It's a critical time for teams with 18-year-old rookies in the lineup as the NHL schedule approaches the magical 10-game mark.
Before that tenth game, teams have to decide whether to keep their prized draft picks in the big leagues or send them back to their junior teams. If they stay with their NHL clubs, one year of their entry-level contract will be used up. If they go back to the junior level, they can only be recalled on an emergency basis.
Rookies Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty and Luke Schenn have looked right at home in the NHL.
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Kings told TSN that Doughty would be staying with the big club for the forseeable future. The defenceman leads all rookies in icetime, averaging over 22 minutes a game. He has scored one goal in eight games and is +7 on a team that is below .500.
Stamkos, who was selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Even before the draft, the franchise launched a promotional campaign called 'Seen Stamkos?' to get hockey fans excited about the phenom from the Sarnia Sting.
And while Stamkos has yet to register a point with the Lightning, and is averaging just over 11 minutes per game, Lightning head coach Barry Melrose isn't concerned with the slow start.
"He doesn't have a point yet, so all of Canada is in an uproar," Melrose told the Tampa Tribune. "But every game he's getting better. He's playing well in his own end, and he's getting his chances. Steven will be fine, and people just need to relax. He's 18-years-old, and as soon as the first one goes in he'll start scoring consistently. I have no doubt about that."
Lightning owner Oren Koules appeared on Off The Record on Tuesday and gave Stamkos a vote of confidence.
"He's doing great. We didn't expect him to do a lot (early)," said Koules. "He's got Lecavalier, he's got guys like Gratton, he's got Brian Lawton who is a former number one. He's with us for the year, he's great and he'll play a ton tonight in Toronto and it's all going to be fine."
In Atlanta, defenceman Zach Bogosian has yet to pick up his first NHL point but is logging over 14 minutes per game for the Thrashers. And general manager Don Waddell is happy with Bogosian's progress.
"If I was making the decision today, I'd say he'd be staying here," Waddell told the Atanta Journal-Constitution last week. "I don't have to make that decision today. Everything's leaning toward this player to be here and be a Thrasher."
St. Louis Blues' defenceman Alex Pietrangelo has been sidelined since his third game as a result of a questionable hit from Leafs' agitator Ryan Hollweg. In his brief stint, the former Niagara IceDog was averaging over 16 minutes per game. In any case, because of the injury, the Blues will have more time to assess Pietrangelo's future.
On Monday, Leafs' head coach Ron Wilson told defenceman Luke Schenn that he would be staying with the team beyond the 10-game mark and likely for the entire season. Asked if his stud defenceman would be made available for Team Canada for this year's World Junior Hockey Championship in Ottawa, Wilson didn't mince words.
"If he's playing in the best league in the world, why would we have him go play in a teenage tournament?" Wilson said.
Nikita Filatov was selected sixth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he has only appeared in four games this season. It's worth noting that the Blue Jackets have the luxury of sending Filatov down to the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, which they did on Tuesday.
As Bob McKenzie explains, "Filatov has been fully cleared and released from his obligations in Russia to play professional hockey in North America – for the Blue Jackets or their AHL affiliate in Syracuse." He cannot play junior hockey in Canada until the proper paperwork is filed by the Russian Federation, and that has not happened yet.
In Phoenix, Mikkel Boedker has enjoyed some success with three goals and almost 18 minutes per game. He has played a regular shift on the Coyotes' top line with Olli Jokinen and Shane Doan and has also seen some time on the power play so a return to the Kitchener Rangers would be unlikely.
The New York Islanders raised some eyebrows by trading down twice and selecting Josh Bailey. Unfortunately for those who would like to discuss the pros and cons of the strategy, Bailey suffered an injury late in the preseason and, while he has signed with the club, has yet to see any regular season action.
Reports out of Philadelphia indicate the Flyers are intent on keeping Luca Sbisa for the remainder of the season. Sbisa was selected 19th overall but has been a pleasant surprise in the City of Brotherly Love.
"He's here and he's helping our team and unless something happens that drastically changes that in the next 24 hours, it's going to stay that way for the foreseeable future," Flyers' general manager Paul Holmgren told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Monday.
Viktor Tikhonov was selected 28th by the Phoenix Coyotes and made the team out of training camp as a 20-year-old. The grandson of legendary Russian head coach by the same name has yet to register a point but is eligible to be returned to San Antonio of the American Hockey League.