The Edmonton Oilers look set on the blue for 2009-10 but do have some very interesting talent bubbling under. Unlike the forward group–whose skills are duplicated by superior players on the major league roster–the defensemen have wide ranging skills and should be useful as early as this season.
In our look at the Falcons’ forwards for the coming season, I suggested that one player (Potulny) had a chance to make the NHL team and another 4 (Reddox, Minard, Stone Paukovich) had a chance for a cup of coffee.
Theo Peckham has a better future than any of them.
- Theo Peckham Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: More prominent role in the AHL with a better plus minus number and perhaps some powerplay time. ACTUAL: He beat holy hell out of the expectations and did it well playing the AHL vaunt. His -7 ranked second amongst Falcons regulars on defense and was a massive improvement from the -14 he posted (2nd worst on the team) in 07-08. Fall ’09 RE: More playing time with the big club and even more quality play when he’s in Springfield. I’ll say an even split between the two leagues in terms of games played. Theo Peckham is an example of why teams keep sending prospects to the AHL for development.
- Dean Arsene is a valuable AHL defender and someone likely more deserving of a callup than pretty much everyone on this list. However, his role will be to win games in the minors, help with the development of the kids and possibly chip in at the big league level if he’s lucky enough to get the call. Fall ’09 RE: A vital part of the AHL team.
- Jake Taylor I really want to say that Taylor’s injury had a tremendous impact on the season but may be overstating it. Still, a veteran like Taylor (had he been healthy all year) with a young bull like Peckham is a nice pairing and then maybe Bryan Young, Mike Gabinet and Cody Wild could have combined for some reasonable 2nd pairing. Either way, he was hurt for all but 28 games and it left the kids exposed. Fall ’09 RE: Very important that he stay healthy and force the kids down the depth chart.
- Johan Motin was playing in the SEL last season and should be able to make a much smoother adjustment to the AHL than junior and college kids. Motin’s style of play and mean streak should fit well in the Don Cherry league. Fall ’09 RE: 50 or more games in the AHL and a plus minus in the upper portion of the depth chart.
- Bryan Young Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: Top 4D in Springfield and perhaps a cup of coffee in the NHL. ACTUAL: Played some of the softest opposition this past season and did his usual struggle early/improve late routine in the plus minus department. The fact that he didn’t play in the top 4D this season is pretty damning, although we can’t fault him for something the organization decided on. Fall ’09 RE: It looks like he’s a depth player, signed to a minor league deal as insurance against injury and or another poor season by the valued prospects. He’s the next Chris Hajt.
- Taylor Chorney Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: A full, healthy season in the AHL, with a plus minus in the middle of the D pack and enough offense to justify his draft number. ACTUAL: It was a bad season for a pretty talented kid. Chorney’s -29 was the worst on the club, but he did play top pairing opposition for most of the year. Fall ’09 RE: He didn’t improve much under Daum and suspect they’ll have him play butter minutes and get plenty of PP time this season. I’ll say mid-pack plus minus and more than 30 points.
- Cody Wild Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: A healthy season (that goes for all these rookies) and learning how to make defensive decisions at a higher speed. ACTUAL: Played 2nd pairing toughness (59gp, 4-14-18) while joining the crowd (-14) in double digit negatives at EVs. He’s probably a little better player than Chorney at this point, but that’s a guess. Wild was also HS’d in Springfield and spent some time in the ECHL, but I’m going to suggest that was an organizational error. He was certainly among the 6 best (healthy) D in Springfield this season. Fall ’09 RE: I’ve placed him here because of the ECHL time and the fact that he wasn’t outstanding under Daum (EV numbers below) but still believe he might be the best of the college D trio.
- Alex Plante was playing junior hockey in 08-09 so we didn’t have a baseline for him. Last season was instructive in terms of projecting young defensemen in a very tough league and will impact heavily my reasonable expectations. Plante had a solid comeback season in the WHL and in fact rose to greater heights in post-season. Fall ’09 RE: 40 games or more in the AHL and a plus minus within 20 of the team leader. He’ll probably spend an extended period in the ECHL and should play that league at par.
- Matt Nickerson’s career reads like something out of Slap Shot! and one would think his role will be as an enforcer/goon/knuckle dragger in Springfield. Fall ’09 RE: As many games in the lineup as he spends in the pressbox.
- Jordan Bendfeld Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: A full season in the ECHL with a possible callup to the AHL. ACTUAL: He was injured, playing only 17 games. Fall ’09 RE: His pro career barely got started so most of his season is likely to be in Stockton. I don’t know that we can expect much from him.
Daum’s Falcons at EVs (D)
- Young 28gp, 3-3-6 +5
- Wild 28gp, 1-3-4 -13
- Gabinet 23gp, 1-2-3 -12
- Chorney 22gp, 1-2-3 -9
- Bina 21gp, 1-2-3 -10
- Bisaillon 4gp, 1-0-1 -3
- Constant 3gp, 0-1-1 +4
One thing is certain based on those Daum names and numbers: the Falcons will be better on defense this season.