Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

“Earning It”

There are plenty of reasons why I enjoy my day job at TSN 1260. First off, it allows me to talk about sports and share my opinion with an audience. It also exposes me to hundreds of different opinions every week, sometimes every day, and most of them are about the Oilers. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, but I’ve been hearing things from some fans that bother me.

I’ll start my rant with this: if the team wants to have a hope of making the playoffs this year, they’ll need some young players to take big steps forward. Whether its Jesse Puljujarvi getting a spot in the top six and regular powerplay minutes, Kailer Yamamoto making this team out of camp, or one of their young defensemen making the jump to the NHL on a full-time basis, the Oilers need a few breakout seasons.

Still, whenever the idea of a young player being thrust into a key role is being discussed, I see a large group of fans respond with something along the lines of “well that player hasn’t earned it yet”.

That thinking is in line with an older school hockey mentality in my opinion. The idea that for every prospect to develop properly they need to sit in the AHL until they have proven they can dominate there and when they finally get to the NHL, they need to “earn” a chance at prime ice time.

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I’m not a fan of that. When it comes to developing prospects, I’m a firm believer that good organizations treat every player as an individual.

When October rolls around and we’re all discussing who could crack the Oilers opening day roster, I don’t think it does any good to say things like this:

“Kailer Yamamoto is too small! He needs a year in the AHL to develop”

“Jesse Puljujarvi needs to show that he can be a consistent NHLer before he gets time with McDavid or Draisaitl”

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“Evan Bouchard was a tenth overall pick! He can’t play in the NHL this year”

“Ethan Bear needs to spend half a year in the AHL before they can even consider bringing him up”

I’ve heard Oilers fans say almost those exact same things, and there’s a big problem with that. I’m of the belief that when training camp ends and it’s time to make roster decisions, the organization should forget certain things and just focus on what a player can bring to the team right now.

Who cares how tall Kailer Yamamoto is, if he comes in and clicks with one of Leon Draisaitl or Connor McDavid, where is the benefit in sending him to the AHL where he won’t be surrounded with the same skill?

I don’t care how the last two seasons have gone for Jesse Puljujarvi either. The reality is that he is a young player with a ton of offensive skill and the potential to be an impact winger. Enough making him earn it in the bottom six, slap him next to a skilled centre and give him a long, honest look. Some powerplay time would only be a positive for him as well.

Evan Bouchard was taken 10th overall and to me, that’s irrelevant now. If he can run a power play and be a competent defender at even strength, then why should he go back to junior? He’s already spent three seasons in the OHL and he dominated the league last year. If he comes into camp and makes a positive impact, keep him up.

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Ethan Bear has some serious offensive skill, but when we saw him last year, it was clear he hadn’t figured out the defensive side of the game quite yet. Maybe he’s matured over the summer and figures it out this season. If he has, then the Oilers are stupid for sending him down to the AHL just because he’s young.

I can go on and on with guys like Cooper Marody, Drake Caggiula, and Tyler Benson.

Of course, none of the scenarios I laid out are guarantees. In fact, I’d say that most of them are longshots at best. But the team needs to give these young kids unbiased looks. Forget their age, forget where they were drafted, and just take them at face value. If they’re good enough to play in the NHL, then keep them in the NHL.

Don’t get “good honest look” confused with “forcing a player up the lineup” either. If Yamamoto comes into camp and looks overwhelmed on one of the teams skilled lines then, by all means, send him to Bakersfield.

If Evan Bouchard proves to be a dynamic offensive defenseman, but can’t hold coverage in his own end then back to London he should go. The Oilers just can’t be locking the door on young players before they even have a chance to open it. That’s a weird metaphor but by this point, you should understand what I’m getting at.

I’ll end my rant by saying this:

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The Oilers are a cap team and in today’s NHL, for teams like that to thrive, they need to rely on young talent and players on their entry-level contracts. For those players to have success, they need opportunity.

Discounting a player before the season even starts because of their size, age, or where they were drafted isn’t good for anyone and certainly won’t help the Oilers make the playoffs.


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  • Hockeytalkguy

    Well said Mr. Yaremchuk, you hit the nail on the head with “don’t get confused with good honest look and forcing a player into the line-up. I do believe the coaching staff & management will FINALLY do what is best for the player. With that being said, it helps to have some depth and competition in camp which the oil really haven’t had in the last bunch of years.

  • 18% body fat

    agree on all of this, one problem though is how does yamo or bouchard make the team, and in yamos case the ahl effect expansion draft. After seeing vegas fleece everyone I dont want to say lets worry about that when it comes, as Peter has proven thats not a good philosophy.

    • Jason Gregor

      Playing in AHL or NHL doesn’t matter. For expansion draft it was two (not three as I wrote before) years pro. If a guy plays one in AHL and one in NHL then it is two years. Just think Griffin Reinhart, he was eligible.

        • Jason Gregor

          Not true. Because he was 19 on September 15th he could play in the AHL and as long as he doesn’t play 10 NHL games his contract would slide. Mikko Rantanen with Colorado is an example. This is his 4th pro season, but he is still on his ELC. His first year he played 9 NHL games and rest in AHL and his contract slid.

  • Jason Gregor

    Tyler, Good rant. Here is my counter point…Oilers need to prevent goals. I don’t see them needing a breakout year from a 20-year-old to make playoffs. They need to be past the point of expecting 20 year olds, or younger, to be the leaders. They have McDavid and Draisaitl who will do that. Or have RNH have a breakout year. Or even someone like Khaira, Rattie or Reider.

    If Bouchard and Bear can show they can defend well, they will get a look. Also Yamamoto, I will say this. Can you show me a small player like Yamamoto, where lack of strength is the biggest concern, not height or weight, who played in NHL at 20? To me it is simply having the strength to do it. I don’t see it. I didn’t see it in the WHL either. His unreal skill allowed him to dominate there, but the NHL is a massive jump. If he scores his way on the team in preseason then great, but I’ve yet to see a player who was ruined by more development. I’ve seen many who were ruined by being rushed.

    • Joeboot

      You are making assumptions with your last sentence. While it is probable, there is no way to know if these rushed players had time in the minors that they would have developed into NHL players. I don’t often agree with Tyler but I think he is spot on with this article.

      • Big Nuggets

        I gotta side with Gregor on this. To me, its not about earning anything, the player just has to be ready to contribute. When I watched Puljujarvi he looked mostly ineffective and it just made me think we would have been better off with a more seasoned player in the line-up. And I would wager Puljujarvi would have benefited from playing a lot of minutes in Bakersfield. This season he could be ready for prime time, we’ll see. I think we will see a couple wingers have good seasons this year. It sounds like Rattie has been training hard. Hopefully he will become a full time NHLer.

    • Serious Gord


      You are kind of talking out of both sides of your mouth:

      “…, but I’ve yet to see a player who was ruined by more development. I’ve seen many who were ruined by being rushed.”

      This I agree with.

      But the theme of your post is a straw man argument “The idea that for every prospect to develop properly they need to sit in the AHL until they have proven they can dominate there…”

      Nobody I know is arguing that “every” prospect has to stay down. But that the large majority should. Only exceptional players should bypass that development- and even then if there is any doubt they should stay down (see my quote of you above).

      • Bigdaddypuck

        Think your just upset your 20 EA championships don’t give you enough street cred to get yourself on the radio. Lol

        To many experts parroting what actual experts and insiders say.

      • Jason Gregor

        Stop with using this idiotic term Strawman. Because you incorrectly assume something isn’t my fault. I never wrote every prospect has to develop in the AHL until they prove they can dominate there. You made this incredibly inaccurate reach on your own.

        Yamamoto isn’t exceptional. Did I say McDavid, Hall or Crosby or others had to go to AHL. No? I was talking specifically about Yamamoto, and rushing him makes no sense. Players who are ready for NHL aren’t rushed, they are ready.

        • Serious Gord

          And how is the term strawman idiotic? It is a legitimate term that accurately describes what you stated. You need to brush up on your reading skills.

          I was referring to you saying that “The idea that for every prospect to develop properly they need to sit in the AHL until they have proven they can dominate…”

          Thus implying that there are oil fans who think that EVERY prospect has to go through a lengthy stint in the minors before coming up to the big team. That is not true and that is a strawman argument.

  • Jimmer

    I have no issue with kids being sent down to the AHL to work under a head coach that is part of the organization and understands what they specifically need to work on. I hate sending back Jr players (that are close to making it) that go back to a Jr team that just wants to win and they could give a rats @ss if, for example, Bouchard needs to work on being better defensively. Sometimes keeping a kid for under 40 games (then sending him back….like we did with Drai) and having him practice and play a bit with the NHL team is a better development option than having him play 30 mins a night running around doing whatever he wants when he wants. I know that burns a year…but so does stunting his development playing on Jr. team that only cares about winning.

    • Bills Bills

      If you look at the LK record, yes they win but they also have developed some very good players. Playing another year for the Hunter brothers is not going to stunt EBs development.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I agree 100% on Pulujarvi, put him on either McDavids or Draisaitls wing and see what he can do. I don’t get the “he’s most comfortable with Strome”. And please don’t give him the Hall/McDavid treatment(maybe 10 games together) Todd is already giving him the Yakupov treatment.

    • toprightcorner

      My only argument to that is that I think comfort is much more important when talking about JP, based on his assimilation to North America. He is in a very positive frame of mind right now and is hungry to play in the top 6. I think That TMac is really uncertain about Rattie and is hedging his bets against him maintaining the level he ended the season with. By making JP comfortable in the preseason, where the offense isn’t expected as much, he can maintain confidence and then when he gets bumped up into the top 6 later in camp or early in the season, he enters that spot with another boost of confidence. That is much better than having him struggle a bit to start and then have to be dropped a line.

      I fully expect that MacLellans plan is to move JP into the top 6 as soon as he shows confidence on the ice.

      • a lg dubl dubl

        Good point, I didn’t really look at it that way. I was looking at this preseason to get that chemistry between the 90s line(McDavid, Nuge and JP) going early not 20 games in when Rattie can’t handle it(assumptions). I’m more cautious about Rattie than I am Puljujarvi I guess, lol! ??

    • daryl

      Yes and for Gods sake Todd don’t bench him if he makes a mistake use all he has to offer and that includes the PP last year when we were horrific he still didn’t use JP what’s with that?

  • Just facts

    “the team needs to give these young kids unbiased looks. Forget their age, forget where they were drafted, and just take them at face value. If they’re good enough to play in the NHL, then keep them in the NHL.” I agree 100%. One of the keys to having this happen this year is the new coaching staff. The three new coaches all have their own coaching “pedigrees” – they are not long term subordinates to Mclellan- so they bring fresh eyes and the confidence to challenge the coach on where players fit. Whether of his own accord or because he has been directed to by the team Mclellan seems to understand that he has to listen to what the new coaches say. He’s still the head coach and makes the final decision but getting input that is not influenced by the past can only be healthy.

  • TKO

    good luck this year, Edmonton fans, looking forward to the rivalry. Maybe, just maybe, we will get the chance to battle in the post season in the near future, and wouldn’t that be epic!

  • MrBung

    If the Oilers win games and make the playoffs, these statements will go away or be drowned out by the ultimate goal. Winning. The doubts with this for the current season is this exact same statement was made to start last season. Counting on players in too many spots, and key spots, to break out is setting everyone up for disaster.

  • Heschultzhescores

    You make Great Points! That said, I think the biggest thing we need to overcome is TMac’s stubborness and unwillingness to change things that don’t work. TMac needs to relax a bit behind the bench and take off the angry bull face once in a while. Coaching will make or break this team, I hope the new coaching additions temper Todd a bit and show us some new systems that actually work.

    • ed from edmonton

      Interesting “the biggest thing we need to overcome is TMac’s stubborness and unwillingness to change things that don’t work.” So I guess you won’t criticizing TMac for juggling his lines.

      • Heschultzhescores

        When they don’t work you change them, but give them a fair chance first. I’m thinking of a PP that was sucking all year and he refused to budge on the same group of guys not producing.

    • Freddie the fog

      Ya I couldn’t agree more. I would add good health to those 3 disciplines and that should get the boys into the mix . The key is getting one of the three Div. playoff berths. If they are outside of the top three in the PAC , that could be a problem. Plenty of solid teams in the central who have a good shot at gobbling up those 2 wild card spots . Then again those central division teams will beat the crap out of one another. Ahhhh what the hell do I know……

  • sweetweb

    Tyler you mentioned this about PoolParty “ Enough making him earn it in the bottom six, slap him next to a skilled centre and give him a long, honest look. “

    Well that just shows you sometimes don’t know what’s going on in the locker room. It was quoted that the Oilers asked Jesse teammates where he would succeed the best. And it turns out to Strome a bottom six forwards.

  • Bills Bills

    I think you are missing the point of what I think most people are saying. The term “overdeveloped” is heard once and a while but it is not used in a negative way ever. Allowing players to be more than ready is not a bad thing. But the opposite can completely derail a players career. The NHL is a different beast. Yes players can further develop in the NHL but that is not what it is for. I agree that you don’t send a player to the AHL just for the sake of saying he played in the minors but when you have a player or players with deficiencies in areas like defence, which happens to be an area where you also have that same deficiency as a team. You have to do what’s best for the player and not compound those issues and run a trial by fire like they have in the past. As is the case with Bouchard. There is not enough depth to shelter him properly. Maybe if Sekera was healthy but he’s not. Same with Yamamoto, if he clicks with McDavid and goes guns blazing that is one thing. But if he is just going to get spot time on the PP just because the PP sucked and spend most of his time on the third line playing 10 min a night. Then that is shortsighted. He should be in the AHL playing 15+ and constant top PP minutes.

    These are people and NHL assets. They deserve to be treated with theirs and the organizations future in mind. Keeping a guy who can make a great pass or play on the PP just because the team is weak there is the short game. And it rarely if ever works.

      • Bills Bills

        Because they came from a pro league. There is no AHL agreement with European leagues. Yes I am aware about Bouchard and if you have read any of my posts you will have likely seen that my preference would be for him to develop his defensive game in junior. The Hunter Brothers have arguably the most professional junior team in the CHL. Perfect for development.

  • lee

    I also get ticked when fans talk about JP, remember when he was in the worlds Jrs wasn’t he the top scorer in the tournament. People forget that the top player or top scorer in that tournament almost always goes back to jnr hockey . JP went straight to the NHL.

  • OilerForLife

    A players confidence can be hurt, by playing him in too high of a league or playing too high in the lineup. You can move them up in either case, but only for so long. When the player plays awful defensively, and isn’t contributing offensively then expect a losing record. There is a balance, you can’t leave a play down too long, before he has doubts is he can do it himself. Not every player is good enough to play in the NHL no matter how you handle him. It has to be handled on a player by player basis.

    • IRONman

      Everyone deserves a shot. Sometimes 2. But you need to play a player in the right position. Aka Justin Schultz. Look at how he turned out. Need to stop juggling likes. Crazy.

      • OilerForLife

        That certainly the prime example, but in those days, unfortunately we were unable to pull any good deals always operating in a position of weakness. Some juggling need to occur because your lineup has to suit 30 different teams. Puljujarvi, I think can play with Strome and Strome is becoming a good mentor for him. Most certainly should get a look see in the top 6. Sometime two player don’t click, last year him and Draisaitl didn’t do to well together.

  • I agree with you for the most part. I think it’s best scenario to put these prospects in jrs/AHL but if they play lights out in training camp and preseason then they atleast deserve a look. I don’t think we should just automatically count them out before they touch the ice in the preseason, getting them involved in the competition and seeing what they have to do to make the team isn’t going to ruin them. Im not saying “Bouchard is ready, let him learn as he plays” or “sending Bouchard back to juniors is a total waste of time”, im saying “see what these guys are made of and evaluate them after”

    • OilerForLife

      True, it doesn’t appear to have hurt Yamamoto, and the early rookie games are important to get players game ready. It’s the best place to make mistakes. I don’t know what is the best for Bouchard, and it’s true that he should get a real good look in the early preseason, and then we will see where he’s at. Hoping the best of course.

  • toprightcorner

    JP has about 100 NHL games of experience, he is an offensive minded player, he should no longer have to earn it, he should be given the chance and then have to keep it. I understand starting him with Strome because that is where he felt comfortable to end the season, but as soon as someone above him struggles, he should be bumped up to top 6.

    • ed from edmonton

      What is an “offensive minded player”? A guy who has 13 goals in 93 games? Or a guy who would like to score more? If the latter, there are a lot of “offensive minded players”.

  • toprightcorner

    The only time I think that players should have to earn it is when they are 1st year pros, especually when it comes to making the NHL club. I think it is better for their development to start a step lower, get comfortable playing against men, build some confidence by having success. Then they can be called up with a confident state of mind. It is much more difficult on a player and their confidence if they start in the NHL, struggle, get pressbox time, then be sent down where they have to start again with no confidence. That is a lot harder on the player mentally and could negatively affect development. Make them more than earn their spot in the NHL, if they show they can get by, its not enough.

    • Freddie the fog

      Yes. As Alex Chiasson said yesterday in a published interview….the NHL is one league in September. Another league in January, and a completely different league come April, May……( Insert joke here about it really being the exact same league in any given month) .

  • toprightcorner

    Yamamoto start with the team in Europe and be sent down when the team gets back. Because of his lack of strength, starting in the NHL could hurt him far more easily than it could benefit him. If he hangs in, fine, but if he struggles, he gets sent down after losing his confidence. Last year wen he was sent back to junior, it realy affected his confidence and it showed in his play as he got off to a horrifically slow start. It took him 20 games before he was his old self. If he starts in the NHL, struggles, and is sent down to the AHL, it could take him a long time to get his confidence back and negatively affect his development.

    The most important thing for a small player to believe is that despite his size, he can still play against the bigger players. It is better for his development and confidence to prove that in the AHL, where the players are just as strong, but not as skilled. Once he has proven he can play with men game in and game out, then he will be physically ready for the NHL.

  • toprightcorner

    I don’t care if Bouchard has 5 goals in the preseason, if he is not defensively reliable, he should be sent back to junior. The Oilers biggest problem last year was keeping pucks out of their own net and to improve that, you don’t stick a defensive liability on the ice. We all know Bouchard will put up points in the NHL, but if he is to be the cornerstone top pairing dman this team desperately needs, he needs a well-rounded game and you don’t learn that in the NHL as a teenager. If he is defensively sound in camp and for his first 9 games, then fine. If he isn’t, you send him back to junior and have his sole focus being his defensive part of the game. Tell him it doesn’t matter if he only scores 50 pts, he needs to focus on positioning and stick work.

    Bouchard needs to be set up so he can be as effective as possible in 2-3 years, not this year.

    • Freddie the fog

      Yes but the point being if he’s ready he’s ready. You can’t say he isn’t anymore than you can say he is. If he is properly evaluated over the next few weeks the picture should be very clear. And as little faith as I have in Oilers MGMT. that is one decision you have to believe will have everybody in Hockey ops having a thorough discussion on.

  • Freddie the fog

    It’s also important to remember if Bouchard is properly evaluated ( let’s assume he is) , and makes the team out of camp, he is going to make mistakes . A lot of mistakes. As Oiler fans can we please not all start freaking out every time he has an oops moment out there. I can hear it already, ” well there you go ! You see right there ! That’s why he should have been sent back to Jr !! ” . Let’s stay calm . Accept theirs going to be mistakes. And believe the player is intelligent enough to learn from them. I know that I’m getting waaaaay ahead of things here….just saying.

    • Spydyr

      The NHL should not be treated as a development league. Good team understand that. The Oilers don’t. Look at the Oilers record for decades now and see which one is right?

  • oilredemption

    I am sorry Tyler I can’t get behind this. Good organizations do not do this. Detroit WAS a perfect example of this. You have QUALITY veterans above that push the kids down. We have seen time and time again these kids come in, knock it out of the park in preseason, play okay in their 9 game audition and then lose confidence. Confidence is the main ingredient in this. You need these guys finding their games each and every step of the way. You don’t want them waning to much either way. Start them in the AHL. Let them rip it up, learn the professional game and then bring them up. (Injuries occur so they’re going to get their chance)
    Here’s my other reason for not doing this: Now what happens if this team isn’t very good which I think is clear it’s not going to be, a player like yamamoto will be feeling the added pressure to contribute. Why add the extra pressure. Let this team mature a bit and add the young pieces as you go. Also when these kids are in the NHL you are diluting the AHL team. You now have the oilers struggling and trying to teach these young players and you have a losing team down south that doesn’t have either Bear, Jones, Yamamoto, Benson, Puljujarvi to help the bleeding.
    I will say this I don’t mind the 9 game and gone audition for Bouchard. Unless he’s setting the league on fire you let him get a taste, then back to the OHL. Don’t have him in purgatory having him in and out of the lineup, playing leas than 10 minutes a night and for a season. Let him go back, dominate, go to world juniors and then next year to the AHL unless he shows he’s too good for that league too.

    • Leichs

      “if this team isn’t very good which I think is clear it’s not going to be”
      I don’t think this is clear at all but believe what you want. Pacific is wide open. If we have the same PP and PK numbers as 16/17 we are absolutely a playoff team. Yall are going to be shocked when the Oilers come out of the gate rolling. I feel bad for NJ to be honest. I’d hate to be the team that has to play this group the first game of the year after a season like last year. Lots of proud, motivated players in our locker room. I’ve watched the Oilers for a long time and just like Nuge said, I haven’t seen this motivated of a group before. Love all the additions from players to coaches.

  • Mctuft’s dangles

    Good read Tyler, I think it can also be said that a player can earn his spot by healthy competition it will only make the team better…if they play the right way play them.

  • daryl

    Speaking of earning it what is wrong with Nurse better players than him have signed for less than his agent is asking. You need to earn it Nurse and you are not better than Hanifin. Would think that this attitude will sour the team on him he needs a different agent.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      1) Right now he is better than Hanifin.
      2) The team will not “sour” on a key player based on business. Ever.
      3) I don’t know what your job pays you, but 200k-300k is a lot of cheddar. I would probably hold fast too.
      4) I am glad you’re not my agent OR the Oilers GM

  • McScotterson

    Success, will come from winning games. Coaches cannot impact the games as much as the players. Whoever is on the ice better be ready to out work the opposition, in all situations; 5v5, pk, pp, when leading a game, when losing. Players need to step up and they need to do it shift by shift. If everyone does their job with their ice time then we will be ahead. I need to see a season where the oil is ready to out work the opposition every shift, so that maybe, just maybe they will be ready for the style of play needed in the post season. I don’t care where they play within the line up as long as we are “winning” each shift.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      Just stop. Do you even like the Oilers? Right… Trade him because of what YOU heard. Listen to yourself. Darnell Nurse is one of the very best 23y old D in the entire league. His ceiling is #1-2 on any team in the league and he’s Connor’s road room mate and best friend on the team. If that is the ask then PC will have to make it happen. OR deal from a position of extreme weakness with a rival GM who will take us to the cleaners. It’s probably best to pay the very VERY good player…No?

    • ed from edmonton

      It has been reported by Nielson that Nurse’s camp has evaluated his worth at $4M. Given that Morrisey has set the market at $3.15, if Nurse is really holding out for $4M, he should get ready for a year’s vacation.

  • ScottV

    World class young talent (like guys who play key roles in world juniors) dont need AHL exposure unless there is some sort of physical or perhaps mental impediment. Yamamoto might be physically challenged and you could perhaps argue that in his first year – Puljujarvi was mentally challenged – (guessing) introverted and challenged with the language barrier.

    In addition – position matters to some degree. D men and C men have a steeper learning curve but is still doable. Obvious examples McDavid / Ekblad but there is room for inclusion at slightly less than best of best pedigree. On the other hand – Draisaitl did not need to play in the AHL.

    McL goes over board with what appears to be an attempt to make every one earn it on somewhat equal ground. There always has to be room for playing educated hunches about guys who are put and kept in positions beyond what appears to be beyond what they deserve on merit in the short to mid term. This goes for some young guys in their first year or two or even veterans in certain situations. You have to balance the overall fairness scenario – with exceptions.

    They key is you gotta get it right way more often than not – when you play the exception card. That is part of being a sage hockey player evaluator. Why you get paid millions.

    I agree – PC and McL have to take a chance or two or three and they have to get it right.

    I’m not sure they have the sage part down or in McL’s case the patience to stick with it – and have it come up in spades when thousands had doubts.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      Good post, ScottV. I hope the coaches knock it out of the park. Call me a homer, but I suspect they will. For example, the new staff will have a view of the team which is separate from last season’s failures. I expect the right players to be in the right positions right from game 1 and far less of the blender.

  • Abagofpucks

    For me it’s on the coaches to figure out weather a player regardless of age or size makes the team.
    If they can handle it in the NHL great if they can’t they go somewhere else.

  • Daryl Katz

    this has always been the problem with sports fans in general….always thinking that young players automatically must go back to junior and not treating each player individually. yes if Bouchard or Bear or Yam are ready, then by all means keep them up! it does them NO GOOD to go back if they appear to be NHL ready. some Oiler fans unfortunately have convinced themselves that if Nail and Gagner and the like had of just gone back to juniors, then they would be Superman by now. nonsense! those two both have limited physical abilities at the NHL level and it stops the both of them from being star players.