Look, I know. It isn’t sustainable. I understand this is not a player who boasts incredible size or a slapshot that can break metal. Still, Phil Cornet had a solid junior career and as the rankings indicate took awhile to adjust to pro hockey. Will he sustain it?
Stu MacGregor: “He’s that player who has hockey sense and a good stick so he gets to a lot of pucks around the net. He needs to get stronger and improve his skating a little bit but he has those skills that you need to be an elite player and I think he’ll have an opportunity if he develops physically and puts the effort in to learn to battle.”
Cornet’s debut pro season (in OKC) saw him play a secondary role for the Barons. His boxcars (60, 7-16-23) ranked him 8th among forwards on the team. Oklahoma City had two 20-year old rookie pros at forward one year ago:
- Teemu Hartikainen 66, 17-25-42
- Phil Cornet 60, 7-16-23
Entering this season, Cornet’s status among the organization’s wingers could not have been strong. In fact, I felt there was some chance he would be in Stockton for part of the season based on his 10-11 performance in OKC. In order to show just how much depth the Oilers enjoy on the wings, allow me to list the options for Edmonton and the Barons:
- Taylor Hall
- Jordan Eberle
- Ryan Smyth
- Ales Hemsky
- Ryan Jones
- Magnus Paajarvi
- Ben Eager
- Lennart Petrell
- Darcy Hordichuk
- Linus Omark
- Ryan Keller
- Gilbert Brule
- Teemu Hartikainen
- Josh Green
- Phil Cornet
- Tyler Pitlick
- Curtis Hamilton
- Hunter Tremblay
- Antti Tyrvainen
That’s my list, you might want to add Sam Gagner and there’s another mile of centers in OKC and surely some of them play wing. Anyway, it was a tough row to hoe for the young winger, especially based on his lukewarm season with the Barons in 10-11.
Cornet: “At the start of the year, we had meetings…and one of the things that I had to do better was to crash the net and stop at the net and get those rebounds and those tap-in goals.”
Those meetings must have had an impact, because Cornet’s status in OKC has turned around. He is now considered (despite a recent slump) a major part of the team and Barons coach Todd Nelson has been decidedly positive.
Nelson: “He’s been playing well. He plays in a lot of different situations because he’s a very smart player. I think it’s a credit to Phil. He put in a great summer getting into better shape, and you can see it’s paying off for him.”
Cornet’s scoring percentages:
- Age 17: 23 goals on 156 shots (14.7%)
- Age 18: 29 goals on 242 shots (12%)
- Age 19: 28 goals in 237 shots (11.8%)
- Age 20: 7 goals on 86 shots (8.1%)
- Age 21: 15 goals on 43 shots (34.9%)
I don’t have any answers here. We know that 35% is not an expected number, but what should we expect from this player? Using his outer marker from the Q and assuming he could reach 200 shots in a season we could expect 30 goals in the AHL for Cornet.
There is no evidence to suggest the Oilers value Cornet as a possible scoring option and with the names ahead of him it is unlikely that one outstanding scoring season in the AHL will clear the decks. Having said that, Phil Cornet has certainly done enough to make this list and may have an NHL career after all. Ripping the cover off the ball at age 21 in AAA for a couple of months is no guarantee of future success in the show, but it’s a helluva nice trend.