Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dressing to the Ninth

There's going to be quite the racket coming up so when it comes to some high-profile rookies and what their club teams are going to do and should do with them for the rest of the season. The rule is that teams can have junior-eligible players dress up to nine games without having the first year of their entry-level contract kicking in. They have more time to send them back before a year of service goes in their career, but that's another story altogether.

The likes of Ryan Murphy, Ryan Strome, and Jonathan Huberdeau were sent back before notching a game under their belt. The big question is for the following guys from the 2011 Draft still in the pros, which I'll talk about, huzzah.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Following Saturday night's hat-trick, the Oilers are going to be hard pressed to make this decision to either keep RNH or to send him back to Red Deer. Undeniably, he has the skill, but will the size and stamina be there for him?? Plus, with all the young guns that they have in Edmonton, do they want to burn a year on his contract and create a logjam for the Oilers for money in the next five years?? Personally, I think that it would definitely help RNH to go back to Red Deer for another season just to dominate and to fill out a bit, but if the Oilers keep winning and he keeps playing top-six time; he could find an apartment right quick.

Gabriel Landeskog: Here's another guy who would enjoy a decent goal-scoring season in Colorado, should the management think he could hang with the team. He's got the size, but it's a matter of what the team will do and what they want to do with the contract. While Landeskog has the guile to be an NHL right now, I believe the Avalanche will send him back to Kitchener for another year of seasoning.

Adam Larsson: The odds are good Larsson will stay up in New Jersey. In four games, he's averaging over 24 minutes of ice time, though he has a minus-1 to show for it. He's playing in key situations and really getting a lot of confidence from coach Pete DuBoer; which makes me think the big Swede will stay in the Swamp this year.

Mika Zibanejad: Senators' coach Paul MacLean said that Zibanejad would get the full nine-game tryout, but beyond that is going to be a question. It seems the Senators are going nowhere fast this season, which makes it hard to put a young kid in that disorganization and maybe warp him. Of course, he hasn't reacted too well to the change in game from over in Sweden, so odds are that's where he'll be destined when his nine games are up.

Mark Scheifele: With Scheifele's big training camp and preseason (4g, 4a), you'd expect he'd light things on fire. Yet, the Jets and Scheifele haven't done much of anything on the ice, which could cause this great story to fall by the wayside; but for the best on a new team trying to find their way in a new place. Scheifele will definitely be a big part of the future of the Jets, but right now-- he could just want to enjoy the splendid time he had in the limelight and build off of that.

Sean Couturier: Couturier had a solid pre-season, enough to get on the Flyers roster; but alas-- it seems he hasn't been able to hang with the regular season side of things. With one assist and a +2 in three games, he hasn't been horrible; but could get lost in the fold if he stays up and starts to decline in performance and ice time.


There's one definite, two maybes, and the rest will probably see their NHL experience end in the next week, which could be just enough for them to get hungrier and more driven to get back there full time. Or it could break them completely and never be as good as they could have been. It's always a tight-rope walk when it comes to young kids, especially those who are just over three months removed from being drafted into the league.

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