The Bulldogs lose 4-1 to the Erie Monsters tonight, Maxime Macenauer scoring a meaningless powerplay goal late in the third for the Bulldogs to break the shutout.
For those of us who reflexively state that Nathan Beaulieu and/or Jarred Tinordi should be 'given a chance to earn the sixth d-man spot', which seems reasonable since they are the anointed ones, the first-rounders who should naturally step into important roles, soon, and who we build our succession plans around, watching tonight's game would have been instructive. The problem is, both players are not excelling or dominating, as the Bulldogs broadcast team peripherally allude to once in a while. These two guys should be the Bulldogs' best players along with Louis Leblanc, but their results are muted at best.
Nathan Beaulieu has two goals and five assists in 17 games, and is -4 on the season. Tonight during the third period, he played on the second wave of the powerplay, with Sylvain Lefebvre choosing to send out Greg Pateryn and Patrick Holland as his blueliners on the first wave.
Jarred Tinordi has 3 assists in 18 games, and granted he's not on the team to generate offence, but he's not taking over games. He did have a big spectacular hit tonight, but was also flattened by an opponent late in the third, and chased him soon after to retaliate, with an unconvincing result, and this was while the puck was in his own zone. He should properly have been focused on getting the puck and clearing it out, and worry about getting even at a more appropriate time. Although maybe when the game is already lost there will never be a better time to settle a score.
In any case, our two young princes are still struggling, still learning their craft. They show promise, but they don't have the experience and professionalism yet to instill confidence that they could step into an NHL lineup and not be overwhelmed. It's a long season yet, and they could put it together rapidly and improve tremendously from now until April, but if I'm Marc Bergevin, and I see Douglas Murray settling into his role and contributing to the team and improving game by game, maybe I think about extending him for another season, like he did for Francis Bouillon last year. Francis was brought in possibly as a one-year stopgap in July 2012, and proved reliable and cost-effective, so much so that an extra year was tacked on to his contract as a reward for him and an insurance policy for the team.
The same scenario could play out for Douglas Murray this season, the late-summer free agent acquisition who was widely seen as a band-aid while Alexei Emelin healed and Jarred Tinordi proved himself ready. This is now beginning to look like an inspired decision.
Nothing wrong with keeping a useful defenceman in the fold to give yourself options while the kids learn their craft. We should hand jobs to rookies not because we have one available, but rather because they show they're ready and they're better the veteran incumbent(s).
We were excited about our pipeline of young defencemen, and were worried about the best-case scenario, whereby we have too many young NHL-ready blueliners that we can't fit onto our roster. But with Nathan and Jarred still learning, Magnus Nygren choosing to return to Sweden, Morgan Ellis struggling, and Darren Dietz having a tough start to his season in part due to injuries, we're not at best-case or even 'better-case' scenario territory. So instead of leaving roster spots open for the kids to waltz into, let's be cautious and keep our veteran defencemen and have the youths beat them out of a job at training camp.