Around these parts, we've spent some time banging on the drum to send Taylor Hall and Magnus Paajarvi away from the NHL in order to preserve their entry-level contracts for a season in which the Oilers might actually be decent. The last part (the Oilers will suck this season) wasn't controversial at all, but the first drew quite a bit of opposition. But if the Oilers are making the wrong call, they certainly aren't alone. After the jump we'll take a look at who's seems likely to survive their ten-game try-out (if they haven't already).
Anaheim Ducks - Cam Fowler (8 GP) and Kyle Palmieri (2 GP) - Fowler would need to be sent to junior and has two years before his ELC needs to kick in; Palmieri has only got one year to go, but he's also eligible to play in the AHL this season (he has nine points in nine games), which gives Anaheim a pretty nice option for development. The Ducks are in a pretty similar situation to Edmonton in terms of competitiveness (i.e. they're not very competitive), but there's no promise that they'll spend money in the future. Given that backdrop, keeping the two rookies past the nine-game mark seems like a bad idea.
Atlanta Thrashers - Evander Kane (14 GP) and Alexander Burmistrov (14 GP) - Kane played out the first year of his ELC last season, and had enough success that you could reasonably argue he was ready for the league. This season, the Thrashers decided to keep Burmistrov in his first year of eligibility and to this point he has one of the team's better Corsi rates, which suggests that he's not being overwhelmed, even if he only has three points in fourteen games. The Thrashers are, like the Oilers and Ducks, probably a poor team this season, but that might be an issue for a long time to come if the team isn't willing to spend. Of interest, Burmistrov is now the fourth consecutive first-round pick the Thrashers have had start "early" in the NHL.
Boston Bruins - Tyler Seguin (11 GP) and Jordan Caron (10 GP) - Once again we have one player from the 2010 entry draft, and a second from 2009. For the Bruins, bringing the young talent in now makes good sense. The team is in a position to contend now, so the value added in the form of ELC's could easily bear significant fruit. Whereas, for the other teams mentioned, it might mean the difference between 13th and 11th in the standings, for the Bruins it could mean finishing 2nd over 3rd and having a better team in the playoffs. And the players themselves? They seem to be doing just fine playing supporting roles in Boston.
Carolina Hurricanes - Jeff Skinner (14 GP) - Skinner was taken 7th overall last June, and made the Thrashers out of camp. Once again, this is a bad team, so playing Skinner now doesn't make much long-term sense, but the kid sure is lighting it up. Skinner leads his team in scoring with 12 points in 14 games.
Chicago Blackhawks - Nick Leddy (6 GP) and Jeremy Morin (1 GP) - Both players were taken in 2009 and both are eligible to play in the AHL. That's where Morin started the year, but he's since been called up. Leddy started with the Hawks, but has since been sent to Rockford. I and many others have written in the past about Chicago's lack of depth at every position, so filling in holes with talented young players isn't a bad idea at all. The problem in this case isn't that Chicago is using ELC's, it's that neither player seems to be ready for the NHL.
Colorado Avalanche - Matt Duchene (13 GP) and Ryan O'Reilly (13 GP) - These two are old news from this angle, having both played immediately after being drafted last season. Neither player seems to have been hurt developmentally by starting in the NHL and the Avalanche ran to a surprise playoff berth last season partially because of the contributions of the two rookies.
Florida Panthers - Dmitry Kulikov (12 GP) - As with the Avalanche, Kulikov is a holdover from last season, and as with the Avalanche, the Panthers kept him despite being a poor club (both in terms of quality and in terms of willingness to spend). The learning environment was a harsh one last season (think Ladislav Smid circa 2006-07), but Kulikov did quite well all things considered. This decision is somewhat more forgivable given that NHL teams do need to think about the KHL quite a bit more with their top Russian prospects.
Los Angeles Kings - Brayden Schenn (8 GP) and Kyle Clifford (9 GP) - I don't know if these two 2009 drafts are staying with the team or being sent down, but given the Kings' recent history with players like Drew Doughty, Oscar Moller, and Wayne Simmonds, if they're perceived to be ready, they'll stay. Whereas, I may have argued otherwise for those players (when they came in, the Kings were pretty bad), the Kings are a very strong team at this point, and can make good use of the value added.
New Jersey Devils - Alexander Urbom (7 GP) and Jacob Josefson (6 GP) - I'm sure the Devils were strongly considering both of the 2009 selections for roles on the team at the start of the year, but after such a horrendous start, I'd be surprised if either player reaches the ten-game mark in the NHL this season, but it'll be a long time before we know for sure since Josefson won't be able to play anywhere for several weeks after being injured.
New York Islanders - John Tavares (11 GP) - Tavares is up for his second year in the NHL, but Garth Snow decided (wisely in my view) to send Nino Niederreiter back to the CHL for another season.
Phoenix Coyotes - Oliver Ekman-Larsson (12 GP) - I'm sure that the Coyotes thought they'd be contending again, and in order to do so, they need to maximize efficiency from all angles, including ELC's. Dave Tippett obviously felt that OEL gave his team their best chance to win, and considering the situation (a poor team won't always be coming off a 100-point season, and from a business standpoint they'll surely want to cement some of the gains made in last season's playoffs), I think it's a pretty defensible call.
Tampa Bay Lightning - Victor Hedman (12 GP) - There shouldn't be any shock that Hedman is back for a second consecutive season in the NHL, now on the second year of his ELC. The Lightning had brought in their last two first round picks, but this year decided to send Brett Connolly (who's coming off an injury-plagued draft year) back to the CHL.
Washington Capitals - Marcus Johansson (6 GP) - This 2009 draft has spent time in both the NHL and AHL this season after coming over from Sweden. His production in the SEL was quite similar to that of Magnus Paajarvi, but the Capitals are a much better team than the Oilers, which seems to have allowed Washington to be more patient with their man. I don't know if he'll end up in the NHL for ten games this year, but unlike young Magnus, I know that he won't have the spot gifted to him.
So, as you can see, at least one third of the teams in the NHL will have players on their roster from the 2009 and 2010 entry draft. Some of them are good teams, while others are poor. For the most part, it seems like if the player looks ready, he gets a chance. It's been said before in the Hall/Paajarvi debate, but if the Oilers are making a mistake, they certainly aren't alone.