You are here

Men's ice hockey: Probability of competing beyond high school

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
35,060 4,229 12.1% 4.8% 0.6% 6.6%

Sources: High school figures from the 2017-18 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 2017-18 Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report.

Estimated probability of competing in men's professional ice hockey

NCAA Participants Approximate # Draft Eligible # Draft Picks # NCAA Drafted % NCAA to Major Pro % NCAA to Total Pro
4,229 940 217 65 6.9% --
  • NHL draft data from 2018 (source:  There were 217 draft picks in that year.  Only 9 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 college enrollment. 
  • In examining the subsequent hockey pathways of 2018 draftees (, College Hockey, Inc. reported that 65 of the 217 (source: were current student-athletes or committed recruits at NCAA colleges. 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 (calculated as 65 / 940).  Note that only a small subset of players drafted ever plays 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 2018, 32% of players on active NHL rosters played college hockey (all Division I), up from about 20% in the year 2000 (source:  69% of former college players in the NHL played at least three college seasons, and 34% played all four. Thanks to Nate Ewell at College Hockey, Inc. for providing these data.

Last Updated: April 3, 2019