Thursday, January 27, 2011
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
The Atlanta Thrashers assigned Akim Aliu to the Gwinnett Gladiators this week and there was talk of him perhaps choosing to play overseas instead. But the second-year pro reported to Gwinnett and head coach Jeff Pyle is looking forward to working with the talented young forward.
Pyle has long been an advocate of players, trying to develop them into AHL regulars. He’s coached many prospects from NHL affiliate Atlanta over the last eight seasons — despite it not always being the easiest job.
Some players resist his efforts, though he’s always had their interests at heart since making them better means he’ll probably lose them to a call-up.
The other difficulty is that often prospects assigned to AHL Chicago spend more time sitting in the stands as healthy scratches than actually playing.
There’s no substitute for game action and certainly there have been casualties from this over the years.
Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley, who only joined the organization 18 months ago, talked about the need to use their ECHL affiliation more to effectively mature prospects.
“Our young players need significant ice time to develop and that wasn’t happening in Chicago for Akim, so we are sending him to Gwinnett where he will be used in more key situations,” Dudley said. “We feel the ECHL is a great opportunity to further his development, so much so, that we may eventually make similar moves with other players.”
This year quite a few Atlanta draft picks have come to Gwinnett, breaking what was becoming a trend. For the last several seasons, it was rare to see those players here for any length of time. Which doesn’t serve anyone well — the Gladiators need some NHL contracted blood to compete with the other top teams in the league and players need a place to hone their skills. That’s not going to happen by just practicing with AHL Chicago or getting four shifts in a game.