Phil Cornet, Alex Plante and Yann Danis have enjoyed solid seasons so far in the AHL with the OKC Barons. All three will represent the Barons at this year’s All-Star game.
Cornet would have to be considered the biggest surprise, after all it was uncertain what role he’d play in the organization this season. Plante has had his best season in the AHL, and his last year and a half in the league are trending in a good direction. Danis is a minor league veteran who has been solid in his return to the AHL.
I think it’s important we take a moment to make the distinction between these AHL all-stars and actual elite level prospects. The outstanding prospects in OKC this season are Teemu Hartikainen and that group, these are men who have proven themselves in the very difficult AHL. However, making too many of that league’s all star games tells us said player isn’t moving up to the NHL as a regular. I’d rank Danis in that category, with the other two still in the prospect stage.
One of the cool things about having a solid minor league team is that the big club has options. Tanner House is one of many young pro’s in OKC looking for a chance to grab an NHL job. How far down the depth chart is he?
The Oilers depth chart at center has improved mightily in the last couple of seasons. Drafting first overall will do that to you. The procurement department–both amateur and pro–have put in a solid job of adding players who could develop into useful NHLers.
Tanner House appears to be a useful AHL player already. Coach Todd Nelson uses him in a very productive manner as Neal Livingston details in an excellent scouting report. Mr. Livingston tells us his passing ability is a negative and that he’s only average in size. Those things aside, the young man is a willing 2-way player with a strong work ethic.
Edmonton has recalled the following “role-playing” forwards this season:
- Nov 30: Recalled Ryan O’Marra
- Jan 2: Recalled Teemu Hartikainen
- Jan 3: Recalled Josh Green
Men like Chris VandeVelde and Gilbert Brule have played in the NHL, and kids like Tyler Pitlick and Curtis Hamilton are young pro’s well down the depth chart. Where does House rank?
My bet is that he’s in the mix for the next recall. If Josh Green struggles in the next game and Edmonton decides they’d like a center, then it might come down to O’Marra, House and VandeVelde. O’Marra is probably the better bet, but House has to be getting good scouting reports from his coach and the Edmonton staff must be aware of his progress.