Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Slack Sundays: Making roster decisions during the preseason

Since last Sunday, the preseason has begun and the Calgary Flames have played four times. Three of those games were stinkers and as a result of some uninspired performances from players that we expected to challenge for NHL jobs, the roster situation is arguably even more murky.

We to try to make sense of the muddy waters of the preseason. Join us, won’t you?

Ryan Pike: Alright, after four preseason games are any of the Flames’ roster decisions any easier? Let’s start with the forwards.

ctibs (Christian Tiberi): Depends. Jankowski was a shoo in, but their winger issues don’t seem to be any closer to being resolved. Granted, we haven’t seen much of Poirier or Klimchuk.

karimkurji (Karim Kurji): Depends on if they want to make the right moves or if they want to make the easy moves. Lazar should be cut, not sure if that will end up happening though.

ctibs: Lazar belongs in the trash can. I figure they give him one more run out.

Ryan Pike: Lazar hasn’t been good, but who’s been good enough to take that spot on the right side?

karimkurji: I know Foo hasn’t been great, but I’d rather see him skate there at least for a little while.

ctibs: Jaromir Jagr, next question.

Ryan Pike: Not happening, so what do you do with Lazar?

karimkurji: Stockton.

ctibs: Stockton.

Ryan Pike: I very much doubt they waive a guy they spent a second on and then signed to a one-way.

karimkurji: At this point, do you see any other teams claiming him?

ctibs: That shouldn’t be considered.

croatis (Christian Roatis): I’m very disappointed with Lazar.

ctibs: No one is fretting over Shinkaruk being sent down and he was traded for an NHL asset.

croatis: Thought he had a legit shot with Bennett/Versteeg. Granlund wouldn’t be what he was last year without the opportunity, which he wouldn’t have gotten here in my opinion.

ctibs: Lazar isn’t ready for the NHL and therefore the best way is to give him AHL time and to see if he can actually stick it.

billtran (Bill Tran): I think the way his story played out gave him much more heightened expectations, as if he should have been really good coming into training camp.

Ryan Pike: But that still leaves the question: who takes the three or four open NHL jobs?

karimkurji: We’re all high on Dube, what are the odds of him getting a 9-gamer?

Ryan Pike: Very low. I was a bit shocked he and Valimaki weren’t sent back on Saturday.

ctibs: Why not? The kid’s been one of the standouts of preseason, give him his nine games and then send him back.

billtran: Valimaki probably gets more out of an extended training camp with the Flames than he does going back to the Dub.

Ryan Pike: My big issue is this: does getting exposed in the regular season hurt his development? Wouldn’t it be easier to have Valimaki and Dube go back, get confident in junior and light the WHL up?

taylormckee (Taylor McKee): I do worry about Valimaki’s workload by the way, it seems like he’s played a ton and a 9 game audition could help pump the brakes a bit.

ctibs: Making the opening day roster as a dark horse 19 year old would only do great things to confidence, no?

Ryan Pike: I think the organization sees what happened with Baertschi and are gun-shy about rushing guys.

ctibs: I’d send back Valimaki but I’d keep Dube around for a little while longer. Let him play his way off the roster.

croatis: Dube getting a look with 10/93 would be tons of fun.

ctibs: Baertschi’s problem was more or less who was coaching him.

karimkurji: Sven had other issues too.

croatis: Ugh Hartley memories came screaming back.

Ryan Pike: But i think that experience colours a lot of their decision-making for better or worse.

karimkurji: What good is it to have Cramaross and Glass and Lazar on the team though? Seriously.

ctibs: I’m sure they recognize that every case is unique. Dube’s not going to have the ridiculous expectation Sven had. Give him some sheltered minutes, see what he can do for nine games at no cost, send him back.

Ryan Pike: My lines right now:
Stajan’s a scratch
I have no strong feelings about the 3rd line RW or 4th line LW.

billtran: I’d be surprised if they gave up on Lazar right away.

taylormckee: I like that dube idea Christian T had, provided no Glass, Cram, or Lazar.

Ryan Pike: I don’t hate the Dube idea, but man that’s avoiding make a lot of other decisions.

ctibs: I think those decisions aren’t going to be tough to make.

taylormckee: Is there any shot Lazar is claimed?

ctibs: What bubble guy has been close to dube?

Ryan Pike: Glass?

ctibs: I can’t see Lazar getting claimed unless Edmonton wants to do it out of spite. Guy is a big question mark.

karimkurji: Ugh Glass is so annoying because you know he’s gonna destroy kids in the preseason and then be the exact same player he’s been for years in the reg.

Ryan Pike: The challenge I see for the Flames is I’m just not seeing the desperation or push from the bubble guys.

ctibs: Yeah let’s not pretend Glass is anything new.

karimkurji: If I had to pick two guys to fill those roles right now, it would be Foo and Poirier.

ctibs: I think we need to see one more game from Foo. Edmonton, he was great. Vancouver, bad. Not willing to completely throw in the towel on him just yet.

Ryan Pike: I think Jankowski and maybe Dube are the only guys whose performances merit a promotion or a longer look.

ctibs: The preseason is too short to make any solid projection on anyone.

billtran: The Flames could lay out a plan for Dube similar to what they did with Tkachuk too. Make it clear to him what they expect from him and what schedule he’d be on, and re-evaluate after nine games.

ctibs: Seems fair to me. But what do they do after? Still no wingers in the org right now.

taylormckee: Dube-bennett-vertseeg would be choice. Yeah, the forward group in general isn’t looking promising at the moment.

croatis: That could be real good. But do you want to already be converting Dube to a winger?

ctibs: Maybe you can follow the Bennett trajectory. Keep him at winger for season one, maybe move him to centre season two.

croatis: Or have him play 9 games as a winger and have him sent back to junior to play centre?

ctibs: The Flames have four centres next year anyways so there’s really no space for him.

croatis: Stajan-Jankowski-Brouwer is also the weirdest looking fourth line.

ctibs: Plus you can look at what Ruzicka is doing and see how his development at centre is doing and reevaluate from there. That fourth line is going to get crushed.

croatis: Better than Glass/Gazdic-Janko-Brouwer but woof.

taylormckee: I pray it doesn’t matter.

Ryan Pike: It might matter in the playoffs.

ctibs: Not to piss on his great preseason so far, but Janko’s being crushed in possession so far. We’ll see come October 4.

Ryan Pike: What about the blueline? Is six and seven any clearer?

ctibs: Kulak and Stone haven’t been great. Neither has Valimaki, but he’s 18 and has an excuse. Andersson and Wotherspoon are interestingly enough doing some solid work?

billtran: Kulak has been more disappointing than I would have thought.

karimkurji: Wotherspoon might have the inside track just because of how awful Kulak and co have been. I’d personally love to see Andersson there though.

ctibs: Wotherspoon has an NHL number too now.

croatis: Andersson has little value as a 7 here.

Ryan Pike: Wotherspoon and Andersson were pretty good on Friday night.

taylormckee: Re: Kulak, maybe he’s earned more rope? I still think it’s his to lose.

croatis: Kulak and Wotherspoon rotating as 6D isn’t a bad idea.

ctibs: Bartkowski, stay away.

croatis: Bart needs to go though.

karimkurji: He was only here for expansion purposes, he should volunteer to leave the team. Be the bigger man.

billtran: I think he looked worse in the preseason than he did last year.

croatis: What was the play Bartkowski kept doing last year where he’d keep the puck behind the net for like 20 seconds then slap it off the boards?

Ryan Pike: He was good when they needed him to be down the stretch last year.

croatis: That couldn’t have been set. And it was almost always a giveaway.

ctibs: “good”

Ryan Pike: Does management keep him out of loyalty?

croatis: Loyalty to what?

ctibs: I wouldn’t.

taylormckee: Lordy, I hope not. That portends poorly.

ctibs: He makes $400,000 in the minors this year. I’m not sure he’d have any qualms about not being on the NHL roster.

billtran: I think it was the game against Vancouver where i kept seeing him give the puck away trying to skate it out.

ctibs: He was very bad against Vancouver.

billtran: He literally does better standing behind the net and slapping the puck than he does skating with the puck.

croatis: This extra year was for the expansion draft anyways. It wasn’t a guaranteed spot.

Ryan Pike: I think they signed him just in case they moved Jokipakka.

billtran: Long story short, he should be gone before the end of September.

ctibs: I feel he at least had a foot in the door.

karimkurji: We have way too many intriguing defense prospects to waste a spot on a guy who shouldn’t be in the NHL. Play a kid there and see what happens.

croatis: Plus AHL team could use a vet. (Right?)

Ryan Pike: Who is everyone’s six and seven right now?

croatis: Kulak and Wotherspoon.

ctibs: Wotherspoon, Kulak. Order undecided.

billtran: Man you wouldn’t want to waste prospect development in Stockton for the sake of Bart having a spot.

croatis: Andersson is above both in my mind based on the preseason but he shoots right.

Ryan Pike: I have Wotherspoon and Bartkowski right now, Bartkowski sits.

billtran: Yeah I’d say Kulak and Wotherspoon.

Ryan Pike: I want the most low-event 10 minutes from my third pairing humanly possible. Wotherspoon is Mr. Low Event.

croatis: I’d like Wotherspoon to log more NHL games than Tim Erixon.

karimkurji: Andersson, Bart, with Bart playing zero games ever. If someone gets injured, call up another guy but never play Bart.

taylormckee: Kulak and wotherspoon would be ideal, but holy moly, I also hope this doesn’t really matter. I’m not sure Kulak is good enough to save stone if he turns out to not bounce back.

billtran: Would anyone be good enough?

taylormckee: It’s a sad thought. I just hope he shakes it off and turns out to be not horrawful.

billtran: If Stone doesn’t carry his weight, the player paired with him might end up getting a lot of bad press

Ryan Pike: What about the forwards? Do you carry 13 or 14? And who’s your third line wing, fourth line wing, and extras? I’d probably go Brouwer third, Lazar fourth and sign Cramarossa, Stajan and Freddie are my extra forwards
So my bottom six is:

billtran: That hurts to read

taylormckee: That makes me sad for Janko.

Ryan Pike: Bennett drives play more than Janko, so he gets the older guys.

ctibs: Versteeg-Bennett-Poirier
Send lazar on the ice floe.

taylormckee: But, we already tried that Bennett Brouwer thing, it didn’t work at all.

Ryan Pike: But that was Beardless Bennett.

croatis: Why are you signing Cramarossa? Someone take Ryan’s pen.

ctibs: I thought that was the one thing we all agreed on: keep those two away. On another thought, based off last night’s beautiful performances, should we reconsider some lines?

ctibs I’m going bold with:

karimkurji: I love these lines.

croatis: Hrivik makes it?

ctibs: 45 is Klimchuk right?

ctibs: 45/46, I don’t really care which is which.

croatis: I didn’t know who 45 was.

ctibs: They have Ms in their names. Works for me.

taylormckee: Swap Dube for Klimchuk and I’m down. (For 9 at least.)

karimkurji: I definitely thought 45 was Dube.

ctibs: You could call it the MD line. Just what the doctor ordered.

Ryan Pike: He got Max Reinhart’s old number

taylormckee: Real talk though, is Stajan an extra? A winger? 4LC?

Ryan Pike: He’s their fifth-best center right now.

taylormckee: 4L-LW? With Janko and Brouwer/Lazar/kill me.

billtran: He could theoretically play the fourth line wing with Janko and Brouwer.

ctibs: The fourth line is going to be garbage no matter which way you cut it

karimkurji: It sucks but there really doesn’t seem to be a place where Jankowski will succeed. He’s going to get bad linemates regardless.

ctibs: Moving him to Bennett’s line is a possibility, but you’d have to decide who is the winger. And given what we’ve seen from Bennett so far, it’s hard to move him.

billtran: Burtch had an interesting tweet about dividing up the Leafs talent

taylormckee: And someone is defs getting hurt at some point so it’d be great to have C flex with Janko.


croatis: Doesn’t that dilute your scoring power though?


That’s what I was thinking but our fourth line would have an extremely bad time

ctibs: I think Glen is taking out the blender a lot more often this year.

Ryan Pike: And I think that’s the troubling thing here, because Bennett becoming a force could improve Brouwer (or Lazar), but what do you do about the fourth line?

ctibs: “because Bennett becoming a force could improve Brouwer (or Lazar),” i wouldn’t bet on that. “rising tide lifts all ships” isn’t necessarily true in hockey. we finally saw what Bennett can do with good teammates. why do you want to give him bad ones again?

Ryan Pike: Do you want to give Monahan bad linemates? Or Backlund?

ctibs: Look at my line ideas.

taylormckee: No, concentrate the suck I guess. 4L sewer.

billtran: Backlund can make a dog on skates look good.

croatis: Monahan and Gaudreau are really good together though. I would look into a Tkachuk-Bennett-Versteeg line. Since both 19 and 10 and can play both wings.

karimkurji: I think a Tkachuk Bennett pair would be really good.

billtran: And let Backlund and Frolik develop our next star.

ctibs: I mean people played with the entire “just put Backlund with Bouma” thing for two years and it turns out you can’t polish some turds. Load up heavy, keep the suck together and at a minimum.

  • madjam

    Oilers are a difficult team to defend against due to their wealth of centerman in lineup . Set lines on Oilers are often not seen throughout any game because of it . Todd used same philosophy in San Jose , making all players able to excel in mixing of lines . Oilers in reality have 7 centers , with two basically playing LW in Jokinen and Khaira . The other 5 can also play wing when called upon . As season goes on , they only get better adapting to the mix . Trying to play Oilers to play a game with just set lines is not reasonable or how the coaches have them playing the game . I think GG was also experimenting same type philosophy with his lineup . Set pairs is more the tradition and set lines are diminishing . Players have to be more ambidexterous in todays NHL and be viable as much as possible in more than one position , except for goalie . Many clubs are doing much the same drift away from set lines .

    • Flaming1

      Disagree. Chiarelli is going with pairs and he will substitute in wingers when needed.
      Maroon McDavid
      Lucic Draisaitl
      Jokinen Nuge
      They will role right wingers in and out to create completion.
      Cagguila will probably have a breakout season.

  • BendingCorners

    What’s with the Cuisinart? We finished the year with a really good top-six and people want to break them up. We now have four good C plus a spare in Matt Stajan, and people want to move Mark to the wing, even though BT and GG both emphasize strength through the center of the ice. The main questions are at 4L and 3/4R. Splitting up 3M would move the questions from 3/4R to 2/4R, which is not an improvement.
    Matt Stajan can be a good mentor to Mark by playing on Mark’s LW, and can sit some nights (old guys need a rest) in favour of Freddie or Morgan or Dillon. Pick your favourite but Morgan needs playing time not sitting time and Dillon needs to fill out a bit. Freddie is a decent replacement player – steps in with no fuss and no embarrassment and isn’t expecting a major role. Morgan is probably a decent callup when an extra LW is needed.
    RW is a bit unsettled. Emile or Spencer might look better at 3R than Curtis who has seemed a bit lost so far but if they only carry one spare forward then both Curtis and Troy are in. I think Monday’s game will feature a handful of regulars including Curtis and Troy and a lot of bubble boys. Maybe that will help clarify things. I’d like to see Emile on the team even at the expense of carrying two spares but that’s emotion talking; I’m not sure he’s stood out enough to warrant it. Monday’s game should be interesting. GFG

  • Skylardog

    Hands down, the best Dman in camp outside of the top 4 has been Andersson.

    Kulak has looked bad at times. Stone has been giving the puck away and has not looked good at all. Wotherspoon played his best game with Andersson. Have to say, Spoon has been the next best guy.

    And as for Bart staying up and never playing – no. The 7th dman needs to be here full time to learn the GG system. Right now
    Wotherspoon or Kulak if you want to give some leeway based on last season.

  • WillyWonka

    OK, if a team claims someone off of waivers (like Lazar), does that mean they have to keep them on their NHL Roster for the year? i thought i had read or heard this somewhere, but wondered if anyone knows…. because if a team would have to keep Lazar on their NHL roster, he likelihood of someone claiming him is low.
    I’m not as down on Lazar as some here seem to be, am willing to be patient, but i do like others before hm, including Dube, Klimchuk and even Poirier. would like to see Lazar grow in the AHL

  • freethe flames

    Groupings from today’s practiceGROUP 1


    Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Micheal Ferland
    Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik
    Kris Versteeg – Sam Bennett – Troy Brouwer
    Freddie Hamilton – Matt Stajan – Curtis Lazar


    Mark Giordano – Dougie Hamilton
    TJ Brodie – Travis Hamonic
    Matt Bartkowski – Michael Stone


    Mike Smith

    Eddie Lack

    GROUP 2


    Ryan Lomberg – Mark Jankowski – Spencer Foo
    Joseph Cramarossa – Marek Hrivik – Emile Poirier
    Garnet Hathaway – Dillon Dube – Luke Gazdic
    Tanner Glass – Brett Pollock – Hunter Shinkaruk


    Tyler Wotherspoon – Brett Kulak
    Rasmus Andersson – Juuso Valimaki


    Jon Gillies

    David Rittich:

    Any thoughts? My biggest concern is Brouwer with Bennett.

  • Skylardog

    8 Spots are locks – JG, Mony, Ferland, Tkachuk, Backs, Fro, Bennett, Steeg. That leaves 4 roster and 2 popcorn spots.

    Then there are the questionable Vets – Brouwer, Stajan, Hamilton, Hathaway, Lazar.

    The Prospects – Janko, Poirier, Klimchuk, Shink, Dube, Lomberg, Foo.

    Others – Glass, Cram, Hrivik, – They have to be considerably better than the prospects

    That’s 15 guys for 6 spots.

    Janko should get 1. But, and I say but with a concern, that the “possession coach” GG may see the 22.2 and 34.8 possession numbers he has posted against non-NHL rosters. Does this make it a maybe? Guess we can’t rank anyone else on Possession now can we.

    Give Janko the spot – 5 left.

    Sorry Cram and Hrivik – Glass has been better. We are not taking 2 from your group

    Foo, while many of you like him, he is the worst of the prospects – and he has been given opportunity – PP, linemates etc. And cross off Shink too. He has not shown the speed or abilities we need.

    So we have:
    Poirier, Dube, Lomberg, Klimchuk, Glass, Hathaway, Hamilton, Brouwer, Stajan, and Lazar
    10 guys – 5 spots.

    These 10 should battle for the 5 spots. But we are talking about different strengths and abilities. We need to place them in a place that shows what they can do.

    Put Klimchuk with Backs and Fro
    Put Poirier, Lazar, Dube, and Lomberg with Bennett, and Mony and JG, or Ferly if Mony still out. To run this, test it will take 2 games.
    Put Glass and Hathaway with Janko.

    So here is the lineup for Monday

    If Mony cant go, put Dube between JG and Ferly, and Poirier on Bennett’s right
    Then on Thurs
    2 of JG, Mony and Ferly with the best of Dube and Lomberg

    Minor changes allowed.

  • Off the wall

    I don’t know what the roster is going to look like in Winnipeg, but I read from Flames site that Monahan and Tkachuk are going and Lack is playing the full 60 minutes…

  • Newbietwo

    1. What I would like to see the NHL allow for pre season games are 5 forward lines.. gives you a better chance to allow those rookies to so called play.. and 4 d lines for same reasons.. if you need to extend pre season games by 5 or 10 minutes so be it.. It’s pre season!!

    2. Everybody seems to be quickly forgetting every off season what kind of league the NHL actually is.. The NHL is a defensive minded and speciality teams league.. if your poet play is good and your penalty kill rocks and you are even at 5v5 you tend to be at the top of the league:.

    Now for those that think Foo, Dube, Kylington, Klimchuck, and the likes are ready.. we’ll i would like to know what you are smoking..

    Foo.. I don’t know is defensive side of the game so I am unsure. Dube is not strong enough to last an NHL season period.. Klimchuck is getting there but he needs another year. Kylington needs to add more size and gain more composure into his game..

    3. Its a long season and many of these kids will get their chance so stop fretting.

    4. It’s clear our top 6 will not be changing and it likely was expected so might as well focus on bottom 6 lines.. my money is still on Jankowski playing the wing with Bennett.

    5. As far as I can tell there really is only one real question remaining and that is who will be the added forwards beyond Jankowski which makes us 13 it’s do we add Foo to that or Cramarossa.. I do not see any other question marks but that.

    • freethe flames

      Poet Play? Just kidding. Your right that special teams are a huge part of a teams success which is why I fundamentally believe if you want to be a contending team all of your forwards need to be able to either on the PP or the PK and some need to do both. Hockey IQ and the ability to skate is essential. I would be okay with Janko playing with Bennet and the best RW would likely be Versteeg. But listening to both BT and GG talk it sounds like they want them both playing center.

      As far as your first point about dressing more players; physically it will not happen as the benches are not big enough. The only way to accommodate that would be to allow teams to replace a line and d pairing at the start of a period but I would worry about injuries at that time.

      GG implies in his interview today that there are still maybe as many as 4 spots available; I hope he is not teasing us.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Janko is tied with JG for most goals in the pre season. He has not been used on the wing which makes me think it is 4C only. I don’t quite understand the low possession numbers since he has been driving the offence. I imagine this would be a different story if he flanked the 3M line.

      My concern with putting him on the 4th line is he becomes an easy target to be a healthy scratch if he can’t score with Brouwer and Stajan….which is going to be a challenge for anyone. Player usage is not a strength of GGs so I am nervous.

      Looking at the lineups at practice, I could see Janko sitting this game out along with some key vets so the coaches can see who steps up….Janko has already stepped up. If he plays Monday I hope he auditions as a top 9 winger….just for fun.

  • Stajanforadirtyboot

    Can someone explain the huge hate on for Lazar…the kid has played 4 regular season games in a flame uniform and put up 3 points…his effort and his desire to play is there as well. His cap hit is $950,000 and he’s not taking up a young guys roster spot…he is a young guy. The hate for him confusing when a plug like Stajan exists and a astronomical cap hit. It’s no secret I have a legitimate hate on for Stajan but I have the numbers that back up my hate…why do people hate on young Lazar so much?

    • freethe flames

      Hate is the wrong word; I don’t hate him. I just think that the other guys have been better than him in the games I’ve seen. In know way am I doubting his desire but just his results. I would love for him to prove me and all the doubters wrong but so far it has not happened. Your hatred for Stajan has some merit I agree he is way over paid (thanks Burke) but he does a decent job on the PK and won over 50% of his face offs last year. Fortunately though this will likely be his last season here. Unfortunately Brouwer still has 2 years left on his contract at even a worse cap hit. Now that I hate. I don’t know the man but I sure have not been impressed with his play.(I was against it when it was a rumour)

    • Skylardog

      And he was plus 1 against LA, Wash, LA and another good team which slips my mind right now. He has been with marginal players all preseason with little to no PP action. Not a good assessment of his abilities based on his usage so far this season.

      • freethe flames

        Based upon what we have seen this preseason has he earned any PP time? Again I would love for him to prove me wrong but as of yet I am still waiting. You argue that his player usage has held him back but Dube has not been blessed with playing with Johnny/Ferland or the 2 Mikes but has stood out anyways. What Lazar needs to do is on every shift regardless of his line mates is compete be involved and if he does that he will get noticed.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      I hate Lazar because he’s a punk. In 2014, while an Oil King, he deliberately tried to injure Hitman Kenton Helgesen with a slew foot. When Jaynen Rissling came over in defense of his fallen teammate, Lazar turtled! Captain Canada, the King of the Kings and the first team all-character guy would not go man to man with Jaynen. From that day forward, I have had a major hate on for Lazar. He tried to end another player’s career. Great guy!

  • freethe flames

    If I had my way here is who would be left after Monday’s game:


    Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Micheal Ferland
    Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik
    Kris Versteeg – Sam Bennett –
    Freddie Hamilton – Matt Stajan –


    Mark Giordano – Dougie Hamilton
    TJ Brodie – Travis Hamonic
    – Michael Stone


    Mike Smith

    Eddie Lack

    GROUP 2


    Ryan Lomberg – Mark Jankowski –
    Emile Poirier
    Garnet Hathaway – Dillon Dube –
    Tanner Glass –


    Tyler Wotherspoon – Brett Kulak
    Rasmus Andersson –


    Jon Gillies

    David Rittich:

    I am sure they will not get rid of Brouwer or Lazar but I have not been impressed with either of them. The reason for keeping all 4 goalies at least for a few more days is that I think both Gillies and Rittich would benefit from NHL shots in practice than AHL shots.

        • freethe flames

          It’s always interesting to see the relationship between the NHL and the NCAA. NCAA players can attend development camps at their own expense, they can’t attend training camps but they can hold out and not sign with the team that drafted them. A large part of this is related to the NHL Draft age being rather young in comparison to the other leagues; the players are just finishing high school in the States and most NCAA programs want letters of intent prior to the NHL draft. For the most part the NFL and NBA are drafting men into their leagues while the NHL drafts teenagers.