This research was originally published on April 19, 2018
Following the NTDP Evaluation Camp, many top prospects in the U.S. and Canada will be offered tenders to USHL clubs. With the draft only a few weeks out, more and more players signing tenders, including Alex Gaffney, Ruben Rafkin, Colby Ambrosio, Chase Bradley and Wyatt Schingoethe signing with Waterloo.
A tender is a binding contract between a player and USHL organization, where the team gives up a first-round pick for rights to that player. By signing a tender, a player can sign with the team before the draft and earn a roster spot and certain percentage of games for the following season. Without signing a tender, there is no guarantee a drafted player will be in the lineup the following season.
Last year Robert Mastrosimone tendered with the Chicago Steel and was put right in the lineup at the beginning of the season. But Grant Silianoff, the first overall pick in Phase I of the USHL Draft, only played a few games with Cedar Rapids.
A team may want to use a tender on players who can help their organization but could be possibly drafted earlier by a different team. For players, it takes away the uncertainty of where they will be drafted and gives them more power in the decision-making process.
In 2016, Jaxon Nelson tendered with Sioux Falls because it was close to home. If he hadn’t tendered and had been drafted by a different team, he may not have gone to the USHL at all. But with tenders, teams are gambling on whether players are ready and willing to play in the USHL the next season.
Some people measure the success of a tender based on if that player made the NHL or how many points the player scored. We looked at the short-term success in the USHL and long-term success following the USHL.
There have been 48 Tenders since the league decided to adopt this rule in 2012. Below is a list of each player who was tendered, the team that tendered them and corresponding statistics and information.
Tenders First Year in the League 2012-2017
|Jaxon Nelson||2016||Sioux Falls||54||7||18||-13|
|TJ Walsh||2016||Cedar Rapids||47||8||16||-21|
|Sampo Ranta||2016||Sioux City – 2||30||6||9||-2|
|Liam Walsh||2015||Cedar Rapids||13||2||3||1|
|Eeli Tolvanen||2015||Sioux City||49||17||38||-14|
|Hugh McGing||2014||Cedar Rapids||54||11||19||-4|
|Derek Daschke||2014||Cedar Rapids -2||55||3||12||9|
|Tory Dello||2013||Tri City||46||2||7||-6|
|Ivan Provorov||2013||Cedar Rapids||56||6||19||-6|
|Brent Gates Jr||2013||Green Bay||50||11||15||5|
|Aaron O’Neil||2013||Green Bay-2||32||1||2||-2|
|Paul O’Connor||2012||Cedar Rapids||37||0||4||-3|
|Chris Birdsall||2012||Cedar Rapids -2|
|Brendan Lemieux||2012||Green Bay||11||1||2||-2|
|Jake Linhart||2012||Green Bay-2||58||1||7||-1|
|Ryan Mantha||2012||Sioux City||52||1||7||15|
Averages 48 6 16 -2
USHL Tenders Second Year in the League 2012-2017
|Jaxon Nelson||2016||Sioux Falls||58||8||17||-2|
|TJ Walsh||2016||Cedar Rapids||32||2||8||-11|
|Sampo Ranta||2016||Sioux City – 2||53||23||37||-14|
|Andrei Svechnikov||2016||Muskegon-2||*Went OHL|
|Baron Thompson||2015||Dubuque||*Went WHL|
|Joey Keane||2015||Dubuque||*Went OHL|
|Liam Walsh||2015||Cedar Rapids||48||4||6||-7|
|Eeli Tolvanen||2015||Sioux City||52||30||54||18|
|Hugh McGing||2014||Cedar Rapids||60||23||51||32|
|Derek Daschke||2014||Cedar Rapids -2||60||2||13||-12|
|Tory Dello||2013||Tri City||53||2||17||9|
|Ivan Provorov||2013||Cedar Rapids||*Went WHL|
|Jake Henderson||2013||Omaha||* Went OHL|
|Brent Gates Jr||2013||Green Bay||33||10||27||-9|
|Aaron O’Neil||2013||Green Bay-2||41||1||2||-17|
|Paul O’Connor||2012||Cedar Rapids||*NAHL-Minot St|
|Chris Birdsall||2012||Cedar Rapids -2|
|Brendan Lemieux||2012||Green Bay||*Went OHL (in rookie season)|
|Jake Linhart||2012||Green Bay-2||58||2||20||7|
|Ryan Mantha||2012||Sioux City||53||3||15||11|
Based on this chart, we can see that three tendered players (Kyle Connor, Ivan Provorov, Eeli Tolvanen) have played in the NHL. All but two have played in the CHL or Division I college hockey. Two players never played in the USHL, only one goaltender has been tendered and only one player has averaged a point per game or more in their rookie season.
Some players have had great success, some have had mediocre and some have struggled in their rookie years. But players have shown considerable improvement in their second years, at times almost doubling their rookie-season point totals.
Of the 48 players who were tendered, only 12 played a third season in the league. So 25 percent of players play one season or less, 50 percent play two seasons and 25 percent play three seasons or more. This means teams will most likely tender players who will play two seasons or less, and that players will not have an extreme impact in their rookie campaigns.
When players tender with teams, they indicate they are choosing the USHL over their high school, prep or midget teams. Most players will see limited ice time in their first year. While in the USHL players may sacrifice playing time, they will be able to work out, practice and play with some of the top prospects in the country.
While some may say it’s important for players to tender and complete their rookie year so they hit their stride in draft year, thinking about the draft year is short-sighted.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images