Michael Crabtree, the 10th overall pick in this year's NFL Entry Draft, had a face-to-face meeting with the San Francisco 49ers who drafted him. What does this have to do with hockey? Nothing really, except to highlight how lucky we are to have such a great developmental system for hockey.
The 49ers offered their top pick a 5-year, $20 million contract with $16 million guaranteed. Crabtree has held out all summer seeking money closer to the top picks. This is an unproven wide receiver who has only two options: sign with the 49ers or hold out until he is either traded to a team that can sign him or until he is placed back in the draft next April.
Compare that to NHL top pick John Tavares, whose first contract is worth an estimated $3.75 million per year according to Hockeybuzz.com's cap central. Tavares could be a total bust (not likely, but possible), but the Islanders have an outlet. They can always send him to the AHL for some seasoning or could have chosen not to sign him and kept him in juniors for another season or two before signing him and calling him up to the NHL.
In fact, most of the players drafted in the NHL draft are still with the team they were playing for when they were drafted. Some are playing in the AHL, and of course Tavares, Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene are in the NHL. Most of the US high schoolers are starting their collegiate careers. We won't see many of them for another year or two (Philadelphia rookie John vanRiemsdyk was the second overall pick in 2007).
So again, thank God for the AHL and all the other developmental leagues. Thanks to them, our great sport is not tainted by money hungry individuals that care more about their shoe contract than about helping their teams win championships.