This morning, the Free Press’s Helene St. James notes that the GM made the following statement regarding his young players‘ chances of making the team out of training camp:
“For our younger players, if they come to training camp and do well, earn a spot, that’s great,” Yzerman said. “What I’m not necessarily doing is leaving spots open just to hand it to one of the younger players or hand it to them by default. We’re still looking at a few things. Not so much on the back end or in goal, but up front, looking at a few things to potentially add one more player, possibly two. For our young guys that have a chance to crack the lineup, we would rather they simply are better than the players that we have.
“I am kind of talking out of both sides of my mouth. If a young guy can play, great. I don’t want to leave a spot on the roster open to just hand it to anyone, but I’m also not going to sign a free agent, feeling oh, we have a hole, let’s just plug it. I want a guy who can serve a purpose.”
Continued; I have no problem with the concept of not affording roster spots to young players as “placeholders.” Yzerman and coach Jeff Blashill have duly noted that the NHL is not a developmental league.
While Ken Holland’s old concept that you don’t bring players up until they’re “over-ripe” no longer applies, you want any young player who’s brought up from Grand Rapids to be put in a position to flourish on the roster. You don’t want them to struggle to stay out of the press box–when they’re struggling, it’s better to have them in GR.