Oilers Top 20, June 2008

That’s Jani Rita with clearance on Henrik Sedin from September 30, 2003. Rita’s problem was he couldn’t do this OCT-MAY and it cost him his NHL career (unless he’s the new David Vyborny).

I always like to offer a disclaimer when talking about ranking prospects. Rita is one end of the scale, someone like Fernando Pisani is the other. Rita was much ballyhooed (don’t see that word much anymore, I always thought it deserved better) as a prospect while Pisani couldn’t get arrested on a fanboard for love nor money.

And so it goes.

We’re fans. We can stare at the numbers, run them through Desjardins, read all the scouting reports and consult a ouija board but none of them would have been able to tell us that inside Pisani lived the heart of a lion and inside Rita there was a hitch in the giddyup.

Here is my Oilers top 20 with all of the prospects who’ve graduated taken out. It resembles the December top 20 but is not the same because some have passed others. My list is not similar to anyone’s but I do have reasons for ranking them in the following order.

The Oilers draft 22nd and may select a player who is better than anyone on this list. They did last season when selecting Sam Gagner but he was a much higher selection. The list overall is deep on defenders and shy on forwards who display a wide range of skills. I have included their Desjardins NHLE’s for fun. I have also included some Europeans for this list, although most won’t make the final cut at the end of June after the draft. All ages for 07-08 season.

  1. Riley Nash (Cornell NCAA) (11-19-30): 18-year old with a wide range of skills who impressed at the recent rookie camp. He was something of a draft reach but seems to have covered the first round bet. I haven’t heard any rumblings about bringing him out of college a year from now when he turns 20 but he appears to be on track ala Andrew Cogliano. DECEMBER RANK: 7th
  2. Theo Peckham (Springfield AHL) (4-5-9): 19 when the season started. There seems little need to kid ourselves here this guy has ripped up the charts since he was drafted. Although he was selected outside the first round and there are several prospects who easily trump his stats, Peckham has the look of a man who’ll be an NHL regular very soon. The men at the end of the depth chart at the NHL level for Edmonton should be looking over their shoulder beginning at this fall’s training camp. DECEMBER RANK: 11th
  3. Taylor Chorney (North Dakota NCAA) (2-17-19): 20 last season. His injury at the end of the college season is probably enough to cost him a real look at this fall’s training camp and he appears to be about to begin a battle for the title of best puck mover at the minor league level. Based on foot speed and development curve I think he’s the best of the good mobile defenders. DECEMBER RANK: 4th
  4. Rob Schremp (Springfield AHL) (11-26-37): 21 in 07-08. Schremp had a very nice minor league season and appears to be close to NHL ready. It may not be as an Oiler but he’s certainly doing all the right things (lifting redwoods in California with the Moreau’s, who appear to be hockey’s answer to the Mandelbaum’s) and I think we can agree he’s earned a chance in the NHL somewhere. DECEMBER RANK: 5th
  5. Jeff Petry (Michigan State NCAA) 2-17-19: 20-year old defender who had a splendid college debut. Guy Flaming loves him, but there are some issues. I’ve read a couple of places that he has “good speed for his size” which would rank him well back of someone like Taylor Chorney and he isn’t in the same league physically as Theo Peckham. DECEMBER RANK: 10th
  6. Slava Trukhno (Springfield AHL) 9-13-22: 20-year old pro season was well short of expectations. I like him plenty based on his wide range of skills and would guess that his TOI number (especially at EVs) would probably shed more light on his season than the boxcar numbers. Lots to like from his draft day notes, including an ability to create offense on his own. DECEMBER RANK: 8th.
  7. Liam Reddox (Springfield AHL) 9-17-26: 21-year old arrived out of the blue and was probably 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. DECEMBER RANK: 13th
  8. Devan Dubnyk (Springfield AHL) 33gp, 3.12 .904: 21-year old moved up from the ECHL 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. DECEMBER RANK: 9th
  9. Cody Wild (Providence NCAA) (4-19-23): 20-year old had a fine college season and turned pro in time to actually do some things in the AHL (13gp, 1-2-3). He’s going to have a hard time in this organization because the procurement department appears to have done a nice job gathering puck movers 05-06. DECEMBER RANK: 14th
  10. Sebastien Bisaillon (Springfield AHL) 6-13-19: 20-year old had an injury plagued season but the numbers say he’s a player. Ranks in the top 10 because his offense appears to be on par with the others on the list (Chorney, Wild, Petry) and he’s played about half a pro season. He also has possibly the best shot of the group. He ranks behind the group because he’s more of a “chaos D” than the others and he is slightly undersized. DECEMBER RANK: 19th
  11. Chris Vande Velde (North Dakota NCAA) 12-13-25: 20 years old. Before he was drafted, Vande Velde got some very nice reviews (including a reference to Keith Primeau in one Redline post). It took him some time to find his way at the NCAA level (this was his sophomore season) but he appears to be a legit NHL prospect. Good size and skill, if he can duplicate this past season one suspects he’ll turn pro. DECEMBER RANK: 18th
  12. Bryan Lerg (Michigan State NCAA) 16-15-31: 21-years old. Oilers signed him to a 2-year entry level deal in the spring. Lerg went 20-19-39 in 42 games for Michigan State (NCAA) and led the club in powerplay goals (10). The Oilers usually don’t go fishing in the free agent pool unless they’re convinced on a guy and a high percentage of these Oilers signings end up playing for them. DECEMBER UNRANKED
  13. Josef Hrabel (Cherepovets Severstal RSL) 4-12-16: 22 years old. A modern Carroll Sembera, his hgt/wgt number on draft day (6-00, 165) is a tad unusual for an NHL D prospect. He’s a smooth skating defender who makes a nice outlet pass and a plus shot. He’s signed now so is back on my top 20 (there was some speculation a year ago that he was no longer Oiler property). DECEMBER: UNRANKED
  14. Jeff Deslauriers (Springfield AHL) 57gp, 2.90 .912: 23 years old. 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. DECEMBER RANK 17th
  15. Linus Omark (Lulea HF SEL). 13-24-37: 20 years old. Certainly since Prendergast took over the scouting department, the Oilers have done well selecting overage players in the draft. 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. DECEMBER UNRANKED
  16. Mathieu Roy (Springfield AHL) 3-11-14: 23 years old. 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). Signed to a nice $500k contract this season but may not clear waivers if sent out in the fall. He’s played 30 NHL games and should graduate this list if he can stay healthy. DECEMBER RANK 16th
  17. Stephane Goulet (Springfield AHL) 9-6-15: 21 years old. His AHL numbers include 8-2-10 totals in 20gp and a period in March where he scored 5 goals in 5 games. He’s a guy who we should keep an eye on because his one area of strength (shooter) is an organizational weakness. DECEMBER UNRANKED
  18. Bryan Young (Springfield AHL) 0-1-1: 21 years old. Through the end of December he was -14 for the Falcons and the organization implied he was trying to do too much. Things turned around in the new year and Young went +10 the rest of the way to finish up just over par. Young is strictly a stay-at-home type which stands out on this list. DECEMBER UNRANKED
  19. Alex Plante (Calgary WHL). 1-1-2: 18 years old. Quoting Guy Flaming: “A serious training camp charlie horse that morphed into long-term back pain led to several months on the sidelines. Shortly after he returned to action, Plante was hit from behind and suffered a concussion after going head first into the boards. Perhaps most unfortunate is that during his long absence from play, the Hitmen went out and replaced him with veteran players who did not relinquish the ice time they picked up”. Including playoffs he went 51gp, 1-4-5. 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
  20. Alexei Mikhnov (Yaroslavl Lokomotiv RSL) 18-27-45: 25 years old. He had a decent playoffs this spring (16gp, 3-5-8) and a solid regular year (52gp, 14-20-34, +15) and the numbers say he can play. I doubt it’ll ever be in Edmonton, but maybe another NHL team will offer up a draft pick for him. DECEMBER UNRANKED

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28 Responses to "Oilers Top 20, June 2008"

  1. Jonathan says:

    Good list, LT. Your top 20 rankings are always insightful, and are probably my favourite of the many things you post. Incidentally, (and I realize this isn’t connected to the rankings except tangentially) I love this line:

    lifting redwoods in California with the Moreau’s, who appear to be hockey’s answer to the Mandelbaum’s

    It’s oh-so-very true.

  2. Pat H says:

    Jonathan beat me to it, but I’ll second it: the Mandelbaum line was gold, LT, GOLD!

  3. Oilman says:

    The Mandelbaum line made me laugh out loud – I wonder if Ethan’s injury problems would disappear if he just stopped saying “It’s go time”?

  4. Lord Bob says:

    Sebastien Bisaillon moves up nine spots on the strength of being an undersized chaos defender who turned one of the most important parts of a hockey player’s body into mulch? Even at his own position, surely you’d have to put at least Hrabal and perhaps Young ahead of him.

    Other than that, excellent list as always, LT.

  5. Bank Shot says:

    I like the list with the exception of Peckham at 2.

    He appears to be making good progress, but I just don’t see the skillset that’ll make the kid end up as the second best NHLer out of the Oilers current prospects.

  6. speeds says:

    I agree with Bank Shot, but LT I’m guessing you have Peckham that high as you view him as the most likely prospect in the system to make the NHL team?

  7. Ribs says:

    Trukhno…Lots to like from his draft day notes, including an ability to create offense on his own.

    I have to wonder about this ability after this last season in Springfield. It seemed as if he only got things going when paired up with Schremp. Trukhno has deviated pretty far from his draft day reports and I think he’s in a transition period right now. With someone pushing him in the right direction he could become good. Real good.

    Any idea who the new coach in Springfield is?

  8. Lowetide says:

    speeds: I think he’s going to be a very good NHL player. He won’t put up points but the guy keeps moving up a level and then mastering it.

    He progressed a long way in one pro season and I bet he pressures one of Greene or Smid in the fall.

    So yeah, I think he’s the most likely to make the NHL team in the fall but also the most likely to stay there for a long time and contribute defensively.

    There are just no negatives in regard to his ability defensively. That I’ve read anyway. He just needs experience.

  9. Ducey says:

    I myself would find a place for O’Mara and Potulny on this list. I would likely turf Mikhanov and maybe Lerg or Hrabel to do it.

    Potulny sounds like he has some nice skills and he did score almost a point a game in the AHL last year. O’Mara is making the switch from first line in junior to checking center – he is going to take a few years but he will make it.

  10. Pat H says:

    I wonder if Chad Moreau rouses the troops by trumpeting, “it’s GO TIME!!”

  11. Lowetide says:

    Ducey: I should have mentioned this but Potulny has played 44 NHL games so I didn’t include him.

    As for O’Marra, I don’t think he’s among the 20 best prospects. I’d pick Bumagin, Pitton, Spurgeon, Bjurling and McDonald as 21-25.

  12. Dennis says:

    All aboard the paintrain, daffodil.

  13. Coach pb9617 says:

    Great post LT. I think the guy that will eventually cement himself into the bottom two in the show will be Young.

  14. Bank Shot says:

    Peckham was second worst in +/- in Springfield for defencemen.

    I think he exceeded everyone’s expectations, but I suspect he still has a ways to go to become an NHL regular.

    Matt “One Way” Roy is blocking him for example, and Roy was just dominant in the AHL in 06-07, but hasn’t proven he’s a big league regular.

    Matt Greene was an AHL all-star in 06, and Smid had 5 points in 8 games, +3 last season.

  15. Pat H says:

    nice one, Dennis. Now drop your purse, honey, and pick up that medicine ball.

  16. Gord says:

    I saw Nash at the prospects camp a few weeks ago – I was extremely impressed.

    And Peckham also looked solid & faster than I saw at the rookies / Bears game a year ago – my gut feeling is that he will be an injury call up to start this season. I suspect he might be playing 3rd line for the Oilers by Christmas… If not, definitely next season…

  17. Black Dog says:

    Great stuff LT

  18. Sean says:

    Great list LT! After last season I must say – the cupboards need to be restocked.

    Schremp moves up only by default. That guy is due for a big drop or graduation. Big season for him.

  19. Rick says:

    “The Oilers draft 22nd and may select a player who is better than anyone on this list. They did last season when selecting Sam Gagner but he was a much higher selection.”

    Based on your list LT, with Nash rated #1 it would appear that they selected two guys that are better than anyone else with Nash’s spot right in the wheelhouse of where they are selecting this year.

  20. ClaytonMagnet says:

    Here’s to hoping that Plante will get back on track this year. I watched a lot of him in 06-07, before the Charlie-horse-turned-Ebola virus injury or whatever happened there. Sure, he played a lot with Alzner, but he’s got ‘the tools’. He could be what the coaching staff keeps trying to will Greene into being. Big, good skating, and smrt.

  21. Doogie says:

    Any idea who the new coach in Springfield is?

    I beieve it’s back to Jeff Truitt.

    As for Plante, I believe he had back spasms or some other sort of problem in between the charleyhorse and the concussion. Incidentally, I was at the game where he was clobbered from behind, and that was pretty much the exact moment I gave up on his season, and I believe Kelly Kisio did, too. With Alzner graduating, presumably to Hershey, I figure this’ll be Plante’s sink-or-swim season as #1-2D in Calgary. While I expect the Hitmen to take a step back next season, they’re always competitive, so expectations will certainly be high.

  22. Doogie says:

    Oh, hey, Clayton. Funny you should show up here.

    Plante was something else during the ’07 playoff run, and I figure he’ll have to be at least that good in order to stay on the developmental track. I seem to remember a lot of people were a bit iffy on him on draft day for whatever reason, but I was happy with the pick, and I’ll probably keep championing him even if he becomes Chris Hajt. ;)

  23. David says:

    The Oilers really need to make room just in case a few of these players make a push. If last season proved anything, it’s that you should have room on your roster for the best two to four kids to seize a spot.

    For players on the cusp, like Peckham, Schremp, Reddox and maybe Chorney, I’m sure they’d find more motivation to work their way to the NHL level if there was something to shoot for. The Oilers need to get rid of some of their bodies. And that may include Marty Reasoner.

  24. Jonathan says:

    If last season proved anything, it’s that you should have room on your roster for the best two to four kids to seize a spot.

    Given the dismal failure that was the Oilers for the first 3/4 of the season, I would suggest that it proved the opposite.

    On the Red Wings, for instance, the rookie who played in the most games was 24-year old Derek Meech, with 32.

  25. jon k says:

    Good stuff.

    Petry is criminally low, especially considering that his strength is a polished and refined overall game, something that the other defencemen on the list can’t boast.

    Trukhno isn’t really a player who creates his own offence. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but he really is a complementary offensive player.

  26. Black Dog says:

    jon k – Petry=Gilbert??

    jonsthsn – yeah but the dsmn Wings have that luxury, I think we may see a rook or two again this year and then maybe one next year and then we have our roster set for the next few seasons as they try and cash in

  27. oilerdiehard says:

    Good list LT thanks for that. Good read.

    I have a feeling O’Marra will be racing up your list by this time next Summer.

  28. Lowetide says:

    oilerdiehard: O’Marra should be in the top 10. Seriously.

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