Balancing priorities; are prospects getting the right ice time in Connecticut?

Are the Whale doing right by the prospects?

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.

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  • Is there a TOI stat? time on specialty units? I would like to see that if you guys can locate one

  • I hate to put a damper on the article, but these kids are learning the pro game, and they are still in the process of making the adjustment.

    Please remember, the game played by the Whale, is the same as played by the mother club, so just give them time to adjust to it!!!!

  • I aso failed to mention that giving these kids a chance to learn the right way, winning, so that they will have that in their professional DNA!

  • Sorry Chris but you are making a big deal out of nothing. It would be a concern if the prospects were in their 2nd or 3rd year at CT but most are just beginning their pro careers.

    Ken Germander is weaning the kids into the lineup while balancing the need to also win games and draw fans to make some money for the franchise.

    The season is only 12 games old and 9 players on the roster are in their first season at the AHL level. There is an adjustment period to the higher level of play.

    Relax Chris no need to worry about this after just 12 games.

  • Thanks Jess. I’m not worrying just raising a potential question. It may be worth considering… Hell, with no rangers hockey it’s worth discussion ha

  • Chris

    But see my friend “raising the question” is not fair to the prospects as people who haven’t been following the prospects prior to playing at this level may not know which questions to ask.

    The number one thing I see that most fans don’t realize is with each progression up the ladder, the game speeds up almost 5X than what they have ever played.

    Take Thomas who last season was playing on an Oshawa team almost destroyed by injuries. Thomas was finding himself as the old man on a team full of 16-17 year olds.

    Fast forward to today and Thomas is now playing with and against adults. From big man on campus to one of the team is a change a player has to adjust to.

    And you can point a finger at the CT Whale coaches (and IMO the Rangers too) as why did it take so long to put Thomas on the power play point? Thomas has only been doing that for 3 seasons in the OHL.

    In other words the coaches are also learning what they have in their players (which is the answer to why Germander has been using mostly veterans).

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