The reason why Da Costa is in the AHL is that he needs to work on other aspects of his game besides putting up points. They know what he can do offensively, what they want to see is better defensive play, a higher compete level and willingness to go to the dirty areas and battle for pucks along the boards. He has made a lot of progress this season in all these areas but it is possible that they feel he has some more work to do. Aside from that, the biggest thing holding Da Costa back is his strength; at this point he probably isn't strong enough to ply the wing so he will only get called up if we need a centre.
da costa already plays a smart defensive game. he like to pick those pockets and is pretty good at it. his positioning is good (could be better, but still pretty good) and he has good stick work. i don't think defense is holding him back, unless we're going to play him in a shutdown roll or he has to take one of the spots of a penalty killer. da costa is good along the boards, but he could drive to the net more. i think the compete is there. i do agree with you completely on strength. he needs to put on strength. other than that, he's ready for nhl duties, and could play this year. we're just too deep at center.
I hope he gets a game or 2 in then promptly shipped back to Bingo..
With the Hoffman (collarbone, probably done for the season) and Stone (broken finger, three/four weeks minimum) injuries, I would say Murray is aware that, unless Z really lights it up, he'll be back quickly.
I have the feeling Hoffman and Stone would have been ahead of him on the call-up chart if not for the injuries.