The Edmonton Oilers 10-11 season has been one ugly baby, the twin for the 09-10 debacle. It might be a good idea not to throw the baby out with the bath water.
This season’s Oilers have devoted an incredible amount of playing time to rookies: Magnus Pääjärvi (1197); Jordan Eberle (1184); Taylor Hall (1184); Linus Omark (747); Jeff Petry (673) and Ryan O’Marra (200) among skaters and goalie Devan Dubynk (2001).
Those players and their skills have hidden something pretty impressive bubbling under: the Oilers are developing talent at the AHL level again and using their minor league team as a proving ground. Kids are being sent to the AHL in order to refine their skills and make themselves useful. For once, the Oilers have a rookie who is 20 years old, has a nice range of skills and will finish in the AHL’s top 10 in rookie scoring.
Here’s this year’s Oilers Oklahoma kids.
- L Teemu Hartikainen (66gp, 17-25-42 -1). Big winger with good hands and an idea about how to get things done in tough areas. Hartikainen has a unique skill set compared to the Oilers roster and he might end up being a top 9 regular with the NHL team in 11-12. Tied for 10th overall in AHL rookie scoring.
- L Linus Omark (28gp, 14-17-31 +7). Magician with the puck, Omark’s recall mid-season means he won’t be considered an 11-12 NHL rookie. His 5 goal game early in the season showed the team he deserved a look, and he certainly impressed people once reaching the NHL.
- C Milan Kytnar (75gp, 11-14-25 +2). Impressive season for the 21-year old. 31 games into his rookie AHL season, Kytnar had 2-6-8 -7 numbers. From that point on, Kytnar went 44gp, 9-8-17 +9 and played a more prominent role. In his last 4gp, Kytnar is 4-3-7 +3 for the Barons.
- D Jeff Petry (41gp, 7-17-24 -6). I’ll cover his season when we look at the NHL roster, but Petry’s season in the AHL was solid and if anything he’s been better in the NHL. A huge item moving forward, as the procurement department seems to be churning out wingers 12 at a time. This season (10-11) is considered his rookie NHL season.
- L Philippe Cornet (57gp, 6-13-19 +5). Kid from the QMJHL didn’t show a lot but it’s also true he didn’t play a prominent role. Slava Trukhno played a bigger role as a rookie coming out of the Q but couldn’t build on it, perhaps this season as a depth player may benefit Cornet’s development.
- R Mark Arcobello (23gp, 9-8-17 +3). Had a huge impact in OKC after being called up from Stockton of the ECHL. Older prospect (like most of the recent signings) and he has size issues, but according to the Barons coach (Todd Nelson) Arcobello uses exceptional balance to compete and has been very effective in the AHL.
- D Colten Teubert (56gp, 4-13-17 +6). Has enjoyed more success since coming over from the LAK organization at the trade deadline. Teubert is likely to spend next season in OKC but does appear to be back on track as a prospect.
- C Chris Vande Velde (67gp, 12-4-16 -17). Like Petry, college center Vande Velde looks better in the NHL than his AHL numbers suggested. It’s too soon to tell, but he might be in the mix for an NHL job sometime in 11-12.
- C Tanner House (3gp, 1-1-2 +1). I included him because House is an older prospect and we’ll likely have to talk about him in the center discussion for OKC in 11-12. Looks good early, a long playoff run for the Barons would give the Oilers a chance to evaluate him further.
Omark, Petry and Hartikainen are likely to graduate from AHL rookie status to NHL player status in one year, and there’s some talent left over and some developing in OKC for guys like Kytnar and Teubert. Vande Velde is a wild card for 11-12.