McGran on the sticky wicket that is NHL player development in a pandemic world

This isn’t necessarily Red Wings-related per se, but I feel that it’s important to talk about: the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran notes that NHL teams have lent 145 players to European teams, but, due to the coronavirus situation, most North American developmental and minor pro leagues are scheduled to begin play in December or January–if they have a start date at all.

As a result, the Red Wings and every other team find themselves scrambling to find places in which to give their top prospects places to play, and each and every one of the NHL’s 31 teams find themselves in the same boat:

As the best teenage hockey players in the world heard their names called during the NHL’s virtual draft last week, there was a question hanging over the proceedings that couldn’t really be answered.

What’s next?

A lot of these prospects — some of whom will form the backbone of the teams that selected them — won’t have a place to play, or will have limited playing time, or might only have a spot until the coronavirus has something to say about it.

Any way you slice it, an important year of development could be lost or compromised.

“One of the things we have to accept is that, certainly, development is going to be different,” Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said.

“That’s the biggest unknown,” echoed San Jose GM Doug Wilson. “Depending on when we start, it’s going to be a long period of time before when we ramp back up again.”

Continued; it’s not the Red Wings’ NHL players who I’m worried about when it comes to the 10-month layoff that they’ll have had between the end of the NHL’s regular season and the start of the 20-21 campaign; it’s the Red Wings’ AHL players, from Taro Hirose, Dennis Cholowski and Evgeny Svechnikov to Givani Smith and even Joe Hicketts, whose development seriously concerns me right now.

The Red Wings’ mid-level and longshot NHL prospects have more or less been left to their own devices for the last 10 months, as have the Wings’ North American-playing draft picks, and that has to hurt their on-ice development as they’ve not been able to play competitive hockey. That’s scary in terms of what kinds of detrimental effects might befall their games.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.