You are here

Men's ice hockey

When we survey NCAA student-athletes about their expectations of moving on to professional athletics careers, the results indicate surprising confidence in that possibility. The reality is that very few go pro.

Estimated probability of competing in men's college ice hockey

High School Participants NCAA Participants Overall % HS to NCAA % HS to NCAA Division I % HS to NCAA Division II % HS to NCAA Division III
35,155 4,102 11.7% 4.6% 0.5% 6.5%

Sources: High school figures from the 2015-16 High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations; data from club teams not included.  College numbers from the NCAA 2015-16 Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report.

Estimated probability of competing in men's professional ice hockey

NCAA Participants Approximate # Draft Eligible # Draft Slots # NCAA Drafted % NCAA to Major Pro* % NCAA to Total Pro^
4,102 912 211 51 5.6% --
  • NHL draft data from 2015 (source: hockeydb.com).  There were 211 draft picks in that year.  Only 7 players from NCAA rosters were selected in that draft (all from Division I teams).  However, this is not indicative of the likelihood of going from a college team to a professional team due to the nature of the NHL draft, where players are typically selected prior to turning college-aged. 
  • In examining the subsequent hockey pathways of 2015 draftees (hockeydb.com), it was determined that 51 of the 211 (source: collegehockeyinc.com) attended an NCAA college for any period of time through February 2017. These numbers, although not fully comparable to those used in the other sports examined, were used to calculate an approximate NCAA to Major Pro percentage.  Note that only a small subset of players drafted ever play in an NHL game.  Undrafted college players may go on to sign contracts with NHL teams after completing college (those numbers are not part of the current NCAA to Major Pro calculation). 
  • In 2016, 30% of players on active NHL rosters played college hockey (all in Division I), up from about 20% in the year 2000 (source: collegehockeyinc.com).  71% of former college players in the NHL played at least three college seasons, and 36% played all four. Thanks to Nate Ewell at College Hockey, Inc. for providing these data.

Percent NCAA to Major Pro figures are based on the number of available draft slots in the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, NHL and MLS drafts only.  See methods notes for important details on the definition of NHL draftee in men’s ice hockey.  Column percentages were calculated as (#NCAA Drafted) / (Approximate # Draft Eligible).

Percent NCAA to Total Pro takes the number of pro opportunities from the “% NCAA to Major Pro” calculation and adds in some additional professional opportunities that we were able to quantify.  So, for football, this calculation includes NFL, Canadian Football League and Arena League slots available to first-year professionals.  For men’s basketball we accounted for NBA, NBA D-League and international opportunities.  For women’s basketball, we assessed WNBA and international roster slots.  See methods notes for details on these calculations.  Data on full-time international professional opportunities available in baseball, men’s ice hockey and men’s soccer were not analyzed here.  

Last Updated: March 10, 2017