NOT A SQUARE TO SPARE

The Edmonton Oilers prospect depth chart is not among the NHL’s best. No harm there, the procurement of names like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom and others since 2011 should sustain the big club for years to come. Having said that, there needs to he a pipeline that can offer the NHL team consistent options for needs that arise (or assets who can be exchanged for same).

Bogdan Yakimov should be in North America right now preparing for the NHL/AHL season. Instead he is in Neftekhimik and playing well (4gp, 0-2-2) early in the KHL campaign. He’s playing 15:21 a night and is winning over 60 percent of his faceoffs. The relationship between Yakimov and the Oilers lacks the clarity of Anton Slepyshev’s experience but it shouldn’t obscure his ability or the possibilities. Here are the men who played at least 50 games under Gerry Fleming in the AHL and have played at least 25 (10 for goalies) games in the NHL so far:

  • 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

Complementary players sure, but it’s also possible Slepyshev emerges as a solid top 9F. Yakimov should be on this list, possible we see him next fall at training camp. It should also be mentioned that Jesse Puljujarvi played for him in the AHL one year ago and should be counted as a Bakersfield hopeful.

POSSIBLE CONDORS ROSTER 2017-18

There are no first-rounders here, and the top prospects by my estimate (Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Ziyat Paigin, Joe Gambardella) are likely one year away. It’s also true that we (I) tend to overestimate prospects and we would do well to assume failure for most of the names listed here. Consider another AHL team from the past.

SPRINGFIELD FALCONS 2008-09

There were several first-round selections on this roster (Devan Dubnyk, Gilbert Brule, Rob Schremp, Ryan O’Marra) but only Dubnyk turned out. I don’t think it’s fair to put all blame these prospects, the organization simply didn’t have the acumen to suss out talent and bring it to the NHL in an orderly way. Even Devan Dubnyk, by any stretch a quality prospect, was cast aside and forced to find his way in another organization after establishing himself as a No. 1 goalie.

I think that’s probably the most encouraging thing about the current team. Edmonton is no longer in need of one dozen solutions every summer. Still, counting on a bunch of the 2017-18 Condors to deliver as NHL players is unwise, and projecting any of them into a significant role this coming season is folly. It’s the chief reason why I still think we might see an addition to the training camp roster.

These are solid to excellent young prospects, but we should monitor them over their entry-level deals, and lower NHL expectations in year one.

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19 Responses to "NOT A SQUARE TO SPARE"

  1. OriginalPouzar says:

    I’ve been saying this for a few months now, since the reality of the two new contracts and our future cap structure soaked in:

    We are going to need to focus on drafting and development as a steady pool of prospects will be needed, year after year, to replace the “aging veterans” who price themselves out of our cap structure.

    First example is Patty Maroon next year. Assuming he will only regress to the 22-25 goal mark, as a guy that was in the AHL a few years ago and is approaching 30, he will be looking for his one big money contract – I can’t imagine he’ll be happy with anything less than 4 years and potentially $4M plus.

    That’s simply not affordable for us and his offence can likely be replaced internally on the first line for much cheaper – be it JP or Strome or maybe even a guy like Drake or Slepy takes off offensively or maybe Kailer is ready for that role next year.

    We need guys like Maksimov and Safin to turn in to real prospects and, more currently, we need Benson to play hockey this year and re-establish himself as a real prospect.

  2. sliderule says:

    When Yakimov bailed on Condors it made me wonder about the effect of the coach on his decision.

    Fleming has a hockey resume as an enforcer and his handling of Europeans lacks somethin.

    If JP is sent down to Condors I predict it will be the end of his days as an oiler prospect.

  3. OriginalPouzar says:

    I’ve expressed this before and I know picks can be re-attained, however, I”m still having trouble reconciling the need for a steady stream of prospects with the likelihood of being consistent contenders and being active at the deadline (picks/prospects – out and rentals – in).

    From accounts, next year is very good draft and I’d be remiss to trade our top couple of picks, however, at the same time, if we are fighting for the division come March and look to be weak in one position (i.e right wing?), how can we not look to improve?

    I can’t see a Patty Maroon type trade (player with potential and term) happening very often.

    This is one reason I think we might see a Nuge for picks/prospects (very little cap back) as a move next spring – if we have to go and rent this spring.

  4. MacT's Neglected Helmet says:

    It’s unlikely he’ll be back in Edmonton. But if he does return, we can call him “Yakcity”!

  5. OriginalPouzar says:

    It was disappointing when Yakimov signed in the KHL and then a little unexpected when the Oilers qualified him and kept his rights.

    The organization isn’t quite done with the player yet.

    Its nice to see him get more ice time this year – anecdotally, ice time for our young prospects playing in Russia has been an issue over the years (coaches seem to highly favor the veterans).

    I think they might view him as a piece to add to a deadline deal?

  6. OriginalPouzar says:

    I absolutely agree that we tend to “overestimate prospects”.

    We have 4 new rookie pro d-men in Paigin, Bear, Jones and Mantha – that’s great, 3.5 of the four are real prospects, however, at the end of the day, if one of them becomes an every day NHL player and one becomes a tweener, that should be considered a success.

    I read posts all over the blogosphere re: Bear making the NHL team this year – to me that is an insane over-estimate of this prospect and the potential timeline.

    Bear is a great prospect but he’s a rookie pro d-man straight out of junior. As great as his season was last year, he’s not even a lock to be anything more than a tweener (if that). I have hopes for him and hope he’s on the Oilers blue line over the next decade but he’s at least a year, if not 2 years away, if ever. He needs to get comfortable with the pro game and the speed (which he will likely struggle with out of the gate).

  7. BornInAGretzkyJersey says:

    OriginalPouzar,

    Yeah that sentiment that we’ll see him play this year is ludicrous at best. Nurse was 7OV and took years. Klefbom at 19OV took his sweet time to arrive as well.

  8. Lowetide says:

    sliderule:
    When Yakimov bailed on Condors it made me wonder about the effect of the coach on his decision.

    Fleming has a hockey resume as an enforcer and his handling of Europeans lacks somethin.

    If JP is sent down to Condors I predict it will be the end of his days as an oiler prospect.

    Russia remains an area where value is probably more easily available. The OHL is so overscouted that by the mid-third I think most of the good kids are gone. So the Oilers HAVE to get these Russian kids into Bakersfield and in a good spot. I don’t think Bakersfield has a lot of Russians, so maybe the Oilers should hire an assistant coach down there who can mentor and cook food from the home country.

  9. oscarmike says:

    The problem with Nuge on McDavids wing is that unlike Leon and Maroon, Nuge is too soft. He can’t take a check, especially along the boards or use his strength to get into position to score. With McDavid getting the toughest competition each team has to offer it’s not an ideal place for Nuge. Nuge needs a winger that can drive the puck and finish. Maybe Puljujarvi can be that winger. I expect another so-so year for Nuge if Oilers can’t find a shooter that can score goals.

  10. Professor Q says:

    oscarmike,

    From what I remember of Nuge he can both take a check and deal one, as well as be shifty.

  11. stush18 says:

    Professor Q:
    oscarmike,

    From what I remember of Nuge he can both take a check and deal one, as well as be shifty.

    Professor Q:
    oscarmike,

    From what I remember of Nuge he can both take a check and deal one, as well as be shifty.

    Professor Q:
    oscarmike,

    From what I remember of Nuge he can both take a check and deal one, as well as be shifty.

    Yup.

    He said never going to blow a guy up, but he’s quick enough and smart enough to absorb a hit and slide away.

    All mcdavid needs is one big winger to help cycle an change the pace the pace. Nuge just needs to be strong on his stick and cash the goals. That’s the the biggest reason for mcdavids wingers having success imo.

  12. OilSafety says:

    60 percent on faceoffs you say…. that could come in handy. How’s his foot speed? Anyone watched him this season so far?

    He looks like a chia player and showed he can play with skill, another versatile player for the bottom 6? Could be a cheap add next year for sure.

  13. LMHF#1 says:

    Sign bit parts, do not keep bit parts, sign new but parts.

    Pro scouting is where they need to spend their time/dough. This includes the KHL as well.

  14. Pescador says:

    Lowetide: Russia remains an area where value is probably more easily available. The OHL is so overscouted that by the mid-third I think most of the good kids are gone.So the Oilers HAVE to get these Russian kids into Bakersfield and in a good spot. I don’t think Bakersfield has a lot of Russians, so maybe the Oilers should hire an assistant coach down there who can mentor and cook food from the home country.

    Seriously how hard would it be, make the transition more comfortable for these teenage boys & better results will follow. Find a Russian former NHLer to assistant coach & billot them with his family.
    They do it for prospects at the NHL level, English speaking ones.
    Make it easier to stay

  15. russ99 says:

    Hoping for next year to get some better skill players at Bakersfield, don’t see many there on that list.

    Seems our AHL philosophy is more of a boot camp where grinders are given roles and scorers need to earn time, icing a tougher/more competitive team to ensure a decent gate.

    Not a huge fan of a “sort out the tough meat” approach, the AHL is a hard league anyway, would like to see a better emphasis on prospect development, i.e. the Detroit/Grand Rapids method.

    I also agree it would be a bad move to send Puljujarvi back there the way things are, an early first pick treated like a college walk-on player. If he doesn’t stick, it would be better that he builds his offensive game vs. men in Sweden.

    Hopeful that Chiarelli starts to see the problem with this approach and how it could hurt us when we’re at the cap before our younger skill prospects get to that level.

  16. 36 percent body fat says:

    so instead of reinhart and benson, we could have had (ek/barzal, carlo/aho, and debrincat.raddysh)

    pipeline would be amazing. Chia has made this team better, but being the richest man at the auction does not make you the best or smartest.

  17. Justenvogt says:

    Let’s hope our new found winning ways (feels good saying that) will aid in the development/procurement of these prospects the way Detroit used to and Chicago does now.

  18. doritogrande says:

    I’m hoping for a solid season from Yakimov, so we can once again pull off trades at the deadline like Salmelainen for Spacek, Rita for Tarnstrom.

    Someone who is totally no longer in our plans, for a deadline rental that contributes to a Cup run.

  19. Professor Q says:

    I know you believe Puljujärvi is almost a lock for the Top-9 for this season, but why wouldn’t he also participate in the Rookie Torunament to freshen up etc. due to injury loss last year? I know it take it away from Yamamoto but they could make it work.

    I also think more Bakersfield time would be good for him yet alas I guess beggars can’t always be choosers…

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