Each season, the Edmonton Oilers send a fresh group of young people into pro hockey. Some are good enough to make the NHL right away, others start in the AHL and still others begin their careers in the ECHL. How are the kids doing so far?
Oilers pro and amateur scouts need to supply pro hockey with a Convoy of prospects every year. Although many will not reach NHL regular status, each of them will get enough at-bats in pro hockey to prove or disprove their worth at the highest levels of hockey. Here are the NHL and AHL kids, with comments from OKC coach Todd Nelson sprinkled in.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Teenage powerplay God is a strong Calder candidate and the only thing that has tripped him up is a blueline and 5×5 play in the NHL. A splendid season.
- Anton Lander: He has played pro hockey in Sweden, but his NA debut is in the NHL. Although he is offensively challenged, you can see why the coaching staff likes him. Has some gumption and Oilers clearly believe he’ll be a big part of the future.
- Lennart Petrell: Older rookie stayed with the big club for the first half before being relegated. Quality PK man but his 5×5 difficulties eventually got him sent away.
- Hunter Tremblay: Leads Edmonton’s AHL newcomers in points (39, 6-9-15) and his coach likes him a lot. Three shorthanded goals. Tremblay is developing good pro habits according to coach Todd Nelson.
- Tanner House: Solid offense (37, 4-7-11). Coach Nelson feels he has three centermen (O’Marra, VandeVelde and House) who can play against anyone in the AHL. Dependable, good 2-way guy and important on the PK. Nelson says the big item for House is to deliver quality consistently.
- Tyler Pitlick: Getting playing time at center and learning how to use his physical ability to impact the game. 33, 4-5-9 but with 2PP goals and a lot of encouraging verbal reporting pertaining to hard work and effort. Coach Nelson says he is playing very well away from the puck and in his own end.
- Curtis Hamilton: 31, 3-5-8 and has shown flashes in his first pro season but is well off expectations based on last season’s WHL stats. Coach Nelson suggests “it’s going to take time” and feels Hamilton can help on PK and PP and he is getting time in both disciplines. He also said that at the beginning of the year Hamilton wasn’t winning many puck battles but that he has improved a lot in that area during the season.
- Antti Tyrvainein: 20, 2-5-7 he has had some injury issues but has also shown some ability in a few areas. I’m not sure the Oilers know what they have, but if he can stay healthy in the second half we may have a better view.
- Ryan Lowery: College defender has been a very good addition. Oilers did a few things this past fall in an effort to improve their quality and quantity on D and Lowery (26, 1-6-7) has worked out well so far. Lowery has been bitten by the injury bug.
- Kirill Tulupov: Big Russian best known for knocking Ben Eager senseless in the pre-season, he’s big and tough and one imagines the Oilers will find room to sign him over the summer. Has had an injury issue this season.
- Cameron Abney: Big enforcer is watching his role dry up in the NHL but should find a regular home in the AHL next season. 6, 0-0-0 in the AHL.