With the current struggles of several East Coast Hockey League teams, CIS schools could benefit from a larger crop of players looking for a place to play after finishing their major junior careers.
Both the Fresno Falcons and Augusta Lynx folded midway through the ECHL season, and three other teams will follow suit at the end of the season. The Phoenix RoadRunners, Dayton Bombers and Mississippi Sea Wolves will also cease operations at the end of the season. On a positive note for the league, a new team will be added for next season - the Toledo Walleyes, but still the league will be four teams smaller next season than they were when this season got underway in October.
What does that mean for the CIS? It means some players who were considering turning pro after finishing their junior careers will either think twice about joining a floundering ECHL team, or simply won't have enough options at the pro level and will be forced to look elsewhere. This adds up to players looking more closely at the CIS route.
With CHL grads receiving a minimum scholarship of tuition, textbooks and compulsory fees towards an undergraduate degree for each year played in major junior, taking some time to attend university while continuing to develop their game is an attractive option - especially with the ECHL's current instability.
With fewer options at the ECHL level, the CIS can only stand to benefit with more players putting off playing pro straight out of junior. It should benefit the players as well, as they receive an education, improve their skills and then down the road could find themselves more sought after by pro teams in North America and Europe after proving themselves at the CIS level.