Riesen to Believe 2008

I did this last season (beginning August 6) and last year’s updates are available under the training camp ’07 prompt on the right.

Idea being we’re trying to identify the player who was not on the roster for more than 40 games this past season but will make the big club out of camp this year. The Michel Riesen from fall 2000, the Patrick Thoresen from fall 2006, the Sam Gagner (and others) from last year.

My August 6 post from last season is here. Among the things I said last year:

  • C Sam Gagner, 17: Turns 18 on August 10. The last junior who made the Oilers the same season he was drafted by the team was Jason Arnott. He can make an impression though (Hemsky sure as hell did) and that may bode well for next fall. Chances of making the Oilers this fall: Zero.
  • C Rob Schremp, 21: The injury came at an awful time for Schremp, it really did. It will definitely have short term impact on his NHL career and depending on how quickly guys like Cogliano and O’Marra develop it may have long term impact. This isn’t Larry Walker stepping in a Mexican gopher hole tragic because Schremp isn’t that good a player, but for those who have been waiting to see the second coming of Comrie it’s a tough blow. Chances of making the Oilers this fall: 4% (miracle recovery).
  • C Andrew Cogliano, 20: Of all the first year pro’s, Cogliano has the best shot imo to make the team out of camp. The two things that will hurt his chances are that he wouldn’t play enough in EDM at the start (the Boyd Devereaux syndrome) and that the Oilers are pretty deep at center. Little doubt we’ll read some articles that have MacT singing his praises and I bet he plays some for the big team in 07-08. Chances of making the Oilers this fall: 10%.
  • D Tom Gilbert, 24- His scoring rate in the AHL (49gp, 4-26-30) and his NHL time (12gp, 1-5-6, minus 1) added to his age suggests it’s go time for Gilbert. A “perfect storm” offseason for the Oilers appears to have robbed him of his first real NHL shot, but if he has a strong camp I can see EDM making room early by either going with 8 defenders or dealing someone away. Chances of making the Oilers this fall: 50%.
  • C Kyle Brodziak, 23: I think he has an excellent chance to be an end of the roster player out of camp for the Oilers. If not, he can continue to build a strong resume at the minor league level. More and more, Kyle Brodziak looks like this decade’s Rem Murray. Chances of making the Oilers this fall: 60%.
  • RW Zack Stortini, 22 in Sept: Pretty much all his arrows are pointing in the right direction. Coach likes him, his skill development won’t be hurt by long stretches in the pressbox and he’s already played in 29 NHL games. Chances of making the Oilers this fall: 90%.
  • D Denis Grebeshkov, 23: Physical player who can move the puck, he has a nice range of skills and has to be considered an important acquisition since all of the guys like this Edmonton picks up seem to be players (from Staios to Hejda). Because of the recent pickups on D it’ll be tougher for him to make the grade, but because he’s an actual defenseman (and he has a one-way deal) things look good for him. Chances of making the Oilers this fall: 95%.
  • LW Robert Nilsson, 22: He looks to be the guy who will get first shot at the 2line minutes this fall, but it isn’t going to be easy. Because the Oilers have so many options (including don’t forget veteran Fernando Pisani who played extremely well with Stoll and Torres) the results will need to be immediate and impressive. I like Cogliano’s future with the Oilers way more than Nilsson’s, but the time is now (or never) for Kenta’s kid. Chances of making the Oilers this fall: 100%.

Now, this year’s list (all ages as of October 1).

  1. LW Garet Hunt, 21: 5-8 fighter on skates. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  2. RW Jamie Bates, 23. We don’t know much about him. Falcons GM Bruce Landon is quoted as saying “from all scouting reports, Jamie is a big and strong forward who works extremely hard.” Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  3. RW Hans Benson, 25: 6-0, 215 and a PIM magnet from the Dave Schultz family. Played 44 AHL games last season and managed 265PIMS. He’s from California. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  4. F Kelly Czuy, 25: A college man with good size and a couple of years pro experience. Not much info about him but he doesn’t have a lot of PIMs or a lot of goals so we’ll call him a “two-way” forward. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  5. D Cleve Kinley, 24: Played in the NCAA and has some pro experience. Looks like an offensive defender based on numbers and is coming off a very nice ECHL post-season for the Texas Wildcatters. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  6. RW Justin Chwedoruk, 24: Former St. Albert Saint is an undersized winger who has played most of his pro career at the lower levels. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  7. G Brian Pitton, 20: First year pro was mid-level talent in the OHL last season but showed flashes. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  8. D Brad Farynuk, 26: Had a nice season in Stockton and spent some time in Springfield. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  9. D Mike Gabinet, 27: 4 year college player who also has pro experience in Finland, ECHL and 37 games in the AHL. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  10. RW David Rohlfs, 24: One of the players who could benefit from the exit of Troy Bodie from the organziation. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  11. C Ben Simon, 30: Another season of hard work and watching younger players catch the flight to Edmonton. I bet the coach loves him. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  12. G Glenn Fisher, 25: He’s now a minor league player whose rights are not specifically tied to the Oilers although they have a working relationship. He had some good seasons in college and you never know with goalies. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  13. D Robbie Bina, 25: Rather famous college career gets him a pro contract. Very small puck moving defender who should be a lot of fun to watch play. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  14. LW Geoff Paukovich, 22: Now that Troy Bodie is gone he’ll be the top option for AHL Coke Machine. He was -21 in Stockton on a team that looked to be about 25 goals in the red at EVs so he wasn’t alone but he wasn’t helping. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  15. C Toby Lafrance, 21: An interesting under the radar player. Scored 40 as a 19-year old in the Q a couple of seasons ago and finished in the top 10 in that league’s scoring race as an overage junior. Overage juniors make the show about as often as people spell Orest Kindrachuk correctly, but he can score goals and that has value. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  16. D Jordan Bendfeld, 20: A unique player on this list in that he can go back to junior if there’s no room, and that may be the case when all is said and done. Enforcer, can fight and the Oilers obviously like him. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  17. RW Colin McDonald, 24: Falcons have him blogging all summer on their site which is a sure tell he’s going to be in Springfield. Oilers keep saying he’s going to score but he hasn’t done much of it in college or pro. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  18. C Jakub Micfliker,24: Is he still in the system? Seems to be some question. 5-8, 180 and pure skill, Micfliker is a skill player who could certainly help based on previous numbers. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  19. D Jake Taylor, 25: Taylor signed a two-year AHL contract with Springfield, and their GM Bruce Landon said “Jake is a big, strong, physical defenseman who has the reputation of being tough to play against.” I assume he’s an AHL only option but Taylor does have over 200 games of AHL experience at a fairly young age. 6-4, 225. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  20. C Tyler Spurgeon, 22: Injuries are eating up his career. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  21. C Ryan O’Marra, 21: Oilers usually do well with this player type and he certainly has the draft pedgiree. A complete wildcard, he could be a feature center in Springfield or they could bury him again. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  22. G Devan Dubnyk, 22: It’s a very important season for the big man. He has a clear shot at the starting job in Springfield and needs to show that he can dominate AHL level opposition. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  23. D Cody Wild, 21: One of the things we should probably start talking about is that “games played in the AHL” is probably going to be a good way to measure management’s feelings about these young pro defenders. There’s so damn many the even dressing for the game is going to be a competition. Has a few weeks pro experience, nice skill set and probably a rather large learning curve in the minors. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  24. D TJ Reynolds, 27: Big defender who turned pro in 2002 and looks like he’s found a home in Springfield. Played 24 games with the Falcons last season and would have played more if he’d been able to stay healthy. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  25. RW Stephane Goulet, 22: Can score goals and that always has value. I’d be interested in seeing what he could do on one of the top 2lines and with big PP minutes in the AHL. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  26. D Taylor Chorney, 21: Oilers are in a position to bring him along slowly, plus he did have that knee injury in his final college game. Based on the number of good D prospects knocking on the door, he’s likely to spend the entire season in the AHL. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  27. LW Slava Trukhno, 21: Disappointing season in the AHL a year ago and I think they’ll send him down there in hopes he can dominate minor league pitching. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  28. RW Carl Corazzini, 29: Oilers signed him to a two-way deal but he’s very likely to be a Springfield Falcon. Prendergast: “He’s not very big, but he can fly and he can score. He gives us more depth and should make us a better team in Springfield. And if we run into injury problems, he certainly wouldn’t be a guy that we would be afraid to call up.” Chances of Making the Oilers: 1%.
  29. C Tim Sestito, 24: The things he brings are in short supply on the Oilers depth chart, so he has a chance. Chances of Making the Oilers: 1%.
  30. D Bryan Young, 22: His strongest asset is that he’s played over 100 AHL games and has twice been called up to the NHL by the parent club. On the other hand, pretty much all of the other D prospects who are in pro (or about to turn pro) are better players, including Theo Peckham who has similar skills but a wider range. Chances of Making the Oilers: 1%.
  31. D Josef Hrabel, 23: He’s been playing in the high Euro leagues for several years now (well over 100 games in Russia and Czech Republic combined). 6-1, 180 and can pass the puck. Oilers have suggested he could be a top pairing D in the AHL as soon as this season. Chances of Making the Oilers: 2%, and a mid-season injury callup is certainly possible.
  32. D Sebastien Bisaillon, 21: I think he’ll get sent out no matter what because of last season’s injuries. They’ll want to see him healthy for a time before he gets the call but he’s had a nice pro career so far and is ahead of a few pretty high draft picks already. Chances of Making the Oilers: 2%.
  33. LW Bryan Lerg, 22: He’ll be a very interesting player to watch a year from now should he show he can score goals in the AHL. For now, the competition is just too tough. Chances of Making the Oilers: 4%.
  34. RW Liam Reddox, 22: He zoomed up the charts so quickly last season one wonders if he can sustain it. However, he didn’t look out of place in his quick look-see in the show and Buchberger gushed over him. Chances of Making the Oilers: 6%.
  35. D Theo Peckham, 20: With the trade of Matt Greene and his exceptional rise through the depth chart one year ago, his chances of making the team keep getting better. Throw in Roy’s concussion worries and a few other injury concerns and he’s on the radar before they start taping the sticks. Chances of Making the Oilers: 9%.
  36. D Mathieu Roy, 25: Some guys have all the luck. Roy would appear to be #8 on an NHL depth chart that includes Visnovsky, Souray, Staios, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Strudwick and Smid. That means he’s likely to be a bubble player with the added anchor the Oilers have risked waivers on him before and he’s passed right through. Concussion worries and ability suggest he can pass through again. Chances of Making the Oilers: 10%.
  37. C Gilbert Brule, 21: I think the Oilers will send him out, but he had quite a bit of NHL experience and offers some skills that will be valuable to the big club. He has some jam and would certainly fill a 4line “energy” role similer to the one Glencross did this spring. Chances of Making the Oilers: 15%.
  38. C Rob Schremp, 22: It’s going to be hard to send this kid out if he’s better than the competition. If we say they keep JDD as #3G but go with only 7D that leaves 13 forwards. Horcoff’s line, the Kid Line, Brodziak-Cole-Pisani and Pouliot-Moreau-Stortini makes 12. That means one of Schremp, Jacques, Brule or Potulny by my math. Is Schremp the best option? Chances of Making the Oilers: 15%.
  39. LW Ryan Potulny, 24: A proven, established AHL scorer who might have a legit shot with the big club. He had 201 shots on goal in 07-08 (in 58 games) and that alone makes him an interesting player for the Oilers. Waiver eligible. Chances of Making the Oilers: 19%.
  40. LW JF Jacques, 23: Recent news that he’s improving health-wise put him near the top of the list imo. Jacques’ skill set makes him ideal for this team and remember he’s excellent at making the big club each fall. Chances of Making the Oilers: 25%.
  41. G Jeff Deslauriers, 24: Oilers have signed him to a one-way deal (two years) and that means he either starts the season on the roster, on IR or he’s exposed to waivers and sent out. The Oilers usually keep these guys (a recent example of sending a similar contract down would by Mathieu Roy) and he’s a strong camp away from playing in the NHL. Chances of Making the Oilers: 90%.

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23 Responses to "Riesen to Believe 2008"

  1. doritogrande says:

    Jordan Eberle?

  2. Lowetide says:

    When they announce the training camp rosters I’ll do another Riesen to Believe and he’ll be on it.

    But there’s no way. He’s going back to junior.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Love these posts LT; excellent work. Les Reaney might deserve a spot on it somewhere (at least, as much as Garet Hunt). Lafrance is interesting- did he get an invite or has he been signed? A nice point on Reddox/sustain too.

  4. Lord Bob says:

    But there’s no way. He’s going back to junior.

    Yeah, just like that Gag-nerr guy. :P

    (I mean, you’re right, of course. But still. The very fact that a guy like Gagner could make it must make Eberle at least a 1% Sestito-style longshot.)

  5. Bruce says:

    Lord Bob: That puts Eberle at the same Zero percent chance that Gagner had last fall, and it worked out ok for Sam. Eh, LT?

  6. Lowetide says:

    lord bob, bruce: Eberle making the show would be a much bigger deal. Gagner was a lottery pick who came into camp ahead of pretty much everyone AND had a push from management because they had room AND some of the guys he was chasing were either injured (Schremp) or the organization had made a decision on them as players (Pouliot).

    In order for Eberle to make this team, he’d had to climb over the top 12 mentioned in the Schremp paragraph, plus Jacques, Schremp, Potulny and Brule.

    I think Eberle was an excellent pick for the Oilers, but there’s just no way.

    I think Gagner’s accomplishment really was historic for this organization. Arnott was basically one year older than Gagner (who was flat out just 18 when he made the club) and the Oilers did have other options.

    Finally, Gagner’s final year junior run through Desjardins and Eberle’s draft season with the same treatment:

    Gagner: 82gp, 16-39-55
    Ebere: 15-11-26

    Eberle’s a terrific prospect, Gagner is something else again. I didn’t give Gagner a chance last season to make the team and was clearly wrong (I think speeds thought he would do it) but these things happen so rarely I’d bet it again even if Eberle was chosen #6 and had the same Desjardins number.

  7. Black Dog says:

    I think you’re selling Hans Benson short.

    Totally different camp this year – by my count 21 spots are locked up and if JDD is # 22 (I don’t get this three goalie idea, it can only end poorly imo), then there is one spot for a forward or a Dman.

    Jacques I would say, unless he’s still hurt.

    Will make for a dull camp. That might be ok for a change.

  8. Lowetide says:

    Black Dog: Yeah, I think we can reasonably write the following in pen:

    1. Horcoff
    2. Penner
    3. Hemsky
    4. Gagner
    5. Cogliano
    6. Nilsson
    7. Brodziak
    8. Cole
    9. Pisani
    10. Pouliot
    11. Moreau
    12. Stortini

    13. Visnovsky
    14. Staios
    15. Grebeshkov
    16. Gilbert
    17. Souray
    18. Strudwick
    19. Smid

    20. Garon
    21. Roloson
    22. Deslauriers

    Which is basically one spot currently available. I think it’ll be at least two (injury) and we’ll see Deslauriers, Jacques and Potulny from this list make the show.

    Plus I think they have one more move left. It’ll be very interesting to see the TC invite list.

  9. hockeyaddict101 says:

    One more move left.

    I know you have commented on this a couple of times.

    Do you have a certain person in mind?

  10. Lowetide says:

    HA: I think they’ll add a veteran. Either on D or at center. The Oilers are obviously in “playoff” mode for 08-09 based on all of their offseason moves.

    If we believe they’re trying to change the reputation of the organization for UFA’s like Hossa and Erik Cole then if only follows that they start the season as balanced as possible.

    They are terribly exposed at center, and could certainly use some veteran help on the blueline even with the additions of Visnovsky and Strudwick during the offseason.

    At a guess I’d say Brian Smolinski for the centermen and there are a few defenders still available. Possible victims of the cuts might include Ladislav Smid and Marc Pouliot.

  11. IceDragoon says:

    Good day.

    Lowetide: Possible victims of the cuts might include Ladislav Smid and Marc Pouliot.

    Lain… XYZ… your paranoia is showing.
    ;-)

    Pouliot may be traded if a sweetheart deal falls into T-bell’s lap. { errr… I saw Tinkerbell riding a taco when I typed ‘T-bell’. I’m warped, so there’s no telling what she might do with that taco next time. Can I retract my vote? ;-) } Or… he may spend some time eating popcorn if his nemesis, training camp, wins another round. BUT… he will NOT be exposed to waivers, because he will NOT clear waivers.

    On Gagner last year…

    Heck, I was probably one of his loudest cheerleaders from game 2 of the s-series on. But even then, I thought his physical maturity and speed needed another year of work in junior before following Hemsky’s path. I expected him to obliterate records, tho.

    In early August I thought 0% was about right. I certainly didn’t think he’d make the team. I wanted at least one more vet… kinda like this year.
    ;-D

    L8r
    Louise

  12. hockeyaddict101 says:

    Thanks.

    I think they may do that after they see what they have at training camp.

    That being said if that type of player becomes available before you could be correct.

  13. hockeyaddict101 says:

    Smid would be a surprise to me.

    I thought he made some physical strides last year and the Oilers will need his physical play.

    The wild card player that I think could surprise would be Peckham.

  14. Paper Designer says:

    How many straight years has Pouliot’s name been written in ink, only to be scratched out when the Thoresens and Coglianos of the world simply outclassed him?

    I simply don’t think he has any interest in the preparation needed to be a full-time NHL player. If he makes this team, it will be behind Schremp or Brule as a utility forward, both of whom I would take over Pouliot at this point.

    Just deal him to a different organization already. He needs a wake-up call, and him being traded away for a second or third round pick (showing him exactly where his stock has gone) will likely be enough to wake him up. Especially if he starts hearing the same messages from someone else about conditioning, dedication and a defensive role… which will shatter any illusions he has about it just being this organization.

    I think this organization has room for only one headache prospect, and given their needs, I’d much rather it be Jacques than Pouliot.

  15. doritogrande says:

    I asked this before, but regarding Smid, why did his entry-level contract not expire after last season? My my counts, he played a season in the Ducks system (Portland Pirates), followed by two years in the Oilers system. Entry level contracts for juniors under and including 20 years of age are for 3 years, no?

    Was something different for him because he was a 19-year old playing in the AHL? Should he be exposed to waiver rules this season?

  16. Bank Shot says:

    Pretty hard to do this before getting a chance to see them in training camp.

    I like the looks of the list though, and I think you’re bang on, about the guys with a realistic shot of making the team.

    I might put Chorney in the same group as Bisaillon, and Hrabal though. He did stagnate a little last season, but he’s apparently got all the tools and talent as well as attitude to be an NHL player. I think his chances of getting a cup of coffee this year would be better then Young’s who was passed by Peckham last season.

    Schremp also likely has as good or better chance as any of the forwards vying for a spot. There isn’t exactly an ace of spades in the group, and who knows how much training Jacques got in this summer, not that they really need his skillset with both Strudwick and Stortini on one-ways.

  17. PDO says:

    Am I the only person who isn’t comfortable with the fact that it seems JDD was effectively given an NHL job for no particular reason?

    And Schremp will make the team. He’s having good things said about him, he went to California, and he was even at the Indy party. He’s doing all the right things, and he’ll be rewarded for it.

  18. Bruce says:

    The astonishing thing is that of the eight guys you listed last summer, SEVEN of them made their way onto not just the roster but as every-day players. In the same season.

    A very tough year for the Schremp Army.

  19. HBomb says:

    And Schremp will make the team. He’s having good things said about him, he went to California, and he was even at the Indy party. He’s doing all the right things, and he’ll be rewarded for it.

    Color me unconvinced. If they bring in a veteran through some means (be it a bargain-bin signing or an older guy coming in and winning a spot via a T/C tryout deal), that’s the 13th forward right there. NOT Schremp.

    Which makes sense. Who do you want sitting in the pressbox, and who do you want playing 1st line minutes in Springfield? He could be the first call-up, he could be mid-season trade bait if they decide to add something for the stretch run. What he won’t be is on the 23 man roster on opening night. Whose spot on one of the skill lines does he take?

    There is no room at the inn for the Hockey Jesus, methinks.

  20. Schitzo says:

    doritogrande:

    The CBA (s. 9.1(d) ) says that if you sign a deal as an 18 or 19 year old, and play less than 10 NHL games in your first season, the deal is extended one year.

    We’ve seen this before – all the talk last season was whether Gagner was only going to get a 9-game interview and then sent back down. That happened to Wolski, and I believe Brule as well.

    The difference is that for most kids, if they’re demoted from the NHL, they go back to junior and aren’t playing pro hockey.
    In Smid’s case, he was playing pro (AHL) hockey, but the CBA doesn’t appear to care. The wording simply says that less than 10 NHL games = 1 year extension of the deal.

  21. Bank Shot says:

    “Am I the only person who isn’t comfortable with the fact that it seems JDD was effectively given an NHL job for no particular reason?”

    I’m not thrilled with it, but the guy realistically doesn’t get any real NHL games unless the Oilers are out of it come deadline time and Rolie gets shipped to a team playing spring hockey.

    It’s liveable.

  22. Schitzo says:

    Am I the only person who isn’t comfortable with the fact that it seems JDD was effectively given an NHL job for no particular reason?

    Well, unless you take the detroit model and hire the best bang-for-the-buck goalie available each year, you have to give your prospects a try some time

  23. doritogrande says:

    schitzo: Thanks for the clairification.

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