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U16/U18 teams want your money, Prep wants your money, Everybody wants your money. At least with Prep you get an education. At the end of the day what do you get with a U16/U18 full season team?
If you child wants to get better Play for your HS (Free) and give him $10K-15K in private lessons, call it a day...
Education, Playing at high level ( at least Mass Div 1 Public as Frosh, Soph, Jr (maybe) ), development - good skills, commitment - take a month off or two ( rest) - is your kid skating all summer hoping to get better or at the beach with his buddies? Don't get me wrong, friends, beach, outside interests are important/essential, but what does the player want? Are you pushing them or are they pulling you?
Is your kid in a good public High School with good hockey or bad hockey?
Is your kid in a good private school with good hockey or bad hockey?
You need to take everything into account! A High School / Prep School coach is getting a player at 15-19 yrs old. Players develop by playing games, practicing, skills, off ice. It is all about how much time and resources you have and how important it is to the player.
U16/U18 programs are about developing players and making money. There is nothing wrong with that! If they don't make money they don't exist! If they don't develop players and win, then they don't attract players who are willing to pay to play. Works for me!
Plenty of talented players with less desire and commitment then other players with less talent and more desire and more commited. Enjoy the journey, Reach for the stars and maybe they only reach the moon, but at least they will have those memories and experiences that will last a lifetime and will be a better person because of it.
Determine which bucket your player is in, go for it and don't look back.