SLEEPER

We are at the point of summer where things like minor league splits become the conversation of the day (or, more accurately, do NOT become a conversation at all). Today’s post is a deep cut ladies, you are excused from reading further if this subject holds no interest.

WHY BOTHER?

One of the reasons I like to look at splits? To see who closed well, who finally earned the confidence of the coach or adjusted to North America and the style of play in the AHL. Here are the top performers in the final three months of the season (Feb-Apr). (NHL Contracts, Prospects Only)

OILERS FORWARD PROSPECTS (POINTS PER GAME)

bakersfield feb-april ppg

  • This was Tyler Pitlick’s fifth AHL season, not sure we can give him a lot of credit for 90 good days at the end of Year 5. Still, the Oilers signed him and he did post reasonable offensive numbers on those 22 games. The guy taken right behind him in 2010—Jared Knight—spent some time in the ECHL this past season, so things could be worse. The guy taken after Knight—John McFarland—can’t score much at the AHL level either.
  • Jujhar Khaira scored 10 points in his entire first season AHL (51 games), so his finish this spring should be considered news. I don’t know if he will be an NHL regular this season, but he is tracking like a prospect who will be a roster player after his entry-level deal expires (at the end of 2016-17).
  • Anton Slepyshev found some consistency late in the year (before February, he was 20, 4-1-5 .250) and that is exactly what Bakersfield coach Gerry Fleming was looking for from him.
  • Bogdan Yakimov performed better after coming back from the AHL (19, 3-4-7 .368 before heading out) but it was not a major spike. I fear MacT’s crazy 2013 draft day trade may be down one spetsnaz.

OILERS FORWARD PROSPECTS (SHOTS PER GAME)

bakersfield shots per game

  • Anton Slepyshev didn’t get many assists, but Feb+ this year he scored at a 21-goal rate (AHL plays 68 games in California). He plays a position that Edmonton’s management has not yet nailed down—Jon Willis had a cool article the other day about Radim Vrbata—and I think part of Edmonton’s answer is Anton Slepyshev. Seriously. Among the auditions we should be watching this fall (along with Yak and Puljujarvi and Kassian) is the young Russian. Todd McLellan likes his size and speed, pretty sure.
  • Tyler Pitlick shows well here, and at 24 years and 292 days may he has an NHL career ahead of him. You know, Fernando Pisani made his NHL debut at 26 years, four days! I kid. Still cheering for Pitlick though, hope he makes it.
  • I think a prospect should probably be above two shots a game to be considered a legit offensive player. Fair?

MOST SHOTS PER GAME SINCE 2010 (OILERS AHL)

  1. Anton Lander 3.31 (2014-15)
  2. Colin McDonald 3.24 (2010-11)
  3. Toni Rajala 3.24 (2012-13)**
  4. Iiro Pakarinen 3.21 (2014-15)
  5. Mark Arcobello 3.19 (2012-13)**
  6. Magnus Paajarvi 2.94 (2011-12)
  7. Mark Arcobello 2.81 (2010-11)
  8. Anton Lander 2.61 (2013-14)
  9. Linus Omark 2.57 (2010-11)
  10. Tyler Pitlick 2.56 (2013-14)
  11. Mark Arcobello 2.53 (2011-12)
  12. Teemu Haritainen 2.33 (2011-12)
  13. Anton Slepyshev 2.31 (2015-16)
  14. Tyler Pitlick 2.24 (2015-16)
  15. Bogdan Yakimov 2.16 (2014-15)
  16. Phil Cornet 2.13 (2012-13)**
  17. Tyler Pitlick 2.10 (2011-12)
  18. Linus Omark 2.03 (2013-14)
  19. Phil Cornet 2.01 (2011-12)
  20. Teemu Hartikainen 2.00 (2012-13)**
  21. Teemu Hartikainen 2.00 (2010-11)
  • Note: The asterisk seasons came with the lockout, a time when Edmonton sent their great young NHL talents down to the minors. We have no real idea about how much of a push these men received, but it is worth noting.
  • Another note: Players at the top in italics used these seasons as a stepping off point to NHL careers. Even Colin McDonald, one of Kevin Prendergast’s strangest developers (drafted in 2003, regular by 2013-14), used his final AHL time as a springboard.

As is always the case and we need to constantly remind ourselves, the men who come to the NHL from the AHL are the role players and the support men. I write about it every year, most recently in this summer’s edition of Farm Workers:

  • Daniel Cleary, Fernando Pisani and Jason Chimera became productive players in the toughest league on the planet. THEY are the stars in this study. Condors 2015-16: This is the most important thing about looking at the minors. People rip on Anton Lander, but that is they kind of player the minor leagues produces. Among the younger set, I would identify Jujhar Khaira, Bogdan Yakimov and Anton Slepyshev among forwards, and Jordan Oesterle, Dillon Simpson among defenders. It isn’t sexy like the lottery, but these are important pieces. Source

 

I THINK IT IS SLEPYSHEV

  • Todd McLellan: “When I look at his game, and I watched the video again—the video doesn’t lie. He did a lot of the things we worked on today in the game. He’s a young player but he’s played pro hockey before. You can see it, he’s been around pro players for awhile. He has the ability to play a heavy game and use his shot. He’s played with speed guys and with grinders … he’s getting better night after night and he’s really opening the coaches’ eyes.” Source

I am not certain Todd McLellan will give Nail Yakupov a real chance on the McDavid line, I am not sure Jesse Puljujarvi will adjust to all the new that is about to come his way by Christmastime. It is not clear that Zack Kassian will take full advantage of the skill minutes he will no doubt get in times of trouble and Leon is needed at center.

Down below the event horizon, deep below the obvious, reasonable and logical, there lies an opportunity. Is there a spark in Anton Slepyshev? I hear he is working hard.

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23 Responses to "SLEEPER"

  1. Centre of attention says:

    I was watching an instagram video of him pushing 4 plate sleds (~200lbs) across thick carpet. Definitely working on his explosiveness. Exactly what he needs to do.

    I’m certain the Oilers are pushing a lot of their guys to work hard during the summer, more so than previous years it seems. Ebs hired a personal skills coach to help him with his one-timer, Zack cut a lot of weight, Reinhart is apparently lifting medium sized SUV’s in his back yard as we speak. I’ve even heard rumors Maroon is getting shredded too this summer. Definitely an organizational push, IMO.

    Back to Slip-Slappy: There is a player there, and more than a grinder IMO. He might not make it out of camp but if he rips up the AHL to start the year, there is both a job AND a coach waiting for him.

    I won’t be as ridiculously optimistic about Slepy as I was Cagguila but I think he scores his first NHL goal this year, for what its worth.

  2. Lowetide says:

    Centre of attention:
    I was watching an instagram video of him pushing 4 plate sleds (~200lbs) across thick carpet. Definitely working on his explosiveness. Exactly what he needs to do.

    I’m certain the Oilers are pushing a lot of their guys to work hard during the summer, more so than previous years it seems. Ebs hired a personal skills coach to help him with his one-timer, Zack cut a lot of weight, Reinhart is apparently lifting medium sized SUV’s in his back yard as we speak. I’ve even heard rumors Maroon is getting shredded too this summer. Definitely an organizational push, IMO.

    Back to Slip-Slappy: There is a player there, and more than a grinder IMO. He might not make it out of camp but if he rips up the AHL to start the year, there is both a job AND a coach waiting for him.

    I won’t be as ridiculously optimistic about Slepy as I was Cagguila but I think he scores his first NHL goal this year, for what its worth.

    Trading Taylor Hall had to have tightened sphincters.

  3. Mr DeBakey says:

    Another note: Players at the top in italics used these seasons as a stepping off point to NHL careers. Even Colin McDonald, one of Kevin Prendergast’s strangest developers (drafted in 2003, regular by 2013-14), used his final AHL time as a springboard.

    The Oilers’ Traintrust let McDonald go after a 42 goal AHL season, and then brought over Lennart Petrell.

    And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, we present Jere Sallinen!
    This Finn thing is getting on my nerves.

    * * *

    I set up my 16-17 spreadsheet the other day.
    I put Slepyshev on the big club.
    So we’re on the same page.
    Tho’ not perhaps with the same intensity.

  4. Lowetide says:

    Mr DeBakey:
    Another note: Players at the top in italics used these seasons as a stepping off point to NHL careers. Even Colin McDonald, one of Kevin Prendergast’s strangest developers (drafted in 2003, regular by 2013-14), used his final AHL time as a springboard.

    The Oilers’ Traintrust let McDonald go after a 42 goal AHL season, and then brought over Lennart Petrell.

    And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, we present Jere Sallinen!
    This Finn thing is getting on my nerves.

    * * *

    I set up my 16-17 spreadsheet the other day.
    I put Slepyshev on the big club.
    So we’re on the same page.
    Tho’ not perhaps with the same intensity.

    I have him playing a singleton in the NHL, but did gift him a fine AHL season
    http://lowetide.ca/2016/07/22/training-camp-hopeful-no-2-anton-slepyshev/

  5. LadiesloveSmid says:

    doesn’t Hudler have a history of playing centre?

    signing him could mean playing him with Drai or moving Drai to RW with RNH, if so. He must be so damn cheap right now and a fine player

  6. leadfarmer says:

    I swear Pitlick was going to be a player. Unfortunate he couldn’t stay healthy. Hope he can still carve some type of a career.

    The Hall trade was a warning to all players. Doesnt matter how good you are, we can still trade you.

  7. Mr DeBakey says:

    leadfarmer: The Hall trade was a warning to all players. Doesnt matter how good you are, we can still trade you.

    The Hall trade was a ray of hope for all players. Doesn’t matter how good you are, the Oilers can still trade you.

  8. Johnny skid says:

    Mr DeBakey: The Hall trade was a ray of hope for all players. Doesn’t matter how good you are, the Oilers can still trade you.

    i bet yak hopes you are right, and that he is next.

  9. Dee Dee says:

    leadfarmer, The Hall trade was a warning to all players. Doesnt matter how good you are, we can still trade you.

    In retrospect, ending your season by saying “The stink is still there” and “I’m very disappointed. Right now it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I’m not going to lie” probably wasn’t the smartest thing to say.

    Guess we will see if the stink is gone or not very soon.

  10. stevezie says:

    Mr DeBakey,

    I understand pride, but being traded from the Edmonton Oilers seems a weak threat to me.

  11. HT Joe says:

    Lowetide: Trading Taylor Hall had to have tightened sphincters.

    At first, I was going to write a snarky comment like “If I were Ebs, I’d just slack at back checking and suck at slap shots one more year… what are they going to do, trade me to a worse team?”

    But… a serious question emerged from this snarkyness:

    What teams are actually less desirable than the Oilers for players in the NHL right now? I know “McDavid Changes Everything”, but other than NJ (poor Hall), which teams actually are less desirable places to play??

  12. square_wheels says:

    Is anyone else enjoying Olympic women’s pole vault ?

  13. Centre of attention says:

    Lowetide: I have him playing a singleton in the NHL, but did gift him a fine AHL season
    http://lowetide.ca/2016/07/22/training-camp-hopeful-no-2-anton-slepyshev/

    That .gif of Slepy is something else. God, I live for those hockey moments.

    Pushes the defender off the puck like “excuuusee me” and then dangles the pants off his partner before cutting to the net and doing his best Bobby Orr impression, after cashing a goal beautifully on a nifty backhand shot.

    Definitely the potential for more than a grinders career for Slepyshev, not a doubt in my mind. Whether he realizes that potential is up to him.

    This years camp is going to be exciting. So many different story lines. Not like years past when you could almost line up the opening night roster down to the last man. Now, nothing seems certain after the top 6 forwards. Even then, there are questions abound regarding even the top 6.

  14. Lowetide says:

    square_wheels:
    Is anyone else enjoying Olympic women’s pole vault ?

    Yes. They are so good.

  15. treevojo says:

    HT Joe,

    Depends on your goals as a player. If it is to compete for a Stanley cup in the next 5 years in a world class facility I would say Edmonton is amongst a handful of teams you would chose. Before mcdavid and the new arena that statement would be laughable. I think this offseason and the signing of the number one free agent backs this statement.

    It would be easier for me to list teams that I wouldn’t be upset if traded to.

    Pittsburgh
    Chicago
    New York Rangers
    San Jose
    Tampa bay
    Florida
    La kings

  16. Centre of attention says:

    Bob Stauffer ‏@Bob_Stauffer 3m3 minutes ago
    Told interest from multiple teams on unsigned Bruins pick Matthew Benning. Right shot D, smart, competitive. LA, EDM, VAN all make sense

    Meh. The beginnings of a rightorium I hope?

  17. HT Joe says:

    treevojo:
    HT Joe,

    Depends on your goals as a player. If it is to compete for a Stanley cup in the next 5 years in a world class facility I would say Edmonton is amongst a handful of teams you would chose. Before mcdavid and the new arena that statement would be laughable. I think this offseason and the signing of the number one free agent backs this statement.

    It would be easier for me to list teams that I wouldn’t be upset if traded to.

    Pittsburgh
    Chicago
    New York Rangers
    San Jose
    Tampa bay
    Florida
    La kings

    Do you honestly think players would be strongly against joining a team like Nashville or the Islanders? Anaheim is a helluva team too! I just don’t buy into the arena changing players opinions, and after a decade out of the playoffs, I’m very much in the “show me” phase of following the Oilers: I follow the team avidly, I cheer like hell, but I do my best not to get my hopes up until they stop failing so hard.

    http://news.nationalpost.com/sports/nhl/edmonton-oilers-the-top-team-on-nhl-players-no-trade-lists-again

    According to the poll linked above, in May (long after McDavid was drafted and the new arena was announced), players still indicated that the Oilers remains the least attractive team in the NHL. It’s great that Chia had a personal relationship with Lucic, but without that, I think there’s no way that level of free agent signs here.

  18. Soup Fascist says:

    HT Joe: Do you honestly think players would be strongly against joining a team like Nashville or the Islanders?Anaheim is a helluva team too!I just don’t buy into the arena changing players opinions, and after a decade out of the playoffs, I’m very much in the “show me” phase of following the Oilers:I follow the team avidly, I cheer like hell, but I do my best not to get my hopes up until they stop failing so hard.

    http://news.nationalpost.com/sports/nhl/edmonton-oilers-the-top-team-on-nhl-players-no-trade-lists-again

    According to the poll linked above, in May (long after McDavid was drafted and the new arena was announced), players still indicated that the Oilers remains the least attractive team in the NHL.It’s great that Chia had a personal relationship with Lucic, but without that, I think there’s no way that level of free agent signs here.

    Milan Lucic and Drake Caguilla say hi!

    Neither were overpaid significantly compared to their value this summer. Both Came here of their own valition I assume. I think I MAY have heard a whisper from Lucic that he thought McDavid was a decent player.

  19. HT Joe says:

    Soup Fascist: Milan Lucic and Drake Caguilla say hi!

    Neither were overpaid significantly compared to their value this summer. Both Came here of their own valition I assume. I think I MAY have heard a whisper from Lucic that he thought McDavid was a decent player.

    Maybe you skimmed my post, but it did clarify that I believe Lucic likely signed due to a relationship with Chia?

    And forgive me if I’m not overwhelmed by Caguilla. He’s a really nice prospect, but he better not be playing anything more than limited minutes this upcoming season.

    But this is really getting off-track quickly. I was mostly interested why so many people seem to think that Hall getting traded away is causing sphincters to tighten… this team has been embarrassingly bad, and has single-handedly killed many borderline NHLer careers. Is it really that scary of a thought for an NHL player to be traded away from the Oilers and to a (likely) better team? This is what I don’t understand.

  20. OF17 says:

    HT Joe,

    It’s not about the relative merits of a team, it’s about the pride and satisfaction of deciding to turn a team around and actually being able accomplish those goals. It’s what Hall was talking about when he talked of Edmonton being taken from him. It’s not that Edmonton itself was taken but rather the opportunity to accomplish the goals that he and his teammates set out for themselves. The fact that the team is looking significantly closer to the playoffs now just makes the pill more bitter.

    EDIT: And as to your point about free agents, this marks two summers in a row where the Oilers signed arguably the top free agent on the market. We also signed the #2 college free agent this summer. Lucic did cite Chiarelli as a reason for coming, but after hearing his words, I don’t know how you could believe Connor McDavid wasn’t the main reason he signed.

  21. Professor Q says:

    That Nolan Patrick…

  22. Ducey says:

    Centre of attention:
    Bob Stauffer ‏@Bob_Stauffer3m3 minutes ago
    Told interest from multiple teams on unsigned Bruins pick Matthew Benning. Right shot D, smart, competitive. LA, EDM, VAN all make sense

    Meh. The beginnings of a rightorium I hope?

    No. L + R = balance. Hope they sign Benning.

  23. Soup Fascist says:

    HT Joe: Maybe you skimmed my post, but it did clarify that I believe Lucic likely signed due to a relationship with Chia?

    And forgive me if I’m not overwhelmed by Caguilla.He’s a really nice prospect, but he better not be playing anything more than limited minutes this upcoming season.

    But this is really getting off-track quickly.I was mostly interested why so many people seem to think that Hall getting traded away is causing sphincters to tighten… this team has been embarrassingly bad, and has single-handedly killed many borderline NHLer careers.Is it really that scary of a thought for an NHL player to be traded away from the Oilers and to a (likely) better team?This is what I don’t understand.

    QF17’s response above echoes my sentiments and there is no point repeating them.

    Edmonton will always be on some players “no fly zone” because of the climate and travel requirements.

    Having the worst team in the league for a decade certainly has not helped. The recent taxation changes implemented at the federal and provincial levels have removed that check mark.

    But to think McDavid and the new building have not changed the landscape a bit seems to be missing the point. As mentioned Lucic mentioned McDavid in glowing terms several times. And despite whatever faults people believe Katz brings as an owner, he has made the venue and amenities very appealing to the players and their young families.

    But I think we agree if they continue to flounder as they have, the goodwill McD and Rogers Place has bought the organization will quickly dissipate.

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