It is tempting to criticize the Pittsburgh Penguins for his or her reluctance to be full contributors in an upcoming prospects match, a staple of the franchise’s preseason schedule for greater than a decade.
Those occasions had been an annual reminder that the hockey season was closing in, and an early alternative to evaluate the progress — and potential — of youthful gamers on the organizational depth chart.
They gave prospects an opportunity to make a positive impression on administration — some members of which had by no means seen them play in individual — and free brokers who stuffed out the roster an opportunity to earn an invite to coaching camp, the first step towards touchdown a minor – league contract.
Given that quite a lot of such tournaments are contested throughout the continent, there are clearly a whole lot of franchises that see advantages in being concerned.
But that does not imply GMs, together with Ron Hextall, who’re inclined to skip them do not have legitimate causes. Perhaps much more compelling ones than those that do take part, whether or not it occurs in San Jose, Traverse City, Mich., Buffalo or any of the different locales.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, it needs to be famous, will likely be one among six golf equipment represented at the occasion that can play out Sept. 15-19 at LECOM Harborcenter in Buffalo, albeit the solely one among the group that will not be absolutely concerned.
An individual accustomed to the state of affairs stated it was apparent from the time the topic was first broached that Hextall was prepared to participate in the match — which is able to embody prospects from Buffalo, Boston, Ottawa, Montreal and New Jersey — however solely on a restricted foundation foundation.
Such an uncommon situation appears as if it will be tough to accommodate, assuming the different golf equipment concerned had been inclined (if not anticipated or compelled) to make a full dedication, however an obvious (and unspecified) scheduling complication made the Penguins’ recreation towards Bruins prospects on Sept. 17 doable.
(The journey to Buffalo will fall in the center of the Penguins’ rookie camp, which will likely be held Sept. 15-20 at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex and will likely be a precursor to the common coaching camp.)
The Penguins thus may have the low-level involvement they had been in search of, whereas the different 5 groups will be capable to have the full complement of three video games.
At least two elements contribute to Hextall’s reluctance to ship a squad for the full match.
He has lengthy felt that younger gamers are better-served by participating in issues like managed scrimmages, that are extra conducive to on-ice instruction, than match video games.
Hextall can be believed to be involved about the chance of gamers being injured in basically meaningless video games, which has occurred to some Pittsburgh Penguins prospects over the years.
One of the most critical and unlucky accidents occurred throughout the match at the John Labatt Center in London, Ontario in 2010, when promising defensive prospect Alex Grant had his wrist damaged on a nasty hit by Ottawa’s David Dziurzynski.
Grant, who additionally suffered whiplash and was hospitalized in a single day, missed most of the season that adopted.
He remained in the group till 2013, when he was traded to Anaheim for Harry Zolnierczyk, however by no means received right into a recreation with the father or mother membership and solely appeared in two NHL video games with the Ducks.
Grant later received into 5 extra with Arizona, the place he signed as a free agent in 2015.
There is, in fact, no approach to know with absolute certainty how that wrist damage might need altered his profession path, however there isn’t any query that he by no means got here near residing as much as the potential he appeared to have earlier than being damage.
It’s secure to imagine, although, that the affect of his damage endured lengthy after something his teammates did throughout that match had been forgotten.
Obviously, accidents are a part of the recreation. But subjecting gamers to them when it is not mandatory would not appear to be a great marketing strategy.
Especially for a franchise whose top-shelf prospects, together with 2022 first-round draft selection Owen Pickering, may be capable to journey to a match on a tandem bicycle.