History tells us the really good skill players skip the American Hockey League and go to the show from junior, college or Europe. Recent Oiler examples would be Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano.
One of the strongest indicators we can get about prospects and their future comes as they turn 20 (most of the time it’s 20, exceptions were Gagner and Hemsky).
If the organization keeps them up for the entire season we’re talking about something that could be very good (these are usually first round picks so the arrows would have been pointing in a good direction for some time).
The second indicator we can get on these 20-year olds comes from the period during their training camp when they get sent down to the minor leagues.
Here are some recent examples from the Oilers:
- Marc Pouliot: September 29, 2005
- JF Jacques: September 29, 2005
- Zack Stortini: September 29, 2005
- Devan Dubnyk: October 2, 2006 (3rd last player cut)
- Rob Schremp: September 30, 2006
- Liam Reddox: September 23, 2006
- Slava Trukhno: September 26, 2007
- Theo Peckham: September 16, 2007
If Riley Nash were turning pro this summer, he could join Alex Plante and Milan Kytnar on the list above (at some point this fall). What does that list tell us? Pouliot had no clearance at all from two lower ranked draftees who had also just turned 20, Schremp had some clearance on Trukhno.
I’m not certain that Schremp has clearance in the organization on Trukhno at this time. They both appear headed to the “journeyman” portion of their careers. According to Guy Flaming at Coming Down the Pipe the Oilers could be saying goodbye to both this fall.
- After two years of struggling in the minors, there is a real possibility that Slava Trukhno may choose to stay in Europe. He is still a player the Oilers want to have in Springfield as they believe he may turn the corner under the tutelage of Rob Daum. That said, the last indication I got was that it wasn’t a guarantee that the Russian/Dane would return because the phrase “we expect him to come back” was used.
- All of the RFA players are expected to be back with the possible exception of Schremp who needs to clear waivers and likely hopes that won’t happen. He could also opt to head to Europe for a bigger pay day and a higher-level playing opportunity but my understanding is that his preference is to wait and see if another NHL club plucks him off waivers.
Schremp has played exactly 7 NHL games with the Oilers, and trails two later 2004 Edmonton draft picks in that category (Liam Reddox, 47 and Bryan Young, 17). Both Trukhno and Schremp would have to be considered disappointments as pro hockey players, with Schremp’s miss being more painful since he was a first round pick.
The good thing is they’re both young and have plenty of time to turn the corner and get another chance at the NHL. It’s extremely unlikely that chance will come with Edmonton.