Guy Flaming’s HF Oilers Top 20

This is Kim Issel. He was the 21st player taken in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft. He was a huge winger (6-4, 200) out of the WHL who had some talent (played on a Mem Cup winner) but the Oilers had so much depth in those days it was tough for even the first rounders to make an impact on the major league roster.

Issel had a pretty long playing career (he retired in 1999) for a guy who didn’t play much at all in the NHL (4 games) but his second and third AHL seasons were pretty damn good (34 and 36 goals) and when Austria called Issel answered and began a decade long nomad’s life outside the NHL pipeline.

There are more Kim Issel’s than true NHLers in the Edmonton Oilers system, and Guy Flaming’s latest crack at ranking them is interesting on a lot of levels. Robert Nilsson is ranked #3 and Marc Pouliot #6, which I would have thought should be reversed. Guy mentions that Pouliot spent only a week in California training and coach MacT’s conditioning concerns.

With Guy’s connections to the Oilers, I’m hesitant to suggest he’s wrong on something because:

  1. He has a pipeline to the scouts
  2. He does this for a living so his reputation is on the line when he writes these top 20′s.

I think the rating is incorrect. Nilsson may outscore Pouliot but he isn’t a better player, and conditioning may be a concern but there’s every chance Pouliot’s summer workouts didn’t end in California. He survived that horrible run last season and impressed the most important hockey man in the organization. MacT:

“From what I’ve seen from him, he plays a responsible game. There’s no reason he can’t play a third-line role if he can’t fill a top-two line spot. There are a lot of players, of which we have a few, who have to play on your top two lines, otherwise they’re not going to play. He’s not one of those guys. He’s a guy who can play that third-line centre spot.” (March 5, 2007)

I think Pouliot is a better player than Robert Nilsson, and he’s going to camp with a head coach who values the things he brings more than the things Nilsson brings. They’ll probably both make the club, but I don’t think Guy’s ranking is correct in regard to these two prospects.

Other interesting items from Guy’s article include:

  • Schremp says he’ll be 100% healthy for camp.
  • O’Marra has been 100% for two months.
  • Guy sets up the Jacques situation perfectly, suggesting that with Penner’s signing Jacques is expendable but the Oilers need to play him in order to increase his value.
  • Guy also has some nice insight into Brodziak’s increased chances with Pisani’s injury.

Guy Flaming’s Oilers top 20 is always an interesting and informative read.

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21 Responses to "Guy Flaming’s HF Oilers Top 20"

  1. ClaytonMagnet says:

    I think that you’re right LT in that Pouliot is better than Nilsson now, but Guy’s list is obviously not based on the player’s current level. He’s got to be combining the now with his estimation of each player’s upside…and who knows? Nilsson could sparkle.

    Got to say I love that Alex Plante snuck into the top 10. Love this kid. Saw a bunch of Hitmen games last year, and he’s going to start catching up to his size this year. God, I hope he works out.

  2. Black Dog says:

    Great stuff as always LT.

    The whole “Pouliot was only in California for a week” thing strikes me as being silly. His conditioning was poor last fall, yes, but there are any number of reasons why he was there for just a week.

    Lots of quality on that list – lets hope that a lot of it translates to the bigs. The fact that Gilbert is down the road a bit says a lot – I think he is definitely a player – for him to not even be top ten speaks to some depth in the org.

  3. momentai says:

    Well, in this case the information about his length of training in California was from Gregor’s mouth and not necessarily a scout according to Guy. It would seem that this is just Guy’s spin on things and not necessarily one indicative of the organization.

  4. Colby Cosh says:

    Throwing away NHL games on JFJ in order to increase his utterly negligible “trade value” by maybe 5%? What’s the point of us having an AHL team then?

  5. matt says:

    Pisani’s departure can be an opportunity if his contract can somehow be set aside for salary cap determination.
    For Lowe to salvage his job he must hope that players like Schremp, Nilsson and Cogliano can contribute offensively more than is currently expected.
    The Oilers can’t be Vancouver, Minnesota or Calgary. Grinding isn’t the Oiler way.
    Let the team find a style that is distinctive and plays to its traditions.
    As always, an early Lowe departure can only help.
    One last note – the moves Lowe made through the summer had elements of desperation. But why would he expect otherwise? Sending Pronger and Smyth for probably “nothing” is very hard to recover from.

  6. Showerhead says:

    It was a great read but one can’t help but feel Guy doesn’t mind the occasional flat out lie.

    When you say “The old adage of ‘buy low’ rings very true in the case of Nilsson who was plucked from the New York Islanders after being banished to the AHL by new head coach Ted Nolan…” you’ve either got the world’s worst memory for mulleted wariors or you’re just plain ignorant.

    When you say “The choice of Nash by Edmonton’s scouting staff drew favorable reviews from most pundits across the hockey map” you’re just plain loony. Or you have a very unique definition of the word “pundit” .

    My “nitpicking” aside, it was a very interesting read and I always enjoy first hand quotes.

  7. Dennis says:

    Something smells wrong about those quotes regarding MP and the overall ranking of Nilsson over Pouliot.

    There’s never been a time where I thought that Pouliot was a guy that, at least when it came to his defensive abilities, “just doesn’t get it.” Sure there may have been times when I didn’t know what to make of his offensive upside but he’s always looked to have at least skill that’s valuable and holds water at the NHL level. Unlike Nilsson who doesn’t really stand out at anything and until Rowbert has one game where he stands out like say MP did at the ACC last winter, then colour me a non-believer.

  8. oilerdiehard says:

    I could be remembering wrong but I think Guy explained before (on HF) there are some kind of HF guidelines. Where the players that score more or are on the first or second lines are considered to have a higher impact.

    So he has to follow that guideline and for example if Nilsson looks like a good bet for the 2nd line and MAP seems like a good bet in his career to be a 3rd line player then he is supposed to rank Nilsson higher despite MAP being a more complete player.

    I thought that was how he explained it but I could just have a cloudy memory here but it would put the rankings in a more understandable order.

  9. Ducey says:

    I think the message regarding MAP “not getting it” refers to his conditioning not his hockey sense.

    It is clear that exceptional conditioning is a priority for the organization. It means that players will be better on the ice but it also shows mental committment. You look at Moreau, Horc, and Stoll and see some of the best conditioned athletes anywhere. I don’t think its a coincidence that they also don’t take too many shifts off.

    As fans we obviously don’t know whether this is a concern for MAP. Obviously Guy has heard it is.

  10. PunjabiOil says:

    The MAP comment may just be overreaction.

    A guy claiming that he knows MAP, claims that MAP did go to California – twice. He just spent more time in Quebec conditioning.

    I stopped at Clare Drake on my way to class. Spent about 15 minutes there.

    Kevin Lowe was there with Rob Daum, dressed up in a flashy gray suit.
    Everything has to be taken with a grain of salt, considering they weren’t going at it 100%. Maybe 60-70%.

    The one guy I was very impressed with was Pouliot. Souray had a turnover in the slot, and was kind of disgusted with himself. He isn’t really mobile either. Nilsson was invisible. You have to appreciate Schremp’s passing skill-set – great vision. However, his skating was still a bit awkward, and you wonder when he’ll put his game together.

  11. Black Dog says:

    At least Nilsson is going to get his shot – no excuses. He has a top nine job and the minutes that go with it (likely butter soft and PP). The Oilers will see what he’s made of – if he blows it then they can move along.

    Pouliot is going to be ready. Last season he came in out of shape and lost his job because of it. Unless he’s a total dope he’ll have corrected that. Consider also that his contract is up, right? He’ll be ready.

  12. Bank Shot says:

    I think Gilbert not being in the top ten is a mistake on the part of Guy. Why should either Pouliot or Nilsson be above him?

    Gilbert is the only one that showed obvious signs of being able to actually achieve the potential tag that has been hung upon him.

    Nilsson and the other 3 players with first line potential…..right.

    It seems to me that something like 90+% of first liners were NHL regulars by 20-21. How long can you keep giving guys like Nilsson potential credits?

    If you use Lowetide’s method of looking at what a young player has done then it looks like Little Magic has been running in place a fair bit.

    I guess there is an outside chance that the little guy develops into the next St.Louis, but its not a reasonable or rational assumption to make, so I don’t see why you’d still hang a first line label on him.

  13. oilerdiehard says:

    Bank Shot – My comparison and hope for Nilsson is a more physical, fiesty version of Ladislav Nagy. Their time spent between the NHL and AHL at this point in Robert’s career to Nagy early on, is pretty even and Nilsson’s AHL / NHL point production is about the same and a bit better in some cases from what I recall when I looked it up.

    Of course I am not saying that will happen, it depends on this year what he does. This was when Nagy finally stuck and started to produce (42 points Laddy that year).

  14. Gord says:

    Just because I’m bored & I believe what I am posting…

    Nilsson is going to kick butt & get 60+ points with the Oilers this year. He came up while we had our decimated defense & no talent on the back end (which is why the whole team suffered offensively) – Nilsson drove to the net & had opportunities.

    Gilbert will either be traded (stupid move) or be up full time around Christmas after we trade a few of our regular defensemen.

    Both of them will be regular 2nd line players by 2008…

  15. Black Dog says:

    gord – I’m also a big fan of Gilbert – unless they get a terrific return he is one guy I think is a keeper – he just looks like he’s going to be a player – not scientific I know – but he is mobile and seems to have good instincts. I remember one game last season where he ended up handling the puck down low on the PP – great vision and confidence.

  16. James L. says:

    If Gilbert played the whole season next year, he’d get 40 points. Straight up. Love this kid.

  17. Dennis says:

    Right off the bat, right from the first game he played in SJ, you could see that Gilbert has great offensive instincts. I think that right now he’d be doing great playing on the 3rd pairing with a steady stay-at-home vet and logging some PP time. The latter is the way that SJ broke in Carle in ’06 though I’m not sure who he was playing with at EV.

  18. Lowetide says:

    He had the best AHL rookie season of any Oiler D prospect since Doug Lynch (who would have been a player without the injury) and showed some nice things when he was up here before the injury.

    A smart team will pick him up at a reduced price I’d imagine.

  19. Yanner39 says:

    RE: Gilbert

    LT: I hope the Oilers don’t let Gilbert go at a reduced price. I took in the Oilers-Sens game las season in Ottawa, and I thought he played like a vet.

    Lowe has some serious decisions to make concerning his D. I understand that defense is the hardest position to learn,but I don’t know if another year in the AHL would do Gilbert some good. I think he would benefit more from playing with Staios in Edmonton.

    As for Pouliot, I think he will be huge this season. Nilsson’s been penciled in on the second line, but I could see Pouliot fill that role as well.

  20. oilerdiehard says:

    If it comes down to trading Gilbert or Chorney. I would bye-bye Gilbert.

    Watched him a fair bit in College last year and this kid is going to be really good. Not just offensively but at pretty much everything and he is a leader on the ice.

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