The AHL schedule kicked off this past weekend with a handful of teams getting into action around the league. After most prospects spent some time with their respective NHL affiliations, many were reassigned day-by-day to the AHL. There were many early cuts from each team’s respective training camp, but some prospects were able to stick things out and nearly have their name stitched on for good – only to come face-to-face with the dreaded CBA.
First off, NHL teams are forced to utilize eight designated veterans (see below) in their lineup through the pre-season schedule. They also have to worry about preparing their experienced roster players for the regular season. As such, teams tend to be forced into a position where they might not be able to give prospects the exposure that would lend itself to their early success. In those cases, a demotion is almost inevitable, and those prospects are given that opportunity in the AHL.
(c) A Club shall be permitted to dress a minimum of eight (8) veterans for any exhibition Game. For purposes of this Section 15.4(c), a veteran shall constitute either: (1) a forward or defenseman who played in thirty (30) NHL Games during the previous season, (2) a goaltender who either dressed in fifty (50) or more NHL Games or played in thirty (30) or more NHL games in the previous season, (3) a first round draft choice from the most recent year's entry Draft, or (4) any Player who has played one-hundred (100) or more career NHL Games. The matter of player participation in Exhibition Games shall be referred to the NHL/NHLPA competition committee for its consideration and recommendations, if any, in accordance with article 22.
Sometimes teams have the full intention of allowing their prospects to develop slowly, and simmer in the minor leagues. Waiver eligibility, two-way contract status, and simple veteran respect, however, each played a part in the logjams that lead to assigning certain prospects to the AHL. We see situations like this every season, and while the demotion is usually not a terrible path for the player’s development, it has a way of either sparking a flame for some, or smothering it for others. Each will be out, early in the AHL season, to prove that they’re worthy of an emergency recall, and a second chance to overthrow an ailing veteran in the NHL. Most veterans will tell them, however, that it’s patience, and consistency that will keep them on the right path to success.
Some call it asset management, others write it off as a developmental strategy. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, there’s little in the way of saying that these players couldn’t have overthrown a veteran on SOME NHL teams if it weren’t for a few contractual details or logjams in their organizations. Instead, they’ll try to prove it in the AHL.
Jared Coreau, Detroit
Who needs to go: Petr Mrazek (1YR) OR Jimmy Howard (2YR)