You know, it is difficult to tell how big a deal these young men are in the beginning. In baseball, college men are attractive because they are so much closer to helping the big league team (Dave Winfield went right to the show, never looked back), so in a way getting a college player jump starts the entire professional organization. Remember Matt O’Connor? Here is what I wrote last April:
- For the Edmonton Oilers, acquiring a player like Matt O’Connor would be a pretty big deal. The organization badly needs to improve up the middle and acquiring an advanced prospect like O’Connor offers cover for procurement mistakes of the past. If the Oilers get O’Connor, how much of a difference will it make? Source
It is a big deal, and for Edmonton signing a college goalie this summer eases (somewhat) the 2014 draft and two goalies who have not fared well in the last two seasons (Zach Nagelvoort, Keven Bouchard). Edmonton hasn’t had a lot of success in drafting goalies, but have signed some college men (Ty Conklin) in the position.
Yale junior G Alex Lyon, sought after UFA (12+ teams with interest/offers), not likely to make a decision until next week.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 28, 2016
Peter Chiarelli is reportedly after him, and this would be a very nice get. Lyon plays in the ECAC, and the conference has massive save percentages—but even with that, Lyon is .939 and .936 in his most recent seasons. That is outstanding. Hope they get him, because as mentioned, the 2014 draft isn’t going to help.
from Ahti Oksanen after tonight's loss: pic.twitter.com/14iDDzXFVu
— Sarah Kirkpatrick (@Kirkpatrick_SJ) March 27, 2016
By the way, around the time of O’Connor a year ago, Matty wrote the following:
- Matheson: The Oilers may also be interested in O’Connor’s teammate, Finnish defenceman/forward Ahti Oksanen, also a free-agent. The six-foot-three, 205-pound Oksanen had 25 goals in 40 games this past season when moved from the back-end. Source
You never know. One thing about college free agents, they sometimes surprise you. Early in Jordan Oesterle’s pro career, I spoke to a hockey man about him. Oesterle’s speed was intoxicating, but the gap between college and pro was so wide the chaos factor seemed to be too much. The gap has been closed in the ensuing years, and Edmonton might have themselves a useful player. That kind of procurement is very important to a team like the Oilers, especially as a way of making up for weak draft seasons (as we saw in 2014). Corey Pronman is the one guy who said he like Oesterle’s chances when he turned pro (while also mentioning he needed some work).
CHIARELLI AND BOB GREEN: WORKING MEN
I have been writing about this for about a month now, and you are probably sick of it. That said, there is real urgency here, the organization has some massive gaps. I sometimes wonder if Peter Chiarelli looks at the Oilers 2014 draft and shakes his head. The new GM is inside signing season and has no draft picks of his own to sign. I bet it keeps him up nights, and it should.