Andrew Yogan has one point in 10 games. Marek Hrivik has no goals and five points in 10 games. Key prospects JT Miller and Chris Kreider have a combined 3 goals in 12 and 11 games played, respectively. Alternatively, Brandon Segal (29 years old, 102 NHL games) has eight points in 12 games and Michael Haley (26 years old, 43 NHL games played) has five points in 12 games. The statistics you just read were intended to be a little thought provoking.
Clearly, outside of the odd game here and there or the odd exception (like Christian Thomas’s recent upswing in form, or, for the most part, Kyle Jean) it is the veterans and players with little realistic NHL future that are being counted on to produce for the Connecticut Whale so far this season. All of this begs the question; what should be the priority for the Whale: on ice success or prospect development?
Clearly the ideal situation is to have both but, again aside from a few games; most prospects currently with the Whale have encountered plenty of speed bumps in this young season so far. It’s almost impossible to track ice time in the AHL so it’s hard to say – without personally seeing every minute of every Whale game – whether the prospects are being put in the position to succeed and are failing to take advantage, or whether they are not receiving ample opportunity. As previously said, it’s also early in the AHL season so concern should be muted thus far.
However at present, it appears to be a valid concern that Marek Hrivik has just seven shots in 10 games (while acknowledging that he did return from injury). There also appears a valid concern that guys such as Ryan Bourque, Yogan and several younger guys without the big expectations (i.e. Kreider / Miller / Thomas) could be forgotten about while minor pro veterans such as Mike Vernace, Sean Collins and Segal eat up the ice time.
Clearly, the Whale has a responsibility to the local hockey community to provide a competitive if not directly successful product. In a market that publicly craves major league sport –and in one that still laments the absence of the Hartford Whalers– it is clearly a tricky situation in knowing whether to put the most ready players (i.e. veterans) on the ice balanced against who most requires the ice time for the prospect conscious, parent Rangers.
It’s not a panic situation by any means and is probably not yet even a concern – given that some prospects have dealt with injuries – but it’s certainly a situation worth monitoring whether you’re a Whale or a Rangers fan.