In recent years, more has been expected of not only younger players in hockey, but also of agents. Ken Campbell recently wrote an article about how hockey agents in Canada are trying to recruit children as young as 12 because of the steep competition.
The NHL is different from the NBA, NFL, and MLB in the source of its draft. Last year, the majority of drafted players in the NBA, NFL, and MLB were from the NCAA, while the NHL has more variety in its draft picks. In Canada, the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), helps supply the NHL with draft picks. The NHL also includes international players, like players from Russia or Sweden, in its draft.
The MLB draft eligibility only includes residents of Canada and the United States including the territories of the United States. Residents also include a person enrolled in a high school or college located in the United States.
This problem of drafting young children does not affect the NFL, MLB, or even the MLB, the same way it does since the NCAA plays such an important role in providing players for those league.
The NCAA rules do not allow for a player to be represented by an agent. This would limit how early an agent can get involved with a collegiate player. However, CHL players are not limited the same way, meaning agents will try to represent young children.
One answer may be for the NHL to place an age minimum, or a player has to wait a certain amount of time before being eligible. Both the NFL and NBA have restrictions like this. The NFL rules requires at least three years out of high school and used up college eligibility. The NBA rules require at least one NBA season to pass since high school graduation or would have graduated.
The other alternative is for rules to be put in place by any number of effective organizations. The CHL or any of the leagues that make up the CHL, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), or the Western Hockey League (WHL) may put in place rules to be eligible for them. The NHL or the NHL Player’s Association (NHLPA) may also be able to put in rules that prevent representation for a player before turning a certain age.
However, this behaviour of going after young children to represent them is a problem that should be rectified soon.