• Nolan Ballinger

Will GM’s of Canadian teams hesitate to draft American players?



Questions are being asked about the future of American players in Canada. The recent developments out of Calgary with two prominent American star players (Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk) leaving the organization within a short period of time will trigger a massive change for the team.


This situation has prompted a few hockey media members to stir up drama by suggesting Canadian teams might be hesitant to draft American players because of their potential refusal to sign long-term in Canada.


Is this something that could realistically happen?


No.


This rumour is purely narrative driven so media members have an easy topic to discuss and dissect for easy talking points throughout the summer regardless of how accurate it is.


No self-respecting organization would seriously consider putting all American players on their “Do Not Draft” list.


Even before this past year, teams were quite hesitant to draft Russian players because of the uncertainty around whether a prospect will come to North America for development or if they would stay in Russia therefore giving the NHL team less control. This hesitancy to draft Russian players has undoubtedly increased since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


Recent stories of Russian-born NHL prospects being detained and sent to the military (Ivan Fedotov) have scared teams regarding their Russian players currently residing in their home country. This uncertainty about the political situation in Russia will result in even less Russian players being selected in the draft.


Looking at this chart (QuantHockey.com) we see about 5% of NHL players are Russian and about 29% are American. To suggest Canadian teams would hesitate to draft players from both of these countries means that NHL GM’s would have to willfully ignore about ⅓ of the prospect pool that will make the NHL in the future. That is not a gamble any NHL team is going to take considering this is one very specific situation in Calgary.

This tactic would prove to be incredibly costly in long term prospect development.


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