PERFORMANCES BY 20-YEAR OLD FORWARDS (OILERS EDITION)

Over the last two decades, the Oilers have had many forward prospects arrive at the pro level (age 20) and fail miserably in their efforts to make it to the show. Of those who did make an NHL impact, most are fringe players, enforcers or a combination of same. One of my pet peeves about the Oilers is their galling tendency to slow play the new arrivals, easing them in during a time when development is key. It’s a Denver boot and one hopes Peter Chiarelli fixes this down the line. Here’s a look at the Oilers forward prospects who played their first pro season at 20 and how their careers rolled out. One note: It’s difficult to compare era to era, so take these rankings (point-per-game is represented here by ppg—it does not represent power-play goal) with a grain of salt.

  1. Michel Riesen (99-00 Hamilton Bulldogs). 73gp, 29-31-60 .822ppg Riesen’s quality AHL season at 20 is somewhat misleading in that it was his second year in the league. He played well no matter the circumstance, so well that his entire line (Swanson-Riesen-Cleary) won jobs in the fall of 2000 on the big club. His 99-00 AHL season and the pre-season in fall 2000 represent the highlight of his NHL career (plus the 12 games he actually got into 00-01).
  2. Steve Kelly (96-97 Hamilton Bulldogs). 48gp, 9-29-38 .792ppg Kelly was a speed demon who the Oilers liked a “hair” more than Shane Doan at the draft in 1995. His pro debut wasn’t Doan-like (Doan had played over 130 NHL games by the spring of 1997) but he held his value better than did Bonsignore and ended up having a better (if hugely disappointing) NHL career.
  3. Rob Schremp (06-07 SWB Penguins) 69gp, 17-36-53 .768ppg Schremp had a tough first year pro, getting benched a few times and was a healthy scratch a few times too. His coach did have some nice things to say about him but he was always dogged by skating and coverage issues.
  4. Magnus Paajarvi (11-12 Oklahoma City Barons) 34gp, 7-18-25 .735ppg Paajarvi played in the NHL at 19, so this is kind of cheating (so is Riesen, the Euro’s have different rules). I like this player a great deal, great speed and an attention to the defensive game not often seen in such a young player.
  5. Jarret Stoll (02-03 Hamilton Bulldogs) 76gp, 21-33-54 .711ppg The two things I remember about Stoll in the AHL are a goal he scored maybe 5 seconds after the faceoff at center-ice and that the “shared” Habs/Oil team that year was a beauty. Stoll played with really good players and had an excellent season, which he built upon to become a solid NHL player.
  6. Marc Pouliot (05-06 Hamilton Bulldogs) 65gp, 15-30-45 .692ppg Pouliot played on a shared team (like Stoll) and put up excellent results. Of all the kids who’ve played extended AHL time this century for the Oilers, he’s the guy who I thought could have helped them in the two-way role. It never happened for him and there’s some evidence it was the player.
  7. Jason Bonsignore (96-97 Hamilton Bulldogs). 78gp, 21-33-54 .692ppg Bonsignore’s career has been well documented and his 20-year old AHL season placed in context (he was the 4th player chosen two years previous and 96-97 was the year Ryan Smyth popped 39 goals in the show) was a pretty good predictor of his future.
  8. Peter Sarno (99-00 Hamilton Bulldogs). 67gp 10-36-46 .687ppg Sarno was an interesting prospect who ended up with 7 career NHL games for two different teams (Oilers and Columbus). He gained a solid reputation as a powerplay specialist and got a couple of long looks from the Oilers.
  9. Jean Francois Jacques (05-06 Hamilton Bulldogs) 65gp, 24-20-44 .677ppg Jacques had a helluva pro debut and his size and speed made him a promising prospect. He lost a lot of momentum due to back injuries and may have lacked ‘hockey sense’.
  10. Teemu Hartikainen (10-11 Oklahoma City Barons) 66gp, 17-25-42 .636ppg The big Finn was a pure delight and the first 20-year old AHL forward in a couple of years to show up on the radar. He was a little shy on speed but I loved his hands and spirit. Toronto property now, he’s in the KHL.
  11. Kyle Brodziak (04-05 Edmonton Roadrunners) 56gp, 6-26-32 .571. Brodziak has a nice combination of size and skill. His AHL debut at 20 came on a very poor offensive team, and he built on this season (that team couldn’t score a lick), finally emerging as a legit NHL player about the time Edmonton traded him. He remains an NHL regular.
  12. Jani Rita (01-02 Hamilton Bulldogs) 76gp, 25-17-42 .553ppg I thought Jani Rita would make it, swear to God. I remember at WJC goal he scored (it was real, and it was spectacular) and also saw a few AHL games in which he always looked like he was having an impact (plus he could score goals, 63 in 204 AHL games). He never made it, but that first AHL season would have to rank as one of the best on this list.
  13. Slava Trukhno (07-08 Springfield Falcons) 64GP, 14-21-35 .547ppg. I loved his passing, Trukhno could really find the lane. He had a nice debut but was a bit of wide body skater and I don’t think Edmonton had a tremendous need for a slower skill LW at the time. Still playing in Sweden.
  14. Bogdan Yakimov (14-15 Oklahoma City Barons) 57gp, 12-16-28 .491 ppg This is a more impressive season than it looks here, Yakimov’s offense comes in a more defensive era than some of the numbers above him. Big man has a range of skills and a nice future (we hope).
  15. Georges Laraque (96-97 Hamilton Bulldogs). 73gp, 14-20-34 .466ppg Laraque is the only one of the three 20-year old AHL prospects in 96-97 to become an NHL player and contribute to his team’s wins. Laraque’s ppg total in the AHL indicated he was marginal offensively (plus it’s extremely unlikely he saw the PP or many skill linemates) but he was an enforcer of some quality and in that role had a good NHL career.
  16. Josh Winquist (14-15 Oklahoma City Barons) 46gp, 8-11-19 .413ppg. Interesting that the young man who still doesn’t have an NHL contract surpassed several pretty high draft picks at 20.
  17. Phil Cornet (10-11 Oklahoma City Barons) 60gp, 7-16-23 .383ppg. He looked like a tweener from the start, I always liked his spirit. Made it to the NHL for two games and at 25 he’s in the AHL.
  18. Tyler Pitlick (11-12 Oklahoma City Barons) 62gp, 7-16-23 .371ppg. He scored pretty well in his WHL season, at many of the goals at even strength. The Oilers slow played his AHL rookie year and he got hurt too, those injuries impacting his pro career through today. It’s also important to note the lack of offense, that’s had an impact of its own.
  19. Jason Chimera (99-00 Hamilton Bulldogs). 78gp, 15-13-28 .359ppg Chimera is best known among Oilers fans as being the guy Kevin Lowe would talk up every summer as being a lock for the roster only to be sent out each fall by Craig MacTavish. To this day he rarely passes on a chance to dig at the Oilers. Chimera was a speed demon with size and an energy player as a rookie pro, and built it into a very good NHL career.
  20. Ryan Martindale (12-13 Oklahoma City Barons). 41gp, 6-8-14 .341 He showed well in a couple training camps, you could see the size being an advantage and he could pass the puck. It never found its way to the regular season, not enough anyway.
  21. Dan Lacouture (97-98 Hamilton Bulldogs). 77gp, 15-10-25 .325ppg Lacouture was a big kid with speed when he arrived in pro hockey. I remember him scoring a goal scorers goal against Boston (probably fall 2000) as he came in over the blueline and ripped a beauty by the goalie. Lacouture learned how to stay in the NHL after a time as a role player and played at least as long as his talent merited.
  22. Curtis Hamilton (11-12 Oklahoma City Barons). 41gp, 5-6-11 .268ppg. A wildly disappointing pro debut based on his final junior season, Hamilton never did get untracked during his entry level deal. Improved in year four and made it to the NHL but more was expected.
  23. Jujhar Khaira (14-15 Oklahoma City Barons) 51gp, 4-6-10 .196ppg. He’s well regarded and does a lot of good things, but the offense is badly wanting and Edmonton may have used this pick on a guy whose bat won’t get him out of the minors. Hopefully he sees more ice next season.
  24. Travis Ewanyk (13-14 Oklahoma City Barons) 68gp, 7-5-12 .176ppg. Ewanyk had a lot of nice things but the offense in junior suggested this would happen. Ottawa dealt for him, hope he does well there.
  25. Zack Stortini (05-06 Iowa/Milwaukee) 64gp, 2-8-10 .156ppg Low event offensive player also slowed down the other side a little, but not on BG’s level. Got all he could out of his career and should be remembered as a guy MacT played over many more talented kids.
  26. Mitch Moroz (14-15 Oklahoma City Barons) 66gp, 5-4-9 .136ppg. Big man came off injury at the end of the Memorial Cup and then had some issues in the AHL, among them ice time. Moroz, in many ways, is about to begin his pro career having done the Oilers ‘red-shirt’ penalty that continues to baffle.
  27. Kale Kessy (13-14 Oklahoma City Barons) 54gp, 2-4-6 .111ppg This is some nasty offense but he improved in year two. Kessy’s offense is (based on this informal look) the least impressive over the last 19 years among Oilers F prospects.

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35 Responses to "PERFORMANCES BY 20-YEAR OLD FORWARDS (OILERS EDITION)"

  1. Woodguy says:

    Good thing Williams, Ford and R. Hamilton got all the important at bats last year.

    Showing the kids how win eh!

    They really have to stop doing that.

  2. Woodguy says:

    Good developmental ages at the top of the Bulldogs scoring in 01/02

    http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/leagues/seasons/teams/0007912002.html

    Just Brown and Swanson on the wrong side of 24

  3. Lowetide says:

    Woodguy:
    Good thing Williams, Ford and R. Hamilton got all the important at bats last year.

    Showing the kids how win eh!

    They really have to stop doing that.

    Yep. The last six guys on the list are injured/slow played Barons and Zack Stortini who played at 20 when EDM was just trying to give away their players and no one gave a shit about any of our prospects. Fuck!

  4. John Chambers says:

    Woodguy:
    Good thing Williams, Ford and R. Hamilton got all the important at bats last year.

    Showing the kids how win eh!

    They really have to stop doing that.

    Yes unfortunately Brad Hunt will get the lions share of the pp time on the blue that we won’t know enough about Oesterle, Gernat, and possibly Laleggia or Reinhart’s abilities in that discipline.

  5. RexLibris says:

    Would Brad Hunt not have to clear waivers if he come to Oilers’ camp?

    “so you’re saying there’s a chance!”

  6. fifthcartel says:

    Brad Hunt is going to get 30 points playing on Las Vegas’ powerplay.

  7. Lowetide says:

    CHL Oilers ‏@junior_oilers 5m5 minutes ago

    Sep 6 – Ethan Bear (SEA) had 1 assist and was +1 with 0 PIM vs Spokane in pre-season. SPO 2 – SEA 5

  8. frjohnk says:

    From a historical context of just looking at the numbers, one could make the argument that none of the 20 year olds who played with the Barons the last two seasons will have much of an impact with the big club ever.

    But digging a bit deeper and looking at Yak2 after Lander and we may have a good depth player there.

    As for the others, it’s a catch 22 situation. They need to be better to get more at bats, but they need more at bats to get better. For these guys the arrows are not pointing the way we would like but it’s still early enough for them to make up serious ground.

  9. RexLibris says:

    Lowetide:
    CHL Oilers ‏@junior_oilers 5m5 minutes ago

    Sep 6 – Ethan Bear (SEA) had 1 assist and was +1 with 0 PIM vs Spokane in pre-season. SPO 2 – SEA 5

    Falling off his 2.0ppg pace.

    Bust.

  10. Lowetide says:

    RexLibris: Falling off his 2.0ppg pace.

    Bust.

    Lollygagger!!!

  11. RexLibris says:

    frjohnk:
    From a historical context of just looking at the numbers, one could make the argument that none of the 20 year olds who played with the Barons the last two seasons will have much of an impact with the big club ever.

    But digging a bit deeper and looking at Yak2 after Lander and we may have a good depth player there.

    As for the others, it’s a catch 22 situation. They need to be better to get more at bats, but they need more at bats to get better. For these guys the arrows are not pointing the way we would like but it’s still early enough for them to make up serious ground.

    A good organization would give them the at-bats to make them better, eschewing immediate results for long-term development.

    This is why I’ve always found fans crowing about a Calder-winning AHL squad to be intriguing. If the roster is packed with drafted-and-developed players, the more power to you.

    If it is full of AHL veterans and late-20s projects, then it likely isn’t of any real benefit to the NHL organization.

  12. RexLibris says:

    Lowetide: Lollygagger!!!

    Meh, that name is taken.

    How about loafer or footdragger? I’m not a fan of either, but by the start of the regular season I’ll try to have something ready.

  13. RexLibris says:

    Lowetide,

    Nope.

    Can’t beat lollygagging.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnIaqAsnSxU

  14. Bruce McCurdy says:

    I’m going to run this up the flagpole again to see if anyone salutes:

    PPG = powerplay goal
    P/G = points per game

    “/” means “per” in every other context, e.g. “/60” so is a logically consistent form while also circumventing the double meaning of PPG.

    I was old school myself for a lot of years but since I switched to P/G I have become a happier man.

  15. G Money says:

    Bruce McCurdy,

    Agreed. In fact, I think we should propose hockey stats abbreviations in an ISO standard.

    Also, this: http://xkcd.com/1179/

  16. Lowetide says:

    What I find interesting about this list: No. 5, No. 11 and No. 19 are the most successful players (so far). They share a range of skills, learned from the beginning to NHL status and ground their skills into something useful. Role players are the end product of the AHL. Rob Schremp’s need not apply and Marc Pouliot you’re a dummy.

  17. RexLibris says:

    G Money:
    Bruce McCurdy,

    Agreed.In fact, I think we should propose hockey stats abbreviations in an ISO standard.

    Also, this: http://xkcd.com/1179/

    I don’t always click on the links, but when I do…

    Have you read his What If? book? Great read.

  18. RexLibris says:

    Bruce McCurdy:
    I’m going to run this up the flagpole again to see if anyone salutes:

    PPG = powerplay goal
    P/G = points per game

    “/” means “per” in every other context, e.g. “/60” so is a logically consistent form while also circumventing the double meaning of PPG.

    I was old school myself for a lot of years but since I switched to P/G I have become a happier man.

    I rarely discuss 5v4 scoring because, as we both know too well, the refs do to the Oilers what the drive-thru does to Joe Pesci.

    That being said, I’ve deferred to the ppg acronym because of all the stats I’ve pulled from Elite Prospects but would welcome using p/g instead. The only problem it raises is in small-text formats such as this one where the / could be mistaken for an i and then we’d be wondering if regression to the meat was distinctly correlated only to pork products or whether it applied also to red meats and other whites.

  19. RexLibris says:

    Lowetide:
    What I find interesting about this list: No. 5, No. 11 and No. 19 are the most successful players (so far). They share a range of skills, learned from the beginning to NHL status and ground their skills into something useful. Role players are the end product of the AHL. Rob Schremp’s need not apply and Marc Pouliot you’re a dummy.

    I’d have added Laraque in there as well.

    Has anyone gone back to see what his possession numbers were like? My memory, duplicitous wench that it can be, seems to recall he being one of the best cycling forwards in the league during his prime and he was often a genuine threat to create a scoring chance when he was on the ice due to his size and ability to draw penalties down low.

    I remember him as far more than just the best fighter in the league, but as a very useful 4th line winger for three to four years.

  20. G Money says:

    RexLibris: Have you read his What If? book? Great read.

    What if I have?

    Heh heh … I haven’t read it yet (like my project to do list, my to read list is always way longer than I have time for. But I’m on the waitlist for it at the Calgary library). Getting it from the library means a finite availability window that forces me to make time to read non-technical books. (I try not to get technical books from the library)

  21. striatic says:

    where does the term “power play” originate in the hockey context anyway? always struck me as an odd turn of phrase.

    off to the search engines.

  22. Lowetide says:

    RexLibris: I’d have added Laraque in there as well.

    Has anyone gone back to see what his possession numbers were like? My memory, duplicitous wench that it can be, seems to recall he being one of the best cycling forwards in the league during his prime and he was often a genuine threat to create a scoring chance when he was on the ice due to his size and ability to draw penalties down low.

    I remember him as far more than just the best fighter in the league, but as a very useful 4th line winger for three to four years.

    Good point. My recall is the same. BG’s fourth lines were beyond fabulous.

  23. striatic says:

    Interesting.

    According to http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/site/comments/1921_words/

    “power play, n. Nowadays, we mostly associate power play with hockey, but the term had its origin in American football. The original power play entailed surrounding the ball carrier with a number of blockers and proceeding downfield. By 1932, it had acquired its ice hockey sense, that of a situation where the opposing team has fewer players on the ice due to a penalty. The application of the term to politics came in 1941.”

  24. striatic says:

    And a fascinating post from HFBoards detailing the early usage of the hockey term in the press.

    http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showthread.php?t=1001331

    The term originally referred to even strength play, not 5v4 situations.

  25. RexLibris says:

    G Money: What if I have?

    Heh heh … I haven’t read it yet (like my project to do list, my to read list is always way longer than I have time for.But I’m on the waitlist for it at the Calgary library).Getting it from the library means a finite availability window that forces me to make time to read non-technical books. (I try not to get technical books from the library)

    Oh, well, if you’re at the mercy of those vagabonds at CPL then woe to the unwary borrower! 😉

    If you have a tablet or are willing to read on a laptop you could try the ebook version, but a quick check of CPL’s catalogue shows that they have 15 holds on 4 ecopies right now also.

    I took it as a 1-week borrow from EPL and finished it within that time span mostly because I found it was broken down into fairly readable chapters and provided you don’t agonize over actually comprehending all of his formulas, is a pretty readable book.

  26. G Money says:

    RexLibris: If you have a tablet or are willing to read on a laptop you could try the ebook version, but a quick check of CPL’s catalogue shows that they have 15 holds on 4 ecopies right now also.

    I own one of those 15 holds. I’ve also got one of the 40 holds on the 21 hard copies. Hedging my bets …

  27. RexLibris says:

    G Money: I own one of those 15 holds.I’ve also got one of the 40 holds on the 21 hard copies.Hedging my bets …

    Wise.

    I don’t know if CPL does the same, but EPL carries the Hits To Go of popular titles in CDs, DVDs and books that sit outside the regular collection and are available for one-week loans but cannot be included in Holds lists, a sort of ad hoc first-come-first-serve basis to help alleviate the waiting list on some popular items.

    There’s always the heretical option: purchasing a copy and forwarding to Mr. Munroe a small portion of his royalty.

    I know, I overstep. Forgive me my foolish recommendation. 😉

  28. RexLibris says:

    Lowetide: Good point. My recall is the same. BG’s fourth lines were beyond fabulous.

    I wonder what his possession numbers were like back then. A Marchant-Grier-Laraque line (albeit one of fantasy) would’ve been something to see.

  29. Yeti says:

    > “Zack Stortini (05-06 Iowa/Milwaukee) 64gp, 2-8-10 .156ppg Low event offensive player also slowed down the other side a little, but not on BG’s level. Got all he could out of his career and should be remembered as a guy MacT played over many more talented kids.”

    Maybe so, but there was a brief yet beautiful period when GlenX – Brodziak – Stortini was the only thing clicking on that team.

  30. Bruce McCurdy says:

    G Money,

    G Money:
    Bruce McCurdy,

    Agreed.In fact, I think we should propose hockey stats abbreviations in an ISO standard.

    Also, this: http://xkcd.com/1179/

    This, a thousand times this. I’ve been writing my dates in YYYY-MM-DD format since I started keeping astronomy logs in the 1980s (long before Y2K), it’s the only logical way to do it. Largest to smallest, with a four-digit year to erase all ambiguity. My own system completely avoided the mess of the early 2000s when a date like 08-06-11 could mean practically anything.

    It also works by far the best when making digital files, for the same logical reasons.

  31. oliveoilers says:

    RexLibris: I took it as a 1-week borrow from EPL

    The English Premier League loans books?

    Damn acronyms!

  32. rickithebear says:

    Bruce McCurdy: PPG = powerplay goal
    P/G = points per game

    EVPPG
    EVP/G
    PPPPG
    PPP/G

    He scored 32 PPG
    He produced 0.75 PPG

    You score goals
    You produce points,
    You do not score points,
    There is your problem.

    Scoring is more possession efficient than producing.
    Those inefficient EVA; PPA; EVAPG; PPAPG

  33. rickithebear says:

    G Money: Agreed. In fact, I think we should propose hockey stats abbreviations in an ISO standard.

    We should demand a standard for english word spelling.
    No variance,
    Only thing is a dialect allows youze two spellit any wayze you lyke. 😉

  34. G Money says:

    rickithebear: You score goals
    You produce points,
    You do not score points,
    There is your problem.

    So if I read you right, you are suggesting, Ricki, that it will be more efficient and clear to say this:

    Scored 32 PPG
    Produced 0.75 PPG

    than this:

    32 PPG
    0.75 p/g

  35. oilswell says:

    RexLibris: A good organization would give them the at-bats to make them better, eschewing immediate results for long-term development.

    This is why I’ve always found fans crowing about a Calder-winning AHL squad to be intriguing. If the roster is packed with drafted-and-developed players, the more power to you.

    If it is full of AHL veterans and late-20s projects, then it likely isn’t of any real benefit to the NHL organization.

    Playing too high up in the NHL = bad for player development, playing too high up in the AHL = good for player development? Am I doing this right? 😉

    I mean I get that Oilers are screwing up their prospects but can’t it be that some of these prospects are really just a few steps behind our hopes? I didn’t follow the barons too closely, I am asking the question non-rhetorically. Like, weren’t Lander and Klefbom, both legitimate players, shown the ice?

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