The last month or so I have been watching these games and I simply do not like what I'm seeing in terms of direction with most of these kids.
What's really changed in the last calender year?
I see lateral moves or steps backwards for prospects so fringe players beyond what Frans Nielsen has given this team seem to be on the ice?
Only reasoning I can see behind it is this an effort to make sure the club is in a lottery position where they pick no lower than second.
I tend to doubt this.
What's changed in the last year when you think about it beyond Nielsen's progression and Bailey placed in a spot at center under this coach?
Mike Comrie is the only veteran who has taken a hit and he has been placed on a line with Guerin and Weight off wing.
Sure these players are creating some chances in games but what's changed since Feb 2008?
* Blake Comeau if anything is less visible in games now than he was a year ago after being demoted. Can anyone write this been a season of tangible progress for him?
* Sean Bergenheim was getting a better chance before the lockout here than he is now on the fourth line so Nate Thompson, Richard Park or Andy Hilbert can play left wing/center?
* Jeff Tambellini went from a player who was improving (or at least more visible in games) to someone who dropped out of the mix entirely for Andy Hilbert's return? Even a year ago Ted Nolan was ready to give Tambellini more time and moved Comeau to right wing so he could play.
* Kyle Okposo despite his production cannot be the first line right wing on the powerplay and is on his off-wing so Guerin, Hunter, Park can play right wing up front with the man advantage? His setups with Bailey for goals have been excellent so why not keep them together on the powerplay and let this kid become an NHL right wing after the coach tried to force a full-time left wing slot on him earlier which Scott Gordon admitted was a mistake?
* Why is an AHL veteran who cannot score like Tim Jackman even on this roster for the occasional fight? He works very hard and even has shown progress but this is not giving a prospect a spot or developing anything. I know Kurtis McLean is about the same age and hardly a prospect but what is the point of this?
* Someone's going to have to explain to me why is Nate Thompson here to produce virtually nothing over Jeremy Colliton or Ben Walter. Thompson can win a few faceoffs but the Islanders have invested years in Colliton and traded Nokelainen (a first round selection) to bring Walter in trade.
Do not take this as a knock on some of these players, but career trends do not lie.
I would love Nate Thompson to become a twenty goal scorer who will knock players around and become a good middle-weight, same for Jackman.
No one is rooting harder for Richard Park to do what Jason Blake did here combined with his tireless effort in all three zones. Park wins a lot of games for this team whether he scores or not (remember that dive to save an open net goal) but should he play at the expense of Tambellini's development when your team is 30th in the NHL?
Should decisions like this come at the expense of many prospects taking steps backwards in the last year or nothing changing?
If this were a team with any chance at a playoff spot like last season at time time I could see it.