The game of hockey has grown considerably in the United States in the last decade. The larger number of NHL teams and youth hockey facilities have resulted in more players and more youth teams across the country.
Still the top junior teams and colleges are intensifying their recruiting efforts to find a player to carry their team to the upper echelons of the standings.
American youth hockey standouts Connor McDavid and Sean Day are just two young players who captivated coaches and youth hockey fans alike and there are more.
McDavid signed a Reebok five-year deal similar to the one that phenom Sidney Crosby signed with Reebok when he was 17.
“We want to align with the best in the world, and we believe Connor McDavid is in that class,” Reebok CCM vice president of global marketing Glen Thornborough told a news source. “I won’t get into the terms of it, but it would obviously extend into when and if he is in the National Hockey League.”
The latest youth player to receive similar attention is seventh grader Oliver Wahlstrom of Yarmouth, Maine has officially given a verbal commitment to play hockey at the University of Maine, making him the youngest player ever to officially commit in college hockey history.
Wahlstrom, 13, gained Internet fame a few years ago thanks to a couple of nifty highlight reel goals in the One-on-One segment aired between intermissions of Boston Bruins games.
If he indeed follows through with his commitment he will not be able to play until the fall of 2019.
Some hockey watchers are tremendously critical of the commitment by Wahlstrom, but the sheer volume increase of competitive youth teams seeking skill players has all but necessitated the augmentation of recruiting efforts.
It will be no surprise if the Wahlstrom family soon receives visits from player agents as well.
Recruiting efforts for youth players has changed tremendously in a short time. As an example, although the Detroit area has a huge number of youth teams, several top ranked AAA teams also recruit in other states for the best available talent.
Such efforts were unheard of even ten years ago.
As for Wahlstrom, at 13 it is too early to tell what will happen in his youth hockey career. He currently skates for the NE Junior Falcons and will need to gain some more height and weight at 5'6 and 140 pounds.
The thing to remember though is that if Maine is right about Wahlstrom, their decision could mean additional millions in revenue for the schools hockey program as well as more successful recruiting efforts.