NHL Week in Review (October 26-November 1)

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The NHL has reached their first suedo-deadline of the season as it was time for the teams to make a decision on their young talent. Throughout the last few years young talent has been the key for many teams in making a difference. With the rise of the 20-somethings the league has become younger and a great young player can change everything about a team. The debate over whether to keep a young player in the league or send him back has become tougher and tougher every year with more young players having an impact. It wasn’t too long ago that young players were never even given a shot in the NHL. Instead teams drafted players to see them contribute a few years after while they developed in the AHL or in major junior. The team expected to draft great players and never see them for a number of years. That has all changed as every year almost the entire first round of the NHL draft has a chance at making their NHL team. At the very least the top five players drafted have a very good shot of making their teams and playing an important role on the teams. The new role of these young players has become a massive debate in the NHL when it comes to their ninth game of the season. At that moment a young player is considered by many as officially a rookie in the NHL. It does not make him technically eligible for the Calder Trophy or officially a rookie in the league but it does take the first year of a three-year entry-level contract count. Every rookie is signed to a basic 3-year entry-level contract that is now standard in the NHL and after playing their first 10 games in the season the first year of those three years on the contract is used up. That rule makes the first nine games of the season an essential tryout period for their top rookies. Those are the players that they saw in preseason that impressed enough to keep on the main roster but may need some extra development. If a player can show that he belongs in the NHL and can contribute the NHL team will take the chance and keep hm on the team past nine games. That usually means the team plans to keep the rookie on the roster for the entire year and get full use out of the first year of the contract. Other teams might determine that their young star needs more time to develop and instead of making him play out one year of his contract, leaving the team with only two more guaranteed years with the player, they send him to the AHL or back to his junior team to continue to develop and try to compete with the top club the next year. This year the new rookie class was extremely promising but not all will stay this year. So far some of these important decisions have already been made with teams deciding if their rookies remain in the NHL. The Buffalo Sabres were one of the few teams to make a big decision when they sent one of the top rookies back to the juniors. Sam Reinhart was drafted with the second overall pick in this year’s draft but despite plenty of promise the young Canadian was sent back to the Kootenay Ice of the WHL. He was one of the few players who found their way off of the NHL roster this year with top pick Aaron Ekblad sticking with the Panthers, Curtis Lazar finding a place in Ottawa, and 2013 pick Jonathan Drouin fulfilling the promise that he had in 2013 of being a gamebreaker. As many team approach their 10-game mark they will have to make the decision on keeping their rookies or sending them back to keep developing. It is an important time for many teams including the struggling ones who might need these young players to compete this year but don’t want to give them too much too soon and destroy their confidence. The decisions will continue to come and teams will set the stage for their future as the season moves on with or without their rookies.


(Extra Thoughts on this week in hockey)

Scary time for Mr. Hockey
He is the man known as Mr. Hockey for what he did in the game as one of the greatest players ever but Gordie Howe is going through an extremely tough time after suffering from a stroke leaving the hockey world to send their thoughts to one of the greats

Historically bad
The Buffalo Sabres are not having a great team and were not expected to be a great team but they reached new lows when they only earned 10 shots in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs marking a franchise low

Burrows gets three
Alex Burrows made a dangerous decision this week in hitting Alexei Emelin in the head and sending the defenceman to the ice and for the hit he received three games in one of the first tests of the season for the discipline department


Key Scores:
San Jose Sharks 4 – 1 Anaheim Ducks
– The Sharks and the Ducks will likely fight it out again for the Pacific Division crown and they got their first taste of each other in the first game of the season series with the Sharks taking the first swing in a big win

Toronto Maple Leafs 4 – 0 Buffalo Sabres
– The Maple Leafs have not looked like the best team this year bit they looked much better than the Sabres who only managed 10 shots through the entire game creating an easy shutout win for the Leafs

Pittsburgh Penguins 3 – 0 Los Angeles Kings
– The Penguins looked to make a statement in one of their two games against the Stanley Cup Champions and they did just that shutting out the Kings and show that they can hang with the best teams in the league

Toronto Maple Leafs 3 – 2 Chicago Blackhawks
– After a start to the season that was forgettable they Leafs are starting to put together some good wins including this one against the Chicago Blackhawks who are favourites to win the Stanley Cup according to many this year


Next Week:
St. Louis Blues vs. New Jersey Devils (Tuesday November 4th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Blues are trying to erase a bad start to the season that saw them drop to the middle of their division as they take on the Devils who are looking to continue their unexpected good start to the season

Detroit Red Wings vs. New York Rangers (Wednesday November 5th; 8:00 pm ET)
– The Red Wings and Ranger represent the Original Six teams and they face off with the Red Wings looking to start the season long series with a win as both teams try to stay near the top of their divisions

Washington Capitals vs. Chicago Blackhawks (Friday November 7th; 8:30 pm ET)
– The Capitals have one of the most dynamic players in the NHL while the Blackhawks have three as Alexander Ovechkin looks to outdue Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Marian Hossa in this inter-conference matchup

New York Rangers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Saturday November 8th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The two most valuable teams in the NHL face off for the first time this year as the Rangers travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs who are looking to continue their recovery from a bad start to the season

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