Is a one-week training camp and five regular-season games enough to judge a young player's ability to handle the rigors of the NHL?
For 10 general managers, that's the question they're on the clock to answer, and time -- like everything else in the 2012-13 season -- is running out fast.
Ten players on entry-level contracts made their NHL team's rosters for the start of the 2012-13 season, and with the abbreviated timeframe, teams have five games to judge their teenage prospects' NHL worthiness. Prior to playing a sixth game, teams can return players to their junior club and shift the start of their contract by one season. However, if the team keeps the prospect past the six-game mark, the player's contract goes into effect; while teams can return that player to his junior team at any time, it would waste the first year of the deal.
Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff recently was asked by the Buffalo News about one of his players, 18-year-old Mikhail Grigorenko, but the answer brings up questions that 10 other sets of NHL executives are asking themselves:
"We'll really evaluate everything," Ruff said. "What's the best for him? What's the best to push him to the next level? Can he help us win? Can he help us win in the role he's at? All those things will go into consideration. We want to do what's the best for us to win hockey games."
NHL.com takes a look at the 10 players, how they've fared so far and the likelihood of them staying in the NHL for the rest of the season.