The Edmonton Oilers have a ton of hockey players “in the system.” As a fan, keeping track of them can be time consuming. At any given time there are probably 50 names that are bubbling under, some of them having been drafted 5 or 6 years ago.
I offer this as a public service, with the only request being that if someone is missing please point it out.
The following is an update on all of the Edmonton Oilers prospects I’m personally aware of, and I believe they are all still on the priority list of the parent club.
- Jonas Almtorp: Played in North America this season. 37gp, 2-2-4 in Springfield and then 27gp, 7-10-17 in Stockton. He’s apparently going back to the Swedish Elite League and will play for Brynas next season. One guesses his NHL dream is over.
- Troy Bodie: He grabbed an AHL job in the fall and stayed with Springfield all year long. 9-6-15, -7 in 65gp isn’t earth shattering but he survived. Bodie plays a simple game and is physical, and he could probably get a game or two in at the NHL level if he hangs around the minor leagues long enough.
- Alexander Bumagin: Playing in the Russian Super League at age 20 is no small feat. Bumagin went 31gp, 8-7-15 for Mytishi Khimik in his 20 year old season, ranking 12th on his team in scoring. Mikhnov went 51gp, 7-9-16 in the RSL at the same age, as a point of reference. The Oilers treat their Russian prospects like lepers so getting him to North America will probably be like climbing Everest but there’s something to like here.
- Robby Dee: His college career began last fall (24gp, 1-2-3) with Maine. He had all kinds of injury (shoulder) problems after being drafted in 2004 and then stayed an extra year in the USHL because he wasn’t going to play much with Maine. Another serious shoulder injury followed and then this year with Maine he didn’t do much. Oilers retain his rights until he leaves college so they can keep him on their list for three more years but it doesn’t look promising.
- Matt Glasser: Winger went 40gp, 6-2-8 with Denver University in his sophomore season. After starting 17gp, 0-0-0 to start the year his numbers improved (23gp, 6-2-8) to the point where he’s at least worth wondering about for next season.
- Stephane Goulet: He’s a prospect of interest. His AHL numbers (36gp, 9-5-14 at age 21) include a very nice final 20 games (8-2-10) and a period in March where he scored 5 goals in 5 games. I imagine he’ll get a full season with Springfield in 08-09 but there seems to be some goal scoring talent there.
- Jean-Francois Jacques: In 132 career AHL games, he’s scored 45 goals. He’s freaking huge and seems to have some idea about the rules of the game and how he can impact its outcome. He did some nice things during TC and the Oilers always say nice things about him but his inability to perform in the NHL added to injuries (a hyper-extended elbow and now a herniated disc) cast a bit of a shadow over his career. When healthy, he can do stuff. The Oilers are at a point where a decision needs to be made, as he’ll need to clear waivers if sent out this fall. Big power forwards always get another chance
- Fredrik Johansson: He went 24gp, 4-1-5 in Springfield and in Stockton was 37gp, 5-13-18, and the Oilers are unlikely to sign him to another contract. He apparently has nice skills and can play a two-way game, but not at a high enough level to be considered an NHL prospect.
- Mikhail Joukov: Known by several different spellings, it no longer appears to matter. He’s still playing in the Russian Super League (43gp, 3-8-11) and has played in 130 regular season games in what many call the second best league in the world. The Oilers will likely allow him to become a free agent this summer.
- Milan Kytnar: ISS liked this player quite a bit: Reliable two-way center plays hard every shift. Great hand-eye, anticipates well, coachable. Strong skater with a minus first step, good hands and size. Accurate passer, can shadow his man. Good playmaker who sees the ice well. He played for the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL this season, scoring 62gp, 9-13-22 which in junior are not terrific results even for the checkers. It doesn’t look like there’s much here to get excited about at this time.
- Bryan Lerg: Oilers signed the 22-year old to a 2-year entry level deal in the spring. Lerg went 20-19-39 in 42 games for Michigan (NCAA) and led the club in powerplay goals (10). He also led the team in goals last season and was a major part of the 2007 national championship team. He’s a goal scorer and someone to follow through training camp and in Springfield for 08-09. He’s listed at 5-10, 175.
- Colin McDonald: He went 73gp, 12-11-23 in his AHL debut this past season, tying him for 48th overall among rookies in that league. His -22 sticks out as a pretty large negative and the one thing we can say for him is that he was a better scoring rookie than Brad Winchester. He’s still a prospect but needs to show vast improvement to get his name in the mix of possible callups.
- Jacob Micflikier: Undersized skill center who scored enough in Stockton (29gp, 10-27-37) to earn a shot in the AHL (he went 8gp, 1-4-5 with Springfield in March). He certainly has enough skill to help the minor league team.
- Alexei Mikhnov: He had a decent playoffs this spring (16gp, 3-5-8) and a solid regular year (52gp, 14-20-34, +15) and with just one year remaining until he’s UFA one would think the Oilers are going to think long and hard about bringing him over. There’s a problem: he’d want a one-way deal and the Oilers have other, more proven options. Despite the nice numbers in the RSL there’s no real evidence Mikhnov is clear of players like JF Jacques and Rob Schremp, two of many he’d have to beat out for a slot on the big club in the fall. There’s a chance another NHL team might trade for him at the draft, maybe a team like Columbus.
- Riley Nash: Nash went 36gp, 12-20-32 (.889) for Cornell who averaged 2.83 goals-per-game. His career is tracking in a similar fashion to Chris Higgins and as of this weekend he’s on the radar for the World Junior camp. I think he’s the best prospect on this list. .
- Ryan O’Marra: Being named an ECHL All-Star wasn’t in the plans but he made it anyway. His scouting report talks about two-way play and being the best OHL faceoff man but to say he hasn’t delivered since coming to training camp would be an understatement. O’Marra scored 31gp, 2-7-9 in Springfield and 24gp, 11-9-20 in Stockton. He followed that up with a nice playoff run (6gp, 2-7-9) and would have to be considered a candidate for the AHL next season. The fact we’re even talking about that shows just how far he has fallen since arriving in this organization.
- Linus Omark: Omark was 20-years old the day he was drafted and overagers usually perform well after being selected by Edmonton. Certainly since Prendergast took over the scouting department, Jussi Markkanen, Ales Pisa, Mikko Luoma, Kari Haakana, Kyle Brodziak, Danny Syvret and Mathieu Roy have covered their draft number. Omark had a very nice SEL season (55gp, 11-21-32) but he’s 5-9. I’d expect him to see North America at some point in time for a full season, and he’s coming to prospect camp in June.
- Geoff Paukovich: The Oilers signed him last August, a full year before he had to come out of college. They’ve done it a few times (Radunske) when it hasn’t worked out and Paukovich was sent to the ECHL in the fall where he spent the entire year. He went 70gp, 13-13-26 and scored a goal in the post-season for Stockton. He’s another of the Coke Machine picks.
- Marc Pouliot: MAP went 55gp, 21-26-47 in Springfield and hung around the NHL for another 24 games (1-6-7). I’m a fan and hope he makes the top 12F in the fall and stays all season, but I think it’s reasonable to suggest he could be playing in another organization come October.
- William Quist: Raw skills. Size, speed and you hope he swings the bat better than Billy Ashley. Quist is coming to prospect camp June 1st. He played all over the place this season, mostly in Division 1 where he went 17gp, 6-7-13. There’s talk of him coming over to Canada for his final year of junior.
- Brock Radunske: Big winger spent the year in Germany (Augsburg Panthers, 37gp, 7-19-26) and there’s no word about any return to North America. He’s still listed on the Oilers website and he did score 38 goals in an ECHL season, but the fact remains he has managed only 28 AHL games since turning pro in 2004. As far away from the NHL as anyone on this list, I’d expect.
- Liam Reddox: Pulled into Nazareth feeling about half past dead and left Dodge City golden. He did it all, PP, PK, checking line, scoring line and did it well across the board. Reddox went 65gp, 16-28-44, +10 for the season and he finished up at a point-per-game pace. All of his arrows are pointing in the right direction and it’ll be even better if the Oilers follow through on their rumored plan to cull the herd of fringe NHL forwards.
- David Rohlfs: Kevin Prendergast once said that Rohlfs is huge, an excellent skater and uses his size well in important places on the ice. Those are pretty important skills for hockey prospects but he played the entire season in the ECHL (65gp, 16-16-32) with only a cup of coffee in the AHL. He turns 24 in June and would appear to be behind a plethora of similar talents including Troy Bodie.
- Rob Schremp: He has more arrows pointed in the right direction now than he’s ever had, and this fall needs to be his showcase. Schremp had a very nice AHL season (78gp, 23-53-76, finished top 10 in points) and ended strong (last 20: 9-14-23) and healthy. There should be no Sam Gagner’s or Andrew Cogliano’s or Robert Nilsson’s taking the spotlight away and should he have a strong TC he may force the Oilers hand in terms of making their decision on him. The problem remains a spot in the batting order.
- Tim Sestito: He’s already signed a 2-year deal this spring so Sestito is as secure as any minor leaguer in the system at this time. He went 77gp, 7-10-17, 175pims with Springfield and will no doubt fill the same role in 08-09.
- Tyler Spurgeon: He’s always hurt. I don’t know if the organization can even count on him moving forward, as his latest injury (concussion) may be career threatening. Horrible luck for a guy who seemed to be able to handle the AHL (12gp, 1-7-8).
- Slava Trukhno: Much heralded prospect struggled at the AHL level this season, especially at EV. He had a 9-game streak where he went 7-5-12, +3 and that appeared to have taken place about the time Pouliot was recalled and Trukhno enjoyed more skilled linemates and increased powerplay time. I still like him more than Schremp and suspect he’ll have a breakout season in 08-09. Finished 64gp, 14-21-35 in Springfield.
- Chris Vande Velde: Had a wonderful season, probably did more to advance his cause than any of the age 20+ prospects on this list in 08-09. It’s important to remember though that despite the impressive year (43gp, 15-17-32) he did it at age 20 in his sophomore season in the NCAA. He was also on a terrific skill line quite often, with 06-07 Hobey Baker winner Ryan Duncan and former 1st rounder T.J. Oshie.
28 Players. The ones you need to keep track of are the fringe NHLers (Pouliot, Schremp, Jacques, Mikhnov, Reddox), the very talented college kid (Nash), the former Q scoring star (Trukhno) and the college man who found another gear (Vande Velde).
The rest of them have skill sets that are easily duplicated and therefore must rely on luck, hard work and endurance to survive another year and move up the ladder. The chances any of those 20 spending more than 25 games in the NHL are not high, but history is full of names that were in a similar spot at the same age.