Blue Burns Orange

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. This is his fourth year as head coach with the organization and his track record is coming into view.

It’s difficult to measure success for the AHL coach, because wins and losses aren’t the main goal. A successful team is ideal, but getting young prospects headed in a good direction is Job One for the coach of the minor league team. In the years Fleming has been head coach of the AHL squad, he’s had some success.

FLEMING’S OILERS

  • Iiro Pakarinen: 48 AHL games, 101 NHL  games
  • Tyler Pitlick: 51 AHL games, 70 NHL games
  • Anton Slepyshev: 59 AHL games, 59 NHL games
  • Brad Hunt: 142 AHL games, 39 NHL games
  • Griffin Reinhart: 145 AHL games, 37 NHL games
  • Jujhar Khaira: 133 AHL games, 31 NHL games
  • Jesse Puljujarvi: 46 AHL games, 28 NHL games
  • Jordan Oesterle: 157 AHL games, 28 NHL games
  • Laurent Brossoit: 125 AHL games, 17 NHL games

With the exception of Jesse Puljujarvi, these are all exactly the kinds of players one would expect to emerge as NHL options after time in the AHL. You could also point to Griffin Reinhart, who was a high draft pick, but did not have a dynamic offensive side to his game.

GERRY FLEMING

  1. What is the best thing you can say about Fleming? The Oilers can plug-and-play callups upon arrival in the NHL. It hasn’t always been that way, Fleming should get some credit. Todd McLellan puts them in roles they can prosper in, so maybe some for the NHL coach, too. Most of the credit, as always, should go to the player. 
  2. How many legit NHL prospects are in Bakersfield this fall? I will list Jesse Puljujarvi, Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Nick Ellis, Joey Laleggia, Ziyat Paigin and Ryan Mantha. There could be others, but that’s seven.
  3. 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. Always bet the under.
  4. How many of those men played 100 NHL games? Nine. Only Dubnyk had a significant career, though.
  5. Are there any of the current seven who are locks for 100 games? Jesse Puljujarvi is at 28 games and is a former No. 4 overall. He’s a lock. After that, I’d say we are waiting for most of the group to emerge. It would be unfair (and too soon) to pick a single player from the rest of the group.
  6. Is there anything about the Condors’ deployment that is good or bad? I suspect but cannot prove that the Oilers minor league teams do not play their 20-year olds enough. We have discussed this at length. A good counter argument is the number of early games played by the four horsemen on defense. Fleming is playing a lot of inexperience on the back line.
  7. Anything else? I also think the recent college invasion (Ellis, Benning, Benik, Russell, Caggiula, Gambardella, Starrett) is both a Godsend and a giant condemnation of some of the drafted kids out of the CHL.
  8. Is there anything you would change? I think the organization is uncovering some reasonable talent here on AHL-only types, might be an idea to invest an NHL contract on one or two. As fans, we probably get too excited about Chad Butcher scoring two early goals, but at some point one of these AHL-only deals is going to make an NHL dent ala Mark Arcobello.
  9. Are you generally satisfied with the progress of Edmonton’s prospects? Gerry Fleming shouldn’t be judged by wins and losses, but rather on how many players develop under his watch. Fleming was head coach for a portion of Brandon Davidson’s development, and that is exactly the kind of player we should be seeing rising from the crowd. Jesse Puljujarvi is the main item on the menu.
  10. What about Puljujarvi? General manager Peter Chiarelli drafted Jesse Puljujarvi, that usually indicates special handling. However, the three centers JP has seen in Bakersfield—Brad Malone, Josh Currie, Grayson Downing—are not impact offensive centers at the AHL level. I’m uncertain what the plan is, but this current situation is a little curious. Puljujarvi—and Fleming—will have to muddle through.

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46 Responses to "Blue Burns Orange"

  1. OriginalPouzar says:

    In the past, there was a legit concern re: playing veteran AHLers over real prospects and it being very tough for young prospects to get ice time.

    I am happy to note that this doesn’t seem to be the case this year – – Bear, Jones, Puljijarvi and Mantha are getting primeminutes including prime special teams minutes.

  2. OriginalPouzar says:

    We’ve talked a bit about this at length the last few days. Fleming is recently (yesterday) on record as saying that Jesse is progressing quite well these days. He’s working on certain things releated to the nuances of the North American game and his box cars don’t reflect the offence that he is creating and driving – he is doing that.

    With that said, I have personally changed by thoughts on the best way to develop this particular prospect at this point. My general mantra is to error on the side of more development – more marinating in the minors as opposed to calling up prematurely due to a hole at the NHL level. Generally, you can’t hurt a prospect by keeping them in the AHL for too long. I’m not so sure that’s the case with Jesse. Given the lack of offensive talent to play with, is his offensive development being stunted (and his offensive confidence)? I mean, his centers this year have been Josh Currie, Grayson Downing and Brade Malone.

    Its not uncommon for prospects to have middling offensive box cars in short stints in the minors and then be able to produce at the NHL level – we have to look no farther that Leon in his draft plus 2 year (2 points in 6 games and a -5 in Bakersfield prior to getting recalled and never looking back – yes, I know, he produced in preseason).

  3. Centre of attention says:

    OriginalPouzar,

    I don’t have the actual quote & article handy, but I remember Friedman mentioned Draisaitl was quite unhappy after being sent down and that maybe there was a bit of “woe is me” explaining why the boxcars weren’t there and he appeared to be struggling from the outside looking in during his short stint.

  4. OriginalPouzar says:

    Yes, I’ve heard that too. Doesn’t really change much for me though – he was in the AHL, attitude issues or not, didn’t produce well until he was called up.

  5. Lowetide says:

    I had Simon Boisvert on the Lowdown today, he inspired this post. Simon’s thinking is that in order to make JP’s experience inthe AHL a productive one, have to get him a high skill center at the AHL level. Oilers don’t have one parked there, I wonder if we see a move in the coming weeks (or if the Oil call up Puljujarvi).

  6. OriginalPouzar says:

    Lowetide:
    I had Simon Boisvert on the Lowdown today, he inspired this post. Simon’s thinking is that in order to make JP’s experience inthe AHL a productive one, have to get him a high skill center at the AHL level. Oilers don’t have one parked there, I wonder if we see a move in the coming weeks (or if the Oil call up Puljujarvi).

    http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=107124

    Sigh!

  7. Woodguy v2.0 says:

    I think the best AHL prospect outside of JP is Ellis.

    Consider these goalies:

    #1
    AHL SV%
    36gp .916
    40gp .928
    60gp .919

    Career NHL SV% .921

    #2
    AHL SV%
    22gp .902
    33gp .913
    55 gp .918

    Career NHL SV% 0.921

    #3
    AHL SV%
    26 gp .933
    26 gp .927

    Career NHL SV% .920

    #4
    AHL SV%
    48gp .898
    60gp .909
    55gp .097
    47gp .917
    45gp .909

    NHL SV% .918

    #5
    AHL SV%
    45gp .919
    11gp .935
    13gp .917

    NHL SV% .922

    #6
    AHL SV%
    40gp .941
    31gp .931

    NHL SV% .921

    Nick Ellis
    AHL SV%
    34gp .918
    4gp .919

    Some very good NHL goalies put up better SV% in the NHL because of less “open looks” that happen in the lesser leagues.

    I think he’s tracking extremely well and started his pro career like a rocket.

    Also,

    Goalie #1 is Corey Schneider
    Goalie #2 is Cam Talbot
    Goalie #3 is Scott Darling
    Goalie #4 is Corey Crawford
    Goalie #5 is John GIbson
    Goalie #6 is Matt Murray

    Over the last 4 years these goalies are ranked using Goals Saved Above Average/100 shots (all situations)

    Murray #1
    Talbot #4
    Gibson #5
    Crawford #8
    Schneider #9
    Darling #10

    Schneider would be top 5 if he didn’t play so much on his bum knee last year.

    I like me some Ellis.

  8. admiralmark says:

    Are we looking at a team that is just about as bush league as it always was before McDavid? I mean look at whats happening here. We have nobody to play with McDavid that can score except an $8.5 Million 2C. And beyond those 2 there is literally no other players on the team that can be considered skilled scorers. The Lucic and Russell signings are frankly McTavish level thinking. The talent assessment continues to be horrendous. Who suggested Strome as a good return on Eberle or at very least how was he supposed to replace the offence? Now we got Puljujarvi mucking it in the AHL with nobody all that skilled to play with. I’m not getting a very good feeling about where this is going. IT CAN GET WORSE. What does Chiarelli think RNH is worth? And what kinda player is he looking for? Is he building Boston 2.0 and failing miserably at it? Lots of questions and the front office sounds in turmoil. Wasn’t Nicholson supposed to change all this? We have the greatest player on the planet and we’ve gotten slower and less skilled since he arrived. The next big trade might just seal the fate of this team. Rant Over.

  9. Lowetide says:

    Admiral: One of the things they could do is recall Puljujarvi and park him with a skill center. They have three of them.

  10. anjinsan says:

    Chiarelli has boxed himself in with bad trades and bloated contracts.
    As a very long time Oiler fan, I basically despise him.
    Knowing he’s desperate, every GM knows they can get a Snow/Shero fleecing…of future draft pics.
    He had all the luck in the world with the deep draft of ’15 and he played his hand terribly, and here we are.

  11. admiralmark says:

    Lowetide:
    Admiral: One of the things they could do is recall Puljujarvi and park him with a skill center. They have three of them.

    True. But i’m thinking about the overall picture. The decision making and particularly the talent assessment at the pro level hasn’t been very good for a long long time. I have no doubt they have the ability to make moves that will get this team into a playoff picture. But the trajectory from my standpoint isn’t heading towards a Stanley Cup.

  12. Lowetide says:

    admiralmark: True. But i’m thinking about the overall picture. The decision making and particularly the talent assessment at the pro level hasn’t been very good for a long long time. I have no doubt they have the ability to make moves that will get this team into a playoff picture. But the trajectory from my standpoint isn’t heading towards a Stanley Cup.

    That’s the ticket for sure. All of these big contracts require inexpensive players in skill positions, that’s what PC is fishing for now (and few are working).

  13. who says:

    Reading a whole lot of panic from media and the fan base regarding the oilers. A major trade right now is about the worst move Chia could make. I think he should stick to his original plan for 40 games and see what he’s got for young players.
    However, for that to work, the coach has got to start giving some of these young players significant ice time with quality players. Tmac needs to identify his top 9 forwards and run with them for a while.
    And for God’s sake, start using your center depth. It’s your biggest strength

  14. sliderule says:

    I have issues with Fleming but notwithstanding that shouldn’t they have a skill coach at both the AHL and NHL level.
    Fleming was a grinder /goon while Mclellan was a wanna be player.
    The head coach doesn’t really have much to do with skill teaching but I wonder if either one of these guys get it.
    When i hear comments like shoot it quicker and nothing said about making sure it’s accurate I shake my head.
    Eberle was a thirty goal scorer until we heard ranting about his lack of a one timer.
    An off season working on that and it got him traded .
    I wouldn’t be surprised working under Weight that he will bounce back.
    The oilers need to hire someone at both levels that has a clue about teaching skill

  15. Psyche says:

    Lowetide,

    Now you’re being silly. 😉 Just kidding.

    How do we find out which skilled centres in the AHL are on minor league contracts? I’m assuming they’d be the easiest gets.

    Who does everyone feel would be the best initial fit with JP: Nuge, McDavid or Draisaitl?

  16. Pouzar says:

    Woodguy v2.0: and started his pro career like a rocket.

    LB says hi 🙂

    .918, .920

  17. fishman says:

    Have to agree with OP’s comment. Time for JP to come up and KY back to WHL. I can’t see any downside to this move???? JP has size and is good defensively. Lets see what he can do at 2 RW. He is likely never going to be a 30 goal winger but as LT has mentioned often could turn in to a solid 2 way guy. KY has not shown he can produce yet at this level at size and weight he is playing at. Experiment over give JP a shot! Not like things could get any worse!

  18. hags9k says:

    There is just such an opportunity for JP to come up now, help get some wins and establish a storyline for himself and the team. This, along with a Sekera return from injury could really give the team something to rally around, a spark. Send KY to junior and the WJC, see you next fall kid, great job.

    We are looking all around for a RW who can skate and play with 97. If only we had a stud prospect 6’4″, #4 overall who can skate, shoot and pass, down on the farm…

    I think the timing for JP to splash into his NHL career could be perfect, but they have to make the call.

  19. BornInAGretzkyJersey says:

    Pouzar,

    I like both prospects fine, mostly because they wear the right jersey.

    However, just from the limited viewings I’ve seen of both, I prefer the rebound control and positioning of Ellis over LB by a fair margin at this time. Subject to change with a better sample size, of course.

  20. Pouzar says:

    Time for Yammo to go down and JP to stay where he is.

  21. BornInAGretzkyJersey says:

    I also agree it’s prudent to send KY down after his 9-game audition, but I get cautious about bringing up JP as an almost knee-jerk reaction.

    What I see between the two of them is KY has more innate confidence and being sent down won’t hurt his development to the degree it would seem to impact a guy like JP. If we bring him up it should be in a position to succeed for more than a game or two at a time.

    Then, there’s the other side of the argument. Will JP perform better being surrounded by better quality players? Sure he will. That’s just basic mathing. But at the end of the day, what kind of player will we be content with out of the young man? A complimentary player, a “passenger” if you will… or a driver of a line, aka a “river pusher?”

    I see JP as a poor man’s Hossa. But he may need a bit more seasoning to iron out some of the wrinkles in his mental processing of the game, IE backchecking and swooping vs. stop-starts, etc. The rest will come to him when he knows how to get to the right place, at the right time.

    If it were me, I’d look at Rattie first and look into procuring a serious skill centre for the farm team before bringing up JP. It sends a better message to bring him up because he’s earned the callup, and has a legit chance to stay in the show, versus playing the yo-yo role.

  22. BornInAGretzkyJersey says:

    Pouzar,

    Might be the prudent course. In fact, likely.

  23. BornInAGretzkyJersey says:

    hags9k,

    I tend to agree, on an innate level, with what you’re saying.

    But I just have yet to see any likelihood of that coming to pass so simply, or soon.

    If JP were ready to matriculate, wouldn’t he be cashing more opportunities on the farm, regardless of quality of linemates? One goal last year a scorer does not make.

    The timing might be right, but is JP on the proper arc of his development curve at this moment in time?

    I don’t profess to know, but pose it as a legit question.

  24. OriginalPouzar says:

    We are looking all around for a RW who can skate and play with 97.If only we had a stud prospect 6’4″, #4 overall who can skate, shoot and pass, down on the farm…

    Not to mention, he has produced with McDavid (and vice versa), albeit in a pretty tiny sample size.

  25. Pouzar says:

    BornInAGretzkyJersey:
    Pouzar,

    Might be the prudent course.In fact, likely.

    When Fleming said he was playing with confidence that clinched it for me.
    He is getting the shots so when he pots a few that confidence can only go higher. Not against bringing him up, just not now.

  26. hags9k says:

    BornInAGretzkyJersey:
    hags9k,

    I tend to agree, on an innate level, with what you’re saying.

    But I just have yet to see any likelihood of that coming to pass so simply, or soon.

    If JP were ready to matriculate, wouldn’t he be cashing more opportunities on the farm, regardless of quality of linemates?One goal last year a scorer does not make.

    The timing might be right, but is JP on the proper arc of his development curve at this moment in time?

    I don’t profess to know, but pose it as a legit question.

    I tend to think we are seeing weak boxcars in part due to the quality of his linemates.

    I acknowledge he might not be quite ready but he is needed. He can be sent back down if he looks out of place.

    He is a #4 overall and under normal circumstances with this club, would already have been under extreme pressure to perform and turn the team around. It’s not ideal, but it’s the Oilers.

    Ideally he over ripens down there, or yes, even posts some crooked numbers, but the season is getting away and we are looking for a spark. He is the best piece of flint I can see in the system.

    He has looked good with 97 to my eye, I’d bring him up and put him under the bright lights.

  27. Lloyd B. says:

    A much more traditional World Series game tonight.

  28. Woodguy v2.0 says:

    Pouzar: LB says hi

    .918, .920

    True.

    You left off the .908 from last year though.
    🙂

  29. Pouzar says:

    Woodguy v2.0: True.

    You left off the .908 from last year though.

    Still the clubhouse leader 😛

    My issue with Ellis is that he is not very big. Giving up a lot of inches and lbs to those guys you listed.

  30. dustrock says:

    Apropos of nothing, I’m happy to see that Babcock is being criticized for some of his roster and coaching decisions in Toronto.

    Everyone has hin as one of the best coaches in the league and maybe he is. But maybe when you have a young team and some roster problems it’s hard to figure out the solution.

    Some people on this blog or on Twitter love to criticize McLellan at the drop of a hat, calling him things like “mediocre”.

    Guess it can happen even to Babcock, another thoroughly mediocre coach.

  31. JimmyV1965 says:

    I hate to be Debbie Downer but all this talk about JP coming up sounds like wishful thinking. Yammer was miles ahead of him in training camp. It wasn’t close really and look what he’s done early in the regular season. There is no reason to think that JP can come up here and be successful. Keep him in the minors until he dominates there. I really don’t like the comparison to Drai when he was sent down. The difference is Drai dominated preseason and didn’t deserve to be sent down.

  32. Lloyd B. says:

    JimmyV1965:
    I hate to be Debbie Downer but all this talk about JP coming up sounds like wishful thinking.Yammer was miles ahead of him in training camp. It wasn’t close really and look what he’s done early in the regular season. There is no reason to think that JP can come up here and be successful. Keep him in the minors until he dominates there. I really don’t like the comparison to Drai when he was sent down.The difference is Drai dominated preseason and didn’t deserve to be sent down.

    What has Yamamoto done that is material? Except significantly reduce McDavids stats.

    As I said last night. He needs to get stronger.

    I dont care about his height and weight. He needs to be stronger.

  33. geowal says:

    Taylor Chorney may yet make it to 200 NHL games. Deserves some credit for clutching and scratching his way through the ups and downs from minors to bigs.

  34. VOR says:

    jimmyV1965,

    I don’t know where you came up with the idea that Kailer Yamamoto outperformed Jesse Puljujarvi. If you adjusted so they both had the same shooting percentage Puljujarvi outperformed Yamamoto and by quite a wide margin while playing less and with worse teammates. Puljujarvi also got stronger as camp got more intense. On merit, taking ridiculous shooting percentages out of the equation neither of these young men belonged in the NHL. Both showed, and continue to show they can drive play but neither is scoring at the moment. What we do know is that in limited minutes Puljujarvi and McDavid were brilliant together. We also know for whatever reason Yamamoto is a serious drag on McDavid’s offence. Puljujarvi makes more sense right now as a possible 1R than Yamamoto.

  35. JimmyV1965 says:

    Lloyd B.: What has Yamamoto done that is material?Except significantly reduce McDavids stats.

    As I said last night.He needs to get stronger.

    I dont care about his height and weight. He needs to be stronger.

    That’s what I’m saying. Yammer had great preseason and did nothing in the regular season. Why would we expect JP to be any better?

  36. JimmyV1965 says:

    VOR:
    jimmyV1965,

    I don’t know where you came up with the idea that Kailer Yamamoto outperformed Jesse Puljujarvi. If you adjusted so they both had the same shooting percentage Puljujarvi outperformed Yamamoto and by quite a wide margin while playing less and with worse teammates. Puljujarvi also got stronger as camp got more intense. On merit, taking ridiculous shooting percentages out of the equation neither of these young men belonged in the NHL. Both showed, and continue to show they can drive play but neither is scoring at the moment. What we do know is that in limited minutes Puljujarvi and McDavid were brilliant together. We also know for whatever reason Yamamoto is a serious drag on McDavid’s offence. Puljujarvi makes more sense right now as a possible 1R than Yamamoto.

    How can I argue against this?. By my eye Yammer was much better than JP In preseason. I didn’t even think it was close. Yammer needs to go down and JP needs to stay down. Bringing up JP during a losing streak does not seem like wise development to me. Let him gain confidence in the minors and bring him up when things are more settled here. In my opinion it sounds like people are hoping JP solves some problems at RW. I think that’s highly unlikely.

  37. Munny says:

    VOR,

    I love your posts. They’re Klefbomb-dreamy.

    But sample size concerns me in both prospect cases, and accordingly I give more weight to our eyes and brains… and same for that of our prospects.

    Not enough to discriminate between the two yet. But JP isn’t a bad horse to bet on. Or should I say, “Hoss? “”

    “Hosse Puljujarvi?”

    We wait.

    Tough call between Moto’s movement and Pujo’s presence. And might still be a tough call when they’re all that they can be.

  38. Munny says:

    Watching Friday the 13rh: The Final Chapter and a chick fired up a blow dryer and I nearly hit the floor laughing.

    Damn I miss the 80s.

  39. OriginalPouzar says:

    VOR:
    jimmyV1965,

    I don’t know where you came up with the idea that Kailer Yamamoto outperformed Jesse Puljujarvi. If you adjusted so they both had the same shooting percentage Puljujarvi outperformed Yamamoto and by quite a wide margin while playing less and with worse teammates. Puljujarvi also got stronger as camp got more intense. On merit, taking ridiculous shooting percentages out of the equation neither of these young men belonged in the NHL. Both showed, and continue to show they can drive play but neither is scoring at the moment. What we do know is that in limited minutes Puljujarvi and McDavid were brilliant together. We also know for whatever reason Yamamoto is a serious drag on McDavid’s offence. Puljujarvi makes more sense right now as a possible 1R than Yamamoto.

    Yes, I’m not so sure Yamamoto’s 60% shooting percentage in preseason was sustainable.

  40. OriginalPouzar says:

    JimmyV1965: That’s what I’m saying. Yammer had great preseason and did nothing in the regular season. Why would we expect JP to be any better?

    He may not do better, however, Jesse’s contract is in play anyways where as we can stop Yamamoto’s contract from running and, while it is great that Jesse is working on things such as stops/starts as opposed to wide turns, it may be good to get him away from Josh Currie and Grayson Downing and have him play with a McDavid, Hopkings, Draisaitl and see what happens.

  41. OriginalPouzar says:

    Hopeful to see Adam Larsson on the ice for the morning skate today.

  42. OriginalPouzar says:

    Big game coming up tonight.

    We took that to OT in their building – time for a regulation win in our building.

    Scoring from multiple lines coming up tonight for the Oilers!!!!

  43. Yeti says:

    OriginalPouzar:
    Hopeful to see Adam Larsson on the ice for the morning skate today.

    Any prolonged absence of Larsson really could be the kiss of death.

  44. OriginalPouzar says:

    Yeti: Any prolonged absence of Larsson really could be the kiss of death.

    What do you mean? You aren’t comfortable with a right side of Benning, Russel and Gryba?

  45. Yeti says:

    OriginalPouzar: What do you mean?You aren’t comfortable with a right side of Benning, Russel and Gryba?

    Greater comfort could be found in sitting naked on an anthill while covered in honey.

  46. leadfarmer says:

    OriginalPouzar: What do you mean?You aren’t comfortable with a right side of Benning, Russel and Gryba?

    Why? Some on here were happy enough with a right depth chart of Gryba Fayne and Benning ( and that was before we knew Benning could swim)

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