Chambers: NHL prospects are suffering. Just ask Avalanche draftee Matthew Stienburg

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it a difficult year for NHL prospects — the recently drafted players and those eligible in 2021 and beyond.

Some high school, junior and college leagues have begun playing. Others have not. And some have had their seasons canceled.

It’s hard to develop into a professional hockey player without playing high-level hockey games.

The six Ivy League teams playing in the Eastern College Athletic Conference have nixed 2020-21, which takes me to Cornell sophomore center Matthew Stienburg, the 2019 Avalanche third-round draft pick from Nathan MacKinnon’s hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Long before the Ivy League teams officially shuttered its season Nov. 12, Stienburg sought another place to play while maintaining his NCAA eligibility and taking Cornell online courses. He settled on the West Kelowna Warriors of the British Columbia Hockey League (junior-A).

Then he broke his leg. Ten games into what the BCHL considered an extended training camp, Stienburg blocked a shot, fell to the ice, wreathing in pain, and ultimately skated to the bench on one leg. He knew he was hurt, but he didn’t know he was injured.

Stienburg’s next shift began on a faceoff. “Once I pushed off, it gave out,” he said of the fibula bone in his left leg. “It was displaced.”

That was Nov. 7. He underwent surgery last week in Ottawa, Ontario, where he is now recovering at the home of his aunt and uncle. Stienburg was…

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