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Teenage rookies are on the hot seat
The six NHL teams with first round picks from the 2010 entry draft currently on their rosters face decisions very soon.
Under the rules of the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, teams can return teenage prospects to their junior teams at any time over the course of a season, but if they do so before they've played 10 NHL games, the first year of their entry level contract is deferred to the following season.
The six are left wing Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers (first overall pick of the 2010 entry draft), forward Tyler Seguin of the Boston Bruins (second overall), left wing Nino Niederreiter of the New York Islanders (fifth overall), center Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes (seventh overall), center Alexander Burmistrov of the Atlanta Thrashers (eighth overall) and defenseman Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks (12th overall).
Hall was off to a slow start statistically, with only one assist in his first six games, but has shown improvement in each game. Oilers head coach Tom Renney certainly doesn't believe Hall will be going anywhere, recently telling The Edmonton Journal Hall is "going to be here all year unless somebody tells me otherwise".
That's stoked speculation the Oilers will keep Hall in the lineup this season and give him time to adjust to the NHL level.
Seguin has three points in his first six NHL games while getting less ice time than Hall centering the Bruins' fourth line with Michael Ryder and fellow rookie Jordan Caron. The Bruins have been tight-lipped as to Seguin's immediate future, but it appears he will remain in the lineup beyond the 10-game limit.
Skinner definitely doesn't have to worry about returning to juniors. Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford told the Raleigh News & Observer on Oct. 11 Skinner would remain with Carolina.
"We made our decision when we signed him," said Rutherford. "We felt strong about him right from the start."
Entering the final week of October, Skinner was the leading scorer of the six rookies, with four points in seven games.
Meanwhile, Fowler had the same number of points as Seguin in as many games (three) until sidelined day-to-day with a broken nose and stiff neck from a hit received by Phoenix Coyotes forward Shane Doan on Oct. 17.
Prior to the injury, he appeared to be fitting in well on the Ducks blueline but so far, there's no word if they intend to retain him beyond the 10-game mark.
Niederreiter had a goal and an assist in his first eight games. He's shown some promise so far but also struggled at times to adjust to the pace of the NHL game. No word yet from the Islanders if they'll be sending him back to junior, but it might do him some good.
The Thrashers' Burmistrov had yet to garner any points in his first eight games. The 5 foot-11, 170-pound Russian center was skating with big wingers Ben Eager and Chris Thornburn who, as the Atlanta Journal Constitution recently noted were quick to protect their smaller linemate from any unnecessary rough stuff. Still, it remains to be seen if he'll remain a Thrasher beyond that 10-game mark.
At this point, all but Niederreiter and Burmistrov appear certain of sticking with their current teams for the remainder of the season.