I believe it works in some cases and not as well in others. Of course, pretty much everyone but the high-end draft picks will spend time in the minors, that's the way player development works. Exceptions like DeKeyser, Justin Schultz, and a few other college free agents have spent 3-4 extra developmental years in college. The key is calling them up at the right time... not rushing them and putting them in situations where they can't succeed, but not leaving them in the AHL for too long and stunting their development.
I agree on Sheahan and Jurco, neither were ready last year and probably weren't this September. Also agree on Callahan and Ferraro, who I think will be either marginal 4th-liners or AHL journeymen. But if Tatar and Nyquist were ready last year, why not have them up full-time? (It has worked out for the best, as they're the top 2 forwards playing right now, but that could have still happened had they been full-timers last year.)
My biggest case against "overripening" is Brendan Smith. Babcock declared him NHL-ready 2 years before he cracked the Wings' lineup full-time, but by leaving him in Grand Rapids, they not only allowed him to stay at a level where he was able to cover up for his mistakes because the game is slower, but they also missed out on a chance for him to watch and learn from one of the best defensemen to ever play the game, if not THE best. I wonder out loud if staying in Grand Rapids for so long actually stunted his development, and if that's why we watch him mix flashes of brilliance in with consistent mistakes. Maybe some of those mistakes became habits in Grand Rapids because they didn't hurt him or the team.
Next year, the Wings have absolutely no reason to send Sheahan down. Jurco, IMO, should stay in Detroit too. His offensive numbers don't quite indicate how well he has been playing, but that will come with a little more time and patience. Glendening can go either way, he's a nice defensive 4th-line center and pest, but doesn't provide anything offensively. Callahan only got one game to prove he's worth re-signing before he runs out of waiver exemptions, and that is not enough of a chance. If he's re-signed, they'll risk losing him on waivers if he doesn't make the roster. Same with Ferraro, who I think has less of a chance of returning. Pulkkinen looked alright in his time up here, but should start the year in GR and be the first callup for a top-9 replacement role. It's been said Mantha will have a chance to compete for a spot... let's hope there is one available for him to possibly fill.
Back to the original topic though, right now Kindl and Lashoff are pretty much the best option available for the third pairing. I think Kindl's been a disappointment, given his apparent jump forward last year and the shiny new 4-year contract it earned him. Lashoff doesn't provide much offensively, but is generally dependable defensively for a bottom-pairing guy and can play with a little edge. And yes, he's only 23, so he's still young.
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