By the time I get around to updating my Oilers top 20 list in December most of the really good players are going to be ready to graduate. My “line in the sand” for prospects is that they’ve played in enough games to establish themselves as NHL players. It can vary from player to player (Cogliano will be pretty established by Christmas, no? Is there any real use calling him a prospect after that?) and I can be wrong like any fan but enjoy making bets on players. Pouliot is no longer on my list of prospects despite not having established himself yet. I’m not putting him back on, though. He’s now a “fringe major leaguer” trying to make the grade in my books. He’s Candy Maldonado as a Dodger.
Here’s a quick look at the top 10 from the June 20:
- Sam Gagner: There were visitors to this site who felt the Oilers might keep him and Gagner might indeed make the grade. Speeds was one of them, and there was someone else too but I can’t remember. He’s been exceptional in all areas, and as late as the MacT presser before the game in Calgary he basically said the team is “beyond the point of no return” in regard to sending him to junior. For an organization that plays pretty much by the book, this is a watershed moment. His goal in the CAL game last night appears to be further proof he’s not going to get sent back to London. STATUS: Last Train to London unlikely to include Dave’s son. He’ll make the December list but that’ll be the last one.
- Slava Trukhno: Showed well in camp, started his AHL career playing well but hasn’t done much in the last few games. He’s 6gp, 2-0-2 currently and hasn’t scored in 3 games now. He needs to make something happen, as most of the other forwards are ripping line drives every at-bat. STATUS: He’ll be among the top 5 on my list for December.
- Andrew Cogliano. Textbook training camp. Arrive, impress, take nothing for granted. Ridiculous wheels, a high degree of intelligence and offensive ability are a nice touch too. Passed a parade of players this fall like they were nothing. Nothing. STATUS: Like Gagner, he’ll be on the December list (at #2) but we pretty much know he’s no longer a prospect and has moved into the “NHL regular” category. You know who called this pretty much all along? Asiaoil.
- Tom Gilbert. He’s a really nice player. Gilbert is a guy who does at least one thing to make you notice a game, and he’s a rookie and 23. A solid future, he’s the third of four on this list ready to graduate from prospect status. If he were breaking into an everyday lineup on a team with the normal amount of kids we’d be talking about his composure and puck skills. As it is, imo he has been one of two Oiler defenders who’ve been consistent in a good way so far this season. STATUS: He’d be an NHL defenseman on a lot of bluelines, he’s certainly one for the Oilers. Like Gagner and Cogliano I’ll include him in December but only so I can rave about him.
- Rob Schremp. He apparently was pretty upset after being sent out this week. I can’t blame him for that, hopefully he takes it out on opposition. If he treats the demotion like a kick in the ass and reaches new heights one suspects he’ll get another call soon. It seems as though the Oilers have unlimited free tickets to Springfield. Schremp did play a wonderful game from all reports last night. STATUS: He’s exactly where John Mayberry and Cliff Johnson were in about 1972 or 1973: You’re doing some things to get noticed and then the organization falls in love with Bob Watson, trades for Lee May and then Cesar Cedeno comes along and is better than you and everyone else since Willie Mays and next thing you’re in Okla City and they’re teaching you to be a catcher. He’ll be on the December list.
- Taylor Chorney. I watched him a little on the internet Friday. He looks stronger than I remember from last season’s WJC’s and that’s a good sign. Three assists in three games, if he has a good college year he might be number one on the summer 2008 list. He’s a good hockey player. STATUS: Probably makes the December top 5.
- Devan Dubnyk. He isn’t playing much but has been effective when he’s in there. His .923SP ranks just outside the top 10 in the AHL and is 3rd among rookies (this is among G’s with more than 100 minutes played). Looks like the clear backup to Deslauriers but the Oilers have to be happy with his performance so far this season. STATUS: No reason to move him down the list.
- Ryan O’Marra. His injury troubles are real, and they are spectacular. O’Marra has played just 3 AHL games so far this season. He looked very good in the day of scrimmages I saw at TC but didn’t show much in pre-season and now has injury troubles. STATUS: He needs to work his way into the lineup but his stock is probably falling.
- Alex Plante. Injuries kept him out of training camp (the EDM portion) and he has just now returned to action with his junior team. He’s got an assist in 2 games. STATUS: Not much has changed, he’s a pretty raw player who will need to build on the impressive improvement reflected in his flight up the ISS ratings pre-draft.
- Jozef Hrabel. He’s once again putting up points in the RSL. Has apparently put on some weight (he was listed at 6-0, 165 on draft day but is now listed on eurohockey.net as 6-0, 178. NOTE: Bill Buckner is now at shortstop for the Boston Red Sox. That’s Buckner, SS). I’m very curious about this player. STATUS: I don’t really even know if he is still Oiler property. There was some confusion about whether or not the Oilers needed to sign him and as far as I can tell there has been no confirmation. If he’s still Oiler property, he’ll be in my December top 20.
Up next, 11-20 and the bonus 5 I listed in June.