WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Jake Neighbors hit the rookie threshold Tuesday night at the Canada Life Center, playing his ninth game of the season.
If he plays one more game at any point this season, the clock starts on his entry-level pro contract. In other words, the Blues lose a year in which they have contractual control, before Neighbors reaches free agency.
“There were games where I really liked him,” said coach Craig Berube. “He did some really good things. Lots of games – the score, the time of the game – just a lot of things play out on the ice time he got. It’s not easy if you don’t have a lot of ice time. We all know that. “
After a strong training camp and preseason, that game continued until the start of the regular season for the 19-year-old. Neighbors collected an assist in Game 2 of the season in Arizona, then scored his first NHL goal in Game 4 against Los Angeles – the Blues’ home opener on October 23.
Neighbors’ play has leveled off lately, as has been the case for the team as a whole. With the pace of play accelerating and the intensity of play, the Blues got involved in tighter games and neighbors’ minutes plummeted.
He was eliminated in good health in two games and has not exceeded 10 minutes of ice time in a game since that home opener against the Kings.