THE WINTER TOP 20 (PRELUDE) PROSPECTS

We are less than a month from the beginning of the Top 20 Prospects (Winter edition) and it is probably a good time to have a look at the progress since the season began. A few quick reminders about the list:

  • Players over 50 games graduate (McDavid is on the list below—the summer list—but is about to play game No. 50 and will not be on the winter list).
  • Players who have been traded no longer appear (Anders Nilsson).
  • List is based on potential and gives zero weight to being close to NHL-ready, the fact you know I hate your favorite prospect or the price of rye whiskey.
  • This list likes offense.
  • This list also likes prospects who can make the NHL in more than one way.
  • This list punishes lack of speed.

 SUMMER TOP 20 (AND BEYOND)

  1. C Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (4, 3-3-6). Generational talent, he might be the best player in the NHL now. Plays his 50th NHL game tomorrow night against the Blues.
  2. R Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers (3, 1-0-1). Made it all the way to the NHL, and is now finding his way. That journey could involve some time in Bakersfield. I have been very impressed with his range and ability to play effectively without the puck. Unusual in a younger player.
  3. LD Ziyat Paigin, Kazan Ak Bars (4, 0-0-0).  Injury has derailed his season so far, Paigin is close to returning to KHL action and will hopefully start posting crooked numbers.
  4. L Tyler Benson, Vancouver Giants (7, 5-4-9). He has posted a strong early season with the Giants and if he can continue will probably move up the list. Injuries remain the big worry, but if he can stay healthy, the Oilers might have a very good player.
  5. L Drake Cagguila, Edmonton Oilers (Injured). The Oilers have been quite vague about injury and recovery time, but at this point one suspects Caggiula will start his pro career in Bakersfield (possibly with Puljujarvi alongside—something Simon Boisvert suggested would be a good idea on the Lowdown a few weeks ago. He sure looked good in training camp.
  6. RD Ethan Bear, Seattle Thunderbirds (6, 0-2-2). A slow start to the year—for Bear and his team—but he has shown a lot of growth since draft day and should dominate his final year of junior.
  7. LD Caleb Jones, Portland Winterhawks (10, 1-6-7). Unlike Bear, Jones has picked up where he left off last season and at this point may be primed for an outstanding season. There is no doubt in my mind he moves up this list.
  8. C Jujhar Khaira, Bakersfield Condors (1, 2-0-2). An early demotion from Oilers camp was a surprise, but his strong start last night is indicative of his being NHL-ready. I think he is as close as the next injury away from being the next callup and he might stay for a time.
  9. RD Filip Berglund, Skelleftea AIK (7, 0-1-1) (SHL). This is the top Swedish pro league he is in now, and playing time appears to be increasing. I love these players who have a range of skills, very encouraging that he is surviving in the big league a little longer this fall.
  10. LD Griffin Reinhart, Bakersfield Condors (1, 0-0-0). People were mad as hell at me in the summer when I put him here, wonder if that will continue. He may have a hard time getting a recall this season, might be better to bury him in the minors until after the expansion draft.
  11. RC Aapeli Rasanen, Sioux City Musketeers (4, 1-1-2). RH center is off to a solid start in the USHL and has enjoyed a strong 12 months. He appears to have enough skill to be considered a legit prospect and Edmonton has improved the skill plenty in the last two drafts (plus college signings).
  12. G Laurent Brossoit, Edmonton Oilers (0, 0.00 .000) and Bakersfield Condors (0, 0.00 .000). He has a real chance to show well this season and to project himself onto the 2017-18 roster. Edmonton needs an inexpensive backup and he is in good position for the job.
  13. LD Jordan Oesterle, Bakersfield Condors (1, 0-0-0). Oesterle was sent out early and now has the same kind of issues getting back as those faced by Reinhart. I know he has the speed, so if there is a disconnect it is on the defensive side of the puck.
  14. LD Markus Niemelainen, Saginaw Spirit (6, 0-0-0). Big man with good speed, he returned to Saginaw and that may not have been the best decision. Spirit struggled a year ago and it took time for the Finn to get untracked in the system. Junior hockey is a weird place for prospects sometimes (see Alex Plante and the Hitmen) and one hopes he finds a good spot somewhere this season (Saginaw or other). The team is terrible.
  15. R Anton Slepyshev, Edmonton Oilers (2, 1-0-1). He won an NHL job for the second year in a row and has shown some flashes so far—including a goal last night. There are openings here for complementary players and he has size and speed, so could be a part of the future.
  16. L Graham McPhee, Boston College (4, 0-0-0). Two-way forward making the leap to college hockey, scouting reports from guys like Pronman suggest he could make it as a checking forward—and that is a tip that this list is now slotting in players who would fit specific roles.
  17. LD Dillon Simpson, Bakersfield Condors (1, 0-0-0). He has passed Musil and a bunch of others, but there are still many miles to go. The thing about Simpson is that he does not possess any one dominant skill but appears to have some across the board ability.
  18. LD Matthew Cairns, Fargo Force (5, 0-0-0). Big defender (6.02, 202) is a two-way type and has moved into the USHL this year. We cannot know his TOI but it is a good guess that Cairns is not yet in a feature role. Appears to have some offensive pop.
  19. LD Joey Laleggia, Bakersfield Condors (1, 0-1-1). With the amount of offensive acumen he appears to possess, the defensive liabilities must be substantial for him not to be getting longer looks in camp. He is going to post numbers in the AHL.
  20. RD John Marino, Harvard (has not played). I am looking forward to seeing the kind of offensive output he delivers in the NCAA. He made a strong transition from Prep to USHL last season, keeping all of his offense.
  21. R Tyler Pitlick, Edmonton Oilers (4, 2-0-2). He may just make it after all, as a strong start to the season has has him in the everyday lineup. He may not make the winter list, as there is a chance to pass game No. 50 by the time we reach his ranking.
  22. LD William Lagesson, UMass-Amherst (2, 1-0-1). He is now 20, so we can begin discussing his turning pro and pushing up from the AHL. Lagesson looked fabulous at the WJs but we don’t see his college games. Verbal from obscure spots is positive.
  23. R Patrick Russell, Bakersfield Condors (1, 0-0-0). In training camp and preseason, he looked slow and that will impact his ranking this winter. He should post some strong AHL numbers based on age and college scoring records.
  24. C Bogdan Yakimov, Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik (15, 1-4-5). A giant (6.05, 232) center, he does seem to be playing pretty well in the KHL. I hope we get to see him again, the Russian angle has not gone well but avoiding an entire region of hockey production seems crazy on the face of it.
  25. RC Kyle Platzer, Bakersfield Condors (1, 0-0-0). Two-way C got a 2C shot in the first game on Tuesday, hopefully that has sustain. He may not have enough offense, and a guy like Rasanen does seem to possess more talent, but giving Platzer minor league at-bats is just good business.

Matt Benning was signed after the Summer Top 20 (here) and men like Greg Chase, David Musil, Jere Sallinen and others were not inside the top 25. Nick Ellis was among those names and he will be inside the top 25 should he continue to play well. Ben Betker—who was recalled today—is not among the top 25 for winter 2016 at this time. I will have something on his recall on tomorrow’s blog.

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23 Responses to "THE WINTER TOP 20 (PRELUDE) PROSPECTS"

  1. Chester Copperpot says:

    Ethan Bear?

  2. Yeti says:

    Chester Copperpot:
    Ethan Bear?

    Is at #6?

  3. geowal says:

    Ben Betker recalled! Must need a paycheque

  4. Lowetide says:

    geowal:
    Ben Betker recalled! Must need a paycheque

    Yeah, the team recalled Pitlick and Laleggia last year, think it might be cap related.

  5. geowal says:

    4 (NHL) games plus preseason and we have 4 on IR plus a day to day, and wherever Caggiula is (not on roster?) Light more candles!!!

    Edit: plus Ference

  6. theDjdj says:

    Interested in your placement of Tyler Pitlick. Is poor AHL scoring (injury lessened as it may be) the reason behind it? Perhaps recency bias is clouding my judgement but I’d have thought NHL performance so far would at least push him above guys like McPhee Laleggia and Cairns.

    Not a knock, just curious to understand your reasoning.

  7. Lowetide says:

    theDjdj:
    Interested in your placement of Tyler Pitlick. Is poor AHL scoring (injury lessened as it may be) the reason behind it? Perhaps recency bias is clouding my judgement but I’d have thought NHL performance so far would at least push him above guys like McPhee Laleggia and Cairns.

    Not a knock, just curious to understand your thought process.

    This is the summer list. In about 15 days, I will begin posting the new winter list one at a time. Pitlick may not make the list, but only because the chances of playing 50 games (my line in the sand) is pretty good.

  8. theres oil in virginia says:

    Lowetide: This is the summer list. In about 15 days, I will begin posting the new winter list one at a time. Pitlick may not make the list, but only because the chances of playing 50 games (my line in the sand) is pretty good.

    Never thought I’d see the day when they’d ding you for ranking Pitlick too low!

    🙂

  9. kinger_OIL says:

    – Not a good sign when your #3-5 on list, were all injured at start of year.

    – Really they are #2-4: LT you are so pedantic with your list: god bless you for including CmD in the top-20, on a technicality!

    – This was the summer list, so I guess we can let Sleppy slide @ #15.

    – If Griff is #10 prospect: I suppose we do have more potential NHL players brewing which is good

  10. kiaora says:

    Where is Benning?

  11. Clay says:

    Anyone know the goalering situation? Is Talbot taking time off? Gustavsson ready? Is LB just going to play without a backup?

  12. Lowetide says:

    kiaora:
    Where is Benning?

    This is the summer list, Benning will be ranked on the winter list to come.

  13. frjohnk says:

    Reinhart at 10?

    Why do you have him ranked so high? 🙂

  14. jake70 says:

    Laine with 3 goals tonight.

  15. stush18 says:

    So is there a chance Ben betker actually gets to play?

    St. Louis is not a fast team, and typically these “roster management” moves send the guy back down immediately, no?

    Add another lefty to the group

  16. JimmyV1965 says:

    Not sure if anyone can help me or not, but is there anyone who tracks time spent in the offensive zone, nuetral zone and defensive zone. I’ve never really seen it and think it would add another piece of info when evaluating a team. It seems to me the Oilers are spending less time getting hemmed into their own zone this year and more time cycling in the offensive zone. Yet we are being outshot by 25%. Would these kind of stats help reconcile that seeming contradiction? But maybe I’m just seeing things and we really are spending more time in the d zone.

  17. GMB3 says:

    Wow Laine has one hell of a release

  18. Lowetide says:

    jake70:
    Laine with 3 goals tonight.

    Stupid Oilers, why can’t they draft good players!

  19. frjohnk says:

    Lowetide: Stupid Oilers, why can’t they draft good players!

    Marc-Antoine-Pubis says hi.

  20. stush18 says:

    JimmyV1965:
    Not sure if anyone can help me or not, but is there anyone who tracks time spent in the offensive zone, nuetral zone and defensive zone.I’ve never really seen it and think it would add another piece of info when evaluating a team.It seems to me the Oilers are spending less time getting hemmed into their own zone this year and more time cycling in the offensive zone.Yet we are being outshot by 25%.Would these kind of stats help reconcile that seeming contradiction? But maybe I’m just seeing things and we really are spending more time in the d zone.

    I’m thinking teams have people tracking these things for them.

    I might be mistaken but I believe that’s part of what sportslogiq tracks.

  21. slopitch says:

    Speaking of being vague with injuries, what’s up with Davidson?

  22. theDjdj says:

    Lowetide,

    Ah that makes sense. Excited to see where he moves (if he does). Movement among our later round prospects has been sorely amiss this last decade.

  23. rickithebear says:

    Lowetide: Stupid Oilers, why can’t they draft good players!

    you think we are bad.

    Toronto did not draft Mcdavid last year.!
    come on really Toronto!

    Then they draft that glory seeking choke artist Mathews.
    Chases the glory by scoring 4 goals and then selfishly cost his team the game in ot.

    Is a team player not cheating for the glory and they win in game 2.

    Then fails to deliver in tight on breakaway. Choke!
    cost his team an ot win!

    He definitely is not Laine!

    I would have picked laine over Mathews!

    Just like I would have picked Seguin over Hall!

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