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SLBAM: Will Smith makes the right decision not to come to the NHL now

What’s up gang. Wow and wow on the draft, not only of the CH, but in general. I’m only going to talk about one drafted player in my column so people can maybe learn more about him, but that’s it.

The thing I hate about the draft is that players are immediately labeled, and if he wasn’t the fans’ choice, he’ll automatically be a flop. Basically, what I’m saying is, can we not talk about this for another four years?

I, for one, am 100% in favor of moving the draft date back one year. I’m not the only one talking about it, and I’m certainly not the last either.

As much as we say that players are coming into the NHL more ready than ever, it still takes time for them to make an impact, but more importantly, the majority of players will take a few years to establish themselves in the NHL.

Why not push back the age limit by just one year? A lot can happen in a year. Plus, at the end of his three years, the player will still be better and more complete.

If not, having a “better” LAH system means that it’s not just Europeans who can benefit, but players in North America as well.

We saw during the lockout the impact that 18-19 year-olds were having in the AHL. Lately, why not take four years to sign a contract for everyone, not just Americans in college?

Because by the sixth or seventh round, the chances of a player playing in the NHL are slim. So if you have a choice between a CHL or NCAA player, many will prioritize the NCAA since you have an extra year to sign him, which means an extra year of development.

There are millions of different cases, but from what I see, even in Canada, the annual salary of coaches is what is striking.

Let me give you an example. It’s not normal that when I went to Manitoba to be an assistant coach Jr. A assistant coach in Manitoba, I was paid more than all the head coaches in the Quebec Jr. AAA league and several major junior assistants. I’m not even talking about Alberta or British Columbia.

It’s not normal that at U18 level, assistant coaches have to have a second job, because coaching in the afternoon doesn’t pay enough.

Whereas elsewhere, good coaches or top coaches will help out at the base, but they’re well paid, which makes the job much more interesting and everyone benefits from their knowledge.

The other factor, and I ask myself this question: in other countries, many players play together from the age of 7-8, right up to their country’s professional team.

Here in North America, it’s not uncommon for players to play together only in summer tournaments, rather than year-round for several years. This also ensures that the product is not diluted.

In Quebec, at any given time, your child could choose to go to 4-5 different places, if not more, and we’re only talking about Quebec. If you include places outside Quebec, the options explode. So you can lose a bit of your product/quality, and there’s sometimes blackmail involved.

As for training, structure, teaching and so on. It’s like everywhere else, some trainers are good teachers, others teach a structure and if you don’t respect it, you don’t play.

It’s not advantageous for young players, who have to develop to become better players and, above all, the system of play can change game after game, even year after year.

It’s more about bringing the principle of developing a youngster with as many tools as possible so that he can understand the game and adjust.

As I’ve always said, I think the principle of structures in Quebec is excellent, and many federations take a close look at what’s being done in Quebec. But when you try to get all the players to play the same way, you can sometimes lose some along the way who should never have left.

Take the Canadian Way, for example. There were a lot of positives, but there were also negatives, because it was impossible for the same structure to work for everyone.

Every player and organization is different. What’s the best way or thought to go about it? There’s no winning recipe, unfortunately. However, I’ve always said it and I’m not the first. No one has ever arrived too late in the NHL, but many have arrived too fast.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s hard to compare Smith to Slafkovsky because, even if Smith is supposed to be better than Slaf, the two don’t have the same style of play, the same maturity and, above all, haven’t accomplished the same things.

Whether you like Slaf or not, he played with adults in a professional league and burned up everything in his path at international level, including the Olympic Games. That’s no mean feat. So he had experience behind the tie, not just playing against junior guys.

Smith, meanwhile, burned up the U18, but has no experience on the international stage or against adults. And next year, he’ll be playing around 30 games in his season. So he needs to get some experience.

Now, after a year, is it easy to say that Slaf should have played in the AHL or gone back to Europe for a season? I think it is.

But many players will say that, to know and understand how to play in the NHL, you have to play in the NHL and not be in the AHL. It’s a big difference and it’s huge.

When the CH made the decision to keep him, they looked at everything and decided it was best for him to stay with the big club. But it’s increasingly rare for the first pick in the draft to have an immediate impact the year after.

More and more, it takes them a little longer.

I’ll end on a note as well, and maybe not many people are aware of this. But there are universities where if you do a season there and then go play in the NHL, you can go back to university whenever you want, and you don’t have to pay anything.

So it’s not for nothing that we sometimes see players go from the USHL or an American development program to the NCAA, do just one year and then make the jump to the pros.

What a funny story this one is! After my first year in the KHL, the CH signed the KHL’s top defenseman, Chris Wideman.

Two years later, the CH re-signed a defenseman from the same organization who was nominated for Rookie of the Year and had more than respectable stats for a 20-year-old defenseman in the league.

No one here knows him, and that’s only to be expected, so I thought I’d end my article with who the player is.

For a start, time will tell if he’s any good when he comes to North America. Bodgan in the KHL is basically a Chris Wideman 2.0, but a better skater and much better defensively.

Chris, if it weren’t for the injury he suffered in the NHL, he was a much better skater before.

Bodgan is a very good skater, acts and behaves like a professional. He has great offensive instincts and excellent anticipation. He was still on the first power play of a team that finished top-5 in the league in the KHL. That’s no mean feat.

More than 15 NHL teams had contacted Torpedo for more information about the defenseman.

Will he become an NHL star? No. But he has said he’d like to come and play in the NHL if he’s good enough. I can’t wait to see what happens next for him and whether this season was just his good offensive season or whether there will be more to come.


See you next week and thanks again. Follow me on social networks @Mitch_Giguere.

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