Winter 2011 Top 20 Prospects

The Edmonton Oilers are brimming with prospects. The last two #1 prospects (Hall and RNH) are tracking well and another graduate (Jordan Eberle) has the tools to run with that pack.

The rest of this year’s group is all about the blue.

  1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will graduate the list later in the season. We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, but the young man looks very good.
  2. Anton Lander’s resume is rather unique because of the “defense first” aspect of it. The scouting report suggests a rather extreme defensive center along the lines of Doug Jarvis. He too is on track to graduate by summer.
  3. Oscar Klefbom is playing in the SEL and increasing his playing time as the year wears on. His scouting report suggests a wide range of skills (size, he can move, creative and a sublime passer) that represents the most complete defender in the system.
  4. Teemu Hartikainen took a little time to adjust to AHL hockey a year ago, but then came on strong and delivered a solid season (plus an impressive callup). He pushed for NHL employment during the pre-season before giving way to an impressive depth chart. Still, I believe his name would have been called by the Oilers if not for the injury that has sidelined him these last weeks. Still a strong prospect for the Oilers.
  5. Martin Marincin continues his development in the WHL and reports have him making progress despite the boxcars. Marincin is a tall, thin defender who needs to fill out but also displays a nice range of skills and a definite nasty streak.
  6. Tyler Bunz was a depth draft pick but has been building a fine resume since he was selected by the Oilers. He did not make the Canadian WJ team but is progressing in the WHL and is the best goalie prospect in the system at this time.
  7. Martin Gernat is the third of the “wide range” defenders and the longest shot based on draft pedigree. A rangy kid, he does have a physical element to his game but his calling card is a tendency to cheat for offense. Interesting prospsect.
  8. Curtis Hamilton turned pro this fall and has been challenged by the jump from junior to the AHL. The points aren’t coming as quickly as they did a year ago, but he did score a goal against Charlotte tonight and is getting more playing time.
  9. Tyler Pitlick is the highest ranked “physical forward” in the system and has shown some signs of being able to deliver offensively. As with Hamilton, the adjustment from junior to the AHL is a difficult process and Pitlick’s numbers through December 18 (26, 4-5-9) are somewhat similar to Teemu Hartikainen’s at the same time one year ago (26, 7-4-11).
  10. David Musil is a personal favorite because he’s already composed and has an idea about how to defend. His issues–foot speed, offensive ability–are evident but the job he’ll be required to do is already evident in his game. All he has to do is continue to develop and learn to defend at higher levels. A very safe prospect.
  11. Colten Teubert has a big edge over the other stay-at-home types in that he’ll audition much sooner and should he grab one of the jobs is likely to be established by the time the others come knocking. Ideally, he’ll be a solid EV and PK defender who can give the Oilers toughness without taking stupid penalties. I think that last item might be his issue as we move along.
  12. Olivier Roy has shown well in his first pro season with Stockton (ECHL). Goaltenders take forever so there’s no hurry but he certainly appears to be able to handle AA shooters. Roy and Bunz are likely to have a similar audition to the one we saw between Dubnyk and Deslauriers over several seasons.
  13. Tobias Rieder is an interesting prospect and has certainly done enough to get noticed in his 18-year old junior season. I like his resume because there’s a range of skills there–all three disciplines–and he’s certainly posting better numbers this year.
  14. Jeremie Blain has some things going for him (he’s right handed) and there’s  every chance I’m underrating his defensive ability on this list. We’ll know more next season when he turns pro.
  15. Brandon Davidson got sent back to junior and is taking it out on his opponents. A late start in organized hockey probably means this extra season is a reasonable solution to a tough situation (the Oilers had too many pro contracts).
  16. Frans Tuohimaa was a surprise selection for some, but his numbers have improved year over year and he is certainly progressing based on the numbers. One thing I do agree about: this year’s list lacks the depth of the 2010 group, but then again with all the graduations (I’ll touch on that below) it is to be expected.
  17. Dillon Simpson has some issues as a prospect but he’s also the son of an NHL player and was one of the youngest players in his league a year ago. It is possible Simpson’s decision to play NCAA hockey at 17 hurt his draft number, and that could benefit the Oilers.
  18. Phil Cornet has not been trumpted as a top end prospect, but his scoring this season will force the Oilers to have a long look at him. 15 goals in a short time frame is a tough thing to do, especially in a league like the AHL. Cornet is currently injured.
  19. Kyle Bigos is a big, strong, tough defender. Bigos’ skills are perhaps under wraps in the NCAA and he might have a major impact physically when he turns pro.
  20. Ryan Martindale rounds out the top 20, earning the honor on the strength of a quality junior career. Martindale hasn’t had a chance to get untracked at the pro level, but he should get a chance to play regularly in the ECHL in the second half of the season.

#21-30 are here.

A few things:

  • At the top of the list, RNH is miles ahead of everyone else and I do think Lander’s unique skill set makes him the 2nd best prospect. I have Klefom and Marincin above the other defenders and do believe Hartikainen is a strong prospect so he’s inside the top 5.
  • The kids from 6-11 could be switched around and I don’t think anyone should care much. We don’t know enough about some and in other cases maybe we know enough to hedge our bets.
  • 12-15 are kids who have some flaws but also possess some good arrows, plus they are progressing well enough to have more up than down arrows.
  • 16-20 is once again somewhat random in that there was no strong reason to rank one player ahead of another.
  • 21+ includes players who are trending up, down or treading water and guys we don’t know enough about yet (Tremblay, House) but they’re bubbling under and we’re paying attention.

That list from last winter was one to remember. I enjoyed doing it, thanks for reading.

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