Do Teams Talk To Players Before A Draft?

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Parents and players are bombarding me with draft questions this time of year. The most common one I’m getting is, “Does it mean anything if a team talks to my son before the draft?”

In this post, I’m going to tell you which players get calls and which ones don’t. You’ll also find out why teams make and do not make these calls, AND most importantly…

Does it even matter if your son gets called?

While it’s good if a team talks to you son—they are interested—it doesn’t guarantee he’ll be picked by them. However, they will likely give him an indication of their intent.

After talking with dozens of parents of draft picks and being through a draft myself, I’ve found that not every player who is drafted will be contacted before the draft though. Likewise, not every player who is contacted will end up getting drafted.

Only the top players—those virtually guaranteed to go in the top rounds—will be contacted for sure.

For the rest, they may get a call, they may not.

If a team calls your son it means that team is interested. They’re flirting with idea of picking your son IF the chips fall in the right place for THEM on draft day. So many factors—trades, other team’s choices, holes that need filling—happen right on draft day.

A team may really want your son, call him even and just not be able to pick him. A team also may not call your son and he ends up being the guy they pick.

Why Your Son May Not Get Called

Here are just a few (of the innumerable) examples of why those chosen in the later rounds (or those who get passed up), don’t talk to teams before the draft:

  • Team A goes into a draft with a list of prospects they want to draft. Their strategy is to pick the best player available when it’s their turn. In a 20-team league, if team A projects that your son is seventh round material, that means there are at least 120 players team A has ranked ahead of him. Team A won’t be contacting all of those players. It’s too much work and not really necessary for a late pick.
  • Team B projects your son to go in the first half of the draft. They are dead-set on choosing other players with their first picks. Surprisingly, your son remains available by the second half of the draft. Team B jumps at the chance to choose him. Team B had their list of top players they thought would be available and your son just wasn’t on it. They thought he would be gone before they could pick him.
  • The local junior team will has seen your son multiple times. Teams in an faraway conference may only see him one or two times. If that faraway team likes your son in limited viewing, and if they fill their list with picks they wanted, maybe they can take a chance on your son. They never called because they they are going on a lark anyway. The team could put a 100 names in a hat in the 15th round of the draft and it really wouldn’t matter who they pulled out. At that point, they are just hoping the guy they take pans out into a third liner. Who would they even call?
  • Your son isn’t getting contacted by teams because he’s not good enough to get drafted.

Mike Babcock Detroit Coach

Why Your Son May Get Called

Some players get a lot of calls before the draft. Teams do this for a variety of reasons too:

  • Team A may really like your son and wants to talk to him just to get an idea of his goals. If your son is capable of playing Major Junior hockey but is deadset on going to the NCAA, the Major Junior team wants to know that. They also may want to get an idea of his character before picking him.

Don Cherry and Rob Ford

  • If your son isn’t all that interested in playing for a team B for any reason—location, roster, personal reasons—they will want to find that out before hand. (Look no further than the Nicolas Roy story from the QMJHL.)
  • Team C is looking for a certain type of player at a certain position to shore up something they’re lacking. Say it’s goaltending. Team C wants to take a guy in the third round or later. They’ll contact a couple of the top goalies since they can only afford to pick one, get a feel for them and end up selecting one they’ve watched closely all year. The call is just a safe guard.

What If Your Son Does/Doesn’t Get Called?

What I’ve listed here are just some common scenarios, but there are dozens of others that could determine if a team does or does not talk to your son. I always tell my consulting clients, “If they talk to your son, that’s great. They’re interested. If they don’t, it doesn’t change how your son will approach the game anyway.”

Your son won’t be changing his game whether or not he gets drafted. Getting drafted won’t automatically add to his skillset, and getting passed up won’t make him a worse player.

If and when a team picks your son, he’s got a leg up and is in the pipeline to make a team. (This is why I always harp on getting ready for junior when your son is in bantam or midget.) He has a gold star by his name where others don’t. He still has to make that team though.

Likewise, if he gets passed up then put on a list, or if he gets taken the next year, he’s jumped in that same pipeline. The draft is just the first day he can get into it.

If a team doesn’t talk to your son, that doesn’t mean he won’t get drafted. Just because they do talk to him, he can’t bank on getting drafted.

You’ll find out on draft day.


by Nick Olynyk (47 Posts)

Nick Olynyk is a junior hockey expert and author of the Junior Hockey Truth, a book series for parents of bantam and midget hockey players approaching junior hockey. To check out his book for bantam and midget hockey parents, go to: www.juniorhockeybook.com

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