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Seattle Loses 2011 1st round draft pick Ryan Gropp to NCAA

Last night, via Twitter, Ryan Gropp announced the world the following

"Committed to the University of North Dakota! Very excited for the opportunity".

Seattle picked Gropp way back in 2011, 6th overall in the bantam draft.

He attended training camp that season, and most thought looked very impressive.  But he did not suit up for any preseason games.  Some heard this was pre-arranged with the Birds, and that Gropp had other commitments.  Others saw this as a huge warning sign that he might never appear again in a Birds uniform.

Gropp's father spent 4 years at Colorado College in the NCAA, playing varsity hockey in each of those years.  In total, he appeared in 147 games, scoring 59 goals, 96 assists, 155 points, with 302 penalty minutes.

Ryan did not attend Seattle's training camp as a 16 year old, and basically everyone became very concerned that he was going the college route.  Word from people on the web was that he had decided on going the US college route, and was deciding between Colorado or Denver U.

Gropp played his 16 year old season (last season) with the Penticton Vees, scoring 29 points in 50 games.  Those are very good numbers for a 16 year in the BCHL.  Especially playing for one of the top teams in the league loaded with older talent.


Here is where I go on the record as saying I was wrong.  Ryan always stated in interviews when asked, that the WHL and Seattle was an option he was considering.  After missing training camp as a 16, I was really losing faith that he would be a Bird.  But, the longer and longer that he did not commit to the college route, the more and more positive I became that he would choose Seattle.

I felt the signing of Barzal, the playoff run from last season, along with all the other progress Seattle has made would further convince him to pick Seattle.

So I may be the only one willing to say that the news last night came as a surprise to me.

What is a little funny is how I found out.  Yesterday, it was announced that Ryan had been one of 2 or 3 non CHL players invited to attend the Canada U18 tryout's.  Last night, I was going to twitter to congratulate him on that, and to add the usual hash tag I do when directing tweets his way "#HopeToSeeYouInSeattle".  I get to his twitter page, and the top line posted 15 minutes beforehand was his announcement.

Future options

This does not close the book on Gropp still coming and playing.  Their have been numerous other players that have taken the route of going USA college, then coming back to the CHL for various reasons (lack of playing time, kicked off team, or the usual one of being drafted and the NHL team wanting it).

But here is why I don't think that will ever happen with Ryan.  His birthday is September 16th (mine also).  That means he has a late birthday by NHL draft cutoff.  So, instead of this 17 year old season being his NHL draft season (like Thoedore, Hauf, and other 17 year olds on the Birds this season).  Next season, Ryan will return to Penticton and play as a 17 year old.  Then for his NHL draft season, he will attend North Dakota.  Should he be drafted (which everyone expects will happen), his NHL team will have two years to sign him.  So technically, he can play his sophomore and junior years at North Dakota before his NHL team has to sign him or lose his rights.  His junior season there would be his 20 year old WHL season.  North Dakota is a power house NCAA school, and I dont see an NHL team telling a drafted player to give up on that program.

So while the option is still there for Ryan to come back out and play with the Birds, its a huge long shot.

What others may not want me to say

It will come as NO surprise, but I feel Seattle, the WHL, and really the entire CHL is the best route to the NHL for any player that has the ability, talent, will, determination, and drive to get there.

Even if your future does not lead to the NHL, the college scholarship benefits the CHL hands out are amazing.

So of course I feel that coming and playing with Seattle would have been Ryan's best choice.  But I will also say that he did pick a great program to join.  It's not like he chose to go to play hockey at North Texas, Hawaii, or Poughkeepsie state.  He did choose what quite a few people would say is the top hockey college program in the USA.  Anyone who has visited their facilities are very impressed, and the home rink is good enough that they hosted the World Junior Championships there.  For certain educational paths, UND is rated as one of the best in the entire USA.  And for his parents sake (and maybe not his), I could not find it listed on any of the top party schools (I mean come on, what else do you do in the middle of winter there).

More reading

The great Gregg Drinnan (Taking Notes blog on the right) posted this

A website the follows North Dakota hockey has this one


Mr Tell13 said...

Good luck to him. It is a great hockey program and he will improve as a hockey player as long as he puts in the work (just like if he would of reported to the tbirds)

I am getting a little jaded about this whole process in the past couple of years.
Kids threatening to go the NCAA route if they get drafted here or there. Players "appreciating" the CHL wayyy more once traded to a championship team. Players receiving money from CHL teams. And so....

I really wish people would be candid and say "Well I would rather be in this organisation since I have a feeling it will shocase me more down the road" or "I don't want to be in Barzal's shadow"

If I hear "I wanted to get the best available education possible" from a kid who is going to UND (for example) I will puke (UND is in the top five school in the nation where student study the least)

I would love it if he came out and said "I just want to be the big dog on campus and it is not something I will get short term in Seattle"

ok rant over, just tired of the politics of it all

UNorthDakotaFan said...

As a North Dakota fan, NCAA college hockey fans are just as jaded as CHL fans are Mr Tell13 when the pendulum swings the other way.

When a kid says "Oh, I can't wait to don the North Dakota jersey and play hockey at the REA" to only renege on their commitment albeit a signed letter of intent and bolt to the CHL...UND and many NCAA schools have been burned just as much as CHL teams.

One could say the CHL has benefited the most from such occurrences since in more cases than none, the CHL has the backing of NHL teams.

JT Miller and Stefan Matteau(looks like it was a good thing this kid didn't come to UND) are the most recent examples for UND alone on committing to the school and then bailing in the 11th hour.

So in regards to the author of the original post. While I'm happy Gropp committed to the school I cheer for, I won't believe it until he shows up in Grand Forks to play.

Kodi said...

The fact that he is choosing UND is irrelevant. The problem is picking someone 6th overall who made it perfectly clear he was considering the NCAA route. Those are people you take waivers on like you did with Colin Jacobs (1st round talent that was selected in the 4th round).

What's worse and what is notated in this article is he has a late birthday which means we will likely not even get a chance to see him sign late and play like a Jim O'Brien.

2011 Gropp, Ryan Lost
2010 Hauf, Jared Great Potential
2009 Troock, Brandon Injury Prone
2008 Sanvido, Connor Took 5 years to become 2nd round talent on THIS team
2007 Fleming, Erik Bust
2006 Chaffin, Steve Injury Prone, forced to retire
2005 Hanson, Cody Bust
Yes our drafts are getting better, I just feel you can't take a risk considering what you previously did.

Mr Tell13 said...


I completely agree, I am sure that as fans you guys are frustrated to see a player like Jones bolt for Portland after a visit and a verbal commitment.

UNorthDakotaFan said...

@Mr Tell13: Actually, in regards to Seth Jones. He was probably the most transparent player when it came to recruitment. He did visit North Dakota but he actually never gave a verbal to the school.

Got a lot of respect for Jones and how he handled things. It does suck he didn't come to UND though but I'd say the writing was on the wall when his rights were traded to Portland. My guess is, UND was his option if Everett wouldn't trade him.

Now when it comes to the crap that JT Miller pulled...that's where the frustration comes in. Left UND floundering with very little time to find a replacement.

Anonymous said...

please take off After the whistle the Andy Kemper blog off the suggested or other WHL blogs, No entries for 16 months is unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

message for kids and parents before the WHL draft happens... Tell teams you have "NO INTEREST" in the WHL if you don't want to play. Gropp always said he was "undecided" about his future when really his decision(well not his, sounds like it was his dads)was to always play NCAA. I know alot of kids and parents use the WHL as bragging rights and also tools in order to land a big scholarship. When kids do that to teams that draft them in the 1st round, it really messes up the team and puts them behind a year. People like Russ Farwell, Colin Alexander and all the scouts around Western Canada and USA put in COUNTLESS hours finding talent and talking to kids and parents and trying their hardest to make Seattle a good team. They conduct many interviews and meetings with parents and would never even consider a player if they straight out said "I will never play in WHL". Drives me nuts... However,I would like to wish Gropp goodluck in North Dakota and hope you have a good career. I think he is passing up a great opportunity having a chance playing with Barzal but I think Gropp was destined to play NCAA and not WHL.

The good thing is that with the signing of Matt Barzal, Gropp has slowly been forgotten about and is becoming yesterdays news. Good for you Matt for coming to a team that has struggled to win and carry the team on your back and make it better. This will be YOUR team and you will turn this franchise around.

Anonymous said...

Let's be real, neither the T-birds or UND are worried about getting a player like Gropp an education. They want him in order to sell tickets.


agree with statement at 10:36... I remember hearing gropp say in interviews for past couple years he is undecided too. Kids just gotta tell the truth cause there is no shame in letting people know it's your goal to get a full ride scholarship. thats a huge accomplishment. But like above guy said, kids and parents use WHL draft as bragging rights and proof to show NCAA schools how highly touted they are

Anonymous said...

Who knows, maybe he still comes to play with Seattle, those North Dakota winters are something else!

Alan said...

One note here, Jon - when you say the NHL team has 2 years to sign him after the draft, that rule only applies to major junior players.

For college players, the NHL team has until August 15 following the normal graduation year of the player's college class. If Gropp starts college in September 2014 as expected, then his graduation would be in spring 2018 (for a "normal" four year degree) and his NHL team will have until August 15, 2018 to sign him. He becomes a UFA after that date if not signed.

Same thing applies to players drafted from Jr A but who start college after being drafted - NHL teams get to own your rights until four years after you start school.

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