Home > I look like a moron > Win Now Vs. Player Development

Win Now Vs. Player Development

In Pat Steinberg’s excellent FlamesNation post “Where Does Backlund Fit?” he addresses the question of “Why keep him up when he’s not playing?”  And it is a great question.  Now much like Steinberg, I’m not a scout or involved in player development, but I understand that for development in general to occur, you need to expose someone to something that will allow them to develop.

Here’s an analogy from my personal life: As I’ve said before, I’m a Coastie.  More specifically, I’m enlisted, which means I had eight weeks of bootcamp.  Eight weeks of hell, basically.  Now while this isn’t throwing me out on a 87′ patrol boat and ordering “Do drug interdiction- you don’t need training to know how” it also isn’t having me sit at home watching DVDs mailed to me with men in Smokey Bear hats yelling at me through the TV while I eat popcorn and pretend I’m tying knots or something.

Backlund right now is sitting in front of the TV eating popcorn.  Sure, he might practice with the big club, but the real competition isn’t there.  He’s not forcing himself to learn how to adapt to Datsyuk stripping the puck from a Flame and rushing.  He’s not experiencing the real rush, the real think on your feet as you go.  This isn’t to say I advocate him playing top line minutes either. If you throw him out against, say, the Thornton, Marleau, and Heatley line, he’ll get overwhelmed and be left spinning.  This gives you two options:

1.) Give him top minutes in the AHL.

This is what most people would likely advocate. He’d see players about his level and get plenty of ice time every night. Further more, it gives the big team a better chance at winning, as Great American Craig Conroy is a more complete player than Backlund right now.

2.) Give Him Limited Minutes in the NHL

This is my choice. Backlund has already shown himself to be a top AHL player in less than a season.  I fear if we leave him there for too long, he’ll stagnate and become the next Alexandre Giroux- a fantastic minor leaguer who never takes the last step forward. Again, I don’t think he should be thrown to the wolves. But give him time against third liners, maybe a shift against second liners. 11-13 minutes a night.  For someone to learn, they need to be challenged, and right now, I don’t see that happening as much in the AHL.

Unfortunately, that’s not happening, largely for the reasons outlined in the FlamesNation post I referenced.  Unfortunately, Sutter and Sutter LLC has decided that we need to win now. 

I’m as excited that we’re winning multiple games in a row as anyone else, but let’s face it, we’re not Cup contenders.  Right now its showing that our players like Hagman, Stajan, and Bourque will be a good foundation for next year and further.  That’s good, it’s positive. However, right now we don’t have what it takes for a playoff run.  I’d rather we put Backlund in over Conroy even if it hurts our chances of winning a bit, just so he can develop into the player we want.

Of course, Sutter’s an overcorrecter, however this works out or doesn’t, it’ll have a huge impact on our prospects like Great American Mitch Wahl, Ryan Howse, and Greg Nemisz.

Categories: I look like a moron
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