Again, I get what everyone's saying and I don't really disagree. I'm not trying to suggest that he's screwed now that Datsyuk's back or that we should be overly concerned about a 4-game goalless streak. If we could, why don't we not get too hung up on Nyquist in particular as even if he is affected by the factors I've been thinking about, it doesn't have too much to do with the bigger point. I wish I had left it out at this point as people have zeroed in on that alone.
The bigger question I'm pondering is how good it is for some of these kids that can obviously play at an NHL level to stay in the AHL for so long. Instead of making the team out of camp and having a more natural progression into the NHL, they're oftentimes thrown into the fire mid-season into unusual circumstances, and quite often, they do a real good job of filling in. It's easy to imagine them being motivated to make an impact, and they're likely already overly ripe, and there's just a different kind of pressure that you deal with when you're a call up as opposed to a regular coming out of camp. But as many of our younger players have learned, learning to play a steady NHL game and building off that is something that takes more time. What worries me is that the expectations get set too high based on a limited and unique period of time and when it comes time to become a regular, it ends up being just another thing hanging over their head when they're trying to adjust to just being an NHL regular.
It just seems to me based on what we've seen the last couple of years, that we have a better NHL team built from players that we've traditionally deemed not yet NHL-ready, and maybe we ought to start getting some of these guys into the lineup sooner and do so coming right out of camp. Sure, they might now see as many minutes as they'd see in the NHL, but NHL minutes might be more valuable to development ultimately, and again, maybe they're a lot more ready than we've typically thought anyways. The process allows them to grow into a role in a more natural way, adjust to playing on a team that isn't patched together due to injuries, and most likely avoids players getting frustrated playing in the minors when they know they're ready to be playing in the NHL.
Side benefit: less room for the old hacks Holland can't seem to help but sign...
But all that said, I don't think it's healthy for a guy to come up to fill in for an injured player, have a great run, and then when they should just be focusing on getting an NHL career off the ground, have to deal with feeling the need to keep up with the newly minted expectations, forged during an unusual period of time. I don't think it does players any favors mentally, and I think it may be a big reason why we often see young guys struggle once they get elevated to being an NHL regular. You know, it's broader than hockey really, because I don't think many would say it's good to have too much success too early in most areas of life. You're not as fit to deal with the kind of pressure it invites and you end up struggling with the details you need to be picking up along the way that help you build a stronger foundation. There's just something about early success that has a way of haunting many people, no matter how smart or gifted they may be. It almost always comes as an anomaly, and anomalies are hard to reproduce.
I could very well be wrong, but again, from what I've seen the last few years, any way you shake it, I think it's high time we start letting some of our kids do more of their "ripening" in the NHL, and perhaps the Wings management needs to adjust their values for how "ripe" players are, and you know, perhaps acknowledge that the frustration some of these guys may experience staying in the AHL too long does them no favors either. After all, as you develop, you need bigger challenges to continue growing. And in the end, there's that glorious side benefit of less room for so many old hacks that have clearly become worthless parts of the team in too many cases.