Years from now, when I am gone and Mrs. Lowetide has turned this place into a blog about 2,000-piece puzzles, Mahjong, and wine, someone somewhere will remember the Edmonton Oilers 2015-16 rookie class. It was a fine group, led by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but also including Brandon, Davidson, Darnell Nurse, Iiro Pakarinen, Jordan Oesterle, Jujhar Khaira, Griffin Reinhart, Anton Slepyshev.
Now, even with McDavid and company, an NHL team has to keep filling holes by various means. Peter Chiarelli has utilized all of them so far, from trades to free agency (NHL and college) and the draft. This is the beginning of the climb, Edmonton is going to need plenty of replacement-level players in the future.
Which makes the current situation so dangerous. The Oilers prospect list is rife with issues, especially at forward. It is now at a point where I think we should be talking about it as a legitimate, front page, concern. Why?
The sorts of rumors going around, like a first for Brian Boyle, are yet another reason why the Sharks should sit out this trade deadline.
— Timo Teiemer (@jakesundstrom) February 13, 2017
Let’s say the Oilers are in on Brian Boyle, and that the first-round selection is in play. Edmonton, who have less bubbling under than the Sharks, are nowhere close to being as strong as the modern Oakland Seals. Why would Peter Chiarelli trade his first round pick—even in a weaker year—for a player who will be UFA by the time we see warm weather hits our city? I don’t think the Oilers can do it, frankly. Even with Brandon Davidson, also being mentioned as a possible trade chip, Edmonton has to get something in return that has value beyond June.
HOW BAD IS IT?
Important not to take my word for it, I am as prone to hyperbole as the next guy. That rookie crop from 2015 has some nice things in the follow-up group (2016 rookies include Jesse Puljujarvi, Matt Benning, Drake Caggiula, plus Slepyshev and Khaira), but the pipeline needs to have more players in the system.
Especially forwards. During the recent Top 20 prospects listing, I identified 41 names who could be considered Oilers prospects. History tells us that very few will play 200 NHL games, and that isn’t news. What is news, and alarming, is the number of prominent forward prospects who have one or more issues. Here is the list, with the forwards highlighted:
- Jesse Puljujarvi—28 games and a quality prospect
- Tyler Benson—injured for the second year in a row, and that is a concern
- Drake Caggiula—38 games and we don’t know if there is enough offense
Matt Benning Ziyat Paigin Ethan Bear Caleb Jones
- Anton Slepyshev—39 games and looks like he might be a player
- Jujhar Khaira—18 games and showing promise. NHL-ready depth forward.
- Tyler Pitlick—58 games and he could be a free agent July 1.
Filip Berglund Laurent Brossoit Griffin Reinhart Nick Ellis
- Aapeli Rasanen—Distant bell
William Lagesson Dillon Simpson Markus Niemelainen
- Tyler Vesel—May get a contract, uncertain if he has an NHL future.
Dylan Wells John Marino Jaroslav Svoboda David Musil Matthew Cairns Jordan Oesterle
- Bogdan Yakimov—1 NHL game and we may not see him again.
- Kyle Platzer—Not playing a lot in the AHL.
- Mitchell Moroz—Traded for Henrik Samuelsson.
- Aidan Muir—College man showing some life.
- Graham McPhee—Distant bell.
- Ben Betker
- Joey Laleggia—Now a winger, scoring in the AHL.
- Greg Chase—Not playing a lot in the AHL.
- Zach Nagelvoort
- Jere Sallinen—Veteran of top Euro leagues has been a disappointment.
- Patrick Russell—Signed college free agent, playing a depth role in the AHL.
- Vincent Desharnais
- Joey Benik—AHL only contract, I don’t think he has turned the needle.
- Braden Christoffer—Energy player in the AHL.
- Evan Campbell—Has a support role in college.
- Eetu Laurikainen
How many certainties do you see? I count Jesse Puljujarvi, who should have an NHL career even if he can’t score as hoped, and then we have a group that includes Caggiula, Slepyshev, Pitlick and Khaira who may fill a role for several years.
Not much, folks. Tell me again about trading the first-round pick? Hell, I think Peter Chiarelli should be looking at adding a second-round selection. At the very least, if he is dealing the first rounder and or Brandon Davidson for Brian Boyle, for heaven’s sake get a pick or a prospect added into the deal. And make it a good one!
- D Josh Healey. Former Sherwood Park Crusader is an effective college defender for Ohio State. Reportedly has some puck moving ability but most of what I’ve read concentrated on defensive play. Source
Healey was part of the Mother of All Orientation Camps in the summer of 2015, and one hopes it made a good impression on him. Along with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse, guys like Healey surely had a fun time playing elite-level hockey in the middle of the summer.
Bob McKenzie has an article up about Healey, and interest from various teams including the Oilers and Flames. The same article talks about Czech defender Jakub Jerabek. He is 25, and coming off a strong season in the KHL (56gp, 5-27-32, NHLE is 37 points). You would have to think whoever signs Jerabek brings him right to the NHL.
Young WHL defender passed 20 goals the other night, and posted a big afternoon for Seattle Thunderbirds. He now stands at 54gp, 22-33-55 (NHLE: 9-14-23) and we hope he gets some AHL time after his junior career ends later this spring.