As the AHL season winds down it’s interesting to see how many of the AHL kids have met expectations. Today, we’ll look at the defensemen; almost to a man the blueliners have gone beyond expectations this season. How many of them will have NHL careers?
Back in late September I posted the OKC G & D reasonable expectations. With the season almost done, it’s interesting to see how these men performed during a strong OKC season:
- Jeff Petry RE: Petry should play most of the season in the NHL (I suggested 50 NHL games in the Oiler RE series) but the club has mentioned several times that the young college grad might need some fine tuning. I can’t see it, especially against the backdrop of the other young blue, but it’s reasonable to assume Petry spends some time in the minors. UPDATE: Petry covered the 50 NHL game bet and kept on rolling. Among the things we’ll talk about all summer, Petry’s emergence as a solid NHL defenseman will rank up there with RNH’s rookie year and Eberle’s outstanding season.
- Taylor Chorney RE: Chorney’s offense didn’t come with him to the pro level, something we see often in defensemen (they don’t get enough PP time and chances are they aren’t that special). With the new rules post CBA, it was felt that Chorney’s ability to push the puck up would give him high value. As it turns out, his size and strength have been the real story since turning pro, but he has improved at the AHL level and you never know. Could be lost to waivers, but if he plays in OKC then we might expect another step forward for Chorney. UPDATE: All came true. He was lost to waivers and spent some time in St. Louis and Edmonton of the NHL. In OKC, Chorney had a fine year (45, 6-16-22 +13) and appears to have taken over some of the PP load from aging Bryan Helmer.
- Corey Potter RE: I don’t know whether he makes the team out of TC but do believe that the Oilers will see fit to play him sometime this season. Potter looks to have enough foot speed and size to be handle things (we don’t really know yet) and he certainly has the opportunity. RE for him in the AHL would be to slot into a role as a regular who can handle PP and PK duties. He’s a good AHL player, should emerge as a leader in this group. UPDATE: Potter won an NHL job and played so well early the Oilers rewarded him with a new contract. Potter has not played as well since recovering from injury mid-season but I think he played well enough to be in the mix for an NHL job again next season.
- Taylor Fedun RE: He’s turned heads this training camp, but 10 days doesn’t make a career. I think Fedun’s offense is unlikely to be a calling card, but his NHLE’s were solid if a little skewed by powerplay goals. Hey, he might be something but we need to see a bunch of AHL at-bats before passing judgement. Reasonable? Playing a regular shift and surviving. Remember, the transition from college to pro has proven to be a difficult item for previous Oiler prospects. UPDATE: Lost his season to an icing injury. Damn shame.
- Colten Teubert RE: He impressed his AHL coach after coming over from LAK’s organization and there’s certainly an opportunity for him. Suffered a concussion and never did compete for a job this fall, but will get a chance this season. I think reasonable would be a full AHL season with a plus minus a little above average compared to the other Dmen. UPDATE: Showed himself capable in the AHL and a 20 game audition in the NHL exposed him as a guy who’ll need refinement. I’m not sure the Oilers have any plans to use him as a big league option next season, so there’s still time to evaluate. I’d suggest the organization might feel he’ll eventually replace Sutton.
- Bryan Helmer RE: The top 5 players mentioned above Helmer are all defensemen I’ve projected to play (at least a little) in the NHL this season. Helmer begins the AHL only group, and despite being long in the tooth should impact the PP and play a prominent role at evens. Helmer should help in the development of these Oiler prospects and contribute at both ends of the ice. UPDATE: AHL record holder for career points by a defenseman, he turns 40 in July and might have some track left. From conversations I’ve had with Jim Byers it sounds like Helmer’s PP time has been down some this season, so that aspect of his game may be fading.
- Alex Plante RE: Big, strong and immobile defensemen are readily available. Plante’s time as an Oiler prospect isn’t over but lordy it’s going to take a miracle for him to climb back over the kids who have passed him since Plante turned pro. UPDATE: Had a terrific season, including an appearance in the AHL All-Star game. 33, 1-11-12 +13 during a season that included an NHL callup and a fairly long period off for injury, I’d suggest that the “miracle” implied in the RE may have happened. I don’t know that he’ll be an Oiler in the fall, and I do think his footspeed is a major negative, but if the Oilers offload Peckham over the summer Plante might get a chance.
- Johan Motin RE: There is no earthly way to know how he’ll exit the system, only that it’s as sure as breathing. Johan Motin has stepped into the developmental elevator shaft and could be back in Europe soon. Too bad, he seemed to have a future not so long ago. UPDATE: As expected, Motin is no longer in the organization. He was lost in the flood, the first of many I’m sure because there’s an ocean on the way.
- Ryan Lowery RE: He has signed an AHL contract which means he may or may not play in OKC this season. A reasonable expectation would be 40+ games in the AHL for the Colorado College grad. UPDATE: He ended up at 26 games before heading to Stockton. Oilers may bring him back next season but I don’t think they’ll make him a member of their 50-man list.
- Kirill Tulupov: Complete wildcard, he could be in OKC opening night or pumping gas at the Chevron down the street. Big, strong and a half bubble off plumb. UPDATE: Tulupov is such an interesting player. Based on performance I think the Oilers may let him go, but he’s 6.04, 230 and hits like the side of a building. Plus he’s a little nuts. I wouldn’t bet against him despite all the kids who are on the way.
That’s such a good season for an NHL team’s farm club. Jeff Petry has emerged as an NHL defender with a wide range of skills. I think it’s important to give some of the credit to the AHL coaching staff, Petry looks confident and as composed as can be in the NHL. Impressive. The other prospects are on track and you could argue that Plante and Chorney have improved their lot based on this season.
A lot of good things this season.
- When: today at noon Edmonton time.
- Where: Team 1260 (hit the listen live).
- Archive: Oilers Nation, it’s up same day lately.
- Scheduled to appear: former Oiler Mike Krushelnyski; Cult of Hockey’s Bruce McCurdy; Thomas Drance of Canucks Army; OKC pbp man Jim Byers; Kent Wilson of Flames Nation.
The best questions are always yours, feel free to post them in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m addicted to twitter so @lowetide_ is a good way to get things through.