Current Rank: #6
Summer Rank: #7
In the twelve months between June 2007 and June 2008, no Oiler prospect did more to advance his hockey career than Liam Reddox.
The numbers at the AHL level in 07-08 were solid any way you looked at them. 65gp, 16-28-44, +10. The +10 led the team and Reddox got a call to the show when Geoff Sanderson was hurt and Patrick Thoresen wasn’t pleasing the coaching staff.
Reddox was “in the mix” for the recall, but there were other options. One of the main reasons he went to the front of the class was Kelly Buchberger, who no doubt saw a little of himself in the gritty Reddox. Bucky told Jim Matheson “He’s our Ryan Smyth the way he works in practices and the games. I’ve been at the rink early and who walks in the door before eight, for a 10 o’clock practice? Liam– so he can start working out. He competes, plus he’s got skill, lots of skill. You know how Smytty drives to the net, burying that shoulder? Well, Liam does a lot of those little things, too. He’s made big strides in one year. I use him on the point on the power play and when we’re down five-on-three, he’s the forward I send out.”
Now, a word about hyperbole. If you could win with it, the Oilers would win the Stanley more often than they did in the 1980′s. Kevin Prendergast never met a prospect he didn’t like, and Buchberger appears to have some of the same issues in regard to framing specific issues. Calling Reddox “our Ryan Smyth” has special meaning for Oilers fans who enjoyed more than a decade of #94 not only going to hockey’s proverbial “Black hole of Calcutta” every night but further enjoyed his exceptional results. So, we need to measure the words and not get ahead of ourselves.
Which brings us to this season. I felt he’d get a full AHL schedule in with a recall for a game or two, but early in the season it was Reddox who got the call. Ahead of Rob Schremp, Ryan Potulny and Gilbert Brule. Were his numbers (12gp, 5-4-9 -1) superior? No. The Oilers recalled Reddox when Ladislav Smid went on the IR, wanting a gritty player to replace his edge and a forward who could help on the penalty kill.
Since arriving, Reddox scored a nice goal and looked good early on, but has since become less of a factor in each game. Here’s the list of TOI/shifts for Reddox, from game 1 through 10:
- 15:35/23 (goal)
Last night (injuries are piling up) aside, if we saw those numbers and didn’t know it was Reddox, we could reasonably guess that a trip to AAA would be the obvious next step. The question then is what comes after that? Reddox would appear to have a chance at future employment in the NHL despite what could be called “tweener skills” as we gain better focus on him as a player.
He’s a gritty player with an edge, but he’s also 5-10, 180 (Oilers site). When he goes into those traffic areas or is working for possession along the boards, Reddox is undersized and probably not the strongest man in the scrum. He has some good hands but his EV/60 (0.83) and the number of chances he’s getting speak to his dwindling ice time and his Corsi (-19.8, 3rd worst among forwards who’ve played 9 games or more and going the wrong way fast) suggests a trip to the farm to reload on confidence might be a plan.
Based on where he was selected and how far he’s gotten, Reddox is already a winner. Winning a regular NHL job over the long term is the next step on the ladder, and that’s a huge step. He doesn’t look ready yet, but being in the conversation is impressive.
One final note: Reddox represents the final player (at #6) whose positives are well clear of his negatives. It’s important to make note of that because in prospect evaluation one of the key elements is to recognize when a player either:
- begins to take on water
- fails to take that next step
So, as we move forward and discuss the prospects 7-20 it’s important to make a distinction: at some level, 1-6 are on track and moving forward with momentum. The prospects after Reddox are in a bit of trouble as prospects and although in some cases the warning signs are predictable (Chorney), the results are so poor we should be concerned about these prospects. That “line in the sand” would have started at #8 one year ago, so the depth of the prospect pool remains strong.