This is Taylor Chorney. The Edmonton Oilers and scouting staff love the guy, and in training camp and the NHL games he’s been in you can see why they’d like him. Chorney is a fluid skater and makes a nice pass, and these are important things for a defender. Chorney is at the front of the pack in terms of Falcons defenders, along with tough guy Theo Peckham.
If the Oilers trade a defender at the deadline it’s extremely likely to be Steve Staios. If that happens, extra man Jason Strudwick would move up the depth chart and Steve Tambellini would make the call to Springfield for a new #7. Here are the candidates.
- Taylor Chorney (20gp, 4-5-9 -16). He’s improved a great deal (10gp, 2-2-4 -4 in his last ten) from the beginning of the year and looked good in his NHL cup of coffee. He’s signed through next season (summer 2011) at $941,000.
- Theo Peckham (23gp, 0-6-6 -1). We have some evidence to show that Peckham is once again playing the tough opposition. He’s had injury concerns (in camp and a concussion recently) and conditioning was a stated concern by Rob Daum. I still think he’s the best bet among the group to become a useful NHL player. He’s an RFA this summer and makes $600,000 on his major league deal.
- Johan Motin (33gp, 1-3-4 Even). It is still early but this guy looks like he might end up being someone the team can hang their hat on. He’s not an offensive defender, but the reports on him from Daum are positive and he’s in the black recently (+2 over the last 7 games). This is a guy who has more pro experience than fellow AHL rookie Plante, but they’re the same age and this guy appears to be better. He’s cap friendly at $875,000 and won’t be RFA until 2012.
- Cody Wild (32gp, 0-13-13 -10). Wild leads Falcons blue in points and looks like a quality option for the minor league powerplay (his 7 PP assists puts him among the league leaders among Dmen in that category). Rob Daum has suggested the gap between Chorney and Wild has more to do with those elusive intangibles that math cannot touch, but I still think this kid is a player. Like Chorney, he has improved recently at EVs (-1 in his last 9 games). He’s also signed through summer 2011 and costs $850,000.
- Alex Plante (42gp, 1-6-7 -11). Plante has struggled lately (in his last 12gp, he’s 1-2-3 -6) at even-strength, but we do have indicators that tell us he’s playing against more difficult opposition during that time (partnered with Peckham for a time). This is a raw player with some issues but the pim’s (107) and the scouting reports say he is showing some nice things as an AHL rookie. Still a long term project, though. Plante is on his entry level deal which pays $1.075M when he plays in the show and he’ll be up for a new deal in 2012 summer.
- Dean Arsene (34gp, 0-3-3 -6). I’ve included him because the guy earned it. Solid play in the minors bought him an NHL chance and he might be a guy they consider bringing back on a similar contract ($500,000 a year, two way deal) next season.
As with the forwards, the Springfield blue has helped out the big club this season. Callups Taylor Chorney, Dean Arsene and Theo Peckham have delivered 19 games and an assist.
There are really two groups here. Chorney and Peckham are (based on the organization rhetoric and results) close to the NHL, with Motin and Plante probably longer term. Cody Wild looks like the odd man out and Dean Arsene is a candidate for 7D next fall should Strudwick lose another step.
One final item. At some point Jeff Petry is going to turn pro, and he might (like Matt Greene) have a short AHL career before jumping a bunch of men on the depth chart. We should keep in mind when looking at this list that Petry turning pro and showing well in TC may mean all of them return to the minors for 2010-11.