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Old
03-25-2007, 04:08 PM
  #1
AmericanDream
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Hockey's Future

Why does the majority of the prospects we talk about so much, never pan out or live up to their offensive expectations in the NHL?

Has anyone else seen this disturbing trend over the past 5 to 6 years that I have??? I don't understand how all of these college kids, and junior players who light up their respective leagues offensively, come to the NHL and rarely put up the numbers that got them drafted in the first place. How is it that guys like Hawerchuk, Anderchuk, Yzerman, Lafontaine, Housley, Coffey, Leetch, Bourque, Gretzky, Modano, etc. etc. never spent much if any time in the minors?

Why do almost all of the prized prospects now-a-days HAVE to spend time in the minors to learn the game and learn defense? How the hell does learning to play in the AHL, translate to the NHL? I know all those players I mentioned above are or will be HOFers, but these kids that get drafted have the same hype as they did if not more so. So what the heck is going on?

Why am I seeing so many promising young players getting justled back and forth from the NHL to the minors in the same season? Doesn't this not kill a young players confidence? How come we don't let our players develope their defensive game in the NHL while they are scoring highlight reel goals and keeping butts in the seats like they used to?

Am I over analyzing things here? I feel coaches are almost worthless now. I dont feel they develope players in the NHL, they take the easy way out and ship them down to the farm so they can learn the game and be someone else responsibility. Coaches make millions of dollars now, and they can't afford to have young kids coming up who make mistakes and cost them games, which can lead to the loss of their job. I feel that they almost don't want young guys playing in key roles except for a certain few. The Hawks have been ridiculous in bringing guys up and down all year, and we suck. We traded away Brandon Bochenski because we never gave him any time or any confidence up here, and now he is in Boston where if he played there all year would be a 40 goal scorer.

Playoffs also brings in big bucks, so winning is now so much more important then ever, and a team full of young guys may not make it to the playoffs and make the owners the money that they are demanding. I think we are hindering our young players by having them lose their confidence and offensive flair in the minors.

Does anyone think that million dollar contracts has anything to do with it either? Players cant afford to make mistakes anymore, many talented young future stars are now barely putting up 15 goals a year, because I believe that they are just doing enough to not get shipped out so that they can keep making the $$$ in the pros.

I love this game, and I love talking about prospects, but something seems to be missing when you see the point totals for rookies over the past few years compared to that of the 80's and 90's. Yes I do know this isnt those eras anymore, but does that mean these players we talk about so much and put so much hype in aren't as offensively gifted as players were 10-20 years ago?

Any thoughts would be welcome to this paranoid hockey fan.

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03-25-2007, 04:23 PM
  #2
JSmith81x
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If every prospect turned out the way they were "supposed to," the NHL would need to be about 50 teams larger.

The AHL is generally a stepping stone. Most players can't make the jump from Canadian jrs/US college/European/European jr leagues to the NHL. They need to gain strength, patience, consistency, a better defensive awareness, etc.

And coaches get fired too easily and too quickly for them to spend time developing a young kid. So the roster spot goes to an established player.

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03-25-2007, 05:13 PM
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Blind Gardien
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmericanDream View Post
Why does the majority of the prospects we talk about so much, never pan out or live up to their offensive expectations in the NHL?
Well, if that's the case... and to be a bit too glib in responding to your well-presented post... because "we" have unrealistic expectations for the most part. Simple as that, really. Most of us are here because we enjoy the prospect side of the NHL equation. And most of us get too excited about prospects as a generalization. There's "hope", and there's "expectation"... maybe sometimes what gets written as "hope" comes across as "expectation" in the translation as a result too?

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03-25-2007, 07:04 PM
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The players you mentioned are not only (future) HOFs, they also "grew up" in a complete different hockey-world.

The physical and mental requirements for a young player in the ´80 were far less than now!

Why don´t you compare actual prospects to young stars like Heatley or Spezza who played two years in college and OHL/AHL respective.

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Old
03-26-2007, 10:01 AM
  #5
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American Dream makes some good points abut the nature of today's game.
A large number of the young college and CHL grads do their apprenticeship at the AHL level and quite possibly money is a factor. A quality AHL player makes about 20%of the NHL league minimum, so the teams try to minimise their exposure on not quite ready for prime time players, rather than keep them in NHL.It works out cheaper to have lower paid depth players who have become full time NHL'ers on the team. A top end prospect would cost more for about the same level of production.
There are a host of reasons why goal production is down compared with the 70's and 80's. Better goaltending and more advance scouting of teams have contributed to the drop. It is a lot easier to teach an average player to play good defense than it is to patiently wait for the scoring touch to develop.

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03-26-2007, 11:12 AM
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I think the major reason is because so many posters here don't know what the heck they're talking about!

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03-26-2007, 12:05 PM
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Take the Wild as an example...

The Wild have brought 3 players directly into the team: Gaborik, Bouchard and Burns (Mikko Koivu might've joined this group if not for the lockout ... instead he played one season in the AHL). You could consider Boogaard among this group as well, because he shocked everybody my making the team out of his first NHL camp and then pummeling the crap out of pretty much every goon in the league. They were allowed to learn the game with the big team. We are also an expansion team so its not like we sucked any worse during their learning curves. Now, however, things are different. We're battling the Nucks for the NW division crown and home ice advantage during the playoffs. The Wild will no longer (or rarely) bring players directly into the team, i.e., no more 18 yr olds. The team's focus is to win now and keep bringing prospects along.

Because Jacques Lemaire focuses so heavily on defensive responsibility, most prospects need to learn the system. For us the AHL is perfect. They learn what they're supposed to while showing that they deserve a shot at the big time.

So Erik Westrum tore up the AHL, but couldn't do anything in the NHL ... its sad cuz he's a very important player in Minnesota High School hockey history, but he did get his shot. Voloshenko looked like an awesome sniper with some grit playing on Westrum's wing, but hasn't done much this year. Using Volo as an example, if he has a good season next year, maybe he'll be given a shot at a call-up.

We still have a kid in juniors that may make the jump directly -- James Sheppard. He's tearing it up in junior, seems to be a real leader and many people have said he plays a good two-way game. You never know ... if he has a good camp ... it just might happen.

I think that, generally speaking, the teams that are going to do well in this new NHL will have a steady stream of young players coming through. The cap forces teams to do this because you need to keep your marquee players and augment them with the least expensive players who can do the job. Young players will always be the cheapest. While few will make the jump straight from Junior or NCAA or wherever, there will always be a few ... just as there always have been a few ...

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Old
03-26-2007, 01:43 PM
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmericanDream View Post
I don't understand how all of these college kids, and junior players who light up their respective leagues offensively, come to the NHL and rarely put up the numbers that got them drafted in the first place. How is it that guys like Hawerchuk, Anderchuk, Yzerman, Lafontaine, Housley, Coffey, Leetch, Bourque, Gretzky, Modano, etc. etc. never spent much if any time in the minors?

Why do almost all of the prized prospects now-a-days HAVE to spend time in the minors to learn the game and learn defense? How the hell does learning to play in the AHL, translate to the NHL?
Can you acknowledge that the game has changed substantially over the last 30 years? Examples:

1) Improvements in training have greatly increased player strength & agility. The number of kids who can physically compete at 18yo with grown men has decreased.
2) More teams employ strong defensive play as a key part of their team game. If I remember correctly, all of the guys you mentioned except for Borque and Leetch were absolutely BRUTAL defensively early in their careers. On most teams, that wouldn't be tolerated now.
3) You only named 9 guys, all of whom will likely be in the HOF. I could name 9 current players (Lecav, Thornton, Crosby, Malkin, Oveckin, Kovalchuk, Pronger, Kessel, Bergeron, Nash) whose careers could be comparable to the guys you mention and none of them spent any NHL eligible time in college or the AHL.

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03-26-2007, 02:37 PM
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmericanDream View Post
Why do almost all of the prized prospects now-a-days HAVE to spend time in the minors to learn the game and learn defense? How the hell does learning to play in the AHL, translate to the NHL? I know all those players I mentioned above are or will be HOFers, but these kids that get drafted have the same hype as they did if not more so. So what the heck is going on?
Today the game is much faster and, for lack of a better term, micro-coached. Theres a bigger emphasis on positional play and defense. It takes time to learn and lots just can't do it at the speed that it happens.

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Old
03-26-2007, 03:49 PM
  #10
weaponomega
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmericanDream View Post
Why does the majority of the prospects we talk about so much, never pan out or live up to their offensive expectations in the NHL?

Has anyone else seen this disturbing trend over the past 5 to 6 years that I have???
This is not something that has happened within the last 5 or 6 years. There has always been players that have been hyped that never pan out.

I think Hfboard is a way for more players to get more hype and it may seem more noticible now. Hfboards give people more information and more access to prospects that they wouldn't have had in the past.

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