This is Logan Couture at the doorstep of Aaron Sorochan’s crease earlier in this AHL season. Couture graduated to pro hockey in the fall with pedigree (#9 overall pick in 2007) and a strong resume from junior (6th in goals scored in the OHL, 2008-09).
The Sharks are a deep team up front and chose to start Couture in the AHL this season. He’s clearly one of the two or three best rookies in the league (second in rookie scoring but with a better points-per-game total than leader Tyler Ennis) and one would think Couture would have been called up earlier (he’s played 14 NHL games so far this season) with a lesser team.
Steve Tambellini has gone to great lengths to protect Jordan Eberle from expectations, to the point where the organization appears to be leaning toward keeping him in the AHL for the rest of this season.
That’s probably a bit much and at some point the smart money should be on a late season callup for Eberle. However, if the Oilers are serious about developing Eberle (and the other prospects) on some kind of slowed timeline we might expect him to start the 10-11 season in the minors ala Logan Couture.
My own feeling is that the Oilers won’t be able to help themselves and that Hall/Seguin and Jordan Eberle will be in the opening night lineup come October 2010. This is, after all, not a new management team and a leopard doesn’t change its spots.
The bigger question becomes when do you elevate a prospect to the show? When he’s clearly ready (say 20 AHL games or coming off a mammoth junior/college/Euro season) or after he’s served a predetermined amount of time in AAA (no matter his results)?
Earl Weaver is the de facto authority on such things. Earl wouldn’t give starting pitchers a start until they’d pitched enough in the middle innings to get comfortable, and he platooned rookies to the point of distraction (unless they were Eddie Murray or Cal Ripken). But he brought them to the show as soon as they were ready.
I think Earl would tell us Jordan Eberle is ready for a cup of coffee.