Our friends at Postmedia dug up a bit of news that, while not wholly unexpected, is fairly notable. Calgary Flames prospect Adam Fox, a Harvard sophomore and 2016 third round draft pick, has decided to stay in school.
#Flames news: D Adam Fox, one of Calgary's most intriguing prospects, will return to Harvard next season. "For right now, just staying and focusing on school and hockey, that’s my focus."
— Wes Gilbertson (@WesGilbertson) March 22, 2018
Fox, 20, has had a pair of really nice years since being drafted. He set the defenseman single-season scoring record for the U.S. National Development Program in his draft year. Then he was one of the top scoring defensemen in the entire United States college system in his freshman year – if you look at his age group, nobody was close to him. This season he was again one of the top producing defenders, something that’s even more impressive when you note that Harvard was a worse team this season than it was last season.
He also went to two World Juniors, winning a gold medal in 2017 and a silver medal this year. He’s been a very productive player and will be a huge part of Harvard’s attack next season.
Fox’s decision will probably prompt a lot of fans and onlookers to panic and proclaim things like, “Oh no! He’s going to go to free agency because the Flames have a lot of defensemen in their system!” To that I say this: most college-bound prospects of note (a) stay in college for three years so they can finish up a degree in the off-seasons and (b) sign with the team that drafted them. Almost nobody that’s drafted makes it to free agency.
Here’s a list of college-bound players selected in the first three rounds of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 drafts.
|J.T. Compher||COL||2013, 2nd||U. Michigan||3||Yes|
|Connor Hurley||BUF||2013, 2nd||Notre Dame
|Steven Santini||NJ||2013, 2nd||Boston College||3||Yes|
|Gustaf Olofsson||MIN||2013, 2nd||Colorado College||1||Yes|
|Zach Sanford||WSH||2013, 2nd||Boston College||2||Yes|
|Brett Pesce||CAR||2013, 3rd||U. New Hampshire||3||Yes|
|Eamon McAdam||NYI||2013, 3rd||Penn State||3||Yes|
|John Hayden||CHI||2013, 3rd||Yale||4||Yes|
|Taylor Cammarata||NYI||2013, 3rd||U. Minnesota||4||No|
|Jake Guentzel||PIT||2013, 3rd||U. Nebraska-Omaha||3||Yes|
|Keaton Thompson||ANA||2013, 3rd||U. North Dakota||3||Yes|
|Dylan Larkin||DET||2014, 1st||U. Michigan||1||Yes|
|Alex Tuch||MIN||2014, 1st||Boston College||2||Yes|
|Nick Schmaltz||CHI||2014, 1st||U. North Dakota||2||Yes|
|Thatcher Demko||VAN||2014, 2nd||Boston College||3||Yes|
|Joshua Jacobs||NJ||2014, 2nd||Michigan State||1*||Yes|
|Ryan Collins||CBJ||2014, 2nd||U. Minnesota||3||Yes|
|Jack Dougherty||NSH||2014, 2nd||U. Wisconsin||1||Yes|
|Maxim Letunov||STL||2014, 2nd||U. Connecticut||3||Yes|
|Brandon Montour||ANA||2014, 2nd||U. Mass-Amherst||1||Yes|
|Ryan Donato||BOS||2014, 2nd||Harvard||3||Yes|
|Johnathan MacLeod||TBL||2014, 2nd||Boston University||4||TBD|
|Brandon Hickey||CGY||2014, 3rd||Boston University||4||TBD|
|Warren Foegele||CAR||2014, 3rd||U. New Hampshire||1*||Yes|
|Jack Glover||WPG||2014, 3rd||U. Minnesota||4||TBD|
|Zach Werenski||CBJ||2015, 1st||U. Michigan||1||Yes|
|Kyle Connor||WPG||2015, 1st||U. Michigan||1||Yes|
|Colin White||OTT||2015, 1st||Boston College||2||Yes|
|Brock Boeser||VAN||2015, 1st||U. North Dakota||2||Yes|
|A.J. Greer||COL||2015, 2nd||Boston University||0*||Yes|
|Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson||BOS||2015, 2nd||Boston University||2||Yes|
|Jordan Greenway||MIN||2015, 2nd||Boston University||3||TBD|
|Jack Roslovic||WPG||2015, 2nd||Miami University||1||Yes|
|Jeremy Bracco||TOR||2015, 2nd||Boston College||0*||Yes|
|Erik Foley||WPG||2015, 3rd||Providence College||3||TBD|
|Brent Gates||ANA||2015, 3rd||U. Minnesota||3||TBD|
|Brendan Warren||ARZ||2015, 3rd||U. Michigan||3||TBD|
|Tom Novak||NSH||2015, 3rd||U. Minnesota||3||TBD|
|Mike Robinson||SJS||2015, 3rd||U. New Hampshire||1||TBD|
|Matej Tomek||PHI||2015, 3rd||U. North Dakota*||1||TBD|
|Dennis Gilbert||CHI||2015, 3rd||Notre Dame||3||TBD|
(This list actually downplays the college players signing trend a bit, because Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin were drafted out of college and signed immediately.)
More high-end prospects have signed and jumped to the Canadian Hockey League than hit free agency. As many high-end prospects have flunked out of college and dropped back to the USHL than have opted for free agency. And the only prospect taken in the first three rounds that went to free agency, Taylor Cammarata, was not signed by any NHL organization.
In recent Flames history, most college prospects have played three seasons and signed (Johnny Gaudreau and Jon Gllies) or four seasons and signed (Bill Arnold and Mark Jankowski). Typically the only players that make it to free agency are the late round gambles, the John Gilmours of the world.