The 2001-02 Hamilton Bulldogs sent several quality players to the NHL, and now that the EIG ‘loaner era’ appears to be finally over, we can expect a return to the days when players graduate at a normal clip.
- Jason Chimera (22 that year): Led the Bulldogs in points that season and he would graduate to an NHL career (710 games and counting) the following season.
- Fernando Pisani (24 that year): Had a strong season in 01-02, taking a huge step forward in points (25 to 60) AHL season over season. He would make his NHL debut the following season.
- Marc-Andre Bergeron (20 that year): The orginal Mr. Chaos arrived as an undrafted junior and began an NHL journey that continues.
- Ty Conklin (25 that year): College free agent signing (Oilers were in competition with Detroit but won the day) and Conklin would have an NHL career of some noteriety.
What do these four have in common? They were either undrafted (Bergeron and Conklin) or selected miles and miles from the first round (Chimera #121 in 1997 and Pisani #195 in 1996). That Bulldog club included some draft disappointments (Chris Hajt–32nd in 1996; Michael Henrich–13th in 1998; Jani Rita–13th in 1999; Alexei Semenov–36th in 1999) and the actual NHL players who did emerge were role players.
This marches is lock step with our findings in the Farm Workers post:
Here’s a look at some of the players we’ll be talking about based on their spring performances:
EARNED A LOOK THIS FALL
- L Toni Rajala (17, 4-12-16). A splendid run, absolutely splendid. This is a player who drives offensive opportunities in the AHL. Can he do it in the NHL? Only one way to find out, and MacT is on record as saying he wants players who don’t fit the “best they were going to be in any given game was a non-factor” definition.
- L Teemu Hartikainen (17, 7-8-15). I know it seems like slow going, and I do understand exactly what people mean when they say he’s never going to make it on a skill line. However, there are a LOT of effective NHL players who wouldn’t be able to replace Hall, Eberle, Yakupov and Hemsky on a skill line. If the Oilers can get him coached up to a level where he can be a consistent pain in the ass (that’s what is left to do) Harski should have a solid career in the bottom 6.
- D Taylor Fedun (17, 3-3-6). A strong season gave way to a terrific post-season and I do believe he’ll get some consideration for an end of the roster role this summer. I don’t have any idea if there’s a gap between Potter and Fedun, and the speed issue remains until we see him tested (and he passes), but he’s in that range where an opportunity has been earned.
- C Mark Arcobello (17, 12-8-20). Plenty of talk about the Nordics but for me this guy keeps showing up in the good parts of the boxscore. I think he might be able to find his way as a utility forward (center-wing) and a 14F this fall. I was not a fan of this player for the longest time, but there’s just too much. When we look at the names above who endured–Brodziak, etc–Arcobello’s resume has some similarities.
And once again, not a high pick in the bunch. I expect that will change in coming seasons.
GOOD ARROWS, NEED MORE TIME
- D Martin Marincin (17, 1-6-7). A smart step forward this season, I don’t think he’ll get a long look in the fall nor do I think he’ll be the first callup when someone gets hurt next season. I’ll say this, though: when he comes, he’s going to stay.
- D Brandon Davidson (17, 0-6-6). It’s funny. This is the ONE GUY in the organizatio who you could reasonably forgive a sideways or down season, but the guy overcame all obstacles to have a fine run and moved up the post season depth chart. I didn’t think he could do any more to get people on his side, but clearly miscalculated. He’s an amazing story.
- C Anton Lander (8, 5-3-8). Had a really nice run toward the end of the season and then through the playoffs when healthy. I don’t really know what to say about him–I’ve been cheering like hell for him to be Doug Jarvis but that old Hab could hit a little–Lander just doesn’t have the bat. Or maybe he was just chasing the puck all last year and finally found his groove. We’d need to see a strong, strong 2013-14 season in OKC before getting excited about him.
- R Tyler Pitlick (16, 2-4-6). I’ve been met with no small amount of resistance on Pitlick, but am unsure why. The health of the man was the issue, and he was healthy down the stretch and into the playoffs. The issue of whether he would ever own a job on an Oiler skill line has been long ago answered (his position boasts Eberle, Yakupov and Hemsky) so we’re talking about him as a 2-way depth option. He has a year to prove he can do something, and I think this run of good health after a pretty severe injury is worthy of note.
The pruning of the RFA list begins with a player we discussed as a likely candidate in the Farm Workers post:
- If we make a list of the minor league RFA’s each summer we can probably pick the cuts and be fairly close. That 50 man list gets a haircut every summer. Barons 12-13: Obvious flushes would appear to be Antti Tyrvainen, Alex Plante, Niko Hovinen, Colten Teubert. They haven’t completely cut ties with Linus Omark, but that’s likely to happen this summer too.
Tyvainen and Nokinen are gone, Plante and Teubert are likely headed down the road; Taylor Fedun and others have eaten their lunch. Next year’s RFA list from the minor leagues involves Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Martindale, Olivier Roy and Cameron Abney–all of whom need strong seasons in 2013-14 to get above the cut line. I wonder if the Oilers will consider finding some of these guys Euro jobs over the summer in order to gain some freedom on the 50 mission cap.
This morning at 10 on Team 1260, The Lowdown with Lowetide hits the air. You can comment at 10-1260, send me a message on twitter @Lowetide_ or post comments here. Scheduled to appear:
- Tom Lynn, player agent and former NHL manager. We’ll talk about player movement at this time of year (things like Tyrvainen) and then about draft prep and how much an agent can do behind the scenes to drum up interest in his player.
- Lisa McRitchie from Kukla’s Korner. Lisa is looking into the minor league seasons of some of the Oiler prospects, we’ll check in on what she’s seeing.
- Guy Flaming from the Pipeline Show. Guy will discuss this year’s draft and some of the late breakers.
- Patricia Teter from Artful Puck. A brilliant and thrilling season came to an end last night, Patricia has been following the club all year and we’ll discuss a season to remember.