Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, step inside, step inside. The Edmonton Oilers are a prospect factory, kind of the ‘child star’ of the hockey world. Draft pick is secured, hype machine engages, 10 years later Sam Gagner is at LaGuardia, waiting for his luggage and wondering if the guy from the Flyers will be wearing a jacket with a logo. It’s a crime.
LAST SUMMER (2014) TOP 20
- C Leon Draisaitl. MacT pushed him to the NHL, but I think he’s recovered.
- D Darnell Nurse. Strong junior season, ready to turn pro. He’s a man.
- D Martin Marincin. He’s off to Toronto. They’ll teach him English, maybe smile at him.
- D Oscar Klefbom. He’s very good at the hockey. His spot next season isn’t in doubt.
- C Greg Chase. If he works hard this young man is going to be rich.
- C Bogdan Yakimov. Struggled in OKC early but came around later. A good one.
- D Dillon Simpson. Developing in the minors, check back every once in awhile.
- C Mark Arcobello. Passed so many first rounders we all got a little dizzy from watching.
- C Marco Roy. Oilers didn’t sign him. I thought he earned a contract.
- C Jujhar Khaira. He’d can’t post offense. It’s a thing.
- D Martin Gernat: God. If they sent Marincin to Toronto, this guy should read up on Muskegon.
- R Jackson Houck: Houck never progressed, not even a little.
- D William Lagesson. Mobile two-way defenseman is progressing.
- R Tyler Pitlick: He’s Wile E. Coyote. It’s the only answer.
- L Mitch Moroz: A strong final season in junior got him his pro contract and then they didn’t play him.
- D David Musil: The skating issues continue to be a part of the conversation.
- Zach Nagelvoort. Celebrated being Oil draft by losing 20 points on his SP.
- L Anton Slepyshev: Started slow, spiked at New Year’s.
- C Tyler Vesel. Showed some signed of being a player.
- G Laurent Brossoit. Building a solid resume, needs to keep progressing.
TOP 20 PROSPECTS, SUMMER 2015
(Winter ranking in brackets)
- (NR) C Connor McDavid. The franchise. Words are all we have until fall, and we used them all up before the draft. I think he might start the season with Hall and Eberle, perhaps Pouliot and another veteran. If you’re an Oilers winger, that RW job on 97’s line is the ultimate. I like Chiarelli’s comments about tempering expectations, we could all adopt that attitude as we get deeper into this year. Connor McDavid is going to have growing pains, we may want to pump the breaks on Calder trophy talk, 80-point projections and calling the new arena ‘The House of McDavid’. Unnecessary pressure from us isn’t going to help. NHLE: 82GP, 23-40-63.
- (1) C Leon Draisaitl. Remember the days without a big C in the system? Maybe he ends up on LW but the size/skill combination is too good to trade no matter how severe the defensive woes become this fall. I love his passing, he’s a wonderful player. I also think it’s very important to give him credit for recovering his season, helping his team to a championship, and not bitching or sulking. The lesson of the ‘wander years’ of the Oiler 06+, or at least one of them, is you can grossly impact a young prospect by pushing too soon. Leon’s junior time this year was productive, and I think, or hope, vital to his development. NHLE: 82GP, 15-26-41.
- (2) D Darnell Nurse. The Oilers future on blue, it’s just a matter of when he arrives. The big item for Nurse is his speed, he’s a fast train who can recover quickly and pressure opponents into mistakes. I don’t think there’s evidence that he’ll score 40 points a season, but that aside, Nurse does appear to have the full range of skills. The only negative about Nurse in regard to the Oilers is ideally he would be 23 and have three years NHL experience, but for the McDavid cluster he’s absolutely perfect. We have to begin to train our minds this way, it’s going to take awhile after these five long years of Hall as the center of the cluster. NHLE: 82GP, 7-16-23.
- (NR) D Griffin Reinhart. Big defender (6.04, 217) was a dominant junior player, basically neutralizing his part of the ice as an Oil Kings blue (and playing monster minutes each game). His one pro season contained (in his own words) some struggles but that’s not unusual for young defenders. A big part of his game is defensive but he’s not without skill, able to jump into the rush and recover when necessary. He’s going to be part of the Oilers at some point next season, only a matter of time. SpOILer posted a fantastic Megan Richardson item from the 2014 WHL final in regard to Reinhart’s defensive dominance and ability to batten down the hatches against tough competition. Tremendous data collection and insight, please read when you have a chance. NHLE: 82GP, 6-11-17.
- (4) C Bogdan Yakimov. Big C impressed during TC, then struggled offensively for long stretches. It took time for him to find his way in OKC, but when he finally settled in the results started to roll in. He hit his stride in final 13 AHL games (6-6-12) before losing his season to injury. His exceptional size (6.05, 232) and physical presence (he’s a load) mean he could be effective if there’s even a little offense. I like the way Edmonton is handling him, absolutely no hurry, let him play another full season in the AHL, then review. NHLE: 82GP, 10-13-23.
- (5) W Iiro Pakarinen. 6.01, 205 winger with grit and skill. He came into the organization and passed damn near everybody, eventually finding his way to the NHL before injuries derailed his season a little. Pakarinen can play either wing, has good speed and has decent hands. He’s in a good spot entering training camp and should get a long look (depending on what Edmonton does with their forward roster in free agency). I think he has a real chance here. NHLE: 82GP, 16-11-27.
- (9) C Kyle Platzer. One of my favorite prospects in the system, he was behind pretty much everyone in London on his draft day but worked his way into a feature role. He emerged as a genuine NHL prospect in his final junior year. Platzer has skill in abundance, but before he blossomed the young man’s reputation was as a two-way type. He was a plug-and-play who got ice time because of his ability to step into any role and the added offense means he can shine higher in the order. Good arrows here. NHLE: 82GP, 12-17-29.
- (6) C-R Greg Chase. Gritty forward with offensive ability. Agitator of the first degree. Chase remains unique on the Oilers prospect list, a fiery player with skill and attitude, willing to give no quarter and likely to initiate trouble. That has value, and if he can do it without costing his team too many penalties, I think Chase will be successful in the AHL and (eventually) the NHL. He can play center but I bet he ends up on the wing as a pro. I know he doesn’t have the draft pedigree of these others, but don’t underestimate him. NHLE: 82GP, 8-16-24.
- (17) L Anton Slepyshev. It is so difficult to project prospects who play in Euro major leagues. Slepyshev scored 15 goals in a tough damn league playing 12:26 a night, that’s a substantial player (especially at 20). Began the KHL season 39GP 5-7-12, then posted 19GP, 10-3-13 to end the year. I have him behind Yakimov based on my reading of his play away from the puck, seems to me he may be a bit of an adventure and may take some time to develop that side of the game. He could arrive quickly, we should be prepared for Slepyshev to be one of the feature stories of TC, maybe he gets some rookie games alongside McDavid. NHLE: 82GP, 17-11-28.
- (NR) D Ethan Bear. Early this season, I made a list of CHL defensemen who were showing up often in conversation about the 2015 draft. Bear impressed me as a guy who clicked off all of the boxes: Good skater, makes pinpoint passes, makes good decisions, calm feet, built like a tank (5.11, 200) and can hit hard. Bear didn’t get a lot of ink during the year but posted good numbers and what little was written about him was positive. I don’t know if the ‘saw him good’ crowd or the math people (or both) recommended him but am pleased to see the Oilers grabbed him at a fantastic number. Cody Nickolet wrote a thorough and insightful item on him here. NHLE: 82GP, 5-9-14.
- (16) G Laurent Brossoit. One of the best stories out of OKC last season, Brossoit’s numbers (.918SP) suggest an actual goalie prospect on the horizon. One of my favorite moments of the season came in his NHL debut, and the young man did not disappoint (although his team did). Edmonton’s goalie situation remains fluid despite the acquisition of Cam Talbot yesterday, so it behooves the young man to keep working hard and to post an even better season in 2015-16. He’ll be in Bakersfield, but don’t count out a recall if things go wacky again in Edmonton.
- (14) D Joey Laleggia. Quality offensive defenseman at the NCAA level, the downside is size (5.09, 182) and the upside is a splendid puck-moving defenseman. The Oilers have a few in the system (Justin Schultz, Brad Hunt) and the level and degree of ability varies. As the Oilers aren’t going to employ many of this type at one time, it’s important that Laleggia shows he can play defense while also posting crooked numbers on the scoreboard. I don’t know how much PP time he’ll get in Bakersfield but he’s a pro now and we can see him on a level playing field with Hunt—who is an impact player at that level. His equivalency is eye popping. NHLE: 82GP, 14-23-37.
- (8) D Dillon Simpson. The jump from college to pro was a big challenge early for the young defender, but he found his way as the season rolled along. Simpson suffers from the same malady (imo) as Reinhart—the adjustment for defensemen college/junior to pro is substantial and takes time—but the one thing I know about this young man from observing his career is he works hard and makes progress. Like Yakimov, I think the Oilers would be best to leave him in Bakersfield for one more full season. NHLE: 82GP, 2-9-11.
- (NR) G Eetu Laurikainen. I’m not absolutely certain the advanced math people are getting through to management on draft day, but if they had any input on this player then they’re earning their keep. A .933SP in any league is exceptional, in fact if the kid playing street hockey outside your house is at .933, sign the man! I’ve spoken to a few people about his junior time and he impressed when he was in the dub. Cody Nickolet: Extremely athletic and doesn’t quit on a puck, great glove. Source.
- (29) R Andrew Miller. Season over season progress in the AHL (34 points in year one, 60 in year two) indicates the period of adjustment is over and he may be ready for a higher league. Looked like he belonged in an NHL audition, scored his first goal on a penalty shot. Reminds many of Mark Arcobello and may win a utility role in 2015-16. NHLE: 82GP, 16-19-35.
- (22) D Jordan Oesterle. I’ve absolutely bought in on Oesterle after seeing him at the NHL level. He’s fast! You have to respect a player with wheels and in Oesterle’s case there’s a substantial amount of good information on the resume. An offensive D who can move the puck up smartly has extreme value in this ara. Oesterle could be an NHL player by this time next season. NHLE: 82GP, 6-12-18.
- (NR) D Caleb Jones. A mobile defender with a reputation for being a very good passer (seemed to be a theme in this year’s draft). Looking at the team stats I doubt he got much power play time (1 assist) so it’ll be interesting to see if the boxcars spike as he moves to the WHL for the coming season. 6.0, 194, can skate well and thinks the game well based on scouting reports (ISS has a nice profile on the young man). Seth’s brother, I like the pick, we need to adjust for TOI and role when looking at the equivalency. NHLE: 82GP, 2-5-7.
- (7) C Jujhar Khaira. If he could only score a little more, Khaira would be much higher on this list. The Oilers have drafted so many players his size (6.03, 214) who have one flaw or another. We identify the flaw early, watch the player progress, stall and then get flushed out of the league. Travis Ewanyk is a recent example (sent away yesterday, didn’t get reported much). NHLE: 82GP, 4-5-9.
- (10) R Tyler Pitlick. He’s the ultimate recent example of a guy who always looks like a player but the results don’t follow. Injuries have derailed him, I think he may need a second organization. There’s always a chance, the new coach coming in might like what he brings. It would be so easy for the organization to walk away, suspect that’s what they’ll do. NHLE: 82GP, 8-16-24.
- (15) D William Lagesson. Physical defenseman with a reputation for being solid in coverage. It’s so hard to quantify his progress but I believe (based on reports) he had a good season and is progressing. We’ll get a better idea on him as he plays in college, there was some buzz about him moving to that level, always a good sign. Years away. NHLE: 82GP, 1-6-7.
- (NR) D Ziyat Paigin. Huge Russian (6.06, 209) played in the KHL as a teenager and that has to be respected. He’s a mountain, that’s going to be his calling card should he make the NHL. This is the ultimate boom/bust selection but they took him late and for me Paigin’s presence in the KHL (he played 33 games, 9 minutes a night) gets him here. ISS likes his defensive coverage. NHLE: 82GP, 2-2-4.
Paigin is No. 21, but will move to No. 20 if Pitlick leaves the organization. I included him here because he’s an interesting player worthy of discussion. I’ll have more (including a re-draft using my list, a look at those ‘math’ kids and where they went and a fantastic item from Supernova you’ll want to read) on the draft, but we’ll also be moving on to free agency and roster makeup in the coming days. Thanks so much for dropping by during the draft season, this was fun!