Quinn and Renney - What the Oilers Will Do With Youngsters

After the lockout, the Edmonton Oilers personnel people saddled Craig MacTavish with an inordinate amount of rookies each year.  In fact, since the lockout, the Oilers are second in the league in games played by rookies, trailing only Columbus.  Some very smart people have pointed to these games as the reason that MacTavish wasn't able to get back to the playoffs after the Pronger trade, and in the end, the reason that he was fired.  This year's Oilers are a young team, but aren't likely to have many games dedicated to rookies.  There is a large pool of prospects bubbling under and those prospects will soon begin to push for time in the NHL.  How will Pat Quinn handle these soon-to-be rookies?

During his time in Toronto from 1998-2003, Quinn had a mostly veteran team and had the luxury of bringing rookies only when they proved that they belonged.

In 98-99 Quinn brought in Tomas Kaberle and gave him a full slate of 57 games, plus fourteen playoff games as the Leafs made a trip to the conference finals.  The following year, Quinn gave Nikolai Antropov his chance via 66 games.  The only other youngsters on the team were Kaberle and Alyn McCauley, a rookie in 97-98.

The next three seasons saw only brief looks at rookies as Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan and Karel Pilar combined for only 87 games over those three seasons and Quinn's leafs made another trip to the conference finals.

Finally, in 2003-2004, Ponikarovsky [73], Stajan [69] and Pilar [50] all played a full season in Toronto after three years of sparing NHL work.  The Leafs were still a veteran-laden team and bowed out in the second round of the playoffs.

05-06 saw Kyle Wellwood [81] and Alex Steen [80] play a full season.  In addition to those two, rookies Carlo Colaiacovo, Staffan Kronwall and Ian White combined for 54 games.  With the three rookies from the year before, the Leafs were a markedly younger team, easily the least experienced team that Quinn had in Toronto.  That influx of youth contributed to the Leafs missing the playoffs for the only time during Quinn's Toronto reign and Quinn was subsequently fired.

Two-thirds of all games played by rookies under Quinn came in his last two years.  Did having an abundance of youngsters on the roster lead to the graybeard's firing in the same manner that some have suggested for MacTavish?

In Craig MacTavish's four post-lockout years, rookies played  200-plus more games than in Quinn's full seven years in Toronto.  Quinn was clearly more comfortable with veterans and spent three seasons [2000-2003] keeping his top prospects on the farm.  That comfort level should translate to roster stability early in Quinn's employ in Edmonton, with one rookie on the big club at a time.  There is much growing up to do on his current roster and the old man won't want to get any younger.  It would be a bit of a shock to see anyone that the NHL considers a rookie play more than 20 games for the Oilers this year.

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