The Merritt Centennials and the BCHL move into uncharted territory today with the league’s first ever affiliate player draft.
The draft is optional, so there’s no guarantee that all 16 teams will take part, but honestly I can’t see why any team wouldn’t want to expose their program to some of the top 15-year-old prospects in the province. Yes, I know they could have done it anyway with recruiting, but this takes care of that for them and it’s each team’s job to “sell” the player on their program. Whether a team is a perennial bottom-feeder or always in the top tier of the league, I see the draft as a low-risk, high-reward for everyone involved.
Here’s the draft order:
1. Prince George
3. Cowichan Valley
6. Alberni Valley
13. Salmon Arm
16. Powell River
17. Prince George
19. Cowichan Valley
22. Alberni Valley
29. Salmon Arm
32. Powell River
Here’s the official release from the BCHL website:
On Monday, Oct. 3, BCHL governor and league officials will convene in Richmond for the first governors meetings of the new season.
Amongst other things, an affiliate draft will be held which will give teams the chance to select 15-year-old players for the purpose of affiliating them for the season and introduce them to their team culture and to Junior A hockey. The players rights will not be retained at the end of the season.
“It will give each team a season to build a relationship with the young player,” said BCHL executive director Dave Sales. “Perhaps more importantly for the league as a whole, even if a player doesn’t stay with the team that drafted them, they may sign with another BCHL team because of their exposure to the league and we will have been successful as a group in keeping players versus them choosing other options.”
The idea for the affiliate draft was approved by governors after the end of last season from a motion by the the steering committe of the board of directors. As ever, the BCHL is exploring new ideas as a way of staying relevant to developing hockey players and as a way of setting the pace for Junior A hockey in Canada.
Teams will have the option of selecting a player in each of the two rounds but are not required to do so because the draft is optional. Teams select based on reverse order of finish in the 2010-11 standings.