The NHL draft class of 2008 was loaded with potential and filled with stars of the future. For some, it appears the future could be now. As the rest of the league gets set to drop the puck on the 2008-2009 season throughout the weekend some teams will find their average player age being pulled down by teenagers.
According to Bob McKenzie of TSN, http://www.tsn.ca/columni...mp;#038;lpos=topStory_nhl
, as many as 10 first round draft picks will start the season with the team that drafted them back in June. Of the 10, only Nikita Filatov (Columbus), coming from overseas, and Viktor Tikhonov (Pheonix), over the minimum age of 20, will be eligible to play in the AHL this season. The reason being the minimum age of 20 years old to play. While Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay) was pretty much slated to start the year with the big club, we all remember the "Seen Stamkos" campaign around the Tampa Bay area, the rest would be questionable.
Many of the clubs had to decide if it would be best for these players to take their lumps early, and judging by most of the rosters they are slated to play for, often in the NHL or be sent back to their respective junior team and dominate. Either decision could both benefit or hinder their development.
If the AHL would reconsider their agreement with the Canadian hockey league (CHL), which consists of the Western Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League, and allow players under 20 into their league it would solve the major issue stated earlier in the blog. As it stands the AHL will allow players from Europe and NCAA hockey programs to play while under the magic age of 20. Players from the CHL who have played more then 4 years in juniors are eligible to play in the AHL as well. It does not make sense for the AHL to hold back some players while allowing others to play based on where they played previously.
This will allow players to get acclimated to living on their own in a foreign city while not facing the pressure to perform under the big lights of the NHL. If the CHL is worried about all of their talent being poached certain stipulations can be implemented. Players will have to be signed to entry level deals from their drafting team. No more then 3 players under the age of 20 with previous time in the CHL per team. Others could be worked out by the people who get paid the big bucks and not a hockey fan from Philly. These are just some of my opinions and idea for your consideration. As Bob Dylan sang "The times they are a changin" I for one think its about time for the AHL to follow suit.
Thanks for reading if you made it this far.