RE 17-18 GERRY FLEMING: BORN ON THE BAYOU

There were attractive coaching options on the market this summer and the Edmonton Oilers could have shopped for an alternative head coach in Bakersfield. The fact Peter Chiarelli stayed the course is a positive for Gerry Fleming and his future in the organization. (Born on the Bayou).

Gerry Fleming has been the coach of Edmonton’s top farm club for three seasons, one in Oklahoma City and the last two years in Bakersfield. His Barons lost in the second round in 2015, and the Condors have yet to make the AHL playoffs.

With due respect to Bakersfield fans, that isn’t the top priority for a minor league team. Fleming’s job is to develop prospects for the NHL team and through three seasons the list of graduates is impressive. In giving credit to the AHL coaching staff, it’s important to be realistic in evaluating how much influence they have on a specific prospect. We can’t give Fleming credit for Leon Draisiatl (six games) or Darnell Nurse (nine games), but we should be able to establish a reasonable measure of influence. Here are the men who played at least 50 games under Fleming in the AHL and have played at least 25 (10 for goalies) games in the NHL at this time:

  • Anton Slepyshev: 58 AHL games, 52 NHL games
  • Tyler Pitlick: 51 AHL games, 48 NHL games
  • Brad Hunt: 142 AHL games, 30 NHL games
  • Griffin Reinhart: 84 AHL games, 29 NHL games
  • Jordan Oesterle: 153 AHL games, 25 NHL games
  • Jujhar Khaira: 127 AHL games, 25 NHL games
  • Laurent Brossoit: 105 AHL games, 14 NHL games
  • Brandon Davidson played a large number of AHL games before Fleming emerged as the AHL coach, so I have credited Todd Nelson solely for his progress. Others above are clearly shared, your mileage may vary.
  • I am crediting Fleming with all of the 2014-15 Condors games, including the Todd Nelson games before he moved up to the Oilers.
  • Jesse Puljujarvi played his NHL games before his AHL games, but, as was the case with Magnus Paajarvi, JP’s AHL games mean the minor league coach is part of the record. I did not list Puljujarvi (or Iiro Pakarinen) above, both men played a little shy of 50 games.

GERRY FLEMING

  1. Which prospect improved most in Fleming’s three seasons? I think Jujhar Khaira and Anton Slepyshev both stepped forward nicely, although in the case of Slepyshev his progress didn’t show up in the numbers 2015-16.
  2. Which prospect disappointed in Fleming’s three seasons? I’ll list two: Bogdan Yakimov, because he looked like a player; Griffin Reinhart, because he has not developed as hoped. I’m not sure we can blame the coach for either issue.
  3. What is the best thing you can say about Fleming? His players seem to arrive from the minors ready to roll. That has not always been the case in past seasons, but even depth players like Khaira have some jump upon arrival. Perhaps Todd McLellan should get some credit for putting these men right into their roles and playing them, Craig MacTavish was reluctant to do so when he was Oilers’ coach.
  4. How many legit NHL prospects played in Bakersfield a year ago? I will list Jesse Puljujarvi, Jordan Oesterle, Griffin Reinhart, Jujhar Khaira, Joey Laleggia, Matt Benning, Anton Slepyshev, Laurent Brossoit, Dillon Simpson. That’s nine.
  5. How many of those will make it? That number is always less than hoped for, bet the under. Fleming was an assistant coach for the 2008-09 Springfield Falcons. That team featured prospects Devan Dubnyk, Rob Schremp, Ryan Potulny, Ryan Stone, Slava Trukhno, J-F Jacques, Gilbert Brule, Colin McDonald, Taylor Chorney, Theo Peckham, Ryan O’Marra, Liam Reddox. That is 12, only Devan Dubnyk is an NHL regular.
  6. How many of those men played 100 NHL games? Nine. Only Dubnyk had a significant career, though.
  7. Why do you use 100 NHL games? That’s a significant total, represents a full year and a little , or several auditions. We all want a home run but that doesn’t mean 100 games has no value.
  8. How many of the names above (2008-09 Falcons) spent at least one season in a feature role with an NHL team? Dubnyk, plus Ryan Potulny played regularly under Pat Quinn 2009-10; J-F Jacques had a couple of years of semi-regular duty for Quinn and Tom Renney; Gilbert Brule was a regular before he got to Edmonton and was a regular with the Oilers for about a year and a half; Colin McDonald got about 1.5 seasons in as a regular for the NY Islanders; Taylor Chorney had a season with the Capitals in 2014-15 as a depth defender; Theo Peckham had a couple of years as a regular with the Oilers 2010-12.
  9. Are you generally satisfied with prospect progress in the last two seasons in Bakersfield? I think there are good arrows (Joey Laleggia, Jujhar Khaira, Anton Slepyshev) and we’ll see. Remember, Fleming doesn’t get the Oilers first-round picks, and last year he didn’t get half of the college signings, either.
  10. Who is the best prospect in the system? Jesse Puljujarvi.
  11. Will he play in the AHL this coming year? He might, although I think the Oilers will start with him in Edmonton and plan to deploy him in a feature role.
  12. What do you think an ideal organization looks like? Great question. An ideal organization is drafting talent that has a chance to fulfill a role at the NHL level eventually. Travis Ewanyk delivered 12 points as an AHL rookie in 2013-14, Jujhar Khaira had 10 points in 51 games as an AHL rookie in 2014-15, Kyle Platzer had 17 points in 48 games as an AHL rookie in 2015-16. Edmonton still needs a two-way center who can help, but none of these men bring enough offense for the role. That isn’t on Gerry Fleming, that’s on procurement.
  13. What do you think an ideal organization looks like? An ideal organization produces multiple AHL rookies each winter who can be reasonably projected into a future NHL role based on performance in that first season. Basically, they establish themselves in the AHL and also show what kind of NHL player they could become.
  14. Who are the recent sure things to have played for Gerry Fleming? Jesse Puljujarvi, Anton Slepyshev. Slepyshev may not emerge on a skill line, but that big frame married to the skating are going to find a good place to land in the NHL.
  15. Is there a prospect Fleming should get substantial credit for? I don’t know who to credit (player aside), but Joey Laleggia’s move to wing was under Fleming’s watch, so credit is due in this situation.
  16. Do you really think Laleggia gets a shot? In training camp? Sure. Late developing goal-scorers are manna from heaven. Long road of course.
  17. How much patience should an organization have with a player who shows offensive promise (like Laleggia)? Patrick Maroon played his first full season in the AHL at age 20, scoring 54 points in 80 games. He became an NHL regular at age 25, and those AHL seasons before that year were all solid to excellent.
  18. How many Condors show offensive promise? Great question. Jesse Puljujarvi was at .72 points-per-game age 18, that’s a great number (tied for No. 15 among AHL rookies). As a comparable, William Nylander was .86, David Pastrnak 1.12, Mikko Rantanen 1.15 and Kevin Fiala 0.61.
  19. Any other Condors? Anton Slepyshev had 10 points in nine games, Jujhar Khaira emerged as an interesting option (20 points in 27 games) and Joe Gambardella showed well in six games. Oilers need to send more skill to Bakersfield, and I do think that was reflected in this year’s draft. The two years before these 2017 draft kids get here is going to be interesting, although Tyler Benson could be a bona fide player at this level if healthy.
  20. Why this song? Bakersfield is about four hours from Berkeley, California. That’s the birthplace of John Fogerty, who wrote this song. Lodi is also four hours away, in case you’re interested.

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33 Responses to "RE 17-18 GERRY FLEMING: BORN ON THE BAYOU"

  1. Thinker says:

    Reinhart was did not develop from draft day. He was about what we prognosticated at the time of the trade though.

  2. Truth says:

    Thinker:
    Reinhart was did not develop from draft day. He was about what we prognosticated at the time of the trade though.

    The Reinhart acquisition is much like accepting a blind date from a girl who was a babe in high school 10 years later, only to realize she’s…changed.

  3. Ducey says:

    Truth: The Reinhart acquisition is much like accepting a blind date from a girl who was a babe in high school 10 years later, only to realize she’s…changed.

    I’ll have to take your word for it. No babes from high school ever sought me out 10 years later (well ever, for that matter).

  4. Ford Prefect says:

    Does Reinhart make the Golden Knights? (Man is that a bad team.)

  5. Lowetide says:

    Thinker:
    Reinhart was did not develop from draft day. He was about what we prognosticated at the time of the trade though.

    I wish him the best, but his inability to win an NHL job last fall was yuge.

  6. Pouzar says:

    Dear Wife,

    Come home.

    Signed,

    My Liver.

  7. Woodguy v2.0 says:

    Lowetide: I wish him the best, but his inability to win an NHL job last fall was yuge.

    I think his bonuses played a role in that as well.

    On the subject of Fleming, I think he tends to play the vets too much, but to his defence he hasn’t been handed a bunch of promising prospects and the ones that can play, tend to play.

    Joey Leggs was very complimentary to Fleming in an interview with Bob (can’t find a link) and basically credited him with keeping Joey’s hockey dream alive, now as a winger.

  8. Pouzar says:

    Bo-dan broke my heart.

  9. Lowetide says:

    Woodguy v2.0: I think his bonuses played a role in that as well.

    On the subject of Fleming, I think he tends to play the vets too much, but to his defence he hasn’t been handed a bunch of promising prospects and the ones that can play, tend to play.

    Joey Leggs was very complimentary to Fleming in an interview with Bob (can’t find a link) and basically credited him with keeping Joey’s hockey dream alive, now as a winger.

    Also had a dm about Fleming helping Kassian, hadn’t heard that but if true that’s another good arrow for him.

  10. Lowetide says:

    Pouzar:
    Dear Wife,

    Come home.

    Signed,

    My Liver.

    Man. I remember those days. The big issue: WHERE to hide the empties!

  11. Pouzar says:

    Lowetide: Man. I remember those days. The big issue: WHERE to hide the empties!

    “Honey, I threw out the CC…it was moldy.”

  12. DaveWatchesHockey says:

    Pouzar:
    Dear Wife,

    Come home.

    Signed,

    My Liver.

    This made me laugh

    Dave

  13. Thinker says:

    Lowetide: Man. I remember those days. The big issue: WHERE to hide the empties!

    I thought I was pretty clever putting them back in the box, taping it shut, then flipping it over. Didn’t work.

  14. Pouzar says:

    Sidebar: For any golf fans in here, The Golf Channel is killing it with “The Summer of ’76” right now.
    It’s on again at 10PM MT I believe. I literally laughed out loud 5 times in the first 10 min. More than double my yearly rate.

  15. godot10 says:

    Lowetide: I wish him the best, but his inability to win an NHL job last fall was yuge.

    He was “marincin’ed” by the coach.

  16. Chachi says:

    godot10: He was “marincin’ed” by the coach.

    Fun fact, Marincin never played for Todd Mclellan

  17. godot10 says:

    Chachi: Fun fact, Marincin never played for Todd Mclellan

    I didn’t say he did. What the dementor did to Marincin in Marincin’s last training camp with the Oilers is similar to what McLellan did to Reinhart, IMHO.

    True, a player should overcome the fact that the coach is setting him up to fail.

  18. supernova says:

    I think you were very gracious with Fleming here.

    I don’t blame Fleming as much as the organization but they make some curios decisions on players to road block some of their younger players. They sign middle 20’s players that have little NHL upside over younger players who might have a shot at making a dent in the NHL down the road.

    Why not Sign a Young player like Tyler Wong to a deal and then give him a shot?

    Fleming has also produced very few NHL players I would say his best work is with Oesterle, but can readily admit that he didnt have much for high or middle end talent.

    I don’t hope for people to get fired but I would have easily ushered in a new regime change.

  19. Chachi says:

    godot10: I didn’t say he did.What the dementor did to Marincin in Marincin’s last training camp with the Oilers is similar to what McLellan did to Reinhart, IMHO.

    True, a player should overcome the fact that the coach is setting him up to fail.

    I think Reinhart can blame the bonus clause in the contract the Islanders gave him for not getting a longer look in the NHL despite the fact the organization bet really big that he would crack the starting lineup. It would have been really easy to keep him up with the big club and work him into the lineup if his cap hit was less than a million bucks. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t do enough to impress the coaching staff and they did the right thing in sending him down. I do not know in what world what happened with Reinhart could in any way be described as McLellan setting him up to fail. If anything there would have been enormous pressure on him to give Reinhart every opportunity to succeed.

    Eakins, on the other hand, was indeed a terrible coach.

  20. Ryan says:

    Pouzar:
    Bo-dan broke my heart.

    I remember being excited about Bogdan’s potential at one point in time.

    Iirc he got recalled for a game against the big bad LA kings at the time.

    I thought okay this guy’s huge, no one’s going to mess with him.

    The big bad kings gave him a wedgie and took his lunch money. That and his skating looked glacially slow.

    That’s all I can recall.

  21. jp says:

    godot10: I didn’t say he did.What the dementor did to Marincin in Marincin’s last training camp with the Oilers is similar to what McLellan did to Reinhart, IMHO.

    True, a player should overcome the fact that the coach is setting him up to fail.

    You mean the 4th/5th pairing partners he got from the start of camp?

    There were whispers of him being out of shape, no? Didn’t he even miss the start of the AHL season with an undisclosed injury? Maybe I’m misremembering some of this (or it’s unsubstantiated). In any case, it seems to make a coherent story.

  22. admiralmark says:

    Woodguy v2.0: I think his bonuses played a role in that as well.

    On the subject of Fleming, I think he tends to play the vets too much, but to his defence he hasn’t been handed a bunch of promising prospects and the ones that can play, tend to play.

    Joey Leggs was very complimentary to Fleming in an interview with Bob (can’t find a link) and basically credited him with keeping Joey’s hockey dream alive, now as a winger.

    Does anyone know exactly why Laleggia was moved to Wing? I thought he was drafted due to his excellent work as an offensive D? Including his abilities on the PP. Just curious since this seems like exactly what the team could use lately (ala Barrie type).

  23. Lowetide says:

    admiralmark: Does anyone know exactly why Laleggia was moved to Wing? I thought he was drafted due to his excellent work as an offensive D? Including his abilities on the PP. Just curious since this seems like exactly what the team could use lately (ala Barrie type).

    If he makes the Oilers, no reason the Oilers can’t use him as a power-play QB. I think he must have had a difficult time defensively for the move to take place, these position shifts are rare. Huge spike in offense is damned interesting.

  24. admiralmark says:

    Lowetide: If he makes the Oilers, no reason the Oilers can’t use him as a power-play QB. I think he must have had a difficult time defensively for the move to take place, these position shifts are rare. Huge spike in offense is damned interesting.

    I thought it was unusual at the time and was thinking maybe they just werent finding him room due to other D priorities. But if the interview he had with Bob was as stated by WG then you would have to assume Laleggia was in agreement for the need to move to W. Very interesting story if he can make it to the bigs after all this.

  25. Lowetide says:

    admiralmark: I thought it was unusual at the time and was thinking maybe they just werent finding him room due to other D priorities. But if the interview he had with Bob was as stated by WG then you would have to assume Laleggia was in agreement for the need to move to W. Very interesting story if he can make it to the bigs after all this.

    He certainly enjoyed the shift, Laleggia was on with Jason last week and said (something like) “I don’t miss a thing about playing defense.”

  26. Chachi says:

    admiralmark: Does anyone know exactly why Laleggia was moved to Wing? I thought he was drafted due to his excellent work as an offensive D? Including his abilities on the PP. Just curious since this seems like exactly what the team could use lately (ala Barrie type).

    Here’s the story from both Laleggia and Fleming: https://www.nhl.com/oilers/news/future-watch-laleggia-transforms-to-left-winger/c-287746504

  27. admiralmark says:

    Chachi: Here’s the story from both Laleggia and Fleming: https://www.nhl.com/oilers/news/future-watch-laleggia-transforms-to-left-winger/c-287746504

    Awesome thanks!

  28. Bank Shot says:

    supernova:
    I think you were very gracious with Fleming here.

    I don’t blame Fleming as much as the organization but they make some curios decisions on players to road block some of their younger players. They sign middle 20’s players that have little NHL upside over younger players who might have a shot at making a dent in the NHL down the road.

    I think for the most part, we as fans overrate our young prospects. It’s not like the Oilers have buried and gave up on anyone that went on to thrive anywhere else.

    They draft forward prospects that can’t handle 10 minutes a night in the AHL. You’ve got Platzer who scored 1 goal in 50+ games last season. Even with low icetime, if you are going to be NHL bound you will be doing something in the AHL.

    I think the Oilers lack faith in some of the defenders we have been getting excited about coming into the AHL this year too.

    They just signed Keegan Lowe which is very curious. That means when Sekera is back, Bakersfield will look like this:

    Auvito-Fayne
    Lowe-Simpson
    Stanton-XXXX

    Not much room for the kids at all. Bear-Jones-Mantha-Paigin-Betker.

    That kind of tells me that the Oilers only really like 1-2 of these guys as the rest will be sitting or in the ECHL. There just isn’t any room.

  29. Munny says:

    Chachi: I think Reinhart can blame the bonus clause in the contract the Islanders gave him for not getting a longer look in the NHL despite the fact the organization bet really big that he would crack the starting lineup. It would have been really easy to keep him up with the big club and work him into the lineup if his cap hit was less than a million bucks. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t do enough to impress the coaching staff and they did the right thing in sending him down. I do not know in what world what happened with Reinhart could in any way be described as McLellan setting him up to fail. If anything there would have been enormous pressure on him to give Reinhart every opportunity to succeed.

    This is a big reason why I’m no longer as worried about the org as the OBC days. The prior regime(s) would have done everything they could to the line-up to justify the decision of trading for him. In fact, after doing so, might have stopped right there (and not signed Sekera, Benning etc).

    But they didn’t. and they didn’t compound an iffy bet with the mistake of forcing him into the line up. Bonus situation probably had something to do with it too.

    We are in better hands now. Keegan Lowe signings and Dillon Simpson call-ups worry me not one iota.

  30. Chachi says:

    Munny: This is a big reason why I’m no longer as worried about the org as the OBC days. The prior regime(s) would have done everything they could to the line-up to justify the decision of trading for him. In fact, after doing so, might have stopped right there (and not signed Sekera, Benning etc).

    But they didn’t. and they didn’t compound an iffy bet with the mistake of forcing him into the line up. Bonus situation probably had something to do with it too.

    We are in better hands now. Keegan Lowe signings and Dillon Simpson call-ups worry me not one iota.

    Agreed.

  31. russ99 says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Puljujarvi’s difficulty in Bakersfield and with Fleming in general.

    I know part of this is telling a young kid coming from Europe to shut up and take it, since it’s for your own good, but there has to be concerns with his approach with skilled forwards since Pulju was our only true one during Fleming’s run, (Slepyshev could qualify as well, but he had only 31 points in 58 games) and Pulju had big problems in general and there was a real disconnect as to utilization on the ice.

    At some point Bakersfield needs to develop skill and not just bottom six grinders, at that point, we may need to shake some things up.

  32. Lowetide says:

    russ99:
    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Puljujarvi’s difficulty in Bakersfield and with Fleming in general.

    I know part of this is telling a young kid coming from Europe to shut up and take it, since it’s for your own good, but there has to be concerns with his approach with skilled forwards since Pulju was our only true one during Fleming’s run,(Slepyshev could qualify as well, but he had only 31 points in 58 games) and Pulju had big problems in general and there was a real disconnect as to utilization on the ice.

    At some point Bakersfield needs to develop skill and not just bottom six grinders, at that point, we may need to shake some things up.

    I looked closely at it, and listened to a Laleggia interview where he mentioned playing with Lander and Puljujarvi. I think Fleming should have played hell out of JP with those two, but he did in fact do it so I can’t be overly negative (without clear evidence). My opinion has changed in this regard because Laleggia was clearly there and played with JP, whereas I watched some of the games (and in several of those games Currie was Puljujarvi’s center).

  33. highgloveside says:

    My concern with Fleming i that he doesn’t seem willing to put the highest prospects in positions to succeed. Pulujarvi is a prime example, started on the 3rd line, then moved up to 2nd line, but took a long time to get any PP time or playing time with the teams top center, Lander.

    if a player is close to NHL ready, he has to be playing top line/pair and special teams minutes.

    The ideal organization is one that has half of the top 6 and half of the the top 4 full of players within 3 years of their pro career and no more than 1 AHL veteran per line in the top 6 or per pair in the top 4. All of this while having reasonable success and making or knocking on the door of the playoffs. Lastly, having 1 player every 2 years that has outgrown the AHL and is forcing himself into the NHL where the team has to make a move to have him on the team.

    This is basically the Red Wings for the last 20 years and the Blackhawks and Ducks of the last 5 years

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