Oilers Top 20, June 2009

This is Theo Peckham, showing some of the grit and determination fans have come to appreciate from the young man. Although he’s still a prospect and a long way from helping the major league team win, there’s a lot to like about him.

I was struck by the fact that Peckham seemed more comfortable than most of the recalls on the blue over the last few seasons. He’s still a born minus in the NHL, but he’s already displaying a confidence in himself and a willingness to rise to the challenge.

I think he’s going to be a very good NHL player. We’ll see.

I usually post this the week of the draft but decided to do it earlier this time around. This isn’t the one I do after the draft (those drafts and the Christmas ones are posted to the right) but it’s a kind of set up for my post draft top 20. I have Liam Reddox graduating despite not being at the 50 game mark for his NHL career.

  1. D Theo Peckham: His arrows are all pointed in the right direction. A hard-nosed defender who can fight, he can also hit and block shots. He’s risen to the top of the Falcons blue and although it’s a terrible team that’s a tough league and Peckham played the toughest available opposition and survived (-7). Quinn should see a lot of himself in this fellow and I suspect graduation day will come in 09-10. Winter rank: #3.
  2. C Riley Nash: Improved nicely season over season, and that combined with a wide range of skills makes him next on the list. Concerns over size (he’s tall enough but resembles a pencil) and the short season the brainiacs at Cornell play keep him out of top spot this time around. Winter rank: #1.
  3. R Jordan Eberle: The most famous prospect in the system courtesy a spectacular (and timely) goal at the World Juniors. Eberle stalled after the WJC’s and even though we can make allowances for team etc, the numbers serve as warning in terms of expectations. We shouldn’t expect him to have a big training camp and make the big club in the fall, even with a pretty strong AHL debut this spring. Winter rank: #2.
  4. D Alexandre Plante: He lost an entire season to injury, but recovered this past season and had a quality season on a very good club. He was signed just the other day after a short period where it looked like there might be a disconnect between player and organization. His skating is going to be an issue, but the things that got him drafted in the first round (size, skill, reach) are still there. Winter rank: #5.
  5. C Chris Vande Velde: The big man had a fine season. He managed a 56% faceoff percentage, scored well (18-17-35 in 43 games) and was +10 on a team with only two players in double black digits. He’ll play another season in college in 09-10 and the possibility exists that he’ll have a brief minor league career ala Shawn Horcoff once he turns pro next summer. Winter rank: #8.
  6. C Teemu Hartikainen: A big jump for the Big Finn but he had a beauty season at a very young age. Hartikainen’s season at 18 (51gp, 17-6-23) is even more impressive when split (he went 10-5-15 in his final 20 games). He has size, skill and gumption, with foot speed keeping him from the upper echelon. Winter rank: #18.
  7. C Linus Omark: He took a huge step forward this season and would rank higher save for the birth certificate. Omark’s monster season came at 21, and it’s important to remember that he’s 4 months older than Cogliano. He’s 7 months younger than Rob Schremp. I can see him being a late bloomer and am all for bringing him over to see what he can do, but the idea that the Oilers should part the waves for him is a non-starter based on his age when the light went on. Winter rank: #10.
  8. C Milan Kytnar: He turned 20 the other day and celebrated with a contract not long after. I like his size, skill set and the splits (35gp, 9-16-25 early and 30gp, 18-21-39 later on) and most of all the fact that he has a wide range of skills. Winter rank: #20.
  9. G Devan Dubnyk: I placed him here because the big kid actually improved his number on a terrible team. Not by a lot (.904 to .906) but that Falcon team was awful and the coach overworked Dubnyk for much of the season. It’s important to get some support for the real prospects in the minors and Dubnyk is surely one of them. Winter rank: 15th.
  10. L Philippe Cornet: He had a terrific season. He started 31gp, 11-24-35 and ended 32gp, 18-24-42. Let’s not get too carried away (he’s still a small forward) but there are things to like and he’s certainly a prospect of interest moving forward. Winter rank: #19.
  11. D Taylor Chorney: Man he had a period of adjustment. In his first 34 games he looked as bad as bad can be: 34gp, 2-7-9 -21. In the second half things settled down (34gp, 3-9-12 -8) to the point where I’d guess the Oilers can count on him to have a good season in the AHL if they don’t run him out there against the angry men in that league. However, he is not close to NHL ready based on 08-09. Winter rank: #11.
  12. G Jeff Deslauriers: He spent most of the season with the Oilers, but incredibly played only 540 minutes. He’s still nowhere near a proven talent, plus there’s a new coach in town and I suspect one of the first requests will be two goalies he can count on. Still, he made it to the show and credit where due. Winter rank: #12.
  13. D Cody Wild: He had a weird year. Wild was a healthy scratch fairly often and he spent time in the ECHL, but based on Jonathan’s quality of competition numbers he played some pretty tough veteran opposition (especially early). I think we’re going to get one good defensemen from the college trio of Chorney, Wild and Petry, and haven’t a freaking clue which one it’ll be at this point. Winter rank: #9.
  14. D Johan Motin: He moves up not just because of the fact he played in the SEL at age 18, but also because the scouting report looked good the day he was taken. He’s got an edge to his game, and he’s got enough size to be considered an NHL option. Winter rank: #17.
  15. L Ryan Stone: He’s a gritty winger with some skill. More than that, he’s the type of player the Oilers lacked at the big league level. He could have a lot of success with the new coach if he comes in and rattles some cages in TC. Not ranked in winter.
  16. D Jeff Petry: Wow what a bad season. Petry started the year by going 18gp, 1-6-7 -11 and capped it off with a tidy 20gp, 1-6-7 -20! He was -31 for the season and no other defender was worse than -22. There was one guy who was +1! Sign that guy. I’ve been a little hard on Petry in the past (he’s still being touted in some circles as the club’s top prospect) and there’s every chance he’s not this bad. Winter rank: #7.
  17. C Rob Schremp: I swear something happened to this guy during the season. In December, he was showing some nice growth as a minor league EV scorer, a column that is important for any prospect. As of December 4, 2008 Schremp was 18gp, 1-12-13 .722 EV points-per-game and that was easily a career high for him. After that date, he went 51gp, 2-4-6 .112 at even strength. That’s an elevator shaft. Winter rank: #4.
  18. L Slava Trukhno: Unlike Schremp (who clearly had some issue–injury, coaching, confidence, American flag underwear too tight) I can’t really find the malady with this fellow. 28gp, 3-12-15 -3 in the first half, 28gp, 4-7-11 -10 in the season’s second stanza. I hope they give him another chance but he didn’t show much this season. Winter rank: #13.
  19. D Sebastien Bisaillon: Much like Wild, Bisaillon spent a lot of time in the ECHL this season. His scouting report said he needed to work on his defensive game, which combined with his small stature meant he’d have to be MA Bergeron with the puck to have an NHL career. He’s played in 52 AHL games so far, going 8-14-22 -4. Bergeron’s first 50 AHL games saw him go 2-13-15 +5 (on a much better team) so at least offensively we’re looking at a guy who is worth giving at-bats. Winter rank: #16.
  20. C Tyler Spurgeon: Doesn’t have enough pop in his bat to make the show, but he can play. Perhaps he should try the Brian Downing stance. Not ranked in winter.
  21. R Colin McDonald: On the list because he’s big winger and seems to have developed some during his minor league time. A long shot for the NHL based on lack of scoring ability. Not ranked in winter.

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