The (NHL) Case for Corey Potter

I’ve mentioned this a few times but it always amazes me that NHL teams elevate their young defensemen so quickly. Part of it might be the ticking clock of UFA status, but for a position that requires experience to play effectively it would seem to be a no-brainer to bring these defensemen along slowly.

The current Oilers depth chart has some players who were in the NHL too soon (Ladislav Smid, Taylor Chorney, others) and you see it every year across the league.

Meanwhile, at the AHL level there are men trying to make the big club who have been labelled “AHL veterans” and therefore fill a slot in the world’s best minor league. The AHL rule (as I understand it) states that every AHL team can dress 5 “veterans” and that status is attained by the following:

  • A Veteran player is one who has played 260 games total in the NHL, AHL & European Premier League. Any combination of those leagues’ games add up to 260, makes him a veteran.

Potter has played 9 NHL games and 321 AHL games, so by my count qualifies as an AHL veteran. What this means is that Potter has a role in the AHL that OKC would value and he has to overcome that in order to play in the NHL this coming season. It’s not a deal breaker, but the issue is there.

A larger issue is Taylor Chorney’s waiver status. He’s a year from AHL veteran (146 AHL, 56 NHL) status but can’t be sent to OKC without clearing waivers. This is the same consideration that meant Edmonton would keep Theo Peckham a year ago and send out Sean Belle instead, so it’s a huge item if you believe Taylor Chorney has NHL potential.

The Chorney waiver situation could also impact Jeff Petry, who can be sent out. The point of this post is to highlight these items and the fact that the 7 best defenders may not be in Edmonton opening night.

There’s a chance Potter makes the Oilers. Tom Renney is familiar with the player from his Ranger days and the contract Potter signed ($225k in the AHL, $525k in the NHL) is a monster minor league contract. Chorney will make $62,500 in the AHL, $735,000 in the AHL and Petry’s numbers are similar to Chorney’s.

Potter was tied for 6th in the AHL in plus minus last season, and he enjoyed his best offensive season in the AHL. Potter also had a strong playoff for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and based on scouting report should be considered a strong candidate for NHL employment this fall.

Waivers and the AHL rule are not his friends.

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