I’m not too worried about Jarred Tinordi, even after being sent down to Hamilton again on Thursday, after a rough outing against the Blue Jackets. Sure, it would be great if his learning curve had been steeper, instead of the gradual progress we’re seeing now. It would be great if something had clicked for him this season, like it did for Nathan, and he took a quantum leap.
But he is where he is, a big tall player the likes of which generally take a long time to mature. And as we’ve pointed out recently, it’s not like he’s the laggard and everyone else who was drafted at the same time is now killing it in the NHL. In fact, Jarred is doing as well as a ‘project’ 6’6 defenceman drafted 22nd overall in 2010 could be expected to.
So again, taking time to reflect on the slow development of physically-similar players like Victor Hedman, Hal Gill and Zdeno Chara among others, let’s take a deep breath and temper our expectations. He’ll come around, he hasn’t topped out.
Next season, he’ll be waiver-eligible, so we won’t be able to play him in Hamilton while he gets his game polished. This season is our last chance to do that. It makes sense that, with Alexei Emelin and Sergei Gonchar nearing a return to active duty that both those lefties will bump him down to Hamilton again.
And this isn’t optimal, it would be better if he was already a fixture on our roster, but it’s also not a bad thing. He’s going to get big minutes for another twenty games, and he’s going to be expected to lead his teammates to a playoff berth, and then have some playoff experience. This isn’t a bad situation, he needs to play.
Next season, it gets tricky, he’d have to pass through waivers to go to Hamilton, so that won’t happen, he’ll have to remain in Montréal. So unless he takes that big step over the summer, he’ll be the #7 defenceman, playing a few games, sitting out quite a few more, and expected to work hard in practice, as he matures some more. It won’t be the first time this happens, although it’s not ideal. Maybe we bend the rules a bit and send him down to the Bulldogs for a couple of conditioning assignments (which are waiver exempt) to keep him game-ready.
Scotty Bowman told the story of how disappointed he was when Bill Nyrop announced his retirement at a young age. He’d developed as a dependable #4-5 defencemen supporting the Big Three, and playing in front of enforcers like Pierre Bouchard and Gilles Lupien. As Scotty bellyached about losing Mr. Nyrop, I think he said it was Dick Irvin who was nearby and after listening patiently, asked him if having to play Rod Langway was so bad an option, that he’d looked really good when he’d had a chance to play lately. Rod Langway had been the routine healthy scratch, but working with Claude Ruel for the whole season, he’d slowly improved his game, almost imperceptibly, unbeknownst to the head coach, as it were.
So that’s what we can hope for, should be patient for, to let the big kid grow some more, get his game ready next season, and slowly ease him into the lineup. It won’t be ideal, you prefer not to have a spot on your 23-man roster eaten up by a developmental player, but it’s the situation that’s best for us right now.