In some years, it’s easy to pick the minor league rookie of the year. Charlie Huddy was No. 1 in 1979-80 and since then the minor league system has been supplying useful talent (honest!) every year. This year a clear No. 1 emerged and won the day.
- G Laurent Brossoit 49GP, .916 2.65. Easily the class of the group, Brossoit is the best goalie prospect in the Oilers system since Devan Dubnyk (who was a quality prospect).
- C Bogdan Yakimov, 57GP, 12-16-28. The giant Russian showed well in TC then headed to Oklahoma. It took some time, and his season was interrupted by injury, but the future looks bright. His .491 point-per-game total isn’t a strong number for a rookie in the AHL.
- D Jordan Oesterle, 61GP, 7-16-23. Puck-moving college defender is a little older (22) than some of these other kids and has some chaos in his game. He did get a recall to the NHL as a rookie pro.
- D Dillon Simpson, 66GP, 2-14-16. Simpson is a rookie pro (despite being just two months younger than David Musil) but improved as the season wore along. He should move up the depth chart next season, as he did each year in college at UND.
- L Joshua Winquist, 41GP, 8-10-18. Perhaps the most fascinating of the group, he’s not technically an Oilers prospect but may be signed before next season. A late-season run (10GP, 3-5-8) suggests he may be adjusting to the speed of the AHL game.
- C Jujhar Khaira 51GP, 4-6-10. Along with Yakimov, Khaira impressed everyone with size, speed and skill in training camp. Unlike Bogdan, the offense didn’t come in the AHL and he’ll need to improve production in year two.
- L Kellen Jones, 44GP, 5-9-14. Small two-way winger impressed the hell out of everyone this year as a penalty killer. He’s a long shot for NHL employment but a bona fide AHL player.
- L Mitch Moroz 61GP, 5-3-8. Big winger was used sparingly at times this season but injuries in the second half forced the team to play him more. Three of his five goals came in the last 10 games after the first 50 games saw a lot of running in place.
- C Connor Jones 36GP, 4-4-8. Like his brother, a PK demon based on reports. A little shy of his brother offensively, at least this season.
The best AHL rookie doesn’t guarantee long term NHL success, but Brossoit and Yakimov are off to solid starts. A quick note: Brossoit qualifies as a rookie, Iiro Pakarinen does not. It’s a strange reflection of the NA rules in regard to European pro’s, one I don’t always observe. In this case, I would still select Brossoit but wanted to mention Pakarinen as part of the overall group.
- R Iiro Pakarinen 39GP, 17-11-28. Rugged Finnish winger with abundant skill, he’s an absolute pleasure to watch. Injuries derailed his season and are a concern but he looks bona fide based on his first NA season.