The Edmonton Oilers drafted in the top 15 “window” exactly 5 times during the Kevin Prendergast era. I count his era as being 2001-07, with Barry Fraser owning the scouting director title 1979-2000 and Stu MacGregor took over in time for the 2008 (Eberle) draft. Those 5 picks delivered zircon (Niinimaki) and diamonds (Hemsky) with three men (Gagner, Plante and Dubnyk) who haven’t established their level yet. Gagner is known to us and should have at least an NHL career but we’ll need him to be better than that in order to cover the bet. Plante’s story has had some rocky moments but appears back on track.
Then there is Dubnyk. Chosen 14th overall in 2004, he is one of three first rounders from that season who have not yet played in the National Hockey League. Dubnyk’s progress is difficult to measure because the tools we use (SP) have been skewed by outside influences (the gross number of 5-on-3′s dating back to junior, extremely inexperienced blue) but if we had to make a call on him today the answer would be “fail.”
- Devan Dubnyk Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: More than 40 games in the AHL and a more consistent record. This is a big year for the big man. ACTUAL: He played in 62 AHL games but his record included 41 losses. His SP (.906) isn’t close to the hoped for .915 but he did improve under Daum (.908 after Valentine’s Day). Fall ’09 RE: The Falcons are going to be a more veteran group top to bottom this winter, so his SP should improve. I’ll say .912 and a cup of coffee in the show.
- Jeff Deslauriers Fall ’08 Reasonable expectations: Solid numbers in 10-15 NHL games and perhaps a quality conditioning stint in the minors. It’s sink or swim time for this player, with the organization seemingly convinced of his ability and the numbers suggesting otherwise. ACTUAL: Pretty close. He had solid if unspectacular NHL numbers (10gp, 3.34 .901) and played 5 good AHL games. The odds are against him historically, but he’ll likely get a heavier workload in 09-10. Fall ’09 RE: He’ll either play 30 games in the NHL and get results or the Oilers will replace him with someone who can. There’s no time left for this player in terms of development. I’ll say 20gp, 3.12, .903 with the Oilers dealing for additional help at the deadline or elevating Dubnyk.
- Bryan Pitton Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: Plenty of work with good results in the ECHL and perhaps a few starts in the AHL. ACTUAL: He played 34 games in the ECHL and was not impressive (.886) at all, in fact losing the starting job to undrafted Andrew Perugini. As listless as his regular season stats were, his 3 playoff games were worse. One wonders if he’ll be back. Fall ’09 RE: Pitton is listed on the Oilers site as being “in the system” but he’s likely hanging by a thread. He is signed for two more seasons according to capgeek.
- Glenn Fisher Fall ’08 Reasonable Expectations: Survival in pro hockey. He may spend the entire season as backup to Dubnyk in Springfield or he might be back in the ECHL helping out Pitton. Either way, he needs to show something this season. ACTUAL: Fisher had a horrible start and ended up in Las Vegas (ECHL) for much of the season. Once there he caught fire, boasting a .930SP in 21 regular season games and then posting a .934SP in the post-season. We need to be aware of 2 things: this is the ECHL and the parent team loaned him out, and Fisher is 26-years old with 4 total games in the AHL so far in his career. Fall ’09 RE: As far as I know, he is no longer part of the organization.
- Andrew Perugini I didn’t list him in the fall look but he’s certainly worth talking about now. His SP in the ECHL (.908) was 22 points better than Pitton’s and I think he’d reasonably be rated as the third best goalie in the system at this time (behind JDD and DD). Fall ’09 RE: He doesn’t have a contract, but suspect he will at some point. I like Perugini to play some in the AHL this season and play well enough to move up the depth chart.
Aaron Sorochan and Kurtis Mucha are two goalies currently on the Oilers radar and we should see some movement in this area sometime this month. I’ll update as needed. One thing is certain: Pete Peeters resume didn’t improve based on the goalie development in Edmonton. The new goalie coach can impress the hell out of us by getting any one of these goalies to perform better than their current established levels of ability. At this point the Oilers have three minor league goalies under contract (JDD, DD and Pitton) with Perugini a player of interest. This position needs to be addressed.