Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Argument to Raise the Number of Imports

I can already hear you saying it. In fact, I'm prepared to read your comments that tell me just that. I'm going to try and convince you that the OHL (and CHL) should increase the number of Import players allowed on each team's roster.

Let's take a look at the straight facts. OHL teams are allowed to carry two Import players on their roster (or even just their rights). That's just under about 8% of the players in the league.

As of Thursday night (the 10th), Import players made up 10 of the top 50 scorers in the league. That's 20%. Now I realize that's bias by simply examining the skaters. So how about the goaltenders? Imports held three of the top ten spots in SV%, G.A.A, and wins. That's 30%. Considering that Import players make up only 8% of the league...the fact that they are so heavily saturating the league's top performance charts speaks volumes as to their talent quality.

The question is, would the league not benefit from increasing the quality of its talent base? If every team was allowed to carry just one more Import player, they would now make up about 13% of the league's players. If that happened, could you not expect to at least have 15 guys in the top 50 of league scoring instead of 10? And maybe another goaltender in the top 10 of SV% and wins?

I know, I know. That's under the assumption that those extra players coming over from Europe are actually half decent. The league has a hard enough time drafting in the second round of the Import draft, let alone adding a third. But, if we allowed more Import players to come over, would more of Europe's top talent look to come over to join their buddies? Would the draw be larger, especially since so many players coming over are finding success and are drawing the gaze of NHL clubs? If the London Knights, or the Windsor Spitfires, or the Kitchener Rangers were given an extra pick, would they be able to lure those players over?

I can already hear you traditionalists though. In the vein of Donald S. Cherry; by creating another Import spot, we're taking away a spot from a good Ontario (or Canadian) boy. But is that really the case anymore? Let's be honest...if the Ontario Hockey League was concerned about the good ol' Ontario boy losing his spot in the league...wouldn't we have restrictions on the amount of American players in the league? Before the trades of Jack Campbell and Craig Duininck last week, the Spitfires had half their roster "imported" from the United States.

Now I'm not arguing that we should have a cap on the amount of players in the league from the United States. I'm simply asking, what makes an import from Europe different than one from the United States? The fact that we have teams based in the United States? It's still the Ontario Hockey League though...a branch of the Canadian Hockey League. I just think it's a tad ridiculous to limit the amount of Europeans on a team when certain teams can already ice a nearly entirely "non Canadian" team.

Would the league not benefit from the potential of adding more talent? Watching this Subway Super Series and enjoying the contributions of this year's outstanding Import crop certainly makes me believe so.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Definitly not against the thought but you have to remember there are 60 teams in the CHL so that would be possibly 60 more players. are those 60 players going to be as good as the 120 or so that are here now?

Thomas said...

They don't have to be as good as the 120 who are here now to improve the level of play in the CHL. All they have to do is be better than the 60 worst players on CHL teams. And they definitely would be.

It'd be bad for Canadian hockey, but it would be good for the CHL.

Anonymous said...

Not all teams can afford to have an extra import. This would only benefit rich teams such as Kitchener, London and Windsor.

Margann Laurissa said...

Finally, someone who has been agreeing with me all along. I have been a staunch supporter of CHL imports for years and I am happy to see that someone else is now telling about what I feel should have happened years ago. There needs to a rule of threes: three draft-class rookies, three overagers and three imports. Imports have set many CHL team records; as well, they have won many awards and accolades in their member leagues and the CHL as a whole. 176 European imports have played at least one game in the NHL, too. Additionally, 18 imports were chosen in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, five in the first round alone. Power to the imports!!!

Dominic said...


I actually like the idea and will take it one further. Why have a limit at all ? There are 1200 players playing in the CHL. The NHL only drafts 210 per season (not all from the CHL either). Take away those that have already been drafted and those not yet draft eligible and you have almost half that will never play beyond Major Junior.

So I'll ask this, if you bring in "better quality players" is the product on the ice not going to be better for the fan?

I through a link up on twitter (Bro you gotta join !) and it's funny that for the most part, fans are in total agreement with you especially those on the East Coast. Surprisingly, it's the media that is dead against raising the limit.

I say you are on to something when the fans agree with you and the media doesn't !

Anonymous said...

The CHL is basically a minor pro league for kids 20 and under. They get paid $50 a week. Some make the pros after junior, some go to school and use the education packages and some don't do either. If you want to open up the league to the world then treat it like a minor pro league. Get rid of the education packages, pay the kids minor pro type salaries (which CHL teams certainly can afford). If the CHL teams want to promote their league as a great place for kids who don't go pro to further their education then get rid of all the euros and let them develop in their own countries and leave the spots for North American boys so we can develop our own. I don't see North American kids going to europe to play junior hockey?