There are two possible outcomes for Taylor Chorney this fall. He comes to training camp and plays well enough to make the Oilers, or others pass him on the depth chart and he hits the waiver wire.
During the Steve Tambellini era the team has become more efficient in moving out underperforming draft picks with pedigree. Names include Marc Pouliot, JF Jacques, Colin McDonald, Rob Schremp, Andrew Cogliano, Riley Nash.
There’s one huge difference between those players and Chorney: position. Since Chorney–a defenseman–is the waiver worry this fall, special attention will be paid to him in training camp.
Last season, Theo Peckham was in the same waiver situation and was outplayed by Shawn Belle. The organization kept Peckham and sent down Belle. This year, Chorney’s competition (Jeff Petry) is much stronger. Will it make a difference?
NHL Prediction for 11-12: 38, 1-5-6 (.158)
- What is your main problem with him? I don’t think he’ll ever win enough battles for the puck. Chorney is undersized to say the least–he’s listed at 6.00, 193–which means that despite being three inches taller he brings about as much bulk to a battle as Marc-Andre Bergeron. His lack of size, the fact that he isn’t a difference maker offensviely in the AHL let alone the NHL makes him (in my opinion) a tweener. He doesn’t have the physical tools to be a solid defender over many years in the NHL, and he isn’t Brian Rafalski offensively. It was a mistake to draft him high in the second round.
- Is there any good news at all? Sure. His AHL defensive boxcars have steadily improved over time. Last season, Chorney was -1 in OKC after going -29 and -20 the two previous seasons in the AHL.
- Is that it? No. The C&B folks have documented some of his AHL qual comp and this past season had some success. Quoting Scott Reynolds Chorney “stands out as being near the top of the list in QC both times, and as has been mentioned before, his +/- has taken a real step forward this year.”
- So there’s a story here? Yes. Chorney appears to have benefited heavily from the better structure of the minor league system and has become and adequate-to-good AHL calibre defender.
- Is there a ‘but’ coming? Yes. While surging as an AHL blueliner, the NHL numbers don’t imply the same improvement. He isn’t a young prospect and the Oilers have other, perhaps more attractive options pushing at the door.
- But he’s getting there, they need to be patient. I think there is some evidence that the Oilers want to be patient with him. Chorney is a high pick, can move the puck and has shown progress as a pro player.
- So why won’t he make this team? My bet is that Jeff Petry forces the issue.
- Is this a lefty-righty thing? No, I think Petry wins the day on merit without any shenanigans. Petry’s resume is stronger, he’s also an older prospect like Chorney and there’s no good reason aside from Chorney’s waiver issue to keep TC over JP.
- Is it possible both stay? Yes, and I’m glad you asked that question. There are two ways.
- What are they? Injury and trading Andy Sutton.
- They just got Andy Sutton. You bet. And now they’ll have to trade him. It might not happen at the beginning of the year (there’s a chance someone like Whitney may have to be brought along slowly) but I think it’ll come down to a decision (maybe in November) between deadling Sutton or waiving Chorney.
- What if they trade Sutton and someone gets hurt? There’s always Jason Strudwick.
- Are you joking? Yes. But I could see the Oilers signing him during the season if a lot of injuries hit.
- What about injury? Chorney had a knee problem this year and an ankle injury one year ago. Eventually injury will rob him of his footspeed but that’s a distant bell. I don’t think it’s a big deal.
- Will he make the team out of camp? My guess is yes.
- Why? Injuries.
- Will they find a way to keep him? Yes.
- Why? The Oilers badly–badly–need some of these young defensemen who have been in the system a time to turn out. It looks like they have keepers in Petry and Peckham, but Plante and Motin are falling back and the replacement troops are several miles away. Cam Barker may or may not work out, but Chorney is insurance against all of that noise.