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Certain Numbers Don’t Apply to Ducks Rookie Cam Fowler

By Brian Hayward


Ordinarily, when a NHL General Manager must decide whether to keep a recently drafted player on his NHL roster or return him to his Junior team for the balance of the season, the primary consideration is whether or not the kid has the ability to be ready for prime time.  But there also are two threshold numbers that factor into the decision-making process.  These numbers are 10 and 40.


If the young player plays in more than 10 NHL games, and then is returned to Junior, you still burn one year of the 3 year entry level contract every drafted player must sign before playing in the League.  Since nowadays young star players can jump from a capped base salary of $850,000 to a mega million dollar deal when their entry level deal expires (Bobby Ryan jumped up to $5.1 million per season), you can understand why ‘the Rule of 10’ is significant.


If an entry level player is on the NHL roster for more than 40 games, you burn one year of the seven years a Club owns the rights of a drafted player before he is eligible for unrestricted free agency.  Think Ilya Kovalchuck and the $100 million deal the Devils signed him to this past summer.  Going out on a limb, I’ll bet Devils GM Lou Lamoriello would have preferred last season was Kovalchucks’ sixth season in the league instead of his seventh.


While managers continue to debate about which number (10 or 40) has more bearing on  their decision to keep a young player with the big club, I would suggest that the 10 and 40 threshold numbers are irrelevant.  With the collective bargaining agreement set to expire at the conclusion of the 2011-2012 season, who really knows what the rules governing entry level players will look like two years from now?


Which also leads me to the Ducks and their prize rookie Cam Fowler.  At 18 years, 10 months and 3 days old when he “laced ‘em up” for his Ducks debut against Detroit Friday, Fowler became the second youngest player (to Oleg Tverdovsky) to ever don an Anaheim jersey.  He also happened to be Randy Carlyle’s best defenceman on the ice in his first ever NHL regular season game.  Wings Coach Mike Babcock (with the last change on home ice) challenged Fowler with power forwards Todd Bertuzzi and Johan Franzen virtually every shift he was on the ice, and Fowler passed the test with flying colors


With poise well beyond his years, and an uncanny knack to sense a forecheckers’ pressure before he actually sees it, Fowler looks like a gem that will quickly become a fixture on the Anaheim blueline.  Duck amateur scouts had him ranked third overall heading into last Junes’ entry draft and were plain giddy when he was still available when Bob Murray stepped to the podium to announce the 12th overall selection.  Randy Carlyle rarely offers platitudes when discussing young players on his roster, but has no problem describing Cam Fowler as “very special”.


10 and 40 won’t mean a thing to Cam Fowler this season.  He is here to stay, and for a long, long time.  One number that is worth considering for Fowler in his first two career games is zero.  That is how many goals opponents have scored on the Ducks while Fowler has been on the ice (remember the Ducks have yielded eight!).  Very special indeed.

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