TOP 20 PROSPECTS UPDATE (2017 EDITION)

One year ago, the Winter Top 20 featured Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, Anders Nilsson, Brandon Davidson and Iiro Pakarinen. It isn’t just that 30 percent of the list graduated year over year, it is the quality of the graduates that makes that cluster so memorable. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl represent the heart of the order for a decade or more in Edmonton, and now that they have graduated the focus for Edmonton’s management and scouts has changed. No longer in need to impact centers and with an impressive and growing group of defenders, the Oilers must now look to produce complementary forwards and defensemen, and some goalies who can push up the depth chart.

I am of a mind that the Oilers are in a spot of bother with their current prospect list. As we look through the Winter Top 20 and their recent progress, let’s ask ourselves how many forwards are within two years of filling an offensive role on the team.

  1. R Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers (28, 1-7-8) and Bakersfield Condors (17, 6-7-13). Back in November when I ranked him No. 1 on the prospect list, JP was 10, 1-2-3 in the NHL and hadn’t been to the AHL yet. Since then, he lost confidence and whiled away in the NHL, and started a little slowly in the AHL. He is 4-2-6 in his last six games and seems to be playing more with Anton Lander, both evens and power play. We should have a better idea about him come summertime, and he is very likely to be the No. 1 prospect on the Summer Top 20—as he will likely finish with fewer than 50 NHL games.
  2. L Tyler Benson, Vancouver Giants (33, 11-31-42). Back in November, he was healthy and posting good numbers (14, 8-9-17), and after that went 19, 3-22-25 before injuries flushed his season. We don’t have a lot on the current malady, but since this is the second year in a row, we must assume this is potentially career-altering. A bitter pill for a legit blue-chip prospect, and devastating for Edmonton’s forward group. At this point, impossible to project him for the rest of this year, or into the fall.
  3. C-L Drake Caggiula, Edmonton Oilers (41, 4-6-10). At the time I wrote about him for the Top 20, Caggiula was still injured and had not yet played in the NHL. I like his speed and aggressive play, and he has a rugged edge that is very useful. Offensively, he is still a question mark, but Edmonton badly needs him to develop. I expect he will be an Oiler for the rest of the year, and graduate as a prospect.
  4. RD Matt Benning, Edmonton Oilers (45, 3-9-12) and Bakersfield Condors (2, 1-1-2). If I had it to do again, Benning would be No. 2 on the list. A wonderful young player with something resembling a complete skill set, and a perfect fit for an enormous need on the Oilers depth chart. He was 7, 0-2-2 when I ranked him No. 4, he is 38, 3-7-10 since. As a college player one year ago, Benning posted 41, 6-13-19 boxcars. He is off the grid, will graduate before the summer list, and we are just going to have to wait and see what he becomes. A stunner.
  5. LD Ziytat Paigin, Ak Bars Kazan (17, 1-3-4) and Bars Kazan (17, 5-2-7). Giant (6.06, 210) is a mobile defender with a monster shot from the point. He is not a truck transporter and his passing ability is good, not great. This somewhat unusual mix of skills makes him difficult to project, but what I have heard is that Paigin is a pretty smooth defender. Since I wrote about Paigin, he has spent time in the VHL (17, 5-0-5) and KHL (13, 1-1-2). The range of possibilities is wide, he could end up in Edmonton this fall or never get signed. I like his chances if he commits to the Oilers.
  6. RD Ethan Bear, Seattle Thunderbirds (58, 25-37-62). Impressive final junior season for the righty blue, he is posting some impressive offense. Similar to Paigin in skill set, save for a reputation for being a quality passer. We will see how much power-play time he earns, but even without that facet of the game he projects as a promising player. He was 16, 5-8-13 when I wrote about him November 18, and is 42, 20-29-49 since. A lock for a prominent role with the Condors barring injury, he will be a welcome righty for the Leftorium.
  7. LD Caleb Jones, Portland Winterhawks (51, 7-39-46). When I ranked Bear ahead of Jones, there was a lot of pushback from posters. I understand. The truth is that Paigin, Bear and Jones are all terrific prospects, and if my rankings imply an ability to identify the best future, it is not intended. A wonderful skater who has performed well in the WHL and WJs this winter, his size and mobility make him perhaps the best of the three bets for our modern game. He was 20, 2-13-15 at the time I ranked him No. 7, and went 31, 5-26-31 since. If I had to bet on which of Jones or Bear makes his NHL debut first, it would be Jones.
  8. R Anton Slepyshev, Edmonton Oilers (31, 3-5-8) and Bakersfield Condors (9, 3-7-10). Possibly the most encouraging development among Condors forwards this season, if only because Jujhar Khaira has been injured. Slepyshev has most of the elements we associate with successful NHL players—size, speed, shot—and appears to found a coach who believes in him. That is a very good recipe. Credit to Craig MacTavish for that trade designed to do exactly this—finding real talent in the third round. He was 10, 2-2-4 as an Oiler when I wrote about him, and 21, 1-3-4 since. Even still, I like him plenty. As is the case with all of these young prospect forwards—including Jesse Puljujarvi—we wonder about the offense.
  9. C-L Jujhar Khaira, Edmonton Oilers (3, 1-0-1) and Bakersfield Condors (24, 8-10-18). A nice offensive season in Bakersfield was exactly what we were looking for from Khaira. Not that he should be projected on a skill line, but you have to be able to score at least some to survive in the NHL. Those AHL boxcars are music! He was 7, 4-3-7 when I ranked him No. 9 on November 24, and went 17, 4-7-11 afterward. Khaira is a very valuable prospect, especially considering the dearth of actual options available to Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan. For that reason, I think he will be protected in the expansion draft.
  10. R Tyler Pitlick, Edmonton Oilers (31, 8-3-11). Tyler Pitlick earned every game he will ever play in the NHL, and I hope someday to see an ’82’ beside GP in seasonal notation beside him. He was an efficient even-strength scorer and a good winger in a support role for Edmonton. He was 22, 6-1-7 when I wrote about him, but was injured and lost for the season nine games later. We hope to see him again in an Oilers uniform.
  11. RD Filip Berglund, Skelleftea (40, 0-9-9). I was met with a lot of resistance when ranking Berglund here, but his offensive potential seems to be making itself shown in the SHL. He is averaging nine minutes a night and has recently played over 17 in a game. He was 20, 0-4-4 and averaging 7:59 when I wrote about him in late November and is 20, 0-5-5 since (now averaging 9:26 for the season). I doubt he signs and comes over for the fall, so his step forward in Sweden’s best league probably bodes well for more playing time in 2017-18.
  12. G Laurent Brossoit, Edmonton Oilers (3, 2.80 .919) and Bakersfield Condors (21, 2.67 .908). The longest audition since Devan Dubnyk continues. It is worthwhile because if LB can fill the backup role, the Oilers have inexpensive role player and don’t have to invest assets in trade deadline rentals or free-agent bets. We are still in a place of not knowing, but he should get a couple more chances this season.
  13. LD Griffin Reinhart, Bakersfield Condors (33, 5-7-12). At the time I wrote about him (he was the first December name) Reinhart was 5, 0-0-0 and had two issues: A poor training camp and back issues. My ranking was met with criticism, and Reinhart has in fact come back from the injury and played well. Peter Chiarelli mentioned his quality play recently and I think he is part of future plans—Vegas aside.
  14. G Nick Ellis, Bakersfield Condors (20, 2.84, .919). A fine showing in his first year pro, including a .930SP in his first seven AHL outings. His resume is very difficult to learn anything from, basically two years of part-time play, a starring role as a college senior, and now a productive plus AHL rookie year. Miles to go before knowing.
  15. RC Aapeli Rasansen, Sioux City Musketeers (25, 5-14-19). He has enjoyed a good season, with some disappointment (injuries, a ghastly team performance at the WJs). His NHLE (82gp, 4-13-17) does not scream offense, but he does have a nice range of skills and may develop as time rolls along. He was 18, 4-12-16 when I ranked him No. 15, and is 7, 1-2-3 since. The injury took a big chunk of his season. For discussion purposes, it is probably wise to draw the line after Pitlick among what we might call substantial forward prospects at this time.
  16. LD William Lagesson, UMass-Amherst (32, 2-5-7). Mobile defender who is a defense first type and a lefty, he is on a team that may not be ideal for skill set. That said, he appears to be a real NHL prospect. He is an option for signing this season, although the young Swede is eligible for two more college seasons. He started the season 14, 1-4-5 and is 18, 1-1-2 since.
  17. LD Dillon Simpson, Edmonton Oilers (3, 0-0-0) and Bakersfield Condors (31, 2-5-7). He showed well in his NHL debut (three games) and Edmonton may have yet another useful defensive option in Bakersfield. Performed well in Bakersfield and may get a call at some point before the end of the season. His issue is the same as Lagesson’s or Musil’s: There are only so many NHL spots for lefty blue, and this team has Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse ahead of him.
  18. LD Markus Niemelainen, Saginaw Spirit (47, 1-5-6). A strange year for the mobile defensive defender. His offense (65, 1-26-27) a year ago is nowhere to be seen now. He started 22, 0-2-2 through December 14, and is 25, 1-3-4 since. I know most of his value is going to be defensive, but this power outage has to be of concern. The people I have talked to about him tell me Niemelainen is still an effective defender, and his plus minus has improved from -23 to -3 season over season. The 2016 draft is springing some leaks.
  19. RC Tyler Vesel, Omaha-Nebraska (32, 12-21-33). He continues to post a strong junior year in college, and I would guess the Oilers might be tempted to sign him and bring Vesel to Bakersfield. He has been described as a player who has some range and plenty of skill, we will have to wait and see on him. I am routinely suspicious of late spikes by college men (he is 23 in April), but there is a good resume here.  He is 14, 5-8-13 since I pegged him as the No. 19 prospect.
  20. G Dylan Wells, Peterboroough Petes (43, 3.06 .916). Although he is the No. 3 goalie on this list, I think Wells is having the most impressive season. From what I read, the Petes are not an especially strong club and Wells steals a lot of points. Considering where he was one year ago, Wells season is outstanding.

Unlike last year, when Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and others graduated, the summer list should have a strong returning cast, plus the first-round pick and other good selections later. Here are the current Top 20 and their GP, with graduates noted.

  1. Jesse Puljujarvi 28
  2. Tyler Benson 0
  3. Drake Caggiula 41—likely to graduate
  4. Matt Benning 45—likely to graduate
  5. Ziyat Paigin 0
  6. Ethan Bear 0
  7. Caleb Jones 0
  8. Anton Slepyshev 42—likely to graduate
  9. Jujhar Khaira 18
  10. Tyler Pitlick 58—graduated as a prospect
  11. Filip Berglund 0
  12. Laurent Brossoit 9—goalies graduate at 25 games
  13. Griffin Reinhart 37
  14. Nick Ellis
  15. Aapeli Rasanen
  16. William Lagesson
  17. Dillon Simpson 3
  18. Markus Niemelainen
  19. Tyler Vesel
  20. Dylan Wells

Coming up next: The secondary moderns and the distant bells. Some good defensemen way down there.

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45 Responses to "TOP 20 PROSPECTS UPDATE (2017 EDITION)"

  1. Edmonton_fan says:

    For a decade – this is my favorite time of the year to read Lowetide. Checking out draft rankings while trying to figure out who we are going to take. Now there is nothing to do except imagine something called “playoffs” – whatever that is…

  2. Lowetide says:

    Edmonton_fan:
    For a decade – this is my favorite time of the year to read Lowetide. Checking out draft rankings while trying to figure out who we are going to take. Now there is nothing to do except imagine something called “playoffs” – whatever that is…

    Haha. Lots of draft stuff to come, but I will admit it is harder to stay on that topic more than a couple of times a week currently. 🙂

  3. geowal says:

    This was a good read whiling away the time stuck in traffic east of Banff, so thanks for that, looking like a good couple hours just to get back to Calgary.
    I remember being quite critical of the Benning ranking, feeling it was placing his proximity to NHL above career trajectory. I have been humbled on that since, well done.

  4. Doug McLachlan says:

    It is a remarkable, and very welcome, change.

    At the start of the season, I would have been satisfied with being where the Flames (spits) are, challenging for a playoff spot. Ungrateful and selfish, I know, I can’t but wonder what more we need to add to this crew to take the next step from pretender to contender?

  5. Lowetide says:

    geowal:
    This was a good read whiling away the time stuck in traffic east of Banff, so thanks for that, looking like a good couple hours just to get back to Calgary.
    I remember being quite critical of the Benning ranking, feeling it was placing his proximity to NHL above career trajectory. I have been humbled on that since, well done.

    Haha. Nah. I didn’t get him right, he should have been No. 2. The guy is stupid good.

  6. npanciroli says:

    Lowetide,

    Was there any indication he could immediately step into the top for prior to the season starting? It’s crazy.

  7. Lowetide says:

    npanciroli:
    Lowetide,

    Was there any indication he could immediately step into the top for prior to the season starting? It’s crazy.

    First blush had him surrounded as a defender but the offense was a surprise. Nice scouting report from Luedeke as usual
    http://lowetide.ca/2016/08/27/oilers-sign-matt-benning/

  8. npanciroli says:

    I remember during an Oilers game something about how hard he trained in the offseason. The step he took has been impressive.

  9. John Chambers says:

    On one hand … the Oilers are just starting out on what should be a lengthy window of competing for the big prize as long as we have 97 and 29. And so, we should be cautious about trading too many draft picks which shall provide inexpensive entry-level deals to offset the marquee players’ paycheques.

    On the other, the West is astonishingly less competitive than years past, and perhaps a savvy addition or two makes a significant playoff run feasible while McD and Drai are on ELC’s.

    In any event, this is way more fun to debate than whether we should be trading our best players and looking into which talented players we’ll be avoiding drafting in favour of Oil Kings.

  10. striatic says:

    Lowetide: Haha. Lots of draft stuff to come, but I will admit it is harder to stay on that topic more than a couple of times a week currently. 🙂

    In certain ways, thinking about who the Oilers should/might draft hasn’t been this interesting in a long time. Selection choices are more complicated in the first round, where most successful picks come from, so we can have the interesting variety of the later rounds, coupled with the increased viability of the first round. Certainly more players to think about than when the Oilers have been picking from the top ten.

  11. striatic says:

    Doug McLachlan: At the start of the season, I would have been satisfied with being where the Flames (spits) are, challenging for a playoff spot. Ungrateful and selfish, I know, I can’t but wonder what more we need to add to this crew to take the next step from pretender to contender?

    The oilers are still just one injury to a core player away from that happening.

  12. GMB3 says:

    I’m holding out hope that we draft a Max Pacioretty/Claude Giroux type late in the first this year. We could sure use a late first round steal.

  13. norm_klassen says:

    Getting a player for the second and third lines on entry level deals is very important for the team. and having players cobtribute at less then 1 mil when connor gets his second contract is vital for this team. Keeping the defence and goalie salarys low helps to

  14. Bruce McCurdy says:

    GMB3:
    I’m holding out hope that we draft a Max Pacioretty/Claude Giroux type late in the first this year. We could sure use a late first round steal.

    Last two times Oilers picked in the back half of the first round they nabbed Eberle and Klefbom. More, please.

  15. Doug McLachlan says:

    striatic,

    So Chia essentially stands pat unless we lose a core player? That’s distressing.

  16. Lowetide says:

    striatic: In certain ways, thinking about who the Oilers should/might draft hasn’t been this interesting in a long time. Selection choices are more complicated in the first round, where most successful picks come from, so we can have the interesting variety of the later rounds, coupled with the increased viability of the first round. Certainly more players to think about than when the Oilers have been picking from the top ten.

    One thing I have been doing is looking at players who passed through the draft. I think EDM might grab one or two of those guys.

  17. Doug McLachlan says:

    Nice to see Arizona responding well to getting that “cancer” out of the room and on to Calgary 😉

  18. Gerta Rauss says:

    https://www.nhl.com/oilers/news/russell-could-return-tuesday-nurse-close/c-286963904?tid=281885062

    Sounds like Russell will be a decision made tomorrow morning

    Nurse is close but not the Florida games

    I’d like to see them start to rotate in/out some of the guys on the back to back games and make some of these decisions based on the schedule ie: maybe keep the D as is tomorrow and bring in Russell Wed, or if Hendricks plays tomorrow sit him Wed even if the team wins

  19. Soup Fascist says:

    Johnny Bernier has let in 3 goals on six shots.

    Wow. Maybe the Ducks want to make a deal for the Monster.

  20. Duane Hewitt says:

    Lowetide,

    Interesting to revisit that thread.

  21. OF17 says:

    LT, you’ve mentioned in the past that Vegas is going to be starved for NHL players. Their possible interest in Benoit Pouliot was one instance. I’ve been thinking about it, and I think it’ll actually be the opposite, where they’ll have too many NHL players that they’ll need to turn into waiver ineligible assets.

    They need to take 30 players with 3 or more years of pro experience under their belts. It’s rare to find players with 3 years of experience that are ineligible for waivers, so Vegas is going to have ~30 NHL assets for only 23 slots. They’ll either need to trade some NHLers for waiver ineligible assets or make some 2/3-for-1 deals if they don’t want 7/30 of their expansion draft at risk of going down the drain.

    For the Oilers, there are a couple of ways that could go. The first is trading something like a 3rd for Vegas to take Fayne. Vegas gets a waiver ineligible asset and doesn’t care if Fayne gets picked on waivers, effectively converting one of those 7 at-risk waiver slots into secure value for them. The other is an Eberle trade after the expansion draft. Impossible to say what the deal would be before seeing the Vegas roster, but something like Eberle for Silfverberg + Haula would improve our forward depth while rebalancing our salary structure. Also adds some speed in Haula.

  22. Kert says:

    Bruce McCurdy,

    You don’t have to look far past Klefbom and Eberle to be less impressed with late first rounders.
    ’07 #15 Alex Plante
    ’07 #21 Riley Nash
    ’05 #25 Cogs
    ’04 #25 Robbie Schremp
    ’03 #22 MAP

    Cogliano aside, that’s a pretty sad time.
    But I suspect it’s mostly noise, sample size, bad luck and largely irrelevant due to scouting and development turnover when Chia arrived.

  23. striatic says:

    Doug McLachlan: So Chia essentially stands pat unless we lose a core player? That’s distressing.

    No. The Oilers are an injury away from slipping to the wildcard position where the Flames are now.

    I think Chia will get out ahead of this at the deadline. Backup goalie, depth defence, depth forward. The Oilers need enough insurance to hold the fort through a 1 month injury from a top end player at any of those positions. This should be the Oilers’ goal at the deadline.

    Be risk adverse with regard to the cap, but purchase enough insurance to secure the playoff birth in the event of an injury to a core player or two down the stretch.

  24. NYCOIL "Gentleman Backpacker" says:

    Bruce McCurdy: Last two times Oilers picked in the back half of the first round they nabbed Eberle and Klefbom. More, please.

    Don’t forget Barzal at 16, too.
    Ha ha ha. I kid, I kid, but you set me up for that one.

  25. NYCOIL "Gentleman Backpacker" says:

    Kert,

    MAP included in your list? Them’s fighting words around these parts!

  26. NYCOIL "Gentleman Backpacker" says:

    striatic,

    The Oil are a McDavid or Talbot injury away from doom. The team is better than it was but it is not a deep team. They have one of the top 3 forwards in hockey and a top 8 goalie. And all due respect to Leon there is a sizeable gap to him from McDavid. We have to keep a few candles lit.

  27. kinger_OIL says:

    – Hey LT: great post! Kind of from last thread,but you just really put it out there, with the top-3.

    – Does Hall for Larsson and Caggulia and Benning make sense? Because that’s almost exactly the salaries of those three for Hall

    – Sure you could argue a draft pick would have helped. But if NJ wanted to give back a roster player for $1.8M, and Chia preferred Benning and Caggulia: does that make you feel better about the trade?

  28. smellyglove says:

    Hello Mr. Lowetide – what sort of a player do you project Beat to be, ie: how is he tracking, who are his comparables?

  29. OriginalPouzar says:

    Kert:
    Bruce McCurdy,

    You don’t have to look far past Klefbom and Eberle to be less impressed with late first rounders.
    ’07 #15 Alex Plante
    ’07 #21 Riley Nash
    ’05 #25 Cogs
    ’04 #25 Robbie Schremp
    ’03 #22 MAP

    Cogliano aside, that’s a pretty sad time.
    But I suspect it’s mostly noise, sample size, bad luck and largely irrelevant due to scouting and development turnover when Chia arrived.

    Riley Nash is an every day NHL player.

    You listed 4 players drafted in the 20s and two of them are every day NHL players – that’s actually pretty good.

  30. Gerta Rauss says:

    Matty’s got a couple of new pieces up-good stuff

    I won’t post the link but a quick quote

    We’re going to see some players coming in and out on the blue-line, not necessarily because they played poorly but because we wanted a different recipe or we want to keep them all up and running.

    -McLellan

  31. HT Joe says:

    NYCOIL “Gentleman Backpacker”:
    striatic,

    The Oil are a McDavid or Talbot injury away from doom. The team is better than it was but it is not a deep team. They have one of the top 3 forwards in hockey and a top 8 goalie. And all due respect to Leon there is a sizeable gap to him from McDavid. We have to keep a few candles lit.

    For what it’s worth, if Talbot and McDavid both stay healthy but Drai gets injured, I don’t see the Oilers making the playoffs. Yes, McDavid is much better than Drai, but as you said, the Oilers are not deep at all right now.

  32. GMB3 says:

    HT Joe: For what it’s worth, if Talbot and McDavid both stay healthy but Drai gets injured, I don’t see the Oilers making the playoffs.Yes, McDavid is much better than Drai, but as you said, the Oilers are not deep at all right now.

    Unless RNH steps up, something that could be a possiblity.

  33. Bruce McCurdy says:

    NYCOIL “Gentleman Backpacker”: Don’t forget Barzal at 16, too.
    Ha ha ha. I kid, I kid, but you set me up for that one.

    “Last two times Oilers PICKED in the back half of the first round…”

    I chose my words carefully cuz I knew you vultures would be hanging around. 😉

  34. GMB3 says:

    OriginalPouzar: Riley Nash is an every day NHL player.

    You listed 4 players drafted in the 20s and two of them are every day NHL players – that’s actually pretty good.

    If our draft record was “pretty good” in that time frame wouldn’t we have had a better team/better pieces by the time Hall, Ebs, Yak, RNH all rolled into town?

    IIRC Riley Nash had no desire to play in Edmonton too.
    I probably need to look at other teams draft records, but to me, having 7 first round picks over 4 years and the best players you got were Sam Gagner and Devan Dubnyk (who we ran out of town) does not seem like successful drafting.

    Maybe my perspective is too narrow though.

  35. GMB3 says:

    Just did a quick comparison using points, but the LA kings drafted 8 guys who have at least 100 career points in the NHL from 03-07, the oilers have 4.

    I know that’s not the best way to compare drafting records but it does speak to some extent on the quality of draft choices.

  36. Lowetide says:

    smellyglove:
    Hello Mr. Lowetide – what sort of a player do you project Beat to be, ie: how is he tracking, who are his comparables?

    Hmmm. As a passer (excellent) and shooter (great shot), I would say he is somewhat similar to Cody Franson. Of course Franson is six inches taller and we hope Bear is a better defender, but Franson and Bear can pass and shoot well.

    As a defenseman, I would pick a smaller player who can cover well and makes good reads, with average speed. I cannot give you a name, but that is the player.

  37. Bruce Wayne says:

    Woodguy fighting the good fight in the daytime thread. Good to see there is one sane person left standing.

  38. Barcs says:

    Bruce Wayne:
    Woodguy fighting the good fight in the daytime thread.Good to see there is one sane person left standing.

    Amen.

  39. NYCOIL "Gentleman Backpacker" says:

    Bruce Wayne,

    There are others, too, who feel that way about the Hall trade, including the host. It is possible to dislike that trade but cheer like hell for, and appreciate greatly what Larsson brings to the table. Unfortunately we seem to draw up a line in the sand and decide it is a binary proposition and yell at, or over each other.

  40. Soup Fascist says:

    NYCOIL “Gentleman Backpacker”:
    Bruce Wayne,

    There are others, too, who feel that way about the Hall trade, including the host. It is possible to dislike that trade but cheer like hell for, and appreciate greatly what Larsson brings to the table. Unfortunately we seem to draw up a line in the sand and decide it is a binary proposition and yell at, or over each other.

    Your point is well made.

    What I think causes the “line in the sand” mentality does not seem tied as much to Larsson – hell, even Hall – in terms of what they bring to their respective teams.

    The polarizing concept is the relative effect of team chemistry / “intangibles” on win loss record. This seems to be the singular issue that either is “vital to building a winning team” or “has no measurable impact”, depending on who is talking … er …. typing.

    Lots of talk in recent days from Oilers players in light of the Flyers game about “this is a tight room” and “we have each other’s backs” that was absent in previous years. By the same token, it has been rightly pointed out that not every team that has won championships have been by guys that love each other and ultimately the team with the best players win.

    To me, that is the issue causing a lot of the hand wringing, more than two the specific players in this case.

  41. Oddspell says:

    Lowetide: Hmmm. As a passer (excellent) and shooter (great shot), I would say he is somewhat similar to Cody Franson. Of course Franson is six inches taller and we hope Bear is a better defender, but Franson and Bear can pass and shoot well.

    As a defenseman, I would pick a smaller player who can cover well and makes good reads, with average speed. I cannot give you a name, but that is the player.

    Sounds a little like Jared Spurgeon to me, although Bear is a decent bit bigger.

  42. Louis Levasseur says:

    I’m not sure if Samuelsson is too old to be on this list or just didn’t make the grade. In any event, has anybody heard anything on how he’s doing.

  43. JDï™ says:

    Louis Levasseur,

    About a week ago, Condors’ coach said they were slow playing him and trying to find his game. He also said the one player who has shown steady improvement over the season is Russell. Patrick, that is.

  44. russ99 says:

    Do you think we have enough depth at D to go all forwards this year at the draft?

    BTW: The draft is in Chicago this year, I’ll be there if I can get tickets.

  45. CrazyCoach says:

    Hey LT,

    Love seeing these lists every year.

    Even though I like Ethan Bear for the long term, I agree that Jones will see time in Edmonton before Bear does, due mainly to his size. On pure straight ahead speed, I thought Bear was faster, but Jones has that reach and mobility to him that may be more suited to a pro game.

    Saw Benson at the WHL/Russia superseries game and he looked good. Sad to hear he is having injury issues again. By far the best player on a really poor Giants team.

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