The Edmonton Oilers head to the draft with some very nice things. The club has some outstanding young talent in the NHL (Hall, Eberle, Nuge) with another #1 overall selection on the way.
The conversation this spring has been about Oilers blue, but a long look at what is bubbling under shows that defense is well stocked–at least in numbers if not top end quality. I ran the top 20 last winter (with bonus 21-30).
Now. For my top 20’s I don’t include players who have been in the NHL for 50 games or more. Although they are not yet established NHLers, these players are also beyond “bubbling under.” I have decided to bend the rule in the case of Anton Lander, as it is completely possible he’ll spend an entire season in the minors in 12-13. His 56 games with Edmonton this past season had more to do (imo) with some kind of bizarre organizational push than performance.
So, graduating from the winter list are:
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (#1) who played 62 games and an awesome career ahead.
- Jeremie Blain (#14) unsigned by the Oilers.
Current rank (which will change when I do the summer edition next week, ranking the new picks) with the winter number in brackets.
- (3) D Oscar Klefbom: Young defender recently signed his pro contract had a strong WJ’s. His SEL play makes it difficult to know what we’re dealing with (complete D versus stay at home) but his WJ numbers (6, 1-1-2 +8) and play suggest he has a nice range of skills.
- (5) D Martin Marincin: Finished off his amateur career with another nice WHL season and Jim Byers told me they were impressed in OKC (6, 0-1-1 +4) when he got into action at the end of the year. 6, 1-2-3 +2 at the World Juniors for Slovakia and has a nice range of skills.
- (7) D Martin Gernat: Went 60, 9-46-55 +41 with the Oil Kings and played well in the WJ’s too. Gernat is such an interesting prospect, he could end up passing a few more players on this list before turning pro. Selected 122nd overall at last summer’s draft.
- (4) L Teemu Hartikainen: Slow starts have hurt him but each spring Hartikainen emerges with a good performance and enters the conversation for next year. He’s 29 games into his NHL career (5-5-10) and looks like he might be a 30-point winger based on his early resume. Good size, I think he has an exceptional chance this fall to make the big club.
- (2) C Anton Lander: Oilers made a mistake in keeping him up (56, 2-4-6) in Edmonton and he didn’t exactly deliver prime offense in OKC. Lander had a solid offensive season at 19 in the SEL and a year in OKC should get him back on track. He remains an organizational favorite based on leadership and his reputation as a defensive C remains (although it was not in evidence in the NHL).
- (6) G Tyler Bunz: Finished 2nd in the WHL in save percentage (.921) and is tracking equal/ahead of Dubnyk at the same age. Concussions a concern and he is likely to start in the ECHL but he looks on track entering pro.
- (9) R Tyler Pitlick: Started 42, 5-8-13 in OKC and then found the range a little and finished 33, 4-13-17 (including playoffs). He received solid reviews in conversations with both Todd Nelson and Jim Byers during the season and I think he’ll blossom next season in the AHL.
- (13) R Tobias Rieder: Wow, what a season. Started 52, 35-34-69 and then went super nova (24, 20-22-42 including playoffs) to end the season. Billy Moores says he works hard and doesn’t give up anything defensively, and also felt his game was “getting complete.” That’s a lot of good news on one player.
- (12) G Olivier Roy: Clearly overqualified for the ECHL based on his stats, Roy remains a solid prospect and could get a chance to be an OKC starter before the more highly rated (by me, anyway) Bunz.
- (10) D David Musil: Showed us what he is with quality defensive play at the WJ’s. Smart, savvy defenseman and he’s not yet 20. Lost his season to injury but has a nice future. 6 months older than Ryan Murray.
- (17) D Dillon Simpson: Young man’s draft day scouting reports were all over the place but he’s settled in as a solid 2-way defender at a big time NCAA school, age 18. I think this guy might come quickly once he turns pro. Man it’s nice to have a quality amateur scouting department.
- (11) D Colten Teubert: A tough, physical defender, he can play effectively in the AHL but clearly has some ways to go (as seen in his NHL play). Another season in Okla City is likely, but we shouldn’t forget about this guy. Coach Nelson mentioned a few times how much they missed his presence after he was lost to injury.
- (15) D Brandon Davidson: Oilers signed him late, I think he might spend some time in the ECHL. A wonderful story, I’ll cheer like hell for him and he ended his amateur career in style.
- (18) L Phil Cornet: Took some time to find the range in pro hockey (we need time on ice to properly follow progress) he scored 24 goals in the minors and played 2 NHL games. A season to remember for Cornet.
- (8) L Curtis Hamilton: A disappointing season and then an injury has Hamilton falling down the depth chart. He was the 48th pick in 2010 and finished up junior in fine fashion. That step to pro hockey was perhaps hindered by his age (he played 17 AHL games before his 20th birthday) but he’ll badly need to show progress in 12-13.
- (19) D Kyle Bigos: Huge defender is a pim magnet in the NCAA and should be a favorite or management and the fanbase if and when he arrives in pro. Turned 23 in May, I think he’ll stay in NCAA for his final year.
- (23) C Chris VandeVelde: Keeps hanging around and if the Oilers have injuries at C this guy might be able to grab a roster spot and spend some real time in the NHL. He’s the only Oiler pick from 2005 who has been in the organization for his entire pro career (Chorney).
- (27) L Kristians Pelss: Had a strong season and then an extended postseason and was rewarded for his solid play with a pro contract. Scored 33 goals in 80 junior games this season, so maybe there’s enough offense after all.
- (16) G Frans Tuohimaa: Played in the SM-Liiga for part of the season and then also played at lower levels. .898SP in the big Finnish league is no screaming hell, the verbal from the Oilers is hopeful but we’re talking about a 7th round pick who was probably taken about where he belonged.
- (21) D Alex Plante: Had a strong AHL season, made the All-Star team and things are looking up for his pro career. The question is: will it be at the NHL level? My guess is no.
Three additions, plus the Nuge, Blain and Ryan Martindale (#20) off the list.