Riley Nash had another good season with Cornell and early word is that the Big Red may be among
the top ranked teams in the NCAA this fall. There are lots of rave reviews and positive comments available on Nash, but recently (since November) there have been fewer coming from the Oilers and Kevin Prendergast.

A November 6, 2008 Ithica Journal article detailed Nash’s progress and also pointed out some concerns from the parent club.

Prendergast: “Given the amount of games that Cornell plays, and there’s not a lot of high-end games on the weekend, there has to be consistency. It’s a mental thing. He’s got to be the best he can be every week. He’s got tremendous hockey sense — it’s one of the reasons we drafted him. But there are things that go with that, and we’ve had a long talk with him about that. You know, it’s his decision. We’ll back him up whatever he decides to do. … We’re not going to interfere with education. If that’s the route he wants to go, we’re prepared to wait. But if he decides to stay at Cornell, we’re going to do everything we can to make him a better hockey player while he’s there.”

In the same article, Nash is quoted as saying “That’s one of the things I don’t want to do, I don’t want to rush out of here and look back and say I gave up a year or two of the best years of my life where I could have been developing more and I could have stepped right in (to the pro game later).”

A month later, the tone seems to have changed a little. Prendergast after Nash was invited (and then cut) from Team Canada’s World Junior team’s camp: “Was I surprised he didn’t make it? Not really. He was a longshot. They’ve got (John) Tavares and (Zach) Boychuk as their top two guys, and could move (Angelo) Esposito. Riley can’t play the wing. 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.”

Around the same time, this from Nash: “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.”

There seems to be a disconnect here. KP uses phrases like “not playing enough games at Cornell hurts him” and “there’s not a lot of high end games on the weekend” and they are certainly attention-grabbing. However, the most interesting item comes from Nash: “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.”

Jeff Petry played 38 games for Michigan State, which is 2 more than Nash played for Cornell. If the level of competition is so poor, then why is Cornell ranked in the top 5 in an (admittedly early) NCAA ranking? I don’t think the disconnect is enough for the Oilers to trade Nash in a fit of pique, but it may mean he’s more available in trade because he’s using that big brain at Cornell.

I wonder what Detroit would do?

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