2009 Winter Top 20

The current crop of Edmonton Oiler prospects has a quality winger at the top, a plethora of defenders and centermen and just a couple of goaltenders. It lacks skill wingers and (Thank GOD!) undersized forwards. The procurement department that has produced Hemsky, Stoll, Greene, Gagner and Cogliano still has some bullets in the chamber this decade. The kid at the top might be special.
  1. Magnus Paarjavi-Svensson might be the best left winger drafted by this organization since Ryan Smyth in 1994 and is certainly the third in a trio of quality choices since the turn of the century (Hemsky, Gagner).
  2. Jordan Eberle is easily the most famous prospect in the system and his claim to fame is the most difficult thing to do in hockey: score goals. He may not be on this list next December.
  3. Riley Nash has a wide range of skills and could make the big leagues in any number of roles. The safest bet is as a two-way player with enough skill to play in the top 6, a rare item in Oiler nation.
  4. Chris Vande Velde is a rugged center with some offensive ability and secondary skills. Oiler fans looking for the next good faceoff man should make note of his ability in this area.
  5. Theo Peckham has a mean streak and a willingness to drop the gloves seldom found in an Oiler prospect who can actually play a position. As with all defenders he’s learning the pro game over an extended period but is the most promising blue in the organization.
  6. Linus Omark had a bunch of small skill forwards ahead of him on the organizational depth chart but is at this point the best option available to the organization (outside the NHL). His arrival could come next fall.
  7. Jeff Petry came from a long way back to establish himself as a legit option for the NHL. His wide range of skills puts him near the top of Edmonton’s list of quality D prospects.
  8. Taylor Chorney has played in the NHL this season and appears to be on the verge of staying for good. His skating ability and improved decision making may mean he’ll have a long career in the show.
  9. Teemu Hartikainen has established himself as a solid prospect and if he can improve his skating the Oilers will have uncovered another gem in Finland.
  10. Anton Lander is playing major minutes in the SEL and carving out a reputation for being a quality checking center. The question is offense but he has some ability.
  11. Johan Motin appears to have arrived in North America with steady feet and quickly became and established hand in Springfield. His minor league education may be shorter than a few of the higher picks.
  12. Devan Dubnyk has been playing in front of poor teams for most of his career, but this season he’s among the AHL’s better stoppers. He made his NHL debut earlier in the season and this might be his final season in the minors.
  13. Philippe Cornet is the second of the “minute men” on the Oilers prospect list. He’s an impact player in the Q and might be one of those forwards who slips through the cracks and has a career despite being drafted in the 130′s.
  14. Ryan Stone is the only prospect on the list Edmonton traded for after he was drafted. Stone’s impact on the Oilers has been significant and although he’s unlikely to be on this list next year credit is due Steve Tambellini for getting a solid role player via trade.
  15. Alex Plante shows us just how difficult it is to learn defense at the pro level. Oiler fans knew he was a project and he is playing some tough minutes on the farm. His ETA may lag behind fellow draftees Gagner and Nash but he remains a quality prospect.
  16. Toni Rajala is the third small winger on this year’s list and is the farthest from the show. Still, he’s scoring well despite a TC injury and adjusting to North America.
  17. Cody Wild is in Springfield working his way up the depth chart and supplying the Falcons with a viable powerplay quarterback. His biggest hurdle may be the Oilers organization.
  18. Colin McDonald improved his foot speed and flourished after Rob Daum asked him to be a checker. The Oilers don’t have many players of his type in the organization and with the plethora of injuries at that slot (two-way winger with size who can penalty kill) McDonald might be back in the show soon.
  19. Olivier Roy is the organization’s youngest goalie and has a season and a half in junior to show his stuff. Among the places he can do it might be the World Junior’s this Christmastime.
  20. Vyacheslav Trukhno has a nice range of skills so he makes the end of the list over a few pluggers and teenagers. There is some urgency for him though, as his North American hockey career could be coming to and end if his struggles continue.
  21. Troy Hesketh almost made the list but I couldn’t decide if he was driving the bus or on it playing for a ridiculous Minnetonka club.
  22. Ryan O’Marra was once described as a player who “could do it all” by Redline report but a series of injuries and development issues slowed his career. He’s having a solid year in Springfield and was recalled earlier in the fall by Edmonton to make his NHL debut.
  23. Milan Kytnar has fallen quite a bit, mostly due to his lack of offense in junior. He’s 20 years old and needs to be much better offensively at that level.
  24. Kyle Bigos is having a solid NCAA debut at Merrimack College and should certainly be considered a legit NHL prospect based on math and reports on his play.
  25. Geoff Paukovich earns honorable mention for playing a physical style and helping on the PK in Springfield.
  • Jeff Deslauriers graduated from the list, so his last ranking came in the summer. He was an Oilers prospect from June 2002 through fall 2009.
  • Rob Schremp mercifully retires from the list and is in the NHL with the Islanders.
  • Josef Hrabal is off the list but still plays in Europe, I wouldn’t write him off as a prospect yet.
  • Liam Reddox was on the prospects list last winter but has played enough NHL games to graduate as a prospect.
It’s easy to forget just how much turnover there has been in the last few months. Tyler Spurgeon, Mathieu Roy, Tim Sestito, Stephane Goulet and others are no longer in the organization (remember Jonas Almtorp? Fredrik Johansson?) and the turnover is likely to continue this summer.
Why? The number of college kids (Nash, Petry, Vande Velde) and Europeans (Omark, Lander) who’ll join Eberle and Cornet at the pro level is going to force prospects off the Springfield roster.
Finally, this is an excellent list. The Oilers graduated Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano in the fall of 2007 and there’s a chance they’ll have two more first round picks join the big club (MPS and Eberle) next fall. I hope you enjoyed reading the list, I enjoyed your input.

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