It's decision time in the NHL.
As teams reach their ninth game management has to make the decision to either keep their rookie players for the remainder of the season, or send them down to one of their affiliate teams.
Players such as the first overall draft pick Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers have had training camp and the opening of the 2010-11 season to show their boss they have what it takes to play at this level.
Hall scored his first goal of the season last night against Columbus, but had only tallied two assists prior (one was also earlier in the Columbus game) and gave head coach Tom Renney and GM Steve Tambellini a lot to think about. Can they really send their "saviour" to the farm? Or should they stick with him and hope he develops his game more this year? Fans know they are rebuilding and are not expecting a miracle playoff run so they could get away with letting him stay, but if his minutes are going to be cut short due to mistakes on the ice he is better off to be sent down where he can get big minutes, along with some key special teams play which he wouldn't get with the Oil.
Personally I think Hall should be sent down for those reasons mentioned above. The longest he has been on the ice in a game is 20:29. After that is 18:56, and from there it drops to 16 minutes and change to a low of 13:27 - which oddly enough came last night in Columbus, the only game he really produced in.
Even with the team's injury issues, the New York Islanders sent their top pick in the draft Nino Niederreiter down to the Western Hockey League, after his first nine games saw him put up one goal and one assist, to raise his ice time and keep striving to get better. The appropriate choice. There should be no issue at hand for the Oilers, Hall should be sent down. But, him not being with the Oilers doesn't help fill the seats (or a few) each night, so the question remains: What will Edmonton decide to do with Hall?
Other key players, Tyler Seguin in Boston (who notched his first home goal last night against Toronto - you know, the team who would have drafted him if they had not sent the pick to Boston for Phil Kessel, a minus-one last night), Cam Fowler in Anaheim and Alex Burmistrov in Atlanta also have their fate in the hands of management - though these are three teams who will be fighting for a playoff spot and could use their talents along the way. Especially when it comes to Seguin as the Bruins will be in cap trouble when Marc Savard and Marco Sturm return from injury.
There should be plenty of news flooding our way over the next few days, or maybe hours, as teams make their decisions. Check back for updates on who is staying and who will be shipped back to juniors.