Training Camp Hopeful #2: Taylor Chorney

Taylor Chorney turned pro last fall and had a good training camp. After the Joey Moss game I wrote “he’s not ready but you can see he’s a player. Made a beauty tee-up pass to Visnovsky for a great shot that resulted in the Eberle goal. You’re going to like him.”

In training camp and during the pre-season Chorney played with a veteran and got to showcase his puck moving and passing talents. When he got sent down to the American Hockey League, he didn’t have control of the puck for months. The Oilers were slow to recognize his shortcomings which made the problem worse and the recovery slower.

The results were roadkill.

  • What is his style? In many cases for Oiler prospects the best way to find out what they are is to google the player’s name and “Geoff Ward” right after. Ward is a smart guy who doesn’t feel a need to make everyone sound like Babe Ruth when talking about them, which is unique in the Oilers organization. Ward said “he’s steady in all areas; a strong passer, moves the puck well and what I really like is that after he moves the puck he follows it up the ice so he’s always in a position to be the 4th man.” So, that’s what he is–a puck moving defender with a high offensive aptitude.
  • What are his negatives? Size is a concern and once again we see how difficult it is for defensemen to learn how to play their position once they turn pro.
  • Why is that the case so often? My theory is that when these gifted kids play in junior, high school and college they’re the best players on the ice so the puck is always on their stick. In order to learn defense you need to read, react and recover. I doubt Taylor Chorney did any more of that as a teenager than someone like Tom Poti did at the same age.
  • What the hell happened in Springfield? At the start of the season (and for much of the year) Chorney was playing against pretty good AHL players every shift. The reasons (Prendergast didn’t sign enough veterans and there were injuries) aren’t important now, what is of interest is that once he got himself into a situation where he could slow the game down and use his head for more than a hat-rack things began to improve. It’s an important point to make.
  • How much did he improve in the second half? Quite a bit. In his first 34 games he was 2-7-9, -21. After settling down a little they adjusted the slope of his treadmill and he went 34gp, 3-9-12 -8. Those are tolerable numbers for an AHL rookie defenseman, especially considering the laugh riot that was the 08-09 Falcons.
  • How difficult was his treadmill slope overall? Pretty tough. As I write this that freak Willis (has he no life?) has posted another terrific article on the Falcons quality of competition. The article is here. It shows that Chorney was in a cluster of blue facing some above average competition. I’d say that’s a very difficult assignment for a rookie and we can probably cut Wild some slack in this area as well.
  • But what about offense? I think it must have been pretty difficult to establish any kind of flow under these circumstances. As it was, Chorney’s rookie AHL season saw him lead Falcon defenders in total points and finish in 5th on the team in assists.
  • Was it a lost season? We don’t know yet. Remember that phrase what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? Well, Chorney cannot possibly have a rougher time in the AHL this season than he did a year ago. He’s a year older, has that experience and the team isn’t going to let “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” Prendergast roll a bunch of rookies out there to get killed every night.
  • Where have the Oilers slotted him? They like him a ton, it’s obvious in many ways. An example would be that he played in the NHL this past season despite the disaster that was playing out in Springfield. He’ll come when he’s ready and I suspect the team will make room for him.
  • So he’s the top defender in Springfield? No, but he might be the first player (after Peckham) who gets the call. The Oilers believe in him, so at some level a guy like Cody Wild needs to be clearly better in order to pass Chorney.
  • Why does he matter? Chorney has a bit of a tough road ahead because he lacks a couple of key components required to play the position (size, toughness). It doesn’t mean he can’t help the team, though. The season ahead will tell us a lot about him.
  • Is he better than Cody Wild? I don’t think there’s any real evidence. They’re about equal, have been for quite a long time.
  • Will he play in the NHL this season? The Oilers usually play their top end D prospects for a game or two in year one, maybe 3-to-5 the next and then get serious about his future after that’s done. Peckham is ahead of him in this way but after that Chorney’s next up and his skill set is unique enough that he could get the call earlier than we think based on who gets hurt. That’ll depend on training camp and improvement at the AHL level in 09-10.
  • Anything else? Just this: When we talk about kids failing in the American League, we need to remember it’s a terrific league. I don’t have any way of estimating the size of the leap from playing at UND to facing grizzled, rugged AHL veterans but it’s a pretty wide gap that everyone but Kevin Prendergast is surely aware of by this time.

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31 Responses to "Training Camp Hopeful #2: Taylor Chorney"

  1. Jonathan Willis says:

    We're both at two articles today, so be careful… ;)

  2. Lord Bob says:

    I'd call up Chorney before any defenseman who isn't Theo Peckham. Frankly, I probably even put him in the lineup ahead of Strudwick, not because Strudwick (or Dean Arsene) isn't better than Chorney, but because this is yet another rebuilding year so let's give the kid his at-bats.

    My god, though, what a shame Chorney is a defenseman. That kid was born to play right wing and be a candidate for the American Olympic team. Instead he was frittered away on the blue line. Some bantam coach has a lot to answer for in hockey Valhalla.

  3. ASRC says:

    Nothing like a Sunday write. JW and LT, head to head. Anyways, like you said, Chorney turned half-way through the season. The term of having the light go on is important for players. He started to learn the game and better in his first year of pro, something some players take much longer to figure out.

    In five years, would I see him an Oiler? Over Petry and Wild, I could say yes. It seems like the organization likes him, and as we've seen, that can keep players longer simply for that reason.

  4. Asiaoil says:

    Well a bit of realism has surfaced with this guy – last year he was supposedly threatening Smid's job which was wildly off the mark as seen by how Chorney's season panned out. Kid could not handle middle of the road AHL players let alone NHL guys. Both Chorney and Peckham need another full year in the AHL against steadily tougher opposition. No need to rush anyone as we are stacked at defense. I think Chorney is considerably better than Wild who I doubt will ever wear an Oiler uniform in the regular season aside from a cup of coffee or two.

  5. Asiaoil says:

    Oh yeah LT – the only thing related to the Oilers worth 5 minutes of my time per day this summer has been you blog. Thanks for a bit of good writing in an otherwise pitiful summer.

  6. Abu says:

    Hi LT,

    I don't post often, but I read all the time, and I wanted to echo Asiaoil's point. I've loved reading every post this summer.

    Thank you.

  7. bookie says:

    Though please do take a few minutes and go outside LT. Its pretty nice out.

  8. Lord Bob says:

    The problem with a nice summer's day in Edmonton is that when you go outside, you have to look at Edmonton.

    (Really, us transplanted British Columbians are just as bad as the Torontonians for unjustified potshots at our old home towns.)

  9. Black Gold says:

    The problem with a nice summer's day in Edmonton is that when you go outside, you have to look at Edmonton.

    Also a Former-Edmontonian-Current-BCian, I second those 'unjustified potshots'.

    I've loved reading every post this summer.

    I also second that.

    Here's to an autumn of undue optimism. :)
    Keep up the good work LT (and Willis and Desjardins etc etc)

  10. flamingpavelbure says:

    I don't know why, but his name always make me think of Clam Chowder.

    Btw, let's start him instead of Strudwick! Bring in the young guns, and clean all the old geezers

  11. Scott says:

    Don't worry Willis, LT saw your post but is pretending to be too busy with other things to respond ;)

  12. flamingpavelbure says:

    Question for you Oilfans.

    Seeing Peckham play and his stats, same for Stortini, Strudwick and Macintyre.

    Why do you guys feel, like it's somewhat necessary to have a tough guy. Or multiple of them, as far as i know, it's probably the only assets, of these 4 player, exeption made for Stortini, who surprised me with decent hockey skills. As for Strudwick and Peckham, i don't feel it's really necessary to have tough guys on D, as a puck moving dman would be more useful, like Chorney. So you get one guy that can hit and one guy that can move the puck on each pair. (Gilbert with Souray, Grebeshkov with Lubo, and Staios and Smid, can go as the tougher pair, inserting Chorney when playing fast teams)

    But yes continuing on my point, it looks like in the west, it's really considered necessary to have tough guys. Which is think, isn't really necessary, you could bring up talent, and guys that can actually score instead. If you think it's necessary, have a chat with the Montreal Canadiens, Even with Big George injured, or not having him the year before, they we're over ,666 vs teams from the West. That with being one of the less Physical teams, and having 3 scoring lines, don't you feel the Oilers could do that?

  13. Lowetide says:

    pavel: Strudwick is an end of the roster player, insurance. Kind of like a security blanket for coaches. Trevor Linden in his last season, that kind of thing. There are better options but then again you'd like younger players to be getting game action and Strudwick will sit plenty this season.

    Stortini is an end of the roster guy whose value comes in the fact he doesn't cost the coach and he can play with an edge.

    Peckham imo is a completely different item. He can play. Tough, can play defense, can fight, he has some things.

    As for why fighters and toughness are important, it's the same in any sport. Fear is a factor, if you're skating into the corner and know there's a Jordin Tootoo heading to the same spot there's a tendency to be aware of it and be more tentative. It's human nature.

    The Oilers don't have very damn many of those players, they need more. Your Canucks have a few btw.

  14. Lowetide says:

    Hey,

    How do I get the stupid keyboard to give me the question mark back instead of the stupid E thingy?

  15. R O says:

    Hey,

    How do I get the stupid keyboard to give me the question mark back instead of the stupid E thingy?

    On one of my laptops there's a little button on the taskbar that can switch between keyboard modes. If you see it, choose the U.S. mode.

  16. flamingpavelbure says:

    Switch from french to English. If you have Vista, it's the keyboard logo on the right bottom of your screen.

    Btw, i'm not a Canucks Fan, Just a Bure fan. I am from Montreal, the Oilers are my second love, with a couple of my favorites in there, and usually a great team to have on fantasy hockey leagues, as the depth in 3/4 liners usually ease it to get star players.

    Oh yeah and Rawbert and Hemmers help too. :P

  17. PunjabiOil says:

    Press Control and Shift together for about 4-5 seconds.

  18. Bar Qu says:

    I wonder if coming up behind Gilbert, Grebeshkov and Vishnovsky will slow Chorney's arrival? (I am a perpetual optimist and expect all three to be in Oiler silks for a long time)

    We have already seen how multiples of the same player type affect openings for new guys.

  19. flamingpavelbure says:

    Bar: Souray and Lubo are aging, same for Staios and Strudwick, that will certainly open up some spots.

  20. PunjabiOil says:

    Defenceman take a long time to develop. We saw it with Smid, we saw it with Greene, we saw it with Gilbert, and we saw it with Grebeshkov.

    Chorney turned 22 in April. His AHL season was defensively speaking, a disaster. Offensively, 21 points in 68 games isn't bad. He did struggle in the NHL, and prudence would suggest we give both Chorney and Petry at least another year (maybe even 2) before bringing them up.

    Of course Chorney exemplifies why it may not be wise to draft defenceman given forwards are easier to develop (read: UFA years), and an excess of strong forwards could be used to acquire defenceman via trade.

    The way Slats built the Oilers defence, and that can be argued with Lowe too – strong acquisitions via trades.

  21. Bar Qu says:

    fb,

    but Chorney doesn't bring the skills a Souray, Staios or even Strudwick do. Vis will continue at a strong level for at least three years and Gilbert and Grebs are both entering their prime. These are the guys that Chorney duplicates and if they are around, it makes him less likely to breakthrough (ie PP time, big minutes on ES, etc).

    That's why a Peckham and a Motin will have an easier arrival than Chorney.

  22. Lowetide says:

    Thanks everyone. Now it works when I am writing a blog but not when I am posting comments.

    I miss my Smith-Corona. :-)

  23. Bar Qu says:

    Ahh, the sweet clack of typebar against paper …

  24. spOILer says:

    I'm kinda surprised that the first two hopefuls are both Dmen with our depth there.

    LT, do you feel this is a position of strength throughout the depth chart? Or maybe that there's just more chances for surprise from our depth D?

    Or am I just reading too much into the beginning of this series?

  25. Lowetide says:

    spOILer: I chose the Dmen to start with because the F's are harder to identify in terms of long shots. If we made a list of guys we wouldn't be shocked if they made the team, like this:

    G: Khabibulin, JDD, DD
    D: Visnovsky, Souray, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Smid, Staios, Strudwick, Peckham
    C: Horcoff, Gagner, Pouliot, Brule, Potulny, Minard
    L: Penner, Cogliano, Moreau, Jacques, MacIntyre, Reddox, Stone
    R: Hemsky, Nilsson, Pisani, Stortini

    Who am I Missing? That was the general idea. I'm publishing a forward first thing tomorrow morning and if nothing breaks I'll have another forward (a real long shot) tomorrow night.

  26. Lord Bob says:

    You forgot Rob Schremp. Or is "hockey Jesus" not a position for your analysis?

  27. Lord Bob says:

    (seriously, I'd be more shocked to see Dubnyk or Minard make the team than Schremp.)

    (seriously.)

  28. flamingpavelbure says:

    Doesn't expecting, a forward, who's best season, including juniors is 5 points, to make the team? I mean come on, he barely can make an AHL team, he's downright pathetic. (Refering to Steve Macintyre here)

  29. Lowetide says:

    MacIntyre was on the team last year, doesn't seem to be a stretch he'll make it this season.

    As for Schremp, he'll be one of the hopefuls believe it or not. The person who posted he/she was sick of Schremp is going to hate me soon. :-)

  30. oilerdago says:

    Can't see any reason to rush Chorney unless there's a rash of injuries on the blueline this season.

    I do think it was good to see him get playing time at the end of last season because it helps him to see how far he's got to go before he's ready.

    Would think a couple of games this season (2-3) late and slightly longer look next season would be in order. Being on track for 2011/12 is not a bad thing.

    And boy, I can't wait for more stuff on Robbie Schremp, but maybe he'll do us all a favor and not sign his contract.

  31. Dennis says:

    This guy needs to have a good season AT THE AHL LEVEL before we even consider him for the bigs.

    Probably a guy that comes up in the middle of the 2011 season.

    In a very short sample size, he was as chaotic a D as I can remember.

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