"...coaches don’t jeopardize winning and their careers for lesser players whose parents work the system."
Coaches wont' do anything to jeopardize winning but they will and do give nods to "lesser players" who (and their parents) work the system. The most obvious one is giving spots to younger brothers who are not as good in-order to land the older brother. So, Player A is a top prospect and his brother, Player B is a very good player but not a legit prospect yet both players end up on a DI squad. Player B may never see the ice but he'll get a letter and (if the coach has anything in the budget) some $$. If you follow NCAA hockey you've seen it happen many times.
Also, working the system does help with visibility and may get a kid somewhere.
True Story: A decent goalie (a rising senior) I know got no DI offers but could have played DIII at several places. He was accepted at his dream hockey school and chose to attend. He e-mailed the coach and asked to have a "walk on" try-out. He tried out and didn't make the team but made himself known to the coach. He e-mailed the coach asking "what can I do to improve" and all that drivel his parents advised him to say. He tried out again next season didn't make it. Again, more e-mails and a stronger relationship with coach. He tried out again and didn't make it but during the course of the season he was pulled up to practice with the team a few times and made a splash in the schools club program (DII national bound). Well this fall the coach e-mailed him and offered him a spot on the team. No $$, No playing time guaranteed (3rd goalie), but he got his dream of being a DI player and all the perks that come with it (Varsity gym privileges, flexible schedule, a letter, free team/school swag ect...).
So one kid (who may never play a minute) used "the system" to land a spot and live his dream.
OP here. Thanks for all the stories about some tall D-man. My kid decided to reach out to some schools, and has actually received 2 responses, both asking where he will be this summer, but its a start.
Good luck. You need to stay in front of them because if you don't do it 20-30 others will.