The Windsor Star recently published an article outlining the Windsor Spitfire's unabashed public recruitment of Fighting Sioux defense recruit and potential 2012 NHL first round pick Jordan Schmaltz (Sioux City-USHL). Comments from the Windsor front office insinuated that the Canadian major junior system is a better development avenue for elite talents such as Schmaltz and that Schmaltz needs to further explore his options.
It's understood that it is very much in Windsor's best business interests to do all that they can to lure a prospect they took a flyer on in the OHL draft (a seventh round pick who at the time was deemed unlikely to go to the CHL) to make the unexpected jump to Canada. But when do ethics enter into the process? Apparently they do not. Because college hockey recruits do not typically sign their National Letters of Intent until they are about to arrive on campus, university staff is hogtied in regard to commenting on such transgressions, while CHL execs are free to spew forth their NCAA-bashing rhetoric. Numerous NCAA member schools have tremendous track records of producing top-end NHL talent, but due to bureaucratic limitations, institutions are unable to specifically defend their interests.
College Hockey Inc's Paul Kelly issued a rebuttal via a radio interview with Sportsnet 590 the Fan, which is analyzed by Buzzing the Net, and he has defended the ability of institutions such as North Dakota to produce elite NHL talent. But he is absolutely powerless to prevent Windsor from making continuous overtures to Schmaltz throughout the pre and post-draft processes. Schmaltz, meanwhile, remains firm in his commitment to North Dakota, a commitment that is strengthened by his family's NoDak roots, and Kelly states that he would be "stunned" if Schmaltz forgos his scholarship in lieu of the Windsor opportunity. My hunch, like that of Chris Peters at the United States of Hockey, is that Schmaltz will spurn the recruitment efforts of Windsor and attend North Dakota. If he were to jump to the CHL, the time to do it would have been this fall in order to help boost his draft stock, particularly after the rookie breakout season he provided last year as a first team All-USHL defenseman.
However, no matter what any of us think, Windsor has definitely drawn the line in the sand: the recruitment (retention?) battle is on.
Speaking of Jordan Schmaltz, he and fellow Sioux goaltending recruit Zane Gothberg (Fargo Force-USHL) have been named to Team USA's World Junior A Challenge roster. Both Schmaltz and Gothberg were on the 2010 gold medal winning team, and they will be looking to help Team USA defend their gold November 7-13 in Langley, BC. Last year's gold medal team posted an unblemished 5-0 record while outscoring their opponents 27-10.
The Colorado Eagles (ECHL) have a host of former Sioux currently on their roster, and defenseman Aaron Schneekloth was recently featured as part of their Player Profile series: