As six NHL rookies near the nine game cut-off point from “burning” a year off their entry-level contracts, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of keeping each one at the NHL level vs. moving them down to the AHL. Sometimes the decision will already be made and we’ll just be sharing our two cents while in other instances the moves will come down to a near-coin toss. Either way, we hope you’re entertained and would love to hear your thoughts.
Finally: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler.
- Fowler was projected to be a top-three draft pick but slid all the way down to the defense-poor Anaheim Ducks at No. 12 in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
- He’s listed at 6’1″ and 190 lbs. He also was born in 1991. (Guess it’s time to feel old now.)
- His next game should have been that magic ninth game, but a broken nose limited him to only six appearances so far.
- Stats: one goal, two assists for three points and a -1 rating in six games played.
- His junior rights belong to the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL.
- Anaheim has already declared that Fowler will stay with the Ducks this year.
Useless facts and thoughts
For a shameless pun maker such as myself, having a guy named Cam Fowler on the Ducks fills me with “David Duchovny in a sorority house” type temptation. Is it a bit of serendipitous luck or is it a curse? Perhaps that beauty is simply in the eye of the pun-holder.
What’s been said about him
Fowler has impressed Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle, as you can see from a quote in this story.
“You have to shake your head at times to remember that he is only 18,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “That’s what separates him from players in his age group. He is able to do things at a very high level. His compete level is right up there, his execution level is very, very high. You don’t recognize him as an 18-year-old at all.”
This is a tough call.
For one thing, he’s getting real experience with the Ducks. In six games played, he’s already averaging an impressive 20 minutes of ice time per game and even produces on the offensive defenseman level of .50 points per game. Of course, that’s an incredibly small sample, but he seems like a poised player with a beyond-his-years-IQ. Let’s not forget that the Ducks aren’t exactly overflowing with defensive talent, either.
Yet the repugnant stench of defeat hangs over Anaheim like a thrice-worn jockstrap. This team doesn’t look like a legitimate contender, at least from what I’ve seen, so why burn one of Fowler’s bargain entry-level years on a lost cause? Let’s also not forget these two factors:
1. The Ducks are extremely cheap, generally speaking.
2. He will be a restricted free agent during the same summer that Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry will hit the unrestricted free agent market if they keep him in the NHL this season.
By shipping Fowler down to the minors, the budget-conscious Ducks can protect their prize prospect’s psyche while also staggering the team’s toughest contract negotiations. (The team would spread out the negotiations as such: Perry-Getzlaf in 2013, Fowler in 14 or 15, Jonas Hiller in 14 and Bobby Ryan in 15.)
James’s Verdict: Send him down to the minors/juniors.
Fowler has played like he’s been in the NHL all along so far in his rookie season. He’s had to deal with getting over an injury after taking a tough hit and that’s slowed down the decision making process on Anaheim. The Ducks’ defense is an unmitigated mess right now and Fowler has been one of their better players and getting big minutes to go along with that. The Ducks are opting to keep him on the roster for the long run this season and there’s nothing about Fowler’s game that says this is a bad decision. Yes, he’s young. Yes, he’ll make mistakes on occasion, but having him learn on the job in the NHL is what will benefit him the most. Another season in Windsor would have him spinning his wheels against guys he’s a lot better than.
Joe’s Verdict: He should stay, and he will stay.