Word this week that Chris Vande Velde has decided to stay in college for another year. Good news for UND, and I believe good news for the Oilers and their fans. Chris Vande Velde is playing at a level that challenges his ability and he’s having some success in terms of growth as a prospect. He managed a 56% faceoff percentage, scored well (18-17-35 in 43 games) and was +10 on a team with only two players in double black digits.
Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald uncovered a gem in an article on VVV this week. In the Friday Herald he revealed that one of the reasons he was staying in college was friend Taylor Chorney’s advice to him.
Quoting the article “I didn’t want to play a full year in the ‘A’ like Chorns and a lot of other guys did. Just talking to Taylor and some other guys, I felt that staying would benefit me and the team as well. Taylor had a fun year and he had a good year, but he really misses hanging around the locker room and hanging around a true team. He gave me some good advice. I took it and I feel like I still have stuff to prove, so that’s the direction I’m going to go.”
I think it makes perfect sense for Vande Velde to stay in college. Chorney turned pro a year ago, was thrown into the deep end of a very strong professional league, and fell flat. Earl Weaver always said the best way to develop players was to find a level of competition that was challenging for them and then let them dominate that level before moving on.
I think we can surmise that Taylor Chorney was hurried–not in turning pro–but in taking on the AHL heavy lifting so early in his career. Vande Velde is about the same age as Chorney and a forward usually has an easier transition to pro hockey than does a defender, but it’s still a good idea to let these kids develop on their own timeline. The 08-09 Springfield Falcons are the latest example of what can happen when NHL organizations get too giddy about fresh recruits.