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Paul Kelly supports raising the draft age to 19

Oct 25, 2011, 5:57 PM EDT

Paul Kelly Getty Images

The movement to raise the NHL draft age from 18 to 19 got more public support today. Former NHLPA boss, now the executive director of College Hockey Inc., Paul Kelly declared he was fully on board with the proposal.

Well, of course he is. Kelly’s job is to promote college hockey. The fewer players that are plying their trade professionally when they could be playing in the NCAA, the better for the business of college hockey.

Not that it’s necessarily a bad idea. Just pointing it out.

Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson got this whole debate going when he sent a letter to the NHL suggesting the draft age be upped to 19.

In fairness to Kelly, he didn’t try to hide the fact he’s looking out for college hockey’s best interests.

“From the standpoint of helping the sport as a whole, across the globe and at all levels of hockey — junior, college, pro — I think it makes a lot of sense,” Kelly said, as reported by Sportsnet.ca.

But not all 18-year-olds should be held back from playing in the NHL, says Kelly. Just the non-elite prospects. (So basically anyone Minnesota scouts think are good?)

“You’re always going to have a handful of guys that are so exceptional that they can play at the age of 18. But for the most part it’s a rare kid that can crack into the National Hockey League until he’s 19, 20, 21, perhaps 22,” he said.

Anyway, I’m not sure how they’d go about creating a list of 18-year-olds that were draft-eligible. Would there be some sort of skills challenge? Would Bob McKenzie just tap the worthy ones on the shoulder with a sword? The NBA didn’t make an “exceptional player” rule when it raised the draft age to 19, otherwise I doubt Greg Oden would know his way around the Ohio State campus.

  1. sknut - Oct 25, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    I didn’t really think this was an issue and don’t see it as a big deal. There is enough vetting of prospects to get an idea of if he can handle the mental side along with the physical side.

  2. danphipps01 - Oct 25, 2011 at 11:50 PM

    You know, my knee-jerk “That’s terrible shut up” reaction having subsided, he might have something there. Then again, as you say, how do you judge who’s “elite” enough? Plenty of #1-5 picks have turned out to be nobodies, so if the draft’s already THAT hit and miss, how will scouts be expected to accurately single out which 18-year olds can or can’t handle it?

    Love any reform that involves giving Bob McKenzie a sword and the right to pass judgment, though. That’s just too awesome not to get behind.

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