We are now well past the prospects who will be counted on to deliver something at the NHL level, and into the long roads and the ‘he didn’t turn pro’ group. Can someone help the Oilers from this group? Sure. Liam Coughlin was here a year ago. We are now beyond Everest, past the distant bells and 20,000 leagues under the sea. Long way.
- No. 31 (24) D Ben Betker. Massive defender (6.06, 220) is playing well in the ECHL (29gp, 1-9-10) so far this year. When I saw him in orientation camp, he looked reasonably fast and definitely huge. There may be a player here, he certainly has the size and enough speed to be considered a bona fide prospect. He is also somewhat unique among the prospect group, in that he is an actual giant.
- No. 32 (35) G Miroslav Svoboda. Tall, lean Czech goalie looked decent at the orientation camp, but started his Czech2 season poorly with HC Havirov (8gp, 4.51 .867). After being transferred to HC Sumperk (also Czech2) he has recovered, going 10gp, 3.01 .922. Long, long days before we have any idea, but an interesting curio. I will discuss this in the wrap post on Monday, but the Oilers badly need goalies and Svoboda is in a pretty good spot.
- No. 33 (32) D Brad Hunt. The ultimate chaos defender, I have no doubt he could help the Oilers power play this instant, but he would give it all back and more defensively. Does anyone doubt this is true? Clear evidence of both outstanding offensive ability while also being a crushing defensive liability. If the Oilers trade Justin Schultz over the next two months, is it possible we will see Hunt again? I am betting no, based on this ranking.
- No. 34 (37) L Braden Christoffer. The man won an NHL contract with an outstanding training camp and pre-season, but the pre-season offense did not follow him to California (21gp, 1-2-3). It is a big jump from junior to AHL, and it will take time for him to adjust. The good thing is that he appears to be getting playing time. Peter Chiarelli is no doubt casting around for minor league players who can play a gritty, determined game and contribute offensively. Christoffer has a chance to be part of the solution, but will need to progress offensively.
- No. 35 (29) G Zach Nagelvoort. He keeps going the wrong way in college. The year he was drafted, Nagelvoort’s SP was .929 and he played 24 games, almost double the number gifted to backup Steve Racine. Since then, it has been a real struggle, and Nagelvoort’s numbers this year (9gp, 3.14 .888) trail Racine now (8gp, 2.66 .911). He has one more year of college eligibility but Edmonton may not sign him.
- No. 36 (40) G Keven Bouchard. He remains extremely difficult to figure out as a prospect. Bouchard’s SP this season is .872, but in tracking him there have been weeks that saw insane levels of good play. He was better than his backup in Baie-Comeau and was recently traded to Moncton, where he will apparently be the starter. A very difficult player to slot.
- No. 37 (38) L Aidan Muir. College player who isn’t scoring and that often means playing time is down as well. A year ago, he went 36gp, 6-9-15 as a freshman—that is good output because first-year players don’t play a bunch under normal circumstances—but he is just 16gp, 1-2-3 in year two. Western Michigan seems to have a lot of options up front and Muir appears to be losing playing time. Based on Muir’s resume, this should be a player Peter Chiarelli has time for as a possible signing.
- No. 38 (41) D Martin Gernat. The final season of his entry-level deal sees Gernat coming back from knee surgery and he represents the No. 15 defenseman on this 40-man list (why I keep calling it the top 20 is unknown to even me). I don’t think he has a future in the organization, but hope he catches better luck with his next team. I can tell you he was a joy to watch as an Edmonton Oil Kings defenseman and there was a time when many of us thought he had the potential to play in the NHL. Things looked better a year ago, maybe they will again.
- No. 39 (33) L Evan Campbell. He began this season very well, but the scoring has fallen off and he is well back of last season’s scoring. A year ago, he went 34gp, 12-15-27 and this season he is 16gp, 2-4-6—one year left in college and he needs a good second half of 2015-16. Don’t count him out, the points came in bunches last season.
- No. 40 (39) G Ty Rimmer. At 23, he is the end of the road for Edmonton goalies at the pro level, but there is a spark here. He has posted a .916SP in the ECHL so far this year, and was called up to the AHL when Eetu Laurikainen was loaned to Finland (well, a team in Finland) and Laurent Brossoit went down to injury. One of several players on this list not signed to an NHL deal, Rimmer keeps coming in handy and remains young enough to have a substantial pro career.
- No 40 (tie) F Marco Roy. I have included him at the end because Roy represents exactly the kind of player this blog values. Range of skills, good skater, I think he should improve as a pro player as he settles in to the league. Edmonton has him on an AHL only deal so he will have to show something in the back half of the season. He had a goal and four shots in his second AHL game—he does have talent and we should keep a light on.
Not on the list are men like Matt Ford, Ryan Hamilton, Josh Currie and Phillip McRae and Nick Pageau. There are various reasons, and they deserve mention, but I would suggest these men (and Daniil Zharkov, wherever he is, poor man) are the end of the road for Oilers prospects at this time.
Graduating from one year ago (with last year’s winter ranking) are:
- D Oscar Klefbom (No. 3) exceeded 50 NHL games and graduated
- R Jackson Houck (No. 12) was not signed by the Oilers, playing in WHL at 20
- L Curtis Hamilton (No. 19) was not re-signed by the Oilers, playing in Czech
- R Steve Pinizzotto (No. 27) is playing for Munich in the German DEL
- G Frans Tuohimaa (No. 30) was not re-signed by the Oilers, playing well in the SHL
- R John McCarron (No. 33) was not signed by the Oilers, playing in the ECHL
- C Travis Ewanyk (No. 34) was traded to Ottawa, and is playing in the AHL
- G Tyler Bunz (No. 35) was not re-signed by the Oilers, currently sitting out (I think it might be due to concussions and he could re-appear, but that is a guess)
- L Daniil Zharkov (No. 37) came to Bakersfield camp and was injured.
- C Liam Coughlin (No. 38) was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for G Anders Nilsson, a trade that looks brilliant from here. Coughlin is playing pretty well for Vermont (NCAA).
- F Kellen Jones (No. 39) was not re-signed by the Oilers, although he has played one game for the Bakersfield Condors this year. ECHL the rest of the time.
- C Connor Jones (No. 40) was not re-signed by the Oilers, he has played for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL this season.
I’ll have an overview of the Winter 2015 list up Monday at 5pm. This is the best list of this century, because McDavid changes everything and even if he didn’t there is Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse. It is vital that the complementary players Edmonton will need are housed currently on this list (or will arrive soon). Edmonton needs inexpensive and efficient talent. Is it named Chase? Bear? Brossoit? The truth is out there.