With the Western Hockey League starting back up on February 26th, with newly aligned divisions because of Covid-19, that’s good news for the young AHL players who were cutting their teeth waiting for their real season to start. Let me explain.
A lot of organizations’ top prospects were on taxi squads or waiting for the AHL to start up so they could get some ice time. It’s good for AHL fans to see and great for the players who need to stay sharp and continue to develop. Anybody who thinks what they’re seeing in a short window of professional hockey should be construed that a player may be ready to be called up to the NHL now because they had great numbers after four or five games, needs to check themselves.
I’ve seen many of the goal highlights to start the season and there was one evident thing, the goaltending isn’t good. It’s severely compromised so I checked in with my resident AHL expert, Patrick Williams to get his thoughts.
“AHL goaltending has been significantly impacted by COVID and NHL taxi squads.”
And there it is. AHL goaltending will likely be in a state of flux all season long. That’s not to say a player looking good is a bad thing, it’s not, it’s just important to look at some of the other contributing factors as to why some players have better numbers than expected.
If the OHL gets started at some point, then more players will leave the AHL to join those leagues. Why? Because it’s better for them over the long haul. They will get bigger roles on those teams and if there are playoffs, then those bigger roles in the postseason is better for them.
The NHL isn’t a good league for 18-year-old players. It’s not. Some play at that age and in most cases have been rushed based on where they were chosen in the draft or they are close, and the teams give them a chance. This season has been different because every league has had teams’ rosters impacted because of the pandemic out of an abundance of caution.
Having hockey is better than no hockey. This year is a tough year to make player judgments as we inch closer to the 2021 NHL Draft. That’s just the way it’s going to be. It’s the world we currently live in, so you have to adjust accordingly.