One of the many reasons prospects are well served by spending time in the AHL is confidence. Learning to play at speed in the AHL makes the leap to the NHL easier for young players, and makes the transition easier.
Last season, OKC Barons defender (and new pro) Jeff Petry (in photo) talked about the transition: “I’m just getting into the game and feeling more comfortable. I’ve been watching video and getting a visual of what I was doing at the beginning of the year as opposed to now. It’s helped a great deal, along with being with the coaches and hearing what they have to say and applying it to my game.”
- Gilbert Brule RE: I discussed my reasons for believing Brule will play in the AHL this season during the RE series. Any NHL coach has a long memory and one of the things players pay dearly for is not showing up when needed. Brule’s injury history is hard to track and difficult for a coach facing another game right away. I think it costs him his career, beginning this season.
- Chris VandeVelde RE: Big man showed well last spring in an NHL cup of coffee, reasonable for him in OKC this season would be an ability to deliver more offense. VV is going to get passed by more than RNH and Lander if he can’t post some offense.
- Anton Lander RE: Young man showed well early in TC and preseason and then faded just a little as time wore on. That gap is the thing he’ll need to close, and like Paajarvi he’ll need to learn to cheat a little for offense in order to play a major role. His Desjardins NHLE took a jump last season, so reasonable for AHL production would be 15+ goals in a full season and a matching set of assists.
- Ryan O’Marra: The first of the center’s I don’t expect to play in the NHL this season, O’Marra is going to be in a dogfight for playing time. The skill line C’s might end up being Brule (not listed here but I expect he’ll play some in OKC) and VandeVelde, so O’Marra might be fighting back Lander for the defensive assignments by mid-season. I doubt he ends the season as an Oiler.
- Tanner House RE: College man with a rep for being an effective two-way player. House can also play LW and should be able to post north of 30 points in the AHL.
- Milan Kytnar RE: His numbers suggest that Kytnar could be a player of note but the Oilers seem to regard guys like VandeVelde more. Kytnar should be able to establish himself as one of the top 4 options for OKC up the middle.
- Ryan Martindale RE: A bit of a wild card, he could play the wing or start his career in Stockton. Hell, I’m not sure he’s even signed yet. He’ll be a player to follow this winter.
- Teemu Hartikainen RE: This is a prospect ready for graduation but pushed back by guaranteed contracts. Not the worst problem in the world and I think he could force his way back to the NHL will a strong showing. If he stays all year in the minors, 25 goals is a reasonable expectation.
- Lennart Petrell RE: This is a guy who has taken advantage of the organization’s weakness on the PK and caught the eye of the coach. Petrell’s positioning is exceptional on the PK–especially in the neutral zone, and I wonder if the Oilers will mimic that play. I’ve projected him to get some NHL time, but should he play in the AHL we could reasonably expect a 40 point season.
- Curtis Hamilton RE: It might take some time for him to adjust to the AHL, but I think Hamilton will be somewhat similar Hartikainen as an AHL rookie (although he may not get the PP time). Should he spend the entire season in the minors, I think 20 goals is a reasonable number.
- Josh Green RE: He could play center and will probably be on the top 2 lines, but I’ve listed him here because the other 3 LWs will spend some time in the NHL by my estimation. Green showed well in training camp and should be a big part of the team in OKC. If he spends the full season in OKC, 45 points will be reasonable.
- L Phil Cornet RE: The new Trukhno, he impresses in training camp but so far has been unable to establish himself as a strong everyday option in the AHL. RE would be 60+ games and 30+ points in OKC.
- Hunter Tremblay RE: Interesting player, he’s going to have to fill the net in order to push through the current AHL depth chart. It’s more likely he plays a fringe role until injuries offer opportunity. Reasonable would be 50+ games.
- Colton Yellow Horn RE: OKC invite who had a bit of a run right after turning pro, Yellow Horn is small and skilled. I’m listing him because he could be this year’s Arcobello.
- Ryan Keller RE: AHL sniper got a lot of attention during this training camp but is extremely unlikely to play for the Oilers unless a plethora of injuries hits RW. Reasonable expectations would be another 30 goal season.
- Antti Tyrvainen RE: Agitator is going to be a late cut and I don’t think he’ll play in EDM this year; that means a feature role on the top 9 in OKC. Tyrvainen is a funny player: skilled, good motor, pesky, can do some things. I think he’ll have to work on his PIMs (too many) but there’s a player here.
- Tyler Pitlick RE: Rugged winger with some skill, I think he’ll resemble Hamilton in starting slow and then moving up the depth chart. Pitlick may be tougher to track, as I’m not certain he’ll get a lot of PP time. With McDonald gone, Pitlick might have a shot at being that 2-way forward with the big shot who eventually rises to the top line. Unlikely for this season, though. RE would be 12-15 goals, most at even strength.
- Mark Arcobello RE: I’m already starting to question this signing. He rose quickly through the system, but he’s undersized, not young and there are more skilled men available. RE will be difficult to find, since we have no real idea about how much he’ll play. I’ll say 20 goals.
- Andrew Lord RE: The enforcer of the group, signed to an OKC deal. In the words of Johnny Rotten, no future.
- Cameron Abney RE: Doesn’t have a lot of competition for the enforcer role, but I believe it’s reasonable to assume he starts pro in the ECHL. Any AHL games this season should be considered progress for Abney.
I did Oiler RE’s for several players, you can read all of them via this link. There are 8 features on players, those being Lander, Petrell, Brule, Hartikainen, Hamilton, Fedun, Teubert and Pitlick. OKC’s current roster is here.