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Scheifele got sent back to the Barrie Colts of the OHL after seven games in 2011, so he knows what the experience is like.

“I definitely feel a lot more confident just because I did have those games and I had a good summer under my belt,” he said. “Last summer, I was able to get a lot stronger and that was a huge thing for my development. I think I really have stepped up my game and I’ve matured physically and mentally, and I think that’s a huge thing going forward.”

But Scheifele is still just 19 years old. Conacher is 23 and showing physical and mental maturity with the Lightning after a stellar Calder Cup-winning season with the Norfolk Admirals in the American Hockey League. He has two goals and five assists through Tampa Bay’s first five games.

“I think Cory had a great year last year — he was the MVP of the AHL,” St. Louis said. “That should get you some stripes to get you up here. … I think all along we knew we got some guys that are ready to make the jump.”

The Caps decided Wilson, 18, wasn’t yet ready to make the jump, so they sent him back to the Plymouth Whalers. Wanting a player to continue his arc of development is a delicate balance between the competition level of the NHL and the minutes he can get at the junior level.

“One of the things with young players and ice time is their ability and — I’ll give it a negative twist — not to be a liability because that in turn gets them the next shift,” Regier said. “And to the extent that they’re not scored on, not giving up chances, they gain the confidence of the head coach.”

Creating that confidence is what allows young players to stick around in the NHL. Sometimes it’s before most thought they were ready. But with someone like Hamilton, it’s right on schedule.

“He has a lot of poise and he plays a very mature game,” Chiarelli said. “I’m sure inside he felt relieved [to know he’s staying], but based on how I’ve seen him play, it wouldn’t surprise me if his play doesn’t go one way or the other because he’s a real poised and mature player.”