You know the rule, as do I. And I’m sure you hate it as much as I do. It’s one of those deals where the NHL caved to the juniors. It’s one of those where in some form or other, prostitutes were involved, whether actual, or metaphorical. Just look at the wonders that William Nylander is able to pull in the AHL as a teenager. He might be the first teenager to top 100 points. Ever. In a low-scoring era. Does that portend him as another Crosby, etc? Well, actually no.
Nylander is a great kid, and I look forward to seeing him join the team when he reaches the level where we think he needs to be. But here’s the rub: Not many great teens ever get to play in the AHL. Nylander does because he came from Sweden, and never played junior here. Had he played junior, he would be playing at a lower level, still in junior, or up with the Leafs. It’s a terrible choice. Have him languish in junior, not getting the kind of instruction he’s going to need, or languish on the Leaf bench, because he doesn’t know the systems, and hasn’t earned Mike’s trust. Seeing Nylander prosper with the Marlies makes me wish Marner could do the same. And it’s across the board. Guys who aren’t truly NHL ready are rushed, and spoiled, because it’s the less awful choice than leaving them in junior, unable to create even more space between themselves and their peers, because they’re already so far ahead.
So when you go to your GM meetings, keep this in mind, okay? I don’t know what stick the juniors hold over the NHL, but I fear we’re losing a whole generation of development across the league, because players are rushed along.