Since the 2005-06 season, Edmonton’s top minor league team has been located in three cities: Hamilton, Wilkes-Barre Scranton and Springfield. The club also farmed out players to places like Iowa and Milwaukee, all of them in the American Hockey League.
When they finally arrived in Springfield for the 2007-08 season, many felt it would mean a more stable development system for the farmhands. Some of us didn’t think it would make a difference: if a minor league player is getting his at-bats and honing his skills then the production line will produce useful players.
A quick look at the players who came through the system from the 2003 & 2004 entry drafts gives us an idea about the club’s success rate:
- Kyle Brodziak (214th overall/2003): 173 games in the AHL, 175 in the NHL since 2004.
- Zack Stortini (94th overall/2003): 115 games in the AHL, 147 in the NHL since 2005.
- Marc Pouliot (22nd overall/2003): 153 games in the AHL, 141 in the NHL since 2005.
- JF Jacques (68th overall/2003): 140 games in the AHL, 60 in the NHL since 2005.
- Liam Reddox (112th overall/2004): 79 games in the AHL, 70 in the ECHL and 47 in the NHL since 2006.
- Mathieu Roy (215th overall/2003): 241 games in the AHL, 10 in the ECHL and 30 in the NHL.
- Bryan Young (146th overall/2004): 169 games in the AHL, 17 in the ECHL and 17 in the NHL.
- Rob Schremp (25th overall/2004): 216 games in the AHL, 7 in the NHL since 2006.
- Troy Bodie (278th overa/2003): 153 games in the AHL, 46 in the ECHL and 4 in the NHL.
The two first rounders (Pouliot and Schremp) have not done as well as some lower picks, notably Kyle Brodziak and Zack Stortini. None of these players have emerged as top 6F talents at the NHL level, but we can agree that most of those players skip the minors altogether (Hemsky, Cogliano and Gagner from the Oilers recent past).
I wonder how many legit NHL players:
- Were drafted in the first round
- Spent a lot of time in the minors
- Went on to productive NHL careers
I won’t do anything in-depth here, but a quick glance at the Oilers since 1997 shows:
- 1997: Michel Riesen played 202 AHL games, 12 in the NHL.
- 1998: Michael Henrich played 222 AHL games.
- 1999: Jani Rita played 204 AHL games, 66 in the NHL.
- 2000: Alexei Mikhnov played 27 AHL games, 2 in the NHL.
- 2001: Ales Hemsky played 0 AHL games, 421 in the NHL.
- 2002: Jesse Niinimaki played 27 AHL games, 0 in the NHL.
- 2003: Marc Pouliot played 153 AHL games, 141 in the NHL.
- 2004: Rob Schremp played 216 AHL games, 7 in the NHL.
- 2005: Andrew Cogliano played 0 AHL games, 164 in the NHL.
- 2006: None.
- 2007: Sam Gagner played 0 AHL games, 155 in the NHL.
We’ve looked at this (for the Oilers) before, but with Detroit clearly getting players to spend time in the minors even after they’re NHL ready it might be an idea to do this for a few clubs next time. Based on this very narrow view, the Edmonton Oilers are extremely unlikely to get a useful top 6 forward from a first round pick who spends even one day in the AHL.
It’s a place for 6′s and 7′s to learn the price of mistakes.