Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper believes the injuries his side have struggled with this season could be of major benefit in the future.
"There's no question we come out of this a better team," Cooper told NHL.com. "The one thing is if we ever do get healthy, which eventually we should, there are going to be really tough decisions for us to make. That's a good thing."
The Lightning have been forced to field a number of inexperienced players this season due to the sheer volume of injuries they have had to contend with.
Usual regulars Ryan Malone, Steven Stamkos, Eric Brewer and Victor Hedman are just some of the big names that have all suffered extended absences this campaign.
"Guys that should be developing in the minors, they're cutting their teeth in the NHL," Cooper added. "That can be twofold. For some players it can work in the sense that it accelerates their growth, and for some guys it hurts because it's too much too soon.
"It's a really tough balance because you don't want to ruin these guys for the future and demoralise their confidence because it's a really tough League to play in, but we have no choice."
And Cooper clearly believes that giving youngsters a chance is the way forward for the team rather than just looking for quick fixes.
"We're not just going to find guys and we're not going to go out and make Band-Aid trades and give up something that has potential for our future," he continued. "So this is it, but we did have a little depth down there because of drafting and developing and now it's helping us survive.
"The key to this whole situation is not losing the development of these guys, letting them get frustrated when they come up here and they don't have the success they expect and then they're out of the lineup and get sent down.
"That's the part we can't let happen. We have to live with their mistakes and let these guys grow because we know they're going to make mistakes, but our growth chart has nowhere to go but up because once these guys start getting games in the NHL they're going to figure out the League and they're going to get better."
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