Will they stay or will they go?

By Heidi Androl
FOX Sports West and Prime Ticket

November 6, 2010 

There is often a lot of confusion about rookies who make the jump from junior hockey to the NHL out of training camp.

Here is an attempt to settle a little of that for you.  
NHL teams can give their prospects a nine-game audition without burning a year of their contract. After that, they are returned to their junior team, or, the deal kicks in.  Now the other interesting part of this is that any junior-eligible player cannot be sent to the AHL, they must only return to their junior team and remain there until that season is over.  Once the junior team’s season is complete, that player may be brought up to either the AHL or the NHL to complete the season.

The Los Angeles Kings have two young players under the watchful eye of GM Dean Lombardi and his staff during this nine-game “audition period.”

The first is 6-2, 207-pound 19-year-old Kyle Clifford. In 2009-10, Clifford served as the assistant captain of the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League tallying 57 points and 111 penalty minutes in 58 games. Clifford has played in eight games with the Kings this season and is taking them one game at a time and doing everything he can on and off the ice to prove that he should stay in LA. The forward struggled a bit with his skating to start October, but less than a month into the season, that part of his game has already shown improvement. Clifford is a physical power forward who is not afraid to drop the gloves. 

Braden Schenn is the second player vying to stay on the Kings roster. The 6-1, 190-pound 19-year-old Schenn is a dynamic, physical centerman who served as the Team Captain for the Brandon Wheat Kings with 99 points and 55 penalty minutes in 59 games last season. Schenn has played in eight NHL games this season and has tallied 0-1-1.

With the Los Angeles Kings on the cusp of something really special, there are a few things to look at when evaluating whether the youngsters stay or return to Junior. 
What player in what role is going to make this team better? Considering the current roster and the roles in place, do the Kings have an immediate need for what these young players bring to the table? What is best for the player and their development?

Looking at Schenn for example, does he benefit more from staying in the NHL and playing 11 minutes a night or does he benefit from going back to junior where he will likely lead the team in TOI? The other component to consider is how his respective junior team is expected finish the season. Will they be contenders for the Memorial Cup? Do you try to get him traded to another junior team that