2013 NHL Draft

NHL prospects adjust to life back in junior

1 Comment

How a first-round NHL draft pick develops varies on an individual case, although it’s common for the majority of those players to find their way back to junior hockey following their first training camps.

More ice time, work on strength and conditioning, and the fact their overall game might not yet be suited to the NHL are just some of the reasons why top prospects often get sent back to the junior ranks at the conclusion of camp.

For those who work their way to the end of NHL training camps and come oh-so-close to earning a roster spot, it can be disappointing to hear they just didn’t make the cut this time around.

There are the exceptions – players like Sean Monahan, the Calgary Flames’ first-round pick, sixth overall in this year’s draft, who has gone well beyond the nine-game look, which burns the first year in his entry-level contract.

The 19-year-old forward is averaging just below a point per game, with six goals in 12 games. (He hasn’t scored in his last four games.)

But there are those who are sent back to junior, and it can provide a different set of adjustments.

Hunter Shinkaruk, the Canucks first-round pick, 24th overall, was dispatched back to the WHL Medicine Hat Tigers. Darnell Nurse, the Edmonton Oilers first-round pick, seventh overall, was sent back to the OHL Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

“At the NHL level, it’s a little bit different. The crowds are a little bit bigger. The players are a little bit bigger and stronger,” Shinkaruk told the Canadian Press.

“It’s a little bit different coming back again to junior, but I feel like I have to continue to work on my skills and make sure I’m ready to make the jump next year.”

Added Nurse, a defenseman: “I’m just going to improve my whole game and see where that takes me.”

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.