Asked and Answered

Slava Trukno has been mentioned a couple of times in recents posts on this blog. Although he is hanging by a thread as an Oilers prospect (and the smart bet is he’ll play in Europe next season, ending his time with the organization) it is hard to believe his 3-year entry level deal is over and still more difficult to fathom just how little he got done in the AHL.

Trukhno was drafted in the summer of 2005 and his boxcar numbers were quality. To give you an idea about just how good he was (in math terms) on draft day, here’s a list of 17-year old CHL kids who ended up being taken by the Oilers during those years:

  1. Sam Gagner (06-07) 53gp, 35-83-118 2.23ppg
  2. Ales Hemsky (00-01) 68gp, 36-64-100 1.47ppg
  3. Rob Schremp (03-04) 63gp, 30-45-75 1.19ppg
  4. Marc Pouliot (02-03) 65gp, 32-41-73 1.12ppg
  5. Jarret Stoll (99-00) 71gp, 37-38-75 1.06ppg
  6. Liam Reddox (03-04) 68gp, 31-33-64 .941ppg
  7. Slava Trukhno (04-05) 64gp, 25-34-59 .922ppg
  8. Tyler Spurgeon (03-04) 49gp, 8-16-24 .490ppg
  9. JF Jacques (02-03) 67gp, 12-21-33 .493ppg
  10. Zack Stortini (02-03) 62gp, 13-16-29 .468ppg
Trukhno is at the end of the group of skill prospects. He trails one QMJHL player (Pouliot) and is well clear of JF Jacques (another kid from the Q). His first few months in the QMJHL in the fall of 2005 were stunning (32gp, 15-44-59 by Christmas) and it looked for all the world like the Oilers had stolen a quality offensive player in the middle rounds. He trailed off after that (28gp, 13-24-37 in the second half) and his scouting report (team leader, plays with an edge; competes both ways; dangerous off the rush, loves to cut to the middle; can pass and shoot on the fly; slightly deficient skater, bit of a wide tracker, makes up for it with strength, hockey sense, puck control) remained positive.
But he didn’t adjust well to pro hockey, and his point-per-game totals in the AHL have been going the wrong way for three straight seasons. He had a few hot stretches (played well with Pouliot one year, then played well the next year as soon as Pouliot was called up to Edmonton) but he never did get into the mix for recall.

This past season the Oilers were so banged up they ended up signing AHL veterans to NHL contracts (Linglet) and recalled pretty much every forward in Springfield. Among Falcons regular forwards whose rights belong to the Oilers, only Trukhno, Geoff Paukovich and Bryan Lerg didn’t get calls to the majors.
What happened to Slava Trukhno? He didn’t develop. We can blame the organization (this was a terrible place to find your way, a losing team filled with inexperienced kids in a very tough league) but we can also question the player. There’s not really much of a heartbeat in the resume, his AHL numbers were subpar in his first season and went downhill from there. What we’re left with is a series of questions, the most interesting being ‘why on earth did some of us have such high expectations of a 4th round pick?’ and ‘why do we sometimes feel delight when our team selects a “draft faller” about 80 points below his predicted landing spot?’
We don’t really have any questions about Slava Trukhno, though. Asked and answered.

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