We can talk ourselves into circles about expectations—reasonable or otherwise—for next season, but the truth is right there in the numbers. The Edmonton Oilers are going to have a helluva time keeping Leon and Darnell on the farm, and Connor, well, Connor goes right to the front of the line. How do we know? NHLE’s tell us so.
- Connor McDavid 82GP, 23-40-63
- Leon Draisaitl 82GP, 15-26-41
- Darnell Nurse 82GP, 7-16-23
McDavid’s rookie season will be one to remember, I cannot wait one more instant to see it. Leon isn’t better than McDavid or the Nuge, but he should have zero problem beating out Matt Fraser, Iiro Pakarinen and the others who will by vying for that 3L role on the team.
We’ll see. Todd McLellan is going to see Darnell Nurse in training camp, march into Chiarelli’s office and lobby hard to keep him. I believe that, today. If things change in terms of procurement, it could be a different story by September. Suspect it’s going to be an interesting conversation.
AHL VETERANS LOOKING FOR AN OPPORTUNITY
- R Andrew Miller 82GP, 15-20-35
- D Brad Hunt 82GP, 11-19-30
- D Brandon Davidson 82GP, 3-4-7
This is an important area for the Oilers. Miller and Hunt can play with skill and are very inexpensive. As time passes and the dollars pile up for the McDavid cluster, men like this will become very valuable. Davidson is a useful depth player who can step in as needed—he looked solid in his NHL time and may end up as this generation’s Scott Ferguson.
- L Anton Slepyshev 82GP, 17-11-28
- R Iiro Pakarinen 82GP, 16-10-26
- C Bogdan Yakimov 82GP, 10-13-23
- D Jordan Oesterle 82GP, 5-9-14
If I’m picking four Condors who may see extended NHL time in 2015-16 (aside from Leon and Darnell), this is the group. Slepyshev will have a shot at the 3L job I’ve given Draisaitl, and Pakarinen’s grit plus Yakimov’s size are going to get the attention of McLellan and Chiarelli. There’s a chance McLellan walks into Chiarelli’s office on behalf of Nurse AND Yakimov. Oesterle is a puck-moving defender who may end up with an NHL career. There are opportunities knocking, especially this season if Chiarelli can’t address the holes with proven talent.
PROSPECTS WHO NEED TIME
- D Joey Laleggia 82GP, 14-23-37
- C-R Kyle Platzer 82GP, 12-17-29
- C-R Greg Chase 82GP, 8-16-24
- L Josh Winquist 82GP, 8-11-19 (not signed)
- L Kale Kessy 82GP, 8-8-16
- D Ben Betker 82GP, 2-10-12
- D Dillon Simpson 82GP, 2-9-11
- D David Musil 82GP, 1-7-8
This is the group I’ll be cheering like hell for, the Larry Mavety’s. Now, there’s talent here but Mavety had talent too and never did play an NHL game. I’m going to say only Winquist (who I like and they should sign) and Kessy (who had a helluva TC) are true long shots to play in an NHL game (Musil has already been there). Laleggia’s numbers are smoking, and both Platzer/Chase have a story to tell. I’ve listed the three blue at the end because, despite progress this season, they do in fact need time.
PROSPECTS WHO NEED ANOTHER GEAR
- C Jujhar Khaira 82GP, 4-5-9
- L Mitch Moroz 82GP, 3-3-6
- C Travis Ewanyk 82GP, 2-3-5
The Oilers will tell you that Khaira has size and toughness and that’s true but he has to hit more than he did this past season. Ewanyk isn’t going to make the grade I’m afraid, and Moroz didn’t get enough at-bats to draw any other conclusion. Extreme long shots, these.
- D Martin Gernat 82GP, 1-7-8
I don’t know what the hell happened. Saw him in Edmonton (and I know that’s junior hockey) and he seemed to be progressing well. I spoke to a scout about him a few years back and he told me the offense wouldn’t come but that he liked his size and mobility. Oilers have soured on him, that’s for sure. I remain uncertain if Gernat is the problem or the Oilers are the issue. Either way, Gernat’s in trouble.