With a new day dawning for the Oilers minor league system (leaving Springfield and heading for the Sooner state) comes the opportunity to do things right. What would that look like? How could we tell the Oilers were finally paying attention to development and making certain the young men drafted and signed by the procurement department received the best chance to succeed?
What would it resemble? How would we know? We might look to the top of the charts and see what the NHL’s most successful teams are doing. For our purposes I have chosen the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks. I’ll begin by listing all of the forwards who are age 20 and 21 playing currently in the AHL for these organizations.
- Logan Couture (SJS, age 20) 33gp, 18-27-45 (1.364)
- Andrei Loktionov (LAK, age 20) 20gp, 6-11-17 (.850)
- Jamie McGinn (SJS, age 21) 22gp, 6-12-18 (.818)
- Oscar Moller (LAK, age 20) 26gp, 9-10-19 (.731)
- Bud Holloway (LAK, age 21) 52gp, 15-22-37 (.712)
- Justin Azevedo (LAK, age 21) 22gp, 6-8-14 (.636)
- Brandon Mashinter (SJS, age 20) 54gp, 16-13-29 (.537)
- Dwight King (LAK, age 20) 28gp, 5-9-14 (.500)
- Fraser McLaren (SJS, age 21) 31gp, 3-8-11 (.355)
- Geoff Walker (LAK, age 21) 33gp, 4-7-11 (.333)
The Oilers have no one in this category. No 20-year old forwards, none who are 21-years old this season. The youngest forwards on the Falcons are Ryan O’Marra and Slava Trukhno, two players who have struggled during their pro careers.
So, we know that Sam Gagner (age 20) is in his third NHL season and that the Oilers have pushed a few prospects over the last few seasons. So, if they’re going to do things differently, if they’re going to build for the long term, what does that mean for Jordan Eberle? Magnus Paarjavi-Svensson? And what about all of those college kids who haven’t played one season of pro hockey?
Henrik Zetterberg made the NHL at age 22, Pavel Datsyuk 23. Logan Couture seems to be developing nicely. So maybe part of “draft and development” involves making certain these kids can play with authority in the minor leagues before asking them to take on the show. Taylor Hall will come right to the NHL. Should Eberle? Should MPS? What would well run teams do, and what do the “new look” Edmonton Oilers plan to do?