NHL Week in Review (October 20-26)

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In the NHL the 10-game mark is one of the more pivotal marks in the NHL season as that is the moment when teams have to make important decisions on their rookies.

Hockey itself is an evolving sport and as more players continue to come through systems that prepare them to be great there are more players that have the ability to step in right away.

This 10-game mark was never much of an issue for decades in the league as rookies had a clear spot in their first years.

The players that were drafted were going to stay in major junior or were going head to the AHL depending on their age.

They were never going to test the ice in the NHL until a few years of getting ready in the lower leagues.

That has all change though as more and more players are growing into players who can compete in the NHL at 18-years-old.

Not everyone will and sometimes a team has to weigh the need to keep control of these players for longer and the need to win right now.

Sometimes a player will make their way to the NHL right away and look like he belongs there.

For some teams, these players can be the key piece to their team for the coming season and can help them get to the playoffs.

If a team is in this situation they need that young player to stay up with the NHL team but by staying up they lose a season on that rookie contract.

All rookie deals are signed through 3-years and pay players a base salary essentially making young players earn their next contract.

The best young players can take those three years and earn a massive payday for their second contract while others burn out within those three years and find themselves out of the league altogether.

Both of those realities and everything in between is potentially on the table for every team and every rookie player.

Teams need to figure out if they have that superstar that can help them right now or if it isn’t worth it.

After 10 games played in any season players are officially rookies in the league and use up their first year of the contract.

If they move to the AHL or back to major junior they avoid being classified as a rookie and don’t use up that year on their contract.

It is a balancing act for teams as they have to take a look at a lot of factors to see if it is worth taking that year away from some players.

For some teams, they simply aren’t good enough to waste a year of a rookie contract this season.

They may like the player and see a lot of potential in that player but if they aren’t headed to the playoffs they could send that player down.hockey-sidebar

He will come up the following year when the team can build more around him and actually compete with a core of rookie talent.

Other teams just don’t see the talent that makes a player a sure thing in the NHL and so they send them back to major junior to continue to develop.

Sometimes that could simply be the fact that the player is just too small right now like in the case of Mitch Marner a few years ago and other times it is just the skill.

Then there are the players who are just undeniable and the players who can challenge the best players in the league like Connor McDavid.

This year there is a mix of those players as some of those young players have already been sent down to get another year in major junior while others have a better shot.

None of these players have really taken over the league this year but for their teams, they have been extremely valuable.

Brady Tkachuk has been exactly what the Senators thought he would be and could be the leader of the rebuild that nobody is talking about.

Meanwhile, Henri Jokiherju was considered to be a player that was going to head back to major junior but has solidified his spot in the Blackhawks blueline.

Injuries have forced the Ducks to rely more on Max Comtois but he has proven to be worthy of that spot and will likely stay with the team

Of course, there is the biggest name among them all in Rasmus Dahlin who was the top pick in the NHL draft for the Sabres and remains a big part of their plans.

All of these players are going to enter this ten game mark with a good shot at sticking I the NHL and if they can continue their play they will all be looking for that Calder Trophy.

It is a new league with payers that can make a serious impact at a very young age and as that trend continues on this ten game mark continues to become as big a moment in the season as free agency or the trade deadline.



Appeal Denied

Before the season began the NHL had to deal with a serious hit when Tom Wilson hit Oskar Sundqvist in the head during a preseason game. It wasn’t his first issue with headshots and so the NHL decided that he would have to sit out for 20 games at the start of the season. As is typical, the NHLPA decided that it was too much and launched an appeal to reduce the suspension. This week Bettman let them know what he thought of that appeal with a long letter to the PA and Wilson but it won’t stop the appeal. A 3rd party arbitrator will hear the case and make a decision on whether 20 games was too much or just enough.

Dream Scenario

Last year the Chicago Blackhawks were put in a bad situation last March and had to reach way back to find a goalie to fill in. They did that when they reached out to one of their recreational contacts in Scott Foster. In his first NHL action ever, Foster saved seven shots and helped the Blackhawks to the win in what was a dream for beer league goalies everywhere. It was his one glorious moment in the league and usually, that is all anyone like him will get. That isn’t the case now as Foster may not be an NHL goalie but he will be helping out a practice with the Blackhawks just in case they need to call on him again.

On the Right Side

Last year it was one of the more emotional stories of the season as Brian Boyle revealed that he was dealing with a cancer diagnosis. That diagnosis was going to end his career as he was going to have to stop playing and focus on treatment. This week he received great news and shared that news with the hockey world. Boyle revealed that his cancer is now in remission and with some work to go he is on the right side of his diagnosis.

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