As I'm going through The Hockey News' Yearbook (which is on newsstands now and shows how close hockey is), I'm looking at depth charts and just admiring how many of these teams have a queue of great, talented prospects ready to break through. However, at the same time, the question that I ask myself is how will these kids be able to break through the depth charts and get their chance?? More over, when I look at the salary cap era, how will a team be able to keep all these talented kids on their payroll??
The one big thing was one of "my" teams, the Washington Capitals. Just looking up and down on their depth, it's insane to see how they will be able to keep some of these kids on the payroll, especially when they can't really crack the roster as it is now. Sure, it would give them a lot of clout when it comes to trading for better picks or better players, but at the same time-- the players they may want to get, they wouldn't be able to have room under the cap to accommodate the player they would get in return. Not only that, but you're going to have the players who are slighted get a bit upset they keep getting overlooked from year to year. Sure, the first few cuts could drive them to get better, but everyone has a line before they just get unruly and become a hindrance rather than a help to the cause.
But what's a team to do?? You always want to have a contender ready or to have someone who's ready to step up into the role of an injured, traded, or player who departs due to free agency, but at the same time-- how much time should pass before a youngster gets sick of waiting??
You can look at someone like Rob Schremp of the Edmonton Oilers, who has plenty of talent to go around, a former first round pick, but yet-- still hasn't been able to crack the line-up of the big club. Even in the THN's depth chart, Schremp isn't even listed in the top 36 forwards for the Oilers. A far cry when he was the last cut from camp. Whether it be an attitude problem or something of that ilk that is holding him back, he showed he could get the job done on the ice when called upon. Last season, he had a drop-off, but that's because he was on a lousy team in Springfield of the AHL, who finished last in the entire AHL last season. Yet, the drop-off could be seen as something of a frustration breaking point for Schremp, who was at odds with old coach Craig MacTavish and was in many trade rumors regarding the Oilers during the season.
Goaltending is a big position that teams have stockpiles of, in which some pan out well and some flounder because they seem stuck. For example, you look at things that are going on with Vancouver and Calgary signing their goalie to longer-term deals, when they have plenty of prospects in their system who could step-up into the system, but will be held down due to the guys in there now. Even with some teams like the Senators or Predators-- they have a different goalie each year, it makes you wonder if the slow pace of development is better than rushing the kids into the big show.
How much is too much though?? We all know the odds of a kid actually making and succeeding in the NHL is pretty long, but at the same time, I don't know if we've ever seen as talent of a pool of players than we are seeing right now. I mean, you look at recent drafts and you have all kinds of stud players coming from deep in the drafts, plus the free agents coming from overseas and out of the NCAA ranks, you have to wonder if this is the Camelot days for the talent influx in the NHL. Plus, the fact that it's not just resigned for one team, the diversity of teams having solid propsects is astounding.
The point of this article is.....well, I'm not too sure. Maybe someone who is much more apt at this whole ordeal and who wants to put more effort into this could use this whole thing as a jumping off point to snowball it into something bigger. My point, I guess, is that even with the vast amount of talent in many teams systems, a lot of it will go to waste because the big club doesn't have the room on their roster or payroll to have them show it. You know many teams wouldn't want to give up top prospects they've been stockpiling so as they can't come back and haunt them in the future. In which, that creates tension and frustration from the player, which could ultimately ruin his career in the long run.
It's a tight line to straddle in order to figure out what to do and I don't envy any coach, GM, or owner who makes these decisions.