I won’t recount Silfverberg’s many enticing qualifications. Let’s just say that he looks like a hell of a prospect, far better than that “top nine forward” designation most prospect tracking websites have carved out for him. When it comes to this team needing some offensive punch against the Rangers, Silfverberg is as likely a candidate as Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, or anyone else to contribute. Add to it that Silfverberg has been playing playoff hockey for weeks already, and I admit it: he could make an immediate impact. And it would be a great next chapter to his storybook year.
But here’s the thing: I don’t want to break Jakob Silfverberg’s brain.
Winning a playoff series would be pretty cool, but there are much bigger goals for a franchise, and helping their prospects reach their maximum potential is right up there. Silfverberg has the potential to be a top six forward for this team for years to come, and his development should take precedent over the slim potential that he will enter a pivotal playoff game in a pressure-cooker environment and make a difference.
Silfverberg isn’t here to win us one Game Seven. He’s here to help us win many Game Sevens.
My greatest fear isn’t that Silfverberg might not be as effective as, say, Jesse “I-won’t-lose-you-a-game-but-I-won’t-win-you-one-either” Winchester on the first line. My fear is that a mistake hurts the kid’s confidence and, very likely, turns this city’s acerbic and sort of shitty media against him. Imagine if a defensive gaffe leads to the series-losing goal, or he steps out onto the ice and Mike Rupp or Brian Boyle paste him into the boards. What then?
This is a player, after all, who said no to the NHL to spend another year in the SEL. He shouldn’t play unless he feels ready. And without a training camp, some exhibition games, and a chance to test himself against an NHL defence—not only the Rangers incredibly stingy defence, but any NHL defence—how can he know?
In any case, the playoffs are enough to make veterans look star-crossed. Putting all of our eggs in the Silfverberg basket isn’t only a bit unrealistic, it’s also sort of unfair.