Sunday Minor League Report

This is Viacheslav Trukhno. The young man has been struggling his first pro season after laying waste to the QMJHL (Slava scored 198 points in his final 120 games of junior). Trukhno currently ranks 8th among Falcons forwards in scoring, and he is tied for 51st in rookie scoring in the AHL.

He should be better than he is showing currently and since we don’t know his ATOI totals that may also be a factor. However, making excuses for prospects is a tiring exercise so let’s try something else.

Let’s ask this question: have the Oilers had a recent example of a prospect with Slava’s skill set who started off slowly but then began to develop as a pro player?

We are somewhat limited in that we don’t have partial seasons so a turnaround mid-season may have happened for some players that we’re not able to identify.

Having said that, I went back over the past 10 minor league seasons for Oilers prospects and looked for:

  1. Multi-dimensional players who struggled offensively in their first AHL seasons and,
  2. Established themselves in the NHL in a skill role.

First, here’s the list of 20-year old AHL forwards over the ten year period (listed by ppg total) without regard to skill set or whether or not they’re Trukhno comps:

  1. Schremp (06-07) .768
  2. Stoll (02-03) .711
  3. Pouliot (05-06) .692
  4. Sarno (99-00) .687
  5. Jacques (05-06) .677
  6. Torres (02-03) .625
  7. Brodziak (04-05) .571
  8. Rita (01-02) .553
  9. Spurgeon (06-07) .441
  10. Trukhno (07-08) .394
  11. Chimera (99-00) .359
  12. Hinz (99-00) .278
  13. Baum (03-04) .270
  14. Henrich (00-01) .205

There were two players in the study that I excluded. Both Daniel Cleary and Michel Riesen played in the AHL as teenagers, which skewed their 20-year old numbers so I took them out. For the record, Cleary (1.28) and Riesen (.822) clearly benefited from the AHL time at age 19. There were actually several teenagers (Laraque and Zach too) but I wanted to make this as clean as possible. I’ve placed in bold the guys who ended up as NHLers.

What can this tell us about Trukhno? I’m not sure. Chimera is a guy who established himself as an NHLer but it took him forever (he played well over 200 AHL games before making it to the show full time) and he didn’t get to 1/1 at the AHL level until his third season in the minors. At a guess, if we did this little excercise with all 30 teams we would probably come up with fewer than a dozen Chimera’s.

Trukhno needs to step it up if he’s going to have an NHL career. I believe that’s the message here.

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21 Responses to "Sunday Minor League Report"

  1. PDO says:

    LT, I don’t think it has anything to do with stepping up, and the fact is he likely never will, and there’s a lot of potential that won’t be met here…

    Why?

    He hasn’t been the same player since that concussion about 14 months ago. Whether he’s playing scared, is suffering from lingering effects or simply missed too much time due to it is up for debate…

    But facts be facts, as sad as it may be. I really liked what I had read about him too, seemed like a guy who may have had a pretty bright future.

  2. PunjabiOil says:

    Looking at Riesen’s season at 20, what happened to him? Can you explain why he didn’t become a full-time NHLer? What was he lacking?

  3. Lowetide says:

    pdo: He came back and posted good numbers though. Didn’t he? I’ll have to look it up.

    PJ: Riesen was a skilled player who had a very good camp fall 2000 (started with Cleary and Swanson on the “Bulldog line”) but lost his job after a dozen games.

    He was skilled but couldn’t compete, or at least that was the word from the Oilers. I always felt he could play but the ultimate jry (the other NHL teams) took a pass, including St. Louis who traded for him.

  4. PDO says:

    LT, he came back, but he was never the same. As my memory goes, at the start of the season (about 1.5 months in or so), he was absolutely dismantling the league, hitting around 3 PPG. After he came back, struggled to stay around a PPG, and when he was telivized in one of his first games back, a lot of people were saying he looked tentative on the ice.

  5. Lowetide says:

    Yeah, you could be right on that. Shoot.

  6. Showerhead says:

    I’m not normally a “how” guy… but do you have any indication as to by what method Trukhno put up his points in the Q? Depending on how, you might be able to guess at how likely his game will come around. Does he need to be bigger than his defender, did he break his zone earlier than he can get away with now, etc etc. I don’t think we have a mountain of evidence in any direction saying that one type of skill is more likely to translate to the next step but it is a question that came to mind.

  7. doritogrande says:

    Where does Shawn Horcoff rank on your list LT?

  8. Lowetide says:

    dorito: I didn’t include him because he was 22 when he was in the AHL (for like 22gp).

    All those numbers are from 20-year olds.

  9. doritogrande says:

    Didn’t know he didn’t hit the AHL until he was 22. I was basing my argument on the fact that he fit one of the two initial criteria you set out: He’s developed into a skill role in the NHL. The leading point performer on your list also only fits one half of the criteria, I don’t believe Rob Schremp is a multi-dimensional player.

  10. Lowetide says:

    Showerhead- Among the Trukhno quotes I have collected are the following:

    1. He goes to the net and hangs out in the tough areas.

    2. He’s a prototypical rusher: powerful legs, powerful skater. He can change gears and blow right by guys.

    3. Very dangerous on the rush, loves to cut into the middle.

    4. Has great lateral movement, can pass and shoot on the fly.

    5. Slightly deficient skater.

  11. Lowetide says:

    dorito: Yeah, I hear you. Whenever doing these things it’s very important imo to get the ages and the levels correct, so I rarely compare college kids to junior kids.

    The difference between Horcoff at 22 in the AHL and Trukhno at 20 in the same league is so large that it really doesn’t have any kind of application in projecting the younger player.

  12. Asiaoil says:

    I don’t know LT – he always seemed a guy who would just never did anything of note outside the Q – he just never has. The kid has some skill but I think he’ll be “back in the USSR” before he ever sees the Oiler’s roster. We all have out favorites and this prospect thing is nowhere near a science – hopefully the kid steps up and proves me wrong – always like it when that happens like with Nash.

  13. Bendelson says:

    yeah (blackdog), I know all about Rollie’s contract. I STILL say he isn’t an Oiler past the deadline. Why wouldn’t a team like Ahm or SJ not be interested in a Rollie/Staios package? Depth/insurance – don’t underestimate this… Staios will be valued by a contender. Plus he is around next year (cheap)…
    If SJ and Ahm don’t BOTH go into the playoffs with a playoff tested back-up I would be surprised… If they ride their starters all the way this season – they’ll be vulnerable (Detriot looming)in the playoffs.

    How about for our 2nd rd pick back?
    Of course, dumping the contracts would be the real bonus… Delauriers can back up Garon the rest of this season (and likely beyond IMO).

    Seriously, it would increase the chances for a Duck repeat and give them the depth next year (when Niedermeyer re-retires) for the ever-elusive three-peat… no?

    Burkey loves the wiley veterans…

  14. Bank Shot says:

    Yea Trukhno looked like a real slow skater when I’ve seen him. Schremp-like even.

    There were alot of other things to like about him though.

    If he has the moxie to work his ass off like Brodziak then there’s a chance he makes the NHL.

  15. Marchantfan says:

    That’s a nice reminder about Schremp’s last season: it was actually a pretty good one, our expectations were just really, really high.

  16. Dennis says:

    This doesn’t mean the guy won’t round into a top nine player but it most likely means he won’t be a top sixer. Like the man said, it’s hard to argue that.

    I’ve never seen him play so I’ll stop there with the assessments of his play but looking at the construction of the Falcons roster, isn’t it possible they don’t have enough vet forwards? Actually, outside of Ben Simon, I don’t think they have another, do they?

    Up front they have Berry, Renoylds, Kemp and Rourke and, I dunno, maybe that’s more of necessity than design because outside of Peckham, ie Young played in the A last year, the Oilers didn’t have nearly enough graudating D to full the holes.

    But up front the vets are third year pros like MP and JFJ and does that seem a bit off? From watching the old Baby Leaves here in St. John’s, they always had a sprinkling of vets, and to tell the truth sometimes they had to do that because their system was so weak, but the Oilers seem to have gone in the other direction.

    So, yes, it’s great that second and first years like Truk, Macdonald and Reddox are getting time but maybe it would help the kids to have some more professionals in the room. Then again, maybe I answerered my own questions because the Oilers perhaps had so many kids coming out that they couldn’t afford a place for vets.

    Who’ll be graduating from the junior and collegiate ranks this coming season? Just off the top of my head, I’m thinking not too many guys. Maybe next year with the Jacques and Pouliot’s having moved up or on, the Oilers can fill those spots with a vet or two.

    In any case, this time next year we should have a better idea of what Truk’s ceiling is. And if he doesn’t pan out then A: it’s not like we wasted a major pick on him anyway and B: PDO might be on to something about the concussion.

    I’ve been thinking about the Oilers feeding system a little lately, especially considering we don’t have a second or third rounder this year, right?, and with 13-89 in the pipe, and perhaps Nilsson pushing to make it as well, the Oilers might have a little breathing room before the time when guys like Truk potentially not working out would be damaging. Sure, it’s great to have a stockpile of prospects for things like depth and deadline day trading but there gets to be a point where there’s only so many you can develop too.

    Edm’s gonna have a lean crop this year because of Penner and Grebs but I think they just might be able to afford it.

    Finally, because of this and just to be sure, Staios plus Roli for a 1st and 2nd this year would be dandy and the guy who suggested SJ is on the right track, IMO. They’re another org that has had enough kids graduating that they might be able to take a year off and they also have the capspace to take on some change. With all of Joe T, Marleau, Carle and Michalek inked longterm, they’re books should be predictable for the near future, no? And I believe they were pleased with how renting Rivet worked and there’s no way they couldn’t use Staios.

  17. Black Dog says:

    I don’t know guys (sorry LT for hijacking this thread a little)- why would SJ take on 4M in cap space next year for a backup goalie? I look at the teams presently out of the playoffs and Roloson may be the best bet in terms of a guy from any of those teams but its one thing to trade for a true rental whose contract expires in twenty games. Its another to tie yourself up for an additional year at that amount of cash.

  18. Bank Shot says:

    I’ve been thinking about the Oilers feeding system a little lately, especially considering we don’t have a second or third rounder this year, right?

    The Oilers have slowed down on the picks a little, but they still had 3 first round picks last season. 4 firsts in the last two years is plenty I think given the amount of rookies on the the current roster.

    As long as Lowe doesn’t continue to pawn off picks in 09 and beyond, there really shouldn’t be a lull in the “pipeline”.

  19. namflashback says:

    bdhs,

    But SJS is not tight to the cap. Has very good gate revenue, and had better take “the step” this year. And maybe they “saw him good” as regards Roli.

    That said — it would be nicer to have a pick in the top 10, and unless SJS is holding someone else’s 1st rounder, SJS won’t be any better than the ANA pick we have.

  20. Dennis says:

    That’s true, NFB. All first round picks aren’t created equal so Staios for a SJ 1st wouldn’t be perfect but maybe we can take that pick and package it with Stoll in order to move up.

    And I’m also with you in wondering how long they take before they make a push to take the next step. I think they’re ignoring their D or they’re refusing to trade some of their hitting for some pitching. There’s no way they can take out Det or Ana with their current D corps so what’s their plan? Are they waiting for both Neidermayer and Pronger to retire?

  21. Black Dog says:

    No argument from me that SJ has the pieces to trade and the cap room for next year. I figured last season they would move for Jason Smith and I can see them going for Staios.

    But 4M for next year for goaltending insurance? And we’ll get a pick out of it?

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