I can already hear you saying it. In fact, I'm prepared to read your comments that tell me just that. I'm going to try and convince you that the OHL (and CHL) should increase the number of Import players allowed on each team's roster.
Let's take a look at the straight facts. OHL teams are allowed to carry two Import players on their roster (or even just their rights). That's just under about 8% of the players in the league.
As of Thursday night (the 10th), Import players made up 10 of the top 50 scorers in the league. That's 20%. Now I realize that's bias by simply examining the skaters. So how about the goaltenders? Imports held three of the top ten spots in SV%, G.A.A, and wins. That's 30%. Considering that Import players make up only 8% of the league...the fact that they are so heavily saturating the league's top performance charts speaks volumes as to their talent quality.
The question is, would the league not benefit from increasing the quality of its talent base? If every team was allowed to carry just one more Import player, they would now make up about 13% of the league's players. If that happened, could you not expect to at least have 15 guys in the top 50 of league scoring instead of 10? And maybe another goaltender in the top 10 of SV% and wins?
I know, I know. That's under the assumption that those extra players coming over from Europe are actually half decent. The league has a hard enough time drafting in the second round of the Import draft, let alone adding a third. But, if we allowed more Import players to come over, would more of Europe's top talent look to come over to join their buddies? Would the draw be larger, especially since so many players coming over are finding success and are drawing the gaze of NHL clubs? If the London Knights, or the Windsor Spitfires, or the Kitchener Rangers were given an extra pick, would they be able to lure those players over?
I can already hear you traditionalists though. In the vein of Donald S. Cherry; by creating another Import spot, we're taking away a spot from a good Ontario (or Canadian) boy. But is that really the case anymore? Let's be honest...if the Ontario Hockey League was concerned about the good ol' Ontario boy losing his spot in the league...wouldn't we have restrictions on the amount of American players in the league? Before the trades of Jack Campbell and Craig Duininck last week, the Spitfires had half their roster "imported" from the United States.
Now I'm not arguing that we should have a cap on the amount of players in the league from the United States. I'm simply asking, what makes an import from Europe different than one from the United States? The fact that we have teams based in the United States? It's still the Ontario Hockey League though...a branch of the Canadian Hockey League. I just think it's a tad ridiculous to limit the amount of Europeans on a team when certain teams can already ice a nearly entirely "non Canadian" team.
Would the league not benefit from the potential of adding more talent? Watching this Subway Super Series and enjoying the contributions of this year's outstanding Import crop certainly makes me believe so.
What do you think?