The group of players in the Oilers system that we’ll discuss today are one of the main reasons I’m a fan. The absolute fascination with the group we’ll call the hopefuls, stragglers and also-rans is compelling because it’s such a thin line. The line between becoming an NHL role player and playing in the AHL or Europe is often razor thin.
Some of the men listed below will have long NHL careers, and others will be in Minsk by Christmas. Back in the olden days, it was easy to know the fringe players because the hockey preview magazines told you (Larry Mavety was mentioned every year of my childhood; I cheered like mad for him).
Nowadays with 30 NHL teams it’s more difficult and the truth is that some of the world’s best hockey players won’t be in the NHL this fall by choice. Going home, KHL dollars and the promise of the first really big payday have siphoned some of the good players from the North American scene.
Jason Chimera took three full minor league seasons and 230+ AHL games before establishing himself as an NHL player. He had believers (Kevin Lowe said every summer Chimera would make the team) and detractors (Craig MacTavish sent him back every time) but eventually honed his skills into something MacT could use. Same thing for Kyle Brodziak; he took some time but became a useful player but eventually found a way to make himself useful. Who is this year’s Chimera or Brodziak? Is there one?
- G Richard Bachman: Starter in OKC and first callup to the show, Bachman is a solid veteran who fills the “Danis” role of seasons past. Based on his performances against the Barons, it was a good signing.
- G Olivier Roy: Roy was brilliant in the ECHL (.961) but below average (.902) in the AHL this season. Still, he’s on track as a prospect, and at 22 you can see Roy having an NHL career–albeit as a backup or sport starter.
- G Tyler Bunz: His pro debut was a major disappointment, and when we add his concussion issues this is a player who probably close to the NP list.
- G Ty Rimmer: Tail, rail thin goaler is an invite to rookie camp. We’ll probably see more invites at the goalie spot, but this guy seems like a good candidate to hang around awhile.
- D Phil Larsen: I have him here because (for me) Potter is a little better hockey player. You can switch them out and be correct, but this is where I have him. Interesting player, we’ll know more after TC.
- D Oscar Klefbom: The only worry now is injury, he appears to have the whole world in his hands. I think the Oilers are so strong on the player that Klefbom is more likely to make the Oilers than Larsen.
- D Martin Marincin: He’ll get passed by Klefbom, and if he gets passed by Nurse too then I think we’ll see him in another NHL city. This is a really nice player with a strong chance to have an (200+ games) NHL career.
- D Taylor Fedun: Older prospect watching kids pass him monthly. Has ability, but it’s likely he’ll be shy of the NHL again this season.
- D Brandon Davidson: A younger version of Fedun, which of course means he has a much better chance of making it. Still a long shot overall, you never know.
- D Brad Hunt: Fascinating prospect, he could end up being the best of the bunch (excluding the 1st rounders) because he’s the most skilled. A wonderful add, although it didn’t get much pub.
- D David Musil: If he can keep up in pro like he did in junior, he’ll play for 20 years. Musil’s knowledge of the position at this age is exceptional.
- D Martin Gernat: Perhaps forgotten in the long list of defensemen arriving in the pro ranks in the early part of this decade, he has all the tools. Gernat’s injury last season is a concern, but if he rebounds with a strong year in 2013-14 I’ll consider him on track.
- D Joey Leach: The reason Teubert and Plante are no longer here.
- D Darnell Nurse: I’m including him because we’re going to see him at camp and I wonder how deep he goes into the pre-season. The Oilers love him, but my guess is there’s so much talent at the position that Nurse plays the U of A game, maybe one pre-season game and then is sent back. If he gets more than 2 pre-season games, we can probably project him into the opening night lineup in 2014-15. They LOVE Nurse.
- D Ben Betker: Included because the club may want to have extra D around, it’s going to be ages before we see him as an option for the 14 pro D (Edm and OKC).
- C Mark Arcobello: Veteran, offensive leader of the club will no doubt play some in Edmonton. He might end up having a career, folks.
- C Will Acton: I have him in the minors because his offense is even more atrocious than Lander’s in the AHL, but we shouldn’t discount Eakins familiarity with this player. Acton has his best NHL chance this fall.
- C Andrew Miller: A little below Arco offensively based on NHLE, I’ll be very interested to see if Miller has a ’2-way’ game entering pro. If he does, we could see him in the NHL some time this season.
- C C. J. Stretch: An AHL only option at this point, but he’s going to get at-bats.
- C Travis Ewanyk: New pro, the old Tambellini regime loved him and the current group is looking for grit. In his last 80 WHL games, he scored 33 points. I just don’t see an NHL career here, but here’s hoping.
- C Nicolas Tremblay: Interesting hockey player. He’s a Clarkson grad, Boston pick from the Eberle draft. His skating is outstanding.
- C Reid Petryk: Two-way C from the WHL, scoring rates a little higher than Ewanyk.
- C Jujhar Khaira: A nice prospect here, he’ll be getting a lot of attention from now on.
- C Greg Chase: This kid is going to race up the depth chart and prospect rankings. Man. Cannot believe where they got him.
- C Chase Schaber: Shows up every year.
- L Linus Omark: I have him here because this is what I think will happen. Would love to be wrong. Silly good skill, with holes you can accont for with linemates. The hardest thing to do is score goals–Omark helps you do that more than most, certainly more than the 3 and 4 lines we’ve seen in recent seasons.
- L Ryan Hamilton: 6.02, 230, pisses people off without taking dumb penalties. Unless he’s slower than Jack Valiquette, I suspect we see him in Edmonton for some games this season.
- L Ben Eager: Has a chance to make a comeback, I just hope his concussion past is in fact in the past.
- L Ryan Martindale: It’s go time for the entire 2010 draft (well, sans Hall and Marincin) and Martindale might be in the best position.
- L Curtis Hamilton: A busy fall: recover from injury, establish himself as a legit AHL top 9 option, repair 2 years of backwards travelling.
- L Kale Kessy: Big, tough, and ended his junior career by scoring a lot of goals. Complete wild card as a pro.
- L Austen Fyten: 22-year old with some skill and a physical element. He could surprise and win some AHL time.
- L Mitchell Moroz: It’s a big season for Moroz, he’ll want to show well in order to gain a pro contract. He’s in a good spot on the Oil King depth chart, but his coach hasn’t given him a skill spot in two seasons, I’m not certain he’ll do it now.
- R Derek Nesbitt: A minor league scorer, not an NHL option.
- R Matthew Ford: Could end up in the top 6F in OKC.
- R Tyler Pitlick: I’ve been stubborn on him because EVERYONE I have ever talked to (from Jim Byers to the bloggers to buddies who’ve seen him live) say he’s a hockey player. The offense is not there, he either has no puck luck or doesn’t possess the shot everyone claims he does. One good thing: if he lays an egg this season, we won’t be talking about him next year.
- R Erick Lizon: He’s the guy blocking Abney.
- R Cameron Abney: The above statement is incorrect. Abney is the guy blocking Abney. I don’t really know what has happened to his career, but he’s wandering aimlessly and the club is extremely unlikely to bring him back next year.
- R Marco Roy: A high end skill guy from the Q, he has 3 goals and 9 shots on goal in his two pre-season Q games. This fellow is going to be fun to follow.
- R Jackson Houck: He’s exactly the player Edmonton is looking for–physical, tough, initiates contact. And he’s skilled enough to play with the good players. This might be an inspired draft pick.
- R Kyle Platzer: We still don’t know much about him aside from the fact he couldn’t get playing time on an extremely talented junior team.
- R Ty Bilcke: Tough, big. Enforcer future.
Any additions let me know. Along with yesterday’s projected starting 23, that’s 65 names for a possible TC invite list. There are a few players on this list (Klefbom, Larsen, Acton, Hamilton, Omark) who could make the big team–this year is a moving target more than most seasons.
The last time we ran one of these was 2011 summer–here’s the list–and here’s some of the guys who apparently worked out with the 2011 wording:
- D Jeff Petry: A fine young prospect from the Prendergast draft era, he showed very well in the NHL last season. I keep trying to find a way to put him on the opening night roster and would bet he forces his way. Manna from heaven if he is as good as he looks early.
- D Corey Potter: We’ve talked about this at length, but Potter has a huge opportunity with the Oilers. Even if he gets sent down after pre-season, he should be one of the early callup options. From the Larry Mavety prospect family, and his opportunity is somewhat similar to the one enjoyed by Yann Danis.
- C Anton Lander: Of all the forwards on this list, Lander is probably the best bet for a useful NHL career. The day he was drafted Lander had a reputation as a leader and refined defensive player, and since then his offense has matured and footspeed improved. There’s something happening here.
- L Lennert Petrell: Power winger with speed, and he’s had a lot of pro experience. Petrell could impact the NHL team and will certainly be a major item on the OKC roster. His window is short (as in right away)
In reference to the Lander offense, remember this was coming off a strong SEL season and before he played a pro game in North America.