Kevin Prendergast on Riley Nash: The Prevailing Wind Happens To Be From Cornell

prendergast

On Wednesday, Lowetide ran a piece (Disconnect?) which took a look at Kevin Prendergast’s public comments on Oilers’ prospect Riley Nash.

I’d strongly recommend taking a look at it, as Lowetide did a nice job of highlighting the Oilers’ displeasure with the fact that Nash is playing at Cornell (due to quality of competition, number of games, etc.). The timing could be coincidental, but today there was a very different message coming out at the Oilers’ website, courtesy of Jen Sharpe. These sort of pieces at the official site generally are as upbeat as possible, and this one is no different, but for the fun of it let’s contrast what Prendergast says here with some of the quotes that Lowetide grabbed.

Prendergast, from December:

“Riley had a good second day of camp, but was ordinary in the other ones and you can’t have that at a short camp. Not playing enough games at Cornell hurts him.”

Prendergast, from today:

“He’s only 175 pounds, so we’ve got to get him bigger. He’s tall enough at 6’1” but he’s got to get bigger and the time at Cornell isn’t going to hurt him.”

I like the contrast of those two quotes, and it’s a nice example of why I rarely take Prendergast’s public statements on a prospect as gospel. When he’s being critical I tend to pay more attention, since he’s so chipper about each and every player most of the time (although he has been uncharacteristically negative on a number of prospects this summer, which tells me that the debacle in Springfield has adjusted his thinking somewhat).

There were two more key quotes (for me) in the Sharpe article, one on talent evaluation and one on when Nash should turn professional. First, on what Nash brings to the table:

“He does a lot of things really well at both ends of the ice – he’s a good face-off guy, he’s a good powerplay guy, he’s a good penalty killer. He’s the type of player that’s going to play anywhere from your second to your fourth line when he gets here because he understands the game so well.”

This fits with what we’ve been hearing since Nash was drafted (from sources both inside and outside of the organization): smart, two-way play is a hallmark of this player, and he comes with a wide range of skills. These are important attributes for a prospect, since (as Prendergast alludes to) it generally means they can start in the NHL in a checking role and work their way up (or as so often happens, not) rather than needing a soft place to land (see Schremp, Rob, as an example).

The second quote is more interesting, since it gives us an idea of when the Oilers see Nash as a professional, when Nash sees Nash as a professional, and which of the two is more likely to pan out:

“We don’t want to turn him pro when he’s not ready to turn pro. We’ll have our prospect camp in July and we’ll have a pretty good idea of where he is at that point. If we feel he’s getting stronger, that’s great and we’ll think about it at the end of next hockey season, and if not, then we’ll wait the four years.”

Here’s what Nash said at the start of this season (again, courtesy of Lowetide):

“I’m not going to go just when they (the Oilers) ask me to go. I don’t feel I need to go and bounce around in the minors for a few years. Cornell is a nice place to be.”

The Oilers brass seem to have pegged 2010-11 as the season when they expect Nash to leave college, although Nash may decide to go to Cornell for the full four years, which would knock the date back to 2011-12. I tend to agree with what Prendergast has been saying all along that Cornell isn’t an ideal place for Nash to develop (although from Nash’s perspective I’m guessing it’s easier to get a degree at Cornell than in Springfield) but it might help encourage him to jump into the pros if the Oilers can get their farm team back to a competitive level.

Despite what Prendergast says now, based on previous comments (and self-interest) it seems highly probable that the Oilers are pressuring Nash to leave college as soon as possible; it seems equally probable that Nash has decided he’ll leave college when he feels ready to leave college. Ultimately, Nash has all the power in this particular decision, so the best the Oilers can do if he decides to stay is put a happy face on it and say things like ‘we want him to turn pro when he’s ready to turn pro’.

Nash is a good prospect, and from in his shoes I probably would want to hedge my bets by getting a degree before jumping into professional hockey, but his current development course is probably not in the best interest of the Edmonton Oilers.

  • Hippy

    J-Bird wrote:

    What’s a Cornell degree worth in the real world, especially if your hockey career doesn’t pan out? I mean it’s Ivy League folks, and if it were my kid, he’s finishing school first.

    Ditto.

  • Hippy

    What's a Cornell degree worth in the real world, especially if your hockey career doesn't pan out? I mean it's Ivy League folks, and if it were my kid, he's finishing school first.

  • Hippy

    Shame on Riley Nash for trying to get an education rather than going for the money. A guy goes for the money, he gets condemned. A guy doesn't take the money, he's condemned. Strange world. Oh, and shame on him for not doing what the almighty fan wants him to do. ~ Come on robot… do what I say! We own you. ~

  • Hippy

    If the guy isn't committed there's no sense pushing him to be with the organization. At least he's still playing somewhere and not quitting to deliver pizza like Stephan Leigein.

  • Hippy

    Quinn wrote:

    That is the best question to ask. If he is staying there to avoid the fiasco that is the Falcons, and possibly hinder his development, then good on him

    The problem with that is there is more to being a professional athlete than just the game on the ice. He needs to know what it's like to play more than every weekend, to practice everyday, to work out every day, etc. These are the types of experiences he needs but will not get if he stays at Cornell.

  • Hippy

    Quinn wrote:

    ~It is not as though top-rated Oiler prospects have ever withered and died in the system.~

    I have no response to this as there isnt one that can trump that statement.

  • Hippy

    Personally, if I were in his situation and decided to go pro I'd rather go over to Europe, live in a cool city like Prague or Helsinki, drink great beer, and learn a language than toil away in some steelbelt craphole like Springfield.

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    It’s good to remember that a high-paying NHL career is a question mark for all of these guys; getting an education and hedging your bets is a good idea.

    Risk and Reward. If this kid makes it to the NHL even for 1 season he can afford to go back and finish his degree at Cornell. If his time at Cornell means that his career potential is limited to that of a Marty Reasoner instead of a David Legwand then he could be missing out on 10 million dollars over the course of a career.

    I dont know what his degree is in, but i dont think that he can make up the loss with his post hockey career.

  • Hippy

    @ topshelf:
    That is the best question to ask. If he is staying there to avoid the fiasco that is the Falcons, and possibly hinder his development, then good on him. If it is the free flowing beer, and lax requirements of Ag-Life Sciences, then perhaps a re-examination of priorities is necessary. But I suspect (from his comments) it is the former.

    @Arch
    This guy has been rated one of the best Oiler prospects out there by many people. Put down the book and pick up the Jersey.

    ~It is not as though top-rated Oiler prospects have ever withered and died in the system.~ Seriously, maybe the guy just is worried about what he sees over in Springfield.

  • Hippy

    @ Jonathan Willis:
    Then I suppose you have to put your trust in him making the right decision and like you said, just put on a happy face about it. Not much else you can do.

  • Hippy

    topshelf wrote:

    What is his motive for staying at Cornell?

    And that's something we don't have the answer to. It could be a Jack Johnson "Joe College" situation, or he could be serious about getting his degree (like, say, Ken Dryden).

  • Hippy

    The million dollar question is why? What is his motive for staying at Cornell? If it is in fact to get his degree than good on him. But if it isn't then he should have his head examined if he thinks waiting out in college will be better development than playing minor professional hockey, no matter how sh*tty the falcons are/were.

  • Hippy

    Getting a degree on a sports scholarship from a University in the the US and getting an education are two different things. Most guys in the NFL have a University degree and getting it has more to do with their time in the 40 yd. dash than their time in the library.

    The distinction may be less at Cornell, but it sounds like he is enjoying his time at Cornell more than anything.

  • Hippy

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    But an education at Cornell could be shaving MILLIONS off of his potential career earnings if it’s hindering his development as a player.

    Assuming he makes it as a big-league player. If he turns out to be a Rem Murray/Marty Reasoner type player, the odds are good that he would spend tim in the AHL (where he won't be making a ton of money) rather than jumping to the NHL right away.

    It's good to remember that a high-paying NHL career is a question mark for all of these guys; getting an education and hedging your bets is a good idea.

  • Hippy

    Quinn wrote:

    ~Now Arch, are you, the bastion of classical knowledge on the ‘Sphere, really arguing against learning for the sake of filthy lucre?~

    I didnt have the opportunity to make MILLIONS OF DOLLARS PLAYING A GAME. I loved University. I was good at it and I think a life long pursuit of learning is a noble goal to have. But if I was told that I had a 20 year window of opportunity where I could be a pro athlete and staying in University could dramatically alter my chances of maximizing that opportunity, it wouldnt even be a question. I would be in Springfield. Even if it WAS the worst team in the AHL. This isnt a 7th round pick that might crack the ECHL lineup. This guy has been rated one of the best Oiler prospects out there by many people. Put down the book and pick up the Jersey.

  • Hippy

    Cornell's a big-name university in terms of quality of education, so I have to say that I kind of admire him for doing what's best for him. Who knows; maybe someday he'll crack the Oilers' lineup and, unlike 99% of hockey players, will be able to answer a reporter's question with something resembling articulation.

  • Hippy

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    I get the pursuit of an education. I really do. But an education at Cornell could be shaving MILLIONS off of his potential career earnings if it’s hindering his development as a player. You dont need any fancy book-learning to see that much. He can make his millions and go back to finish his degree at Cornell if he wants.
    When cases like this come up I wonder if the player in question really wants to play in the NHL or if he’s just an idiot. Those are the only two scenarios that make sense in my head.

    ~Now Arch, are you, the bastion of classical knowledge on the 'Sphere, really arguing against learning for the sake of filthy lucre?~

  • Hippy

    I think I read somewhere that Nash is still making his decision about where to be for this fall. Is this correct?

    Personally, I would tell the guy to stay in school, get his Ag degree and wait to see how the whole Springfield thing shakes out before turning pro. At least that way he has the option of leaving school early to join the team if things start looking up by November or December. I know it is not what the Oil would want, but from a strictly player-centred viewpoint it is maybe the best plan.

  • Hippy

    I get the pursuit of an education. I really do. But an education at Cornell could be shaving MILLIONS off of his potential career earnings if it's hindering his development as a player. You dont need any fancy book-learning to see that much. He can make his millions and go back to finish his degree at Cornell if he wants.

    When cases like this come up I wonder if the player in question really wants to play in the NHL or if he's just an idiot. Those are the only two scenarios that make sense in my head.