Comparing 02-03 AHL Prospects to 06-07

In the early part of this century the Edmonton Oilers minor league system had some quality. The procurement department had recovered from Rip Van Fraser’s nap and they were sending actual players to the show (Ales Hemsky skipped a grade and ended up in the NHL at age 19 in the fall of 2002).

I believe the 02-03 “bubbling under” group was very strong, the strongest in a decade or more. A quick glance at the 99-00 AHL team (the Bulldogs) offers us a “line in the sand” for the 90s teams, with Daniel Cleary, Jason Chimera, Dan Lacouture the only players able to win and hold a job (or two or three) over the ensuing years. Plenty of promise on that 99-00 team (Alexei Semenov, Alex Henry, Michel Riesen, Chris Hajt, Brad Norton) but most of them fell by the wayside after getting a long look and some of them didn’t even manage more than a cup of coffee.

Here’s the list of 99-00 Bulldogs (who were prospects) and their career NHL games played since the summer of 2000:

  1. Daniel Cleary-419
  2. Dan Lacouture-318
  3. Jason Chimera-292
  4. Alex Henry-175
  5. Alexei Semenov-142
  6. Brad Norton-124
  7. Brian Swanson-70
  8. Alain Nasreddine-53
  9. Michel Riesen-12
  10. Peter Sarno-7
  11. Chris Hajt-6
  12. Mathieu Descoteaux-5

So that’s 12 players who saw NHL action, a total of 1,623 man games in 6 NHL seasons since summer 2000. Averaging 270 man games a season, or 3.3 NHL players a season from the AHL club.

Let’s look at 02-03:

  1. Raffi Torres-244
  2. Fernando Pisani-233
  3. Marc Andre Bergeron-207
  4. Jarret Stoll-201
  5. Alexei Semenov-96
  6. Ty Conklin-73
  7. Tony Salmelainen-70
  8. Jani Rita-53
  9. Bobby Allen-31
  10. Mike Bishai-14

We can debate Raffi Torres inclusion as a prospect, in fact let’s take him out of the equation (he was 21 but came over at the deadline as part of an NHL deal and had played 31 NHL games). So that’s 9 players, 978 games in 3 seasons since the summer of 2003. Is my math right? That’s 326 man games per season, or 3.98 NHL players a season since then. We can give the edge to the 02-03 group for 2 reasons: Pisani-Bergeron-Stoll is a much better top 3 than Cleary-Lacouture-Chimera (with respect to the two Dan’s and Jason), and of course the gap is likely to widen as time rolls along and other players get a second (or third) shot.

What can that tell us about the 06-07 group? Well for one, the first round picks don’t seem to fare as well as the undrafted free agents and the hard working college men, and if three of the AHL players from last season turn into regulars we should be thrilled. Here’s the AHL stats from Oilers prospects last year:

  1. Kyle Brodziak 62gp, 24-32-56
  2. Rob Schremp 69gp, 17-36-53
  3. Marc Pouliot 33gp, 14-17-31
  4. Tom Gilbert 48gp, 4-26-30
  5. JF Jacques 29gp, 10-17-27
  6. Danny Syvret 57gp, 4-16-20
  7. Mathieu Roy 31gp, 6-12-18
  8. Alexei Mikhnov 27gp, 6-12-18
  9. Zack Stortini 47gp, 9-6-15
  10. Tyler Spurgeon 34gp, 5-10-15
  11. Patrick Thoresen 5gp, 1-5-6
  12. Brock Radunske 20gp, 2-0-2
  13. Bryan Young 32gp, 0-1-1
  14. Troy Bodie 20gp, 0-1-1
  15. Tim Sestito 4gp, 0-0-0
  16. Stephane Goulet 2gp, 0-1-1
  17. Jeff Deslauriers 40gp, 2.47 .908
  18. Devan Dubnyk 4gp, 2.94 .855

Which three would you bet money on being the next Cleary, Pisani or Stoll?

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10 Responses to "Comparing 02-03 AHL Prospects to 06-07"

  1. Devin says:

    In terms of utility (not style) I’d say Thoresen will be our new Fernando. I have a lot of love for this kid, he is very responsible and showed flashes of immense creativity in his rookie campaign.

    The new Stoll will be Pouliot. They have a lot of similarities (RH, same size, average skaters) though Stoll is a more physical shooter and MP is a finesse passer. Stoll broke out in his 23 y/o season and I think MP will do the same (08-09).

    Gilbert is probably a good bet for the new MAB. Can put up pts at EV and will be a creative bottom pairing guy.

    Those three guys should have careers. I think Roy has some type of NHL career in him, and Brodziak too. It’s too early to say whether JFJ, Schremp, and others will ever establish themselves though.

  2. Lowetide says:

    devin: Pretty much agree with you down the line. Thoresen and Pouliot has a slight disadvantage imo because (unlike Stoll and Pouliot) there are just so many players coming through the Oilers system right now, and any one of them might get traded or left behind due to even a slight injury setback (Schremp may be an example).

    But the guys to watch are Thoresen, Pouliot, Gilbert and Brodziak to me eye.

    And the guy with the most unique set of skills in the Oilers system (and maybe in all of the minors) is Jacques.

  3. mike w says:

    My money is on Tom Gilbert, one of the goalies and Marc Pouliot, and I guess Rob Schremp as a long shot.

  4. Black Dog says:

    I’d say Pouliot and Gilbert for sure but you may have a few others in there as well. Brodziak or Thoresen would be my pick for now but Dubnyk, Jacques, Roy and Schremp all have shots at decent careers if things fall right, imo. Its a good group.

  5. Devin says:

    LT – JFJ’s problem is that his most unique skill is being utterly useless at the NHL level. I remember your post from awhile back about his streak though and IIRC your conclusion was that it couldn’t last forever. I think in fairness he could and should be an NHL player, eventually. Comparing his AHL numbers to Penner’s though (albeit at different ages) makes me wonder just how useful he will be.

    Another guy I think will be in the NHL sooner than later is O’Marra. I believe him to be the next Ethan Moreau (I think he’ll be switched to wing in the show). He seems to me to be more similar to Ethan than JFJ is.

    Black dog – it’s a really good group. The issue as LT always says is that no one is “great” in the group. That said, I firmly believe one or two of these guys are going to have breakout years (whether it’s in the A or the big club) and seperate themselves. Impossible to say who, yet, since guys like Cogliano and O’Marra are total unknowns at the pro level.

  6. PunjabiOil says:

    It will be interesting if Andrew Cogliano is ready by January to make the jump.

    O’Marra mentioned a while back that he’s ready to prove his critics wrong that his upside is a 3rd liner. He feels he’s got top 6 potential in him – however, the numbers thus far don’t agree with that

    LT’s favourite, Trukho is also interesting. He’s put up Hemsky-esque numbers, and he still can’t turn Lowe’s/Prendergast’s heads. What’s up with that? Are there deficiency’s in other parts of his game?

  7. Lowetide says:

    punjabioil: In March of this year, Lowe said this about Trukhno (from Guy at HF): “He’s a better skater at the same age but like Robbie Schremp, [Trukhno] has to get a little stronger and quicker as well,” said the GM. “He still looks very young in terms of his physical maturity but a lot can happen over the course of six months; he could grow an extra inch and put on another 10 pounds and show up at camp and be ready to physically step into the NHL.”

    So he’s got some things to do.

  8. Devin says:

    LT- regarding Trukhno you’d have to think size and strength issues are about the smallest concern for developing these guys. You can’t teach skill and sense, but you can sure as hell throw anybody thru circuit and weight training hell for 4 months. If Pouliot and Truk’s biggest issues are size/strength/conditioning, then we have little to worry about. I doubt Chad Moreau would accept anything less than blood sweat and tears from these kids.

  9. Lowetide says:

    Devin: Yeah, agreed. I’m very strong on Trukhno because he (along with Pouliot) has the widest range of skills. Actually Cogliano does too but he’s a smaller player.

    Trukhno is the first guy I’ll be watching for at camp this year.

  10. mike says:

    I’ll take Pouliot, Schremp, and Jacques for three future HOF careers please.

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