Sunday Minor League Report

That’s Taylor Chorney (with Brian Lee at left) with his bronze medal and a lovely parting gift from the WJC’s in January 2007.

Chorney is one of several young defenseman the Oilers have drafted recently who play in the NCAA. It sometimes becomes a little confusing to keep track of these players and differentiate between them because they’re all coming down the track at the same time.

I gathered information on each of them and passed it along on Chorney, Petry and Wild with the Oilers top 20 in December.

However, since we don’t see these kids often (or at all in the case of Petry and Wild) it’s difficult to get a feel for them. I’m reminded of the period of time when the Expos kept talking about these “young arms” Bill Gullickson and Scott Sanderson and how they would fit in wonderfully behind Steve Rogers in the rotation. As a fan you’d like to know a little more about strengths and weaknesses aside from “top flight prospect expected to arrive about 1980.”

And that’s where we are with these guys. So, let’s see if we can answer some questions about these players and put them into a little better perspective.

  1. Which defender is the more “complete” player? My guess would be Chorney. Wonderful skater, fine passer and good instincts. Geoff Ward’s quote says a lot: “He’s steady in all areas and that’s what sticks out to me the most. He’s a strong passer, moves the puck well .” That’s a useful player in any era.
  2. Which defender is the most one dimensional? I’ll say Cody Wild although all three appear to have a wide enough range of skills to be considered clear or “Poti-ville”.
  3. Which defender is the best offensive player? I’ll say Wild. His sophomore season was derailed offensively due to injury (torn labrum) and his points-per-game is superior. Also, Wild has played his entire NCAA career for Providence who boast a limp attack (and that’s being kind).
  4. How old are they? Chorney is 20 years, 9 months. Petry is 20 years, 1 month. Wild is 20 years, 7 months. I don’t think there would be too much of a gap in terms of development between the three at this point in time.
  5. Which player has the best draft pedigree? Chorney was taken 36th in the deep 2005 draft, while Petry was selected 45th in a weaker draft the following season. Wild has zero draft pedigree as he was taken 140th in 2006.
  6. Did the Oilers discover Wild while watching Colin McDonald? Maybe, but you would think the kid was pretty famous all on his own by mid-season 05-06. Wild’s freshman season in Providence was terrific.
  7. Which one is closest to the NHL? I have no clue at all. At a guess I’d say Petry might be a hair behind the other two but that’s just throwing stuff out there.
  8. Is Chorney stalling as a prospect? There has been some talk that Chorney’s offense is off season over season but I think his arrows are still going in the right direction. Year over year his points-per-game totals have been .419, .795 and .762 on teams that scored at a goal per game clip of 3.56, 3.56 and 3.29 so it would appear his offensive slump is a team one probably owing (at least in part) to the loss of Jonathan Toews.
  9. What are Wild’s numbers using the same statistics? Pretty damn good, actually. Wilds’s points-per-game per season have been .583, .438 and .929. In the same seasons the Providence Friars have scored at 2.92, 2.00 and this season they’re at 3.11 so far. So it looks like he’s either being used more on the powerplay, has taken a significant step forward offensively or that injury really obscured a very talented defenseman. We’ll see.
  10. Does Petry look good using these numbers? The problem here is that we have only one season to deal with (the current one) so no real ability to compare. Just to be complete on the matter, Petry is scoring at a .591 ppg rate and on a team that scores 3.55 goals-per-game.
  11. All that said, who would you put your money on being the best of the group? Chorney and it’s an easy answer. He emerged early as a prospect (remember they aren’t that far apart age wise and Chorney was drafted one year earlier) and all the secondary indicators (WJC’s, playing on a good team, top or second pairing, etc) are positive on him.
  12. Of the other two, which one would you slot behind Chorney? Petry because he has the reputation of having a wider range of skills.
  13. Do these players have a collective weakness? No, but Petry is the only one of the three who appears to be an overly physical player. If Chorney were arriving in the NHL of the post lockout era then his skill set would be ideal, but we can see the clutching and grabbing making a strong comeback these days and that may impact the careers of these kids.
  14. Do any of them have trade value? I’m sure they do, but in an “Edmonton Oilers have traded Cody Wild and a 2nd rd pick to Buffalo for two months of Spacek” kind of way imo and of course the Oilers aren’t in the business of making these kinds of trades.
  15. Anything else? Yes. Health. Wild’s health is something we’re going to have to monitor.

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22 Responses to "Sunday Minor League Report"

  1. Josh says:

    Good read. Didn’t realize Wild was the offensive dynamo his stats seem to indicate.

    Question: do you think the fact all 3 are likely to come out the tube at the same time will hurt their development? Sort of like 3 dogs trying to eat from 2 dishes.

    Does this affect the organization? I think someone is going to be weeded out early in their pro career and not got the fair shake the other two get.

  2. Lowetide says:

    Josh: Yeah, it’ll be interesting. At a guess I’d say Petry stays for another year and the other two maybe come out. Chorney would be a player of interest for the big club but it’s more than likely that he and Wild would start their pro careers in the AHL.

    One thing to factor in is ALL of the kids already developing at the major league level. You’ve got Gilbert who is still pretty inexperienced, Greene is still on something of a learning curve, and then there’s Smid and Grebeshkpv trying to establish themselves.

    It’s my guess that a player like Smid will get squeezed out soon.

  3. Black Dog says:

    Good stuff LT.

    I think its steady as she goes for the D going into next season. Tarnstrom is likely gone by March although I love the idea of a third pair with him and Greene.

    So next season its Pitkanen/Gilbert, Souray/Staios, Smid/Greene and Grebeshkov. Greene sticks long term because he’s a righty, big and tough.

    And by the end of next season one of Smid or Grebs will be gone with these kids and Peckham coming down the pipe.

  4. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: I think they trade Staios and Tarnstrom at the deadline and sign Pitkanen + Gilbert in the spring.

    Going into next season:

    1st P: Pitkanen-Gilbert
    2nd P: Souray-Greene
    3rd P: Smid-Grebeshkov
    7th D: *someone from the Tarnstrom/Tjarnqvist ufa tree or Mat Roy

    I’ve given up making excuses for MacT, he clearly loves the excitement of young defensemen.

  5. Muller says:

    Lets hope one of these guys turns out to be another Gilbert.

  6. Black Dog says:

    Really, you think they move Staios. Hmmm.

    I agree with your projection for next year’s D although it may include Staios I think. Regardless I am beginning to think that Lowe makes nothing but minor moves this summer in terms of trades and FA signings.

    He will sign Pitkanen and Gilbert and I would bet that he extends Horcoff as well.

  7. kanadienkyle says:

    As an fyi, Chorney had a mini-offensive renaissance this weekend, scoring a couple goals. The reason? He is finally shooting the puck. He had a Hemsky-esque aversion to pulling the trigger for most of the year thus far. He would take the odd wrist shot, but thats about it.

    His first two goals of the year came this weekend, both on windups. He has been growing prone to getting beat one on one, but the offense looks to be coming back.

  8. Nelson88 says:

    LT:

    That’s my bet for next years D as well. Trading Staois will free up money to sign Pits, Gilbert, Horc and a goalie (Garon?) longer term.

    The D would not be bad. Still young but good balance of O and D and decent depth. Probably enough to hang around a 7-10 spot in the conference. Still plenty of potential.

    I don’t believe the organization is really aiming at 08-09 but with currently signed 3+ year core and adding Gilbert, Pits and Horc the Oilers start to become a very competitive team 09++.

  9. dwillms says:

    I don’t see Staios going anywhere with his contract. Tarnstrom will leave, either at the deadline or as a UFA.

    However, I don’t see how someone like Chorney or even Rourke couldn’t challenge Grebs or Smid for a spot.

    Perhaps even sign a lower-end veteran UFA like Tarnstrom over the summer as well.

  10. ClaytonMagnet says:

    I’ve read this post and the last two in succession, and the debate about who will make it, who won’t, and who has or hasn’t really all just boils down to who the coach decides to give the time to. I think that Stortini is the best current example. Of all the ‘coke machines’ drafted by the Oilers this decade, he clearly has the least amount of talent, but the coaching staff decided he was the one they were going to develop. I really think that MacT was fed up with guys like JFJ and Pouliot and Winchester before them not showing effort, so in a sense he desided to take a coachable plug and turn him into a 4th line NHLer, just to show them that if they actually listen to him, they’ll get a shot.

    Where would Pouliot be today if he had been given Thoresen’s minutes, or where would JFJ be if given Stortini’s minutes? Probably no worse than Thoresen and Stortini. Maybe better.

    It’s something that seems to always get the blogosphere in an uproar. There are some guys that it seems the organization has decided to stick with no matter what, and as fans we don’t see the reasoning behind it, but it’s there. Read: Stortini, Grebs, Smid, Greene. Now, are these guys going to become NHLers because they’re more talented than the others? No. They just seemed to get a long chance to make the club that wasn’t totally tied to their performance the way it has been for Pouliot or JFJ or Schremp. Reason being? Only the coaches know for sure.

    Good point by Josh – Question: do you think the fact all 3 are likely to come out the tube at the same time will hurt their development? Sort of like 3 dogs trying to eat from 2 dishes.

    The AHL and Europe are littered with good players that just didn’t get a shot. If you have 3 close-to-identical Dmen coming up, and there’s only room for one on the big team, then who makes it is really only dependant on who the big club gives the extended time to.

  11. ClaytonMagnet says:

    …of course, all that doesn’t apply to franchise-player type prospects like a Crosby or something…

  12. Bank Shot says:

    Does anyone think these three plus Peckham will actually all make it through the AHL unblemished?

    I’m thinking at least one, probably two of these guys just stall out and lose their sheen before they even get a shot to play a game in NHL silks.

    I firmly believe that each of these defensemen will be given adequate opportunities to prove their mettle.

    Pouliot and Jacques were given chances in spades. The current org. can’t be logically accused of being an org. that gives up on any of it’s prospects too early.

  13. Lowetide says:

    claytonmagnet: I agree to some extent but there does seem to be someting “extra” about Pouliot’s banishment. Maybe the organization has decided to take this season and send him a message.

    I think maybe they’ve decided to worship at the feet of Moreau’s brother and conditioning is something Pouliot is lacking in (apparently).

    I do remember a MacT pre-camp convo with Jason Gregor in which the coach said something like “if we could combine JFJ and MP…” or some such and I still hold out some hope they’ll find a way to work him into the lineup in the fall.

    If Marc Pouliot were my son, I’d tell him to move to California and work like a dog sun-up to sundown because making the EDM Oilers to at least some extent seems to go through Chad Moreau.

  14. Devin says:

    Folks – Pouliot’s not in the lineup tonight in the A (according to the online game sheet). Anyone know why not? Some guy named Patrick Curtiss is also playing D.

    The Falcons were outshot 17-1 in the first period (!!!!)

  15. ClaytonMagnet says:

    LT – Agreed that it seems that degree of conditioning gains Brownie points with MacT. And I do think that specific to Pouliot, they are giving him an extra helping of the tough love treatment. But maybe that’s not what gets him going? Maybe it’s the unconditional love treatment that will light his fire – the “you’re getting in the lineup at 3line center this year no matter what”. Dunno, just saying. I see bringing prospects up as similar to raising kids. You can’t treat (discipline) all kids the same way, because what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. This org likes to make all prospects earn it the hard way, with exceptions recently to Hemsky, Gagner, and Cogliano. I don’t necessarily disagree with this approach as a rule, but if a talented player comes along that needs to be coddled a bit to become a 70pt, 2-way center, I think you get out the soother and rattle toys, and make it happen.

    Or maybe not. At the end of the day, maybe a soother-sucking, baby rattling 70pt 2-way center isn’t someone you want on your team anyway.

    Getting back on the topic of this post, like Muller mentions, if one of the host of prospects coming up can turn into another Gilbert, we will really have something. And it seems that there is more than a realistic chance that at least one of them will.

  16. Lowetide says:

    Pouliot’s hurt. Shouler.

    Clayton: I think the really good players (Hemsky, Gagner) always get the breaks because they’re just that good. Pouliot isn’t that type of player and he clearly hasn’t earned it in the opinion of the coach.

    I trust MacT on this stuff, he has a very good batting average.

    I just wonder if maybe Pouliot wasn’t a better option than some of the callups this season.

    I mean really wonder.

  17. Bruce says:

    Where would Pouliot be today if he had been given Thoresen’s minutes, or where would JFJ be if given Stortini’s minutes?

    Career TOI:

    Thoresen = 945:57
    (84 GP, 5-13-18, -5)

    Pouliot = 761:02 (80.5%)
    (63 GP, 5-7-12, -8)
    ———————

    Stortini = 432:30
    (59 GP, 2-2-4, -12)

    Jacques = 395:09 (91.4%)
    (53 GP, 0-0-0, -17)

    In both cases the ice time is not that different, it’s been fairly equal opportunity. In both cases the guy currently with the Oilers has better offensive numbers (I won’t say “production”), and the guy in the minors has a bigger minus is (somewhat) fewer minutes.

    I would conclude the statistical argument is that Pouliot and Jacques were given Thoresen’s and Stortini’s minutes, they were given them first and they did less with them. So maybe they are exactly where they belong. Indeed, in Jacques’ case I don’t know how one can argue otherwise, there is quite literally nothing in his stats suggesting he’s an NHLer.

  18. doritogrande says:

    Petry seems to be the one of the three with the only thing that can’t be taught: Size. I think that’s going to factor into the equation more than we think. Anyone remember the story of Marc-Andre Bergeron? I don’t know a lot about Wild, but an offensive defensemen without much size….kinda reminds me of Mr. Scapegoat 2007.

    Jeff Petry seems to be more of a sure thing to me because like you said LT, he’s got a wide range of skills. Probably about the same skill-set as Chorney, but with an extra 4-inches. It should also be mentioned that Petry was the USHL defenseman of the Year last year.

  19. Bank Shot says:

    Yea, the thing about Petry is that he apparently has the size and speed, so he can be just adequate at everything else and still have a decent NHL career.

    Chorney needs to be better then most at a good number of things to become a good NHL defenceman given his lack of size. I’d be happy with a Grebeshkov type player minus the retardation.

  20. Dennis says:

    The only thing I’d say on this is let’s hope all or any of them get a full year in the A. We can see that it didn’t hurt Gilbert and that Smid needed to spend two full years in the A, whether he did or not.

    For all the reasons started above, though, Petry does seem to have the edge. Chorney’s slight enough that he’s going to have to be Ralfalski crafty to stay out of trouble. Speaking of small D, say what you like about MAB but that fucker had a shot that translated to goals. It doesn’t look like Chorney has that so he’s going to have to be super smart positionally and move the puck quickly.

    Without looking at Wild, the Oilers have been taking chances, and rightfully so I might add, on those scoring D since Christian Chartier. Those fellows have a lot going against them but you watch the way the Oilers break out this year with 25-77 dishing passes compared to last year’s corps and you can see why every now and then you don’t only draft slugs.

  21. Master Lok says:

    I would conclude the statistical argument is that Pouliot and Jacques were given Thoresen’s and Stortini’s minutes, they were given them first and they did less with them. So maybe they are exactly where they belong. Indeed, in Jacques’ case I don’t know how one can argue otherwise, there is quite literally nothing in his stats suggesting he’s an NHLer.

    Correct Bruce. Clayton’s argument that Pouliot and Jacques are somehow being snubbed is ridiculous. 59 games for Jacques isn’t enough for you? Few big hits, obviously no points. Stortini isn’t there to get points, but he’s good at irritating opponents, gotten into fights, and is actually reasonably defensive-conscious.

    As for Pouliot, the only to blame is himself. Sure he wasn’t granted the topnotch teammates like Gagner, but who says he deserved them?

  22. ClaytonMagnet says:

    My ultimate arguement isn’t that Pouliot and Jacques are getting snubbed. It’s that the biggest factor in guys like Stortini making it over guys like Jacques is that the org decided to stick with them, really for no decernable reason. Just go back a few months on this blog, and look at the outrage at MacT giving minutes to Stortini. People were ready to jump out of buildings. Me included. But the coach stuck with him. I would argue he is a marginal NHLer now. I would also argue that 2-2-4 -12 and 0-0-0 -17 is comparing stinking dog shit to rotten stinking dog shit, so who cares. I do agree that Stortini has done more with his time. But expectations of him were next to zero, and so for him to perform at a 2 out of 10 level, that’s really an accomplishment. Jacques’ expectation level was considerably higher, so for him to perform at a 2 out of 10 level was horrible.

    So, I’m not upset at the way it’s gone; with the prospects who are getting time versus the ones who aren’t. I just wonder where Pouliot would be or Jacques be if they were given Stortini’s or Thoresen’s minutes this year (regardless of last year’s performance). Maybe they’d be doing worse, but maybe they’d be coming around.

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