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The Malik Report

Too Much AHL Time For Brendan Smith?

via Craig Custance of ESPN (must be an ESPN Insider to read on),

There's no doubt seasoning in the American Hockey League is crucial to the growth of most young hockey players. When citing the virtues of the league, scouts and team executives often say the same thing: They've seen players hurt because they were rushed to the NHL but never because they spent too much time in the AHL.

You can't help but wonder if Brendan Smith is pushing the limits of that theory....

This was the year we'd find out if the former Wisconsin star was ready to make that next step as an important NHL contributor. Then the lockout hit. And with the way talks are dragging, it could be another year in the AHL for the Toronto native.

Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill doesn't believe there's such a thing as too much AHL development.

"I don't think you can ever be that way," he said during a phone conversation earlier this week. "The American League is even better this year. Right now, it's the best league in the world. The competition is there. In light of the situation, he's playing. He could be one of those other people who is sitting out."

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Comments

henrymalredo's avatar

It’s good that Smith is getting significant playing time, but I do wonder if it possible for a player to overripen.  Jakub Kindl specifically is someone who I felt looked pretty NHL-ready when he first signed with the Wings, but has struggled since.

Posted by henrymalredo from Lansing on 10/25/12 at 11:32 AM ET

Avatar

I’m in the camp that believes that a player can overripen. If you spend 2, 3 years too long at a level you’re too good for (especially once you’ve already pretty much hit physical adulthood), you don’t necessarily regress to the level of the league you’re in, but it’s very easy to stop learning, stop growing, and sort of get set in your ways. For most people, if you’ve learned all you can learn at one level, the longer you wait to move to the next, the harder it’s going to be to make that adjustment.

Smith’s got great talent, but I’ve always been concerned about his mental discipline (he takes too many penalties, he gets caught out of position too often, etc.). He can get away with it in the AHL, but it’s not going to fly in the NHL. One has to worry at least a little that some of those bad habits will only be more ingrained and harder to shake if he doesn’t get a real crack at the NHL until next year.

It’s better that he’s playing in the AHL than not playing at all, but this lockout is coming at a really bad time in his development. If it turns out that he never quite meets his potential, I’ll always wonder if the lockout had something to do with it.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 10/25/12 at 12:28 PM ET

WingsFaninCO's avatar

Posted by henrymalredo from Lansing on 10/25/12 at 11:32 AM ET

I hear ya.  There is no doubt in my mind that this is detrimental to Smith’s development.  I feel he will learn bad habits this year and some laziness may creep into his game.  That said, with the NHL not an option right now, the AHL is the best option for him.  I want him on North American ice and the AHL is as competitive this year as it will ever be.

Posted by WingsFaninCO on 10/25/12 at 12:28 PM ET

WingsFaninCO's avatar

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 10/25/12 at 12:28 PM ET

Well put.

Posted by WingsFaninCO on 10/25/12 at 12:31 PM ET

Avatar

Jakub Kindl specifically is someone who I felt looked pretty NHL-ready when he first signed with the Wings, but has struggled since.

I have to think part of that is the fact that he went from being a big part of the Griffins D to being the 7th man on the Wings who hasn’t yet gotten much of a chance to play consistently.

That said, with the NHL not an option right now, the AHL is the best option for him.

Well, it’s also the only option for him since he’s on a two-way contract.

Posted by Garth on 10/25/12 at 12:51 PM ET

WingsFaninCO's avatar

Well, it’s also the only option for him since he’s on a two-way contract.

Posted by Garth on 10/25/12 at 12:51 PM ET

Yes, and in this case I am thankful for that. 

Also: I had forgotten what a standard-definition conversation is like.  It is suprisingly pleasant.

Posted by WingsFaninCO on 10/25/12 at 01:07 PM ET

Dakkster's avatar

Where else would he go at this point? Go over to the KHL or Sweden and play in an unfamiliar country on bigger rinks? As opposed to developing as a leader and building even more chemistry with his other future Wings teammates? Silly article.

Posted by Dakkster from Southern Sweden on 10/25/12 at 01:17 PM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

Silly article.
Posted by Dakkster from Southern Sweden on 10/25/12 at 01:17 PM ET

Actually it’s a good, well timed article. So far Smith’s play has been…. uninspired to say the least and there’s a bit of speculation that he either:
1. Has an injury
2. Doesn’t want to get injured
3. Is bored

 

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 10/25/12 at 01:54 PM ET

Avatar

Also: I had forgotten what a standard-definition conversation is like.  It is suprisingly pleasant.

I know…weird…

Posted by Garth on 10/25/12 at 01:57 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Posted by
     
    WingsFaninCO
     
      on 10/25/12 at 12:28 PM ET


exactly.  I feel like from the little highlights I’ve seen of him, he looks uninterested.  He definitely does better when he’s challenged.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 10/25/12 at 03:46 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.