For any other team or sport, the fact that a player is good at something would be a positive sign. For hockey, though, the situation is different. Even though a player has shown a willingness to learn, it might not become apparent until he’s on a team that has success.
For a lot of other players, when they’re not getting their asses kicked by the top teams in the world, learning their craft and getting into the right level is a struggle.
“I think a lot of guys try to play one year of pro (and) it doesn’t even necessarily work out that way, whereas on a team or at the college level they can work their way through and just be successful as far as making the NHL,” said former NHL forward Mike Ribeiro.
“To play with those good players, to see where they come from and learn a lot, it’s the most rewarding thing and most satisfying aspect of hockey, actually,” said Ribeiro, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the League’s best forward in 2004-05.
Here, we look at 10 forwards who have been rewarded with professional experience, and why NHL teams might not always want to waste it.
10. Michael Mersch
Drafted in: 1997
Mersch was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers at No. 3 overall back in the late 1990s, but he never played an NHL game. He played nine years in the minor leagues before eventually being traded to the Flyers in 2001. He played the following two seasons in Philadelphia, posting three 30-and-under seasons over the course of a career that was highlighted by a memorable World Championships performance.
9. David Tkachuk
Drafted in: 2013 Draft
While many have focused on the NHL’s best rookies, Tkachuk has been among the league’s top scoring forwards. A first-round pick by the Ottawa Senators in 2013, Tkachuk has scored 40 goals over the last two seasons with a career-high 51 points. He’s now a top-six forward with the Oilers and hopes to add to his 34 playoff goals.
8. Alex Galchenyuk
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