Barry Trotz talked recently about one of the significant differences players face when they get promoted to the National Hockey League from the developmental circuit, the American Hockey League.
The Nashville Predators coach spoke at length about how savvy NHL veterans can deceive younger players into thinking one thing when the reality is something quite different.
“The biggest difference between the American League and the NHL is there’s a lot more baiting,” Trotz said last Saturday. “Guys can bait you in in terms of situations. They’re smarter. … There’s a lot more of that deception that happens in this league.”
As it turned out, it was the Predators who were fooled.
Center Blake Geoffrion was reassigned to Nashville’s AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals on Tuesday, a day after the same move was made with defenseman Jonathon Blum.
Both players made their NHL debuts during the second half of the 2010-11 season and remained with the Predators through the franchise’s longest playoff run to date. They showed enough during that time to convince franchise management they had established themselves as NHL players and, consequently, had an impact on what the team did — or did not — do during the offseason.
Now they are back with the Admirals and scheduled to make their 2011-12 AHL debuts Friday in the first of three games in three days.
“Based on where they were last year … they haven’t had the year this year that we expected,” Trotz said following Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over Calgary. “One of the things that you tend to overlook because guys come up during the playoffs and they play … you think of them as second-year players. They’re really first-year players.”
What has not changed is the fact that each still is a top prospect. Blum, after all, was a first-round draft choice (23rd overall) in 2007 and Geoffrion was Nashville’s top pick (second round) a year earlier.
“They haven’t really gotten as much traction as they had last year,” Trotz said following Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over Calgary. “The whole idea is getting them playing so they can come back and get some traction in our lineup so that they’re not struggling all year.
“You’re confidence goes and you’re not playing. They’re still pretty young players. … They just have to play and when they come back they’ll be better off for it.”
Geoffrion was activated from the injury list, where he had been since the start of December, prior to being sent down. He had no goals and two assists in 19 appearances.