The Oilers under Peter Chiarelli will have a different look and feel, one of the first areas we’ll notice is the prospect pile. No matter what anyone says, Chiarelli didn’t draft Bogdan Yakimov and that’s a thing. Such is life. As we get closer to draft day, it’s important to take stock of the prospect group and find the range for tradeable assets. We’ve been all over the draft picks and their value (especially No. 16 and No. 33) but is there anything of value Chiarelli could use down on the farm or in junior, college or Minsk?
Since we’re in that window where Oiler news isn’t flowing (!!!!), I’ve decided to update the current top 20. I would ordinarily do this in the week before draft day (and then slot in the picks) but I finished it last week so might as well share.
UPDATED TOP 20, SPRING 2015 (PRE-DRAFT)
(Winter ranking in brackets, comments around trade value and wisdom of using them as assets).
- (1) C Leon Draisaitl. A strange year but he’s shown a lot since getting sent back to junior. Idiotic decision to keep him in the NHL aside, it’s been a good year for the German. Interesting to hear the Habs moan about not being able to find a big center. I know Chiarelli needs assets to acquire help, but he can’t trade LD. He’s a keeper.
- (2) D Darnell Nurse. The Oilers future on blue, it’s just a matter of when he arrives. My guess is early—EARLY—in the season. Big, strong, mobile and he’s got a mean streak. He’ll be a star in Edmonton for a long, long time. He’s a keeper.
- (4) C Bogdan Yakimov. Big center impressed like crazy during training camp and early in pre-season but he was struggling to post crooked numbers in the AHL at the start (9GP, 1-1-2). After that, it was 48GP, 11-15-26 and he hit his stride in the final 13 games (6-6-12) before injury ended his year. MacT wouldn’t trade him ever, I expect, but Chiarelli may find that teams are interested. Remember who drafted him.
- (5) W Iiro Pakarinen. Underrated signing by MacT, he showed extremely well in both pro leagues. On his first goal in the NHL: “I don’t even remember. I was a little bit shocked. It was so fast of a situation. I jumped on the ice and the rebound was there and I tried to shoot as hard as I can.” Source He is absolutely expendable but hasn’t built enough value to be considered a cashable asset. He could also catch on with the Oilers and play five years here.
- (6) R Greg Chase. Gritty forward who had a strange start to the season in Calgary and ended up getting traded to better weather because of it. Began the season 15GP, 2-13-15, then finished 36GP, 18-16-34. He’s an excellent pro prospect, there are things to learn and he’ll get that chance in OKC. We should be patient with him and set his time line at three minor league seasons. If he beats it? Music! Doesn’t have high trade value at this point, that’s going to be decided in the future.
- (9) C Kyle Platzer. Emerged as a genuine NHL prospect in his final junior year. Began the season 24GP 9-20-29, then went 44GP, 25-27-52, before posting three points in four AHL games at the end of the regular season. This is from a player who had a two-way reputation on draft day. Very important not to overreact to a final junior season, but he appears to be a really good prospect. Like Chase, he will build his resume and the trade value would be low at this time.
- (16) G Laurent Brossoit. Tremendous step forward in one season, his .918SP in OKC included some wonderful performances. His NHL debut was splendid, a .961 SP in front of a tough support blue. He’s still developing but after two AHL seasons Brossoit appears to be on track as a future NHL option. The Oilers are razor thin in net so he’s not tradeable, but the value doesn’t warrant a deal either. Still writing his resume, but this season pops off the page.
- (17) L Anton Slepyshev. A big development season for the scoring winger. Began the KHL season 39GP 5-7-12, then posted 19GP, 10-3-13 and forced his way up the depth chart. There were rumors he was going to sign with Edmonton a couple of weeks ago, but Chiarelli may have different ideas about him. As with Yakimov, Chiarelli may find teams are interested. Remember who drafted him.
- (14) D Joey Laleggia. Quality offensive defenseman at the NCAA level, he was 14GP, 6-6-12 to start at Denver and then finished 23GP, 9-19-28. He’s an exciting talent, people say he can play defense and now we’ll see. Remains a long shot but the truth is he was a long shot to get a pro contract and we are here. Doesn’t have established trade value.
- (11) C Marco Roy. Two-way center on a deep team, Roy had posted strong numbers (22GP, 15-10-25) early and closed 37GP, 11-14-25, a downward trend. He recovered in the playoffs but was injured after a fine start. Guy Flaming of the Pipeline Show tweeted out last night about Roy: “he’s back skating and SHOULD be cleared to play in Memorial Cup.” Unsigned, but he might have some value in a trade for a team looking to add a prospect center so Chiarelli may find teams are interested although the return would not be significant. I’m hopeful the Oilers sign Roy, although his career looks eerily similar to Marc Pouliot’s.
- (NR) G Eetu Laurikainen. This signing was badly needed and Laurikainen’s immediate ranking reflects the low (current) quality of the prospect stable. It’s a legit ranking, a .933SP in any league is eye-popping, and the SM-Liiga is a good pro league. We’ll have to see, and he won’t have trade value yet, but this was a nice signing. I wonder if the analytics guys were helpful in this add, seems to me a math whiz would have a hard time finding a free agent goalie from a good league with a better ‘previous employmer’ reference.
- (7) C Jujhar Khaira. The concern for Khaira (and many of the Oilers forwards who have size) is offense and that continues to be a distant bell at this time. Began the year 13GP, 1-2-3 and then finished 38GP, 3-4-7. In the playoffs, Khaira is 3-1-4 in 6GP but we need to invoke the small sample size clause. Doesn’t have established trade value.
- (8) D Dillon Simpson. Offense will never be his calling card, he began 20GP, 2-3-5 and then went 51GP, 1-11-12 to close the season. His progress based on anecdotal evidence suggests this season has been uneven, but he is one of five Barons defensemen who have played in all eight playoff games this spring. Building trade value.
- (29) R Andrew Miler. Sign. College. Players. A really good season has Miller in position to have an NHL career. Seriously. Massive spike in performance year over year in the AHL was followed by a very effective 9-game stint in the NHL. He should be in the mix this fall and the new coach could take a liking to a forward who does a lot of things right, has speed and can play with skilled men. Low trade value, still building.
- (10) R Tyler Pitlick. He went 17GP, 2-0-2 in his second NHL season, but injuries have derailed him. The Oilers under MacTavish gave his job to Rob Klinkhammer for next season (when signing him to a contract). He may get another chance this fall, but (ahem) remember who drafted him. Pitlick is now a complete orphan, with the men in power at this time of his draft (Tambellini, MacGregor) outside the decision room. There’s a chance Chiarelli may find teams are interested although the return may not be much.
- (15) D William Lagesson. Interesting defender with a reputation for physical play and coverage skills began the season with an offensive surge. He was 25GP, 1-11-12, then went 27GP, 1-3-4 to end the season. He is one of a few ‘physical’ shut down prospects in the system and has the size/speed combination to succeed. No significant trade value at this time.
- (21) D Brandon Davidson. Slow and steady wins the race. I was surprised to see him perform so well when he got an NHL chance, faster, more mobile and more efficient than you’d expect from a first time callup. It is vitally important we don’t project Davidson where he doesn’t belong—he is going to be a depth defenseman if he has an NHL career—but it’s also true that three pro seasons into his career Davidson has passed a few higher picks. Low trade value, all NHL teams have players of this type.
- (22) D Jordan Oesterle. Sign. College. Players. I don’t know if he’s going to be an NHL player but he’s a fast train. Oesterle has some gaps defensively, we saw them at the NHL level. Still, great bet. He played well in the AHL, moving up the depth chart during the season and playing a feature role in the playoffs. A prospect to follow next season. Low trade value, still building.
- (36) L Josh Winquist. I’m not sure they’re going to sign him to an NHL contract, but I sure as hell would do it. If you’ve ‘seen him good’ down in OKC then you know he can be a tremendously effective player at that level. Smart player, really good at finding seams and making the right play. No trade value at all, but I’m a fan.
- (20) D Brad Hunt. There’s just too much here. I know he’s chaotic defensively in the NHL and hell Hunt may never have a career in the big leagues, but the AHL is a helluva league and he’s crazy good there. I’d absolutely keep him in the system and see if the new coach can find a role for him, hell McLellan might make him a PP God for all we know. Chiarelli may find teams are interested because what he does well is very difficult to accomplish.
There isn’t much in terms of trade value here, at least not much Chiarelli can trade without badly hurting Edmonton’s future up the middle. I count Bogdan Yakimov, Anton Slepyshev, Marco Roy, Tyler Pitlick and Brad Hunt as holding some value, with only the two Russians being significant assets. I do think an NHL team may come calling for Yakimov in trade and that Chiarelli—looking at a future depth chart of McDavid, Nuge and Leon—might be open to dealing him.
A quick note on the list: With so many (10) selections in a deep draft, there’s a good chance the last four or five names here won’t appear on the list I produce the morning after the draft is over. It’s interesting then to look at these players and their progress over the last year. Josh Winquist, Jordan Oesterle and others are nice stories, and despite being well down the prospect list it’s important to acknowledge a strong season.
- No. 21: D Ben Betker.
- No. 22: L Curtis Hamilton
- No. 23: L Mitch Moroz
- No. 24: D David Musil
- No. 25: D Martin Gernat
- No. 26: F Tyler Vesel
- No. 27: R Jackson Houck
- No. 28: G Zach Nagelvoort
- No. 29: F Kellen Jones
- No. 30: L Kale Kessy