantime, however, let’s go By the Numbers and look at how this ban has potentially impacted Canadian goaltending.
By the Numbers: How has the CHL’s Import Draft ban on Goalies worked out?
10: That’s the number of goalies who are playing in the NHL that were selected in the CHL Import Draft. The two most recent draft picks, Oscar Dansk and Marek Langhamer, came out of the 2012 draft. Of those ten, only three played in the CHL during their NHL Draft season, including Petr Mrazek and Philipp Grubauer. The third, and oldest, was selected way back in the 1999 Import Draft: Peter Budaj.
When the rule in the OHL was changed a couple of years ago, just five (5) CHL Import goalies in 25 years (yes, a 1/4 century) played 1GP or more in the NHL after their OHL career: Budaj, Grubauer, Neuvirth, Mrazek and Lehner cracked NHL. 1 every 5 years one Import G made it.
— Jim Parcels (@JParcels1968) February 25, 2018
34: 34% of goalies that have played in the NHL this year played in the CHL, not including the 10 above. That’s higher than the percentage of goalies coming from Europe (25%) and other North American leagues (24%). The WHL is the most-represented league, graduating 16.4% goalies taking the crease. Following them up is the QMJHL at 9% and the OHL at 8%.
6: In the 2017 draft, that’s how many goalies heard their name called out of the CHL. They were led by Windsor’s Michael DiPietro. The Spitfires stud goalie was the second pick of the third round, 64th overall. By comparison, nine goalies were selected out of Europe, while six others were picked out of North America.
36: Since goalies were made ineligible for the Import Draft, 36 have been selected out of Europe in four NHL Drafts. The CHL not only trails Europe in this category but the rest of North America as well. Other leagues (NCAA, USHL, NAHL) have produced 26 goalies, while the Canadian league has just 22 drafted goaltenders.
4: Out of those four drafts, 2016 produced the most goalies for the OHL with four. Tyler Parsons was first off the board to Calgary at 54. Saginaw’s Evan Cormier, Peterborough’s Dylan Wells and Kingston’s Jeremy Helvig all heard their names called as well. 2014 produced three (Alex Nedeljkovic, Brandon Halverson and Brent Moran), while 2017 had two (DiPietro and Matthew Villalta). 2015 was slim pickings out of the ‘O as Mackenzie Blackwood was the only OHLer to hear his name called.