Not unlike Arthur Miller's famous 1949 script, "The Death of a Salesman", many an NHL prospect has failed to taste success and so falls by the wayside!
The summer month of August certainly drains the life out of most talk hockey!
Come September we will be gearing up for prospect tourneys, training camps, and pre-season!
An earlier start to the regular season due to the Olympics this year will also spark an exciting 09-10' regular season in early Octobber!
But given the time we have on our hands, why don't we speculate on players that, while under contract, are susceptible to being moved due to other factors on the team such as cap issues, line-up jams, personality/role conflicts etc.
Let’s look at...the prospects that are precariously in danger of slipping into irrelevance....
So many highly touted young players are drafted in the early rounds of the National Hockey League and either are never given an opportunity or at least not one that stands to offer them a legitimate shot at success. While these guys have fallen off the map a bit, a team likely could get them for very little. All have languished in the minors for some time and were drafted at least 4 years ago. Their NHL time has been limited to bottom 6 type minutes or improper roles. While there are others that could be on the list, these guys stand out the most. The Top 5 list is as follows:
1.) Rob Schremp (C/W) – 2004 1st round (25th) - the star player was a first line scoring demon in the OHL with 145 pts on one of the best junior teams to ever play. Yet, he has never been given a true shot at the NHL and the few games he has played he's never been in a top 6 role. The guy has unreal talent and his stay in Edmonton goes stale if he is not on the opening night roster this season. Comparable: Marc Savard.
2.) Jack Skille (C/W) – 2005 1st round (7th) – this guy was a top 10 sure fire pick in 05’. Also, a victim of limited opportunity at best, his tenacious play and speed should allow him to play in the NHL in a Darcy Tucker like mold.
3.) Benoit Pouliot (C/W) - 2005 1st round (4th) – another guy with sublime offensive skill and unlike the 2 prospects above him, good size at 6’3. A 4th overall pick with 4 years in the system needs to make the team or explore new opportunities. Comparable: Patrick Marleau.
4.) Danny Syvret (D) - the captain of Schremp’s London Knights record setting team, Syvret has dominated the AHL on both sides of the puck and if he doesn’t get an opportunity soon could go by the wayside. Has all the tools and size of a Brian Rafalski.
5.) Steve Downie (C/W) – the enigmatic pest. Downie has been a force in every league he’s played in both offensively, agitatingly and physically yet can’t seem to keep his head screwed on right or for long enough to play NHL hockey. This guy could be a menacing presence in the league in the mold of a Dale Hunter.
While none of these 5 are assured spots on their respective opening night rosters. A GM willing to take a risk would do well by attempting to acquire and develop one of these young men.
Who do you like from this list and what trades are feasible for former top round picks? I personally would love to see the Leafs try and acquire any one of these guys.
This week was also a testament to 1 guy I may have included had he not been recently moved in Justin Pogge. Brian Burke’s promise to give guys new opportunities comes through again. Perhaps he can explore players beset by similar negative circumstances elsewhere and bring them into the fold in Toronto.