Oilers June 2008 Top 20

This is Riley Nash. He is the top prospect in the Edmonton organization, and represents the tail-end of a stunning group of selections 2005-07. From the time the Oilers picked Andrew Cogliano in 2005′s first round to the moment they selected Nash two years later, the procurement group landed a cluster that looks as strong as anything we’ve seen since 1979-83.

Already in the NHL are Sam Gagner and Cogliano. Still to come are Theo Peckham, Taylor Chorney, Jeff Petry, Cody Wild and any number of deep selections that include Slava Trukhno and Chris Vande Velde.

This group has run all over the 2003 and 2004 picks, with Pouliot and Schremp still waiting in line or on the fringes of NHL employment. The roster spots meant for those kids have been taken away by younger men who are extremely unlikely to give them up.

This time next season, we’ll probably be talking about Riley Nash coming out of college, about Theo Peckham forcing Ladislav Smid or Matt Greene off the roster, and about the trio of college puck movers (Chorney, Wild and Petry) who begin their climb up the depth chart with similar skills and not enough room at the top.

The Oilers lost Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano off this list and are still loaded at center and defense. Plus they addressed the need for a shooter with their first round pick this summer. It’s a nice place to be.

  1. C Riley Nash: Tops the list because of a wide range of skills. He impressed with speed and skill at the recent Oilers rookie camp and his NCAA debut was solid bordering on spectacular. Edmonton fans have been able to track college centers a lot recently (Horcoff, Comrie, Cogliano) and this one looks like he’ll arrive right on time. His draft resume said he was a big, naturally talented kid and an all around type who could play it any way required. December rank: 7th.
  2. RW Jordan Eberle: According to ISS, he has the tools required to become an NHL sniper: great touch, hockey sense, quick release, soft hands. Smart, smart player and his goal total gets overlooked despite his playing in an extremely tough league. His 42 goals in 70 GP comes in a league that averages 5.72 goals-per-game. As a comparison, the OHL (6.89) and the QMJHL (6.84) average a goal per game more, meaning Eberle’s 42 goals would be north of 50 in the OHL. Unranked in December.
  3. D Theo Peckham: You can tell a lot about how an organization feels about a prospect just by listening to the men in charge. The Oilers love Theo Peckham. The only negative quote I have ever found about him was after his 13-minute NHL debut against Columbus in March. Kevin Lowe: “He’s got to work on getting a little quicker stick.” They love his jam, his ability to make decisions, his calm feet and his fearlessness. His open ice hit on the Jacket’s Jared Boll made an impression and there’s more to come. Possibly as early as the fall. December rank: 11th.
  4. D Taylor Chorney: I have Chorney at the top of the list from the puck mover family for two reasons: draft pedigree and wheels. I have him behind Peckham among defenders because of his recent injury and the fact that Peckham is farther along as a prospect despite being 6 months younger. He’s steady in all areas, moves the puck very well and has plus speed. That’s a wonderful combination for a defender and makes up for a lack of size. I think we’ll see Chorney play in the NHL a little in 08-09. December rank: 4th.
  5. C Rob Schremp: Here’s a guy who deserves a chance. The Oilers at center since about 2003 have resembled the Houston Astros and their power hitting prospects from about 1971-75: there’s a lot of talent that will eventually find its way but some guys are burning daylight and running in place. Sometimes teams have so much talent in one spot that several seasons are wasted because of it. Schremp isn’t that player yet, but he deserves a chance beginning now. I’m not a huge fan, but any fool can look at Mike Easler’s career and know he could have played long before he got a chance in the show. December rank: 5th.
  6. D Jeff Petry: This is Dan’s son. He does not have first round pedigree but if they re-drafted that season one suspects Petry would go in the first 30 picks. Has a wide range of skills and keeps picking up awards and honors as he rolls through his amateur career. Guy Flaming feels he’s the best prospect in the system. I have him lower because of a few reports about high risk plays without the puck, his being a little shy of Chorney as a skater and the fact that he did not reach college hockey until 2 months before his 20th birthday. December rank: 10th.
  7. LW Liam Reddox- The biggest surprise year over year among Oiler prospects. Based on how the coach used him in Springfield he seems to have a nice range of skills and could be a role player in the show soon. With the Oilers allowing Curtis Glencross to leave via UFA and the laundry list of injuries on LW at the major league level, Reddox is likely to spend more than 40 games in the show if all things stay the same through the summer at his position. December rank: 13th
  8. LW Slava Trukhno: Struggled in the AHL, 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. Finished 64gp, 14-21-35 in Springfield. December rank: 8th.
  9. D Cody Wild: Oilers signed Wild on the strength of his NCAA season for Providence (32gp, 4-18-22) and he arrived in time to play a little in Springfield (13gp, 1-2-3) which should give him a nice head start for next year. One of three recently drafted college defenders (Chorney, Petry, Wild) who have a nice combination of skills that are similar to each other. I have Chorney ranked first and Wild ranked last among these three, but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of separation. December rank: 14th
  10. G Devan Dubnyk: 33gp, 3.12 .904 in the AHL which don’t indicate future #1 starter. He moved up from the ECHL this year and had consistency problems. Looked terrific at times and overwhelmed at others and appears to need at least one more AHL season before he’s ready to push for NHL employment. His high ranking relative to performance is due mostly to my having very little knowledge about projecting goaltenders and his original draft number. December rank 9th.
  11. C Chris Vande Velde: Before he was drafted, Vande Velde got some very nice reviews (including a reference to Keith Primeau in one Redline post). He had a wonderful season, probably did more to advance his cause than anyone not named Liam Reddox on this list. 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. Good size and skill, if he can duplicate this past season one suspects he’ll turn pro. December rank: 18th
  12. D Sebastien Bisaillon: He had an injury plagued season but the numbers say he’s a player. He has possibly the best shot of the D prospects on this list. He ranks behind the 3 college group because he’s more of a “chaos D” than the others and he is slightly undersized, plus of course the injury may have set him back. The Oilers have made some nice decisions out of the Q since 2001. December rank: 19th.
  13. LW Bryan Lerg: A shooter who is a step ahead of several players in terms of being NHL ready because he’s 22-years old. Lerg went 20-19-39 in 42 games for Michigan State (NCAA) and led the club in powerplay goals (10). When Edmonton signs a college free agent or an undrafted junior said player often ends up having a career at the high levels of pro hockey. Lerg is a player of interest, especially considering the LW injury concerns detailed earlier. Size a problem. December Unranked
  14. D Josef Hrabel: The math has been a fan of this guy from the start and I bet you he makes some noise in TC. He’s a smooth skating defender who makes a nice outlet pass and a plus shot. He should be closer to NHL ready than anyone but Mathieu Roy and Theo Peckham on this list. Interesting player. December unranked
  15. D Johan Motin: Motin’s draft pedigree was stellar before the start of the 07-08 season (ISS had him 13th overall as late as November) but he has some nice things in the resume. Strong skater, good passer and he can move the puck efficiently. His decision making wanders toward “high risk” and he needs to mature but he looks like he might be a player. A very nice +5 at the World Juniors. December unranked.
  16. LW Linus Omark: 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 could surprise. His offensive numbers tower over the other Swedish forwards drafted by Edmonton recently. The list of undersized skill players he’d have to pass on the Oilers depth chart to get a chance in the show is very long and impressive. December Unranked.
  17. G Jeff Deslauriers: 57gp, 2.90 .912 in the AHL. Easily his best season as a pro, Deslauriers seems to have the confidence of management. Kevin Prendergast made a point of saying that the Oilers may have three goalies at the NHL level this season and there are rumors that Roloson may be traded. There is no doubt this is his chance and with his pedigree and resume it may be his only NHL shot. December rank 17th.
  18. D Mathieu Roy: Went 20gp, 2-8-10 in Springfield and 13gp, 0-1-1 in Edmonton and missed a ton of time in both leagues due to various injuries (most often: concussions). Roy is in danger of losing his career to injuries but when healthy shows some signs of having enough talent to have a future as an NHL role player. December rank 16th.
  19. C Teemu Hartikainen: Prendergast: “His skating needs to improve a little bit but he’s six-foot-two, 200 pounds and he uses his size. He should be on the Finnish junior team at the world championship. I really liked him when I saw him this year. He’s almost a poor man’s (Tomas) Holmstrom. He competes all over the ice.” International Scouting Services: Great work ethic, loves to play a physical style and can chip in offensively. My own feeling is that he’s a draft long shot but the things he does well make him a possible role playing forward if he develops. December unranked.
  20. D Alexandre Plante: A high pick who had a lost season. Part of it may be that Plante’s draft clippings may have been out of sync with his actual skill set. By that I mean that if he isn’t on the powerplay the offensive numbers aren’t going to be there. Including playoffs he went 51gp, 1-4-5 and the big difference season over season (stats-wise) was the lack of time on ice when his team was on the powerplay. When he was drafted Redline said: “At 6-4/215-pounds, he showed surprising offensive skills, particularly on the PP, where he can act as either trigger man or quarterback. He’s not a big baggage smasher, but will use his body in front and to tie forwards up along the walls.” Recent articles on him have suggested he’s physically better and looking forward to a big season. He’ll need it to get back on track. December ranking: 12th.


  • Graduated from December top 20: Sam Gagner (#1), Andrew Cogliano (#2), Tom Gilbert (#3), Kyle Brodziak (#6). That’s a terrific amount of talent.
  • Falling off the December list: Colin McDonald (#15), Ryan O’Marra (#20).
  • This is a good list but not as strong as June 2007 (obviously). Should the Oilers sign another player to an offer sheet and lose their first three picks in 2008 they would run the risk of ending what has been a quality draft run 2001-08.

Not on the List

  • D Jordan Bendfeld
  • RW Troy Bodie
  • G Bjorn Bjurling
  • C Alexander Bumagin
  • LW Philippe Cornet
  • C Robby Dee
  • G Glenn Fisher
  • LW Matt Glasser
  • RW Stephane Goulet
  • C Milan Kytnar
  • RW Colin McDonald
  • C Jacob Micflikier
  • LW Alexei Mikhnov
  • RW Ryan O’Marra
  • LW Geoff Paukovich
  • G Brian Pitton
  • RW William Quist
  • LW Brock Radunske
  • RW David Rohlfs
  • C Tim Sestito
  • C Tyler Spurgeon
  • D Bryan Young

No Longer Prospects

  • Kyle Brodziak
  • Andrew Cogliano
  • Sam Gagner
  • Tom Gilbert
  • Denis Grebeshkov
  • JF Jacques
  • Ryan Potulny
  • Marc Pouliot

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31 Responses to "Oilers June 2008 Top 20"

  1. Scott says:

    Nice list. I’d say I’m not as sold on Peckham as you are and I’m probably a bit higher on Petry (I assume he slots in at #6).

    Peckham is a safer bet to have an NHL career, but I’d say Petry has much higher potential and natural skill.

    I guess it depends on the ranking criteria…

  2. doritogrande says:

    In case you missed the announcement, both #1 and #2 are off to the Team Canada U-20 selection camp. The last two we had playing for Canada at that tourney turned out all-right.

    I don’t agree with Peckham beating out Chorney. I don’t see Peckham slotting in anywhere higher than a #5 because of his lack of offense. Chorney on the other hand could very well turn out to be top-2 with his size and vision. It’s still a nice luxury to have both mind you.

    I wish we had a goalie in the top-5 right now, but I like the look of the prospect pool.

  3. Big T says:

    I was one of those wondering why the hell mgmt. went so far off the board to pick Nash, especially after trading up.

    We’ll never know if Nash would have been there had we not made the trade but it sure seems like I was wrong about the pick.


  4. Sean says:

    The Oilers lost Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano off this list

    Almost sounds like a bad thing ;)

    If you rank Peckham #3, is that because you think he is a sure bet to make the NHL or is that based on potential? What do you think of Peckham’s potential?

    JDD is a hard prospect to pinpoint. It sounds like he is going to make the big club as the 3rd goalie. A list based on chances of making the NHL should almost include him by default – even though he might not even see the bench. JDD did, however, carry Springfield for a couple months and he’s good enough to not waste away in the pressbox but probably not good enough to cover for a Garon injury.

  5. Black Dog says:

    If they move Stoll is it possible we see Cogs in the #3 centre spot and then Schremp gets a whirl with Sam Gagner and Row-bert? That may be his only chance at cracking the lineup, barring injury.

    Looking great.

  6. budorduke says:

    Black-Dog – An interesting proposition that might work well. However I like the idea of having Robert and Cogliano together at least some of the time, as both have awesome speed. Hopefully Schremp grabs a spot and impresses.

  7. namflashback says:

    Well — of any of the players, Cogliano saw more of the tough comp than the others for a period of sustain. Gagner had time up with Hemsky and Horcoff for a period, and that turned out being one of his worst stretches — no surprise.

    I would like very much if Cogliano becomes the Horcoff in-training. Solid, two-way play — then use speed and posession to drive it up the other way. You are right that this would be the only way to create the soft-landing spot for Schremp.

    That said — Pouliot’s got better face-off skills and maybe things finally “click” for him and he can take on the toughs.

    For much of the year, Stoll was the sacrificial lamb. The 27-10-83 line got the second toughest and Stoll centered a “checking” line up against the Crosby’s of the world.

    If Stoll is retained, he continues to face the toughest comp, with Horc batting second. Then its a little more comfortable to have 12-13-89 in the third slot.

    If Stoll is not retained, I don’t think any of Pouliot, Gagner, Cogliano, Brodziak have the experience to face-off against the very tough competition. I’m guessing Pouliot as having the best chance of success. However, they’d probably go with Horc against the toughest, then Pouliot in the second toughest spot with some extremely good wingers like Pisani and Moreau/Torres.

  8. budorduke says:

    So is Reasoner almost surely not coming back?

  9. Quain says:

    I think any of the kids have the necessary experience to go out against the tough competition and get absolutely eviscerated like Stoll.

  10. budorduke says:

    Quain – I don’t know where Stoll even fits if Schremp makes the team.

  11. Knamely Lacked says:

    Don’t mean to thread jack, but Bertuzzi was just put on waivers. I admit it, I had a little chuckle

    “The Anaheim Ducks are parting ways with Todd Bertuzzi, as the club has placed the veteran winger on waivers with the intention to buyout the remaining season of his contract with the organization.

    Bertuzzi was reunited with Ducks general manager Brian Burke last summer after signing a two-year, $8-million deal.

  12. Big T says:

    Bertuzzi. That’s funny.

    If we’re talking Schremp, I like the idea put forth by another poster of trading him to the Leafs for an ’09 pick (2nd or 3rd rounder) to replace Welwood.

    I doubt Kaberle would waive the NTC but a package for him would be nice as well if Pikanen is on the move.

    Nice looking list of top prospect though LT. The stage is certianly set for an extended period of quality play for the Oilers. Lets see what Lowe et al can do with it.


  13. Big T says:

    If Schremp gets his chance, I’d be putting him on a 4th line with Brodziak and Chopper for 5-10 games. Might be enough to showcase the player for another team.


  14. Black Dog says:

    If they trade Stoll this is how I could see it play out – remember this is with next year in mind. Yeah yeah I know wait until next year already! But if we figure on the last three year’s of the Hemsky/Penner contracts as the window then Lowe has to find out what some of these kids can do. So this is what I would do if Stoll gets moved and Schremp has a good camp.

    Schremp plays soft minutes with Gagner and Nilsson – see what he can do and if he can produce against soft opposition with some real minutes. Then if he fits – great. If not – goodbye.

    Cogliano plays third line between Torres and Pisani – see if he can handle the tough minutes. Good for his development anyways I think.

    Pouliot plays centre between Moreau and Brodziak.

    Now if the whole thing falls to shit and it might, you bump Cogliano back up and then move Pouliot into his slot to see what he can do.

    Then Lowe gets a gauge on three young players and what roles they may be able to fill. It will cost them some wins but if Schremp can score against the soft opp then he becomes nice bait or he may have a future here. If Cogliano or Pouliot can handle tough minutes that is another piece of the puzzle. Its all about building for when they can contend.

  15. Knamely Lacked says:

    “Schremp plays soft minutes with Gagner and Nilsson – see what he can do and if he can produce against soft opposition with some real minutes. Then if he fits – great. If not – goodbye.

    Cogliano plays third line between Torres and Pisani – see if he can handle the tough minutes. Good for his development anyways I think.”

    I do like this idea BDHS and I do think this is probably the best idea, however, my only concern is that soft minute line may be too soft. At least with Cogliano playing centre on that line last year he tried to erase any of the defensive errors that did occur with his speed.

    Then again Nilsson played better defensivley towards the end last year, and Gagner, well, he’s just so damn smart that he will probably be better next year as well.

    Schremp is the only question mark, and I agree with you that he deserves a go considering he put up a ppg in the AHL, and has been rumoured to be working really hard on his conditioning.

  16. Black Dog says:

    k.l. – it sure might be too soft but if they are serious about giving Schremp a shot that’s the way to go about it I would say, at least at home

    problem is his trade value might plummet but then again I can’t see it being really high anyways

  17. Dennis says:

    Pat: Nice idea about where RS could fit in; we know that him and Nilsson had mad chem in the A and that the only place Schremp’s gonna be able to play is in a soft min role.

    The three things that make me doubt this will happen are:

    – would the Oilers feed Cogs to the wolves already?

    – If cogs does wind up pivoting 14-34, that mean’s 16′s gone. And if 16 was really going, wouldn’t it have been at the draft for a pick?

    – the D’s still patchworky, so, if you’re having a soft min line with even less experience than the one in ’08 AND you’re feeding Cogs to the wolves, you’re basically saying you know there’s a huge chance you could miss the playoffs

  18. DBO says:

    Wit hmact at coach i doubt tehy throw too many kid sout for tough minutes. he likes vets, so either Reasoner or Stoll will still be here. Personally i like the idea of Cogs as the checking center with Torres and pisani. Lots of speed and smarts, as well as enough physical play to generate some offense as well as defense. Maybe you can deal Stoll for anything, then they’d re-sign Reasoner for that veteran insuracec who can play fourth line, but take important draws in the third. I’d rathersee Pouliot, but mact loves Sakic light, so I’d bet that is how it happens if they deal Stoll.

  19. Black Dog says:

    Dennis – well you and i both know Stoll is going away in the 3 for 1 deal with the one coming back being the horse on the back end so that answers two of your concerns ;)

    hey I’ll be the first to say that its not a perfect plan – I think that the reality is that they go with the kids from last year with schremp either dealt or first in line when someone in the top six goes down, that Stoll comes back to centre 14 and 34 and that Pouliot probably ends up a) on the wing and b) losing icetime to Marty

    The thing is that this team is in tough to make the playoffs anyways – imo you want to see what you’ve got so that next year you can move out who you’re going to move out. Short term pain. If you don’t like Matt Greene then move him. If you do then don’t bring Mike Commodore in to take his icetime.

    personally I’d like to see Pouliot in the #3 spot. Its taking a flyer but I think a) he can play the role and b) a year in that role for him would go a long way in 2010/2011

    Won’t happen though.

  20. Big T says:

    I like Pouliot as pivot for the 3rd line OK – certianly a better option than Cogliano for now.

    If Torres is on that line with Pisani I think it should be successful as Pouliot seems to be a steady hand. Ideally, there is a veteran Jim Dowd type playing between 14-34 but I don’t see than happening. Steady types seem to get the most out of Raffi.

    I’d happily trade Pouliot/Schremp for such a player. And before anyone suggests it, I don’t think Reasoner is that player anymore.


  21. Coach pb9617 says:

    k.l. – it sure might be too soft but if they are serious about giving Schremp a shot that’s the way to go about it I would say, at least at home

    He shouldn’t be given a shot. This isn’t the case of desperately needing development from a kid — there is plenty of talent on the roster and in the system. If he can’t hack his way on – he’s gone.

  22. Coach pb9617 says:

    Dennis – well you and i both know Stoll is going away in the 3 for 1 deal with the one coming back being the horse on the back end so that answers two of your concerns ;)

    Stoll, Pitkanen and Green for Bouwmeestererererer?

  23. spOILer says:

    Would you rather sign Stoll a 2 * $2.2M, Reasoner at 2 * $0.9M, or Peca at 2 * $1.8M for 3C?

    What is Holik’s? Vasicek’s?

    I don’t think there’s any problem upgrading who takes the tough minutes at 3C without sacrificing a kid.

    Schremp I can see taking Stortini’s spot on the 4th for the first 10 games to see if he’s the goods.

    He could do far worse than Brodz as his centreman, and if the Oil sign GX than that’s two legitimate options for his Adam Oates imitation.

    Brodziak is the guy I’d prefer to see slow-developed like Horc. He’s already ahead of Horc’s scoring at the same age, IIRC. Can’t skate as well though. I think it’s Brodz’ development more than anyone’s that has made it tough for Pouliot to earn a full-time role.

    Any top 6 guy brought in on a Stoll trade is going to force one of the kids down a line. Maybe picks would be better. There is an unconfirmed rumour that Stoll has asked for a trade.

  24. spOILer says:

    Sorry, the above should say what is Holik or Vasicek’s likely cost.

  25. Big T says:

    Holik has to be north of $2.75MM per though is likely a good choice for two years. May want more term and certianly could want more $$$.

    Vasicek is likely in that neighbourhood as well what with being younger and all. Will certianly be looking for more term. I don’t know enough about the player to have an opinion on whether he’s suited to a tough minutes role. Anyone?


  26. Lowetide says:

    In regard to the questions about Peckham: I think he’s the best defenseman in the system. I used to think he’d be a 4-5 guy but based on his skill set there doesn’t seem to be any reason he can’t be effective in a top 4 role.

    He won’t be a PP monster (despite the shot) and he isn’t a passer on the level of Chorney. Other than that he has a nice range (toughness, smarts, etc).

    He needs experience. They all do. But he’s played in the NHL and he was born in November 1987.

  27. Traktor says:

    What would you call Anton Volchenkov? #1? #2? #3? #4?

    I think Anton is Peckham’s upside with a little less shot blocking skills but more toughness.

    He’s the type of player that plays playoff hockey 82 games a year.

  28. Gord says:

    I like Peckham – a lot…..

    Have him as the 1st injury call-up (ahead of Roy); he gets his feet wet on the 3rd line crushing anything coming his way. Our 3rd line forwards are the defensive core – they will assist his learning curve…

    And yes – I envision our Mack truck on the 2nd line by the time he is 25……

  29. Black Dog says:

    LT – always look forward to this – terrific stuff again, thanks for this

  30. Dennis says:

    I’m hoping that Peckam’s a rich man’s Greene.

  31. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: lol. I think Peckham passes Greene in the parking lot, day one TC ’08 fall.

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