The Edmonton Oilers don’t have many high-scoring options bubbling under, the big guns are already deployed in the NHL. Who are the offensive players in the system? Are any of them tracking as NHL players? Let’s have a look.
I’m using Vollman’s numbers unless otherwise noted. OKC Barons photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved.
FORWARDS (per 82GP)
- Greg Chase 11-15-26. From the depths of the draft to the top of the heap in one fell swoop. Look, I can’t explain it—this kid was a worthy second round pick by my metrics. I’m no draft expert, but it seems to me that when an NHL team sees a guy scoring points in his draft year—without a PP push—that’s maybe a guy to earmark at the draft. Good on the Oilers for a wonderful get. Now, sign him, find him a WHL coach who will use him on the power play, and get ready for a 100-point season in junior. By the way, that’s no idle argument. If you include his playoff time and the AHL cup of coffee, Chase’s season is 81GP, 40-55-95 in 2013-14. This is an absolute gem. 188th overall. Lordy.
- Bogdan Yakimov 14-9-23. Already armed with a pro contract, Yakimov does appear to have some offensive ability. The NHLE’s tell us we should expect a 50-point season if he plays the entire year in the AHL. This is an intriguing player, because we know he posted these numbers while playing 10 minutes a night. If you bump his playing time to 15 minutes per game—a reasonable estimate for a 2line C—we arrive at (approx) 82gp, 21-14-35.
- Jackson Houck 11-8-19. The Oilers selected so damn many players in 2013 it’s sometimes difficult to remember them all. Houck had a ghastly start, but came on as the season rolled along. He is somewhat unique on the Oilers list in that he’s a bruiser with some reasonable boxcars. Definitely a player to watch.
- Marco Roy 8-11-19. Wildly disappointing season, owing mostly to a couple of injuries. He should have stepped up smartly after going slightly over 1/1 in his draft year. Roy’s 2014-15 season will be very important, and there are options for him this year. Roy is old enough to sign a pro contract, but considering the lack of success we’ve seen from Pitlick/Hamilton, I suspect the organization will take the conservative route.
- Aidan Muir 6-11-17. After getting off to a very slow start in the USHL, Muir found his stride and finished well. I still have no real idea about the player—every photo features him in a giant man jersey—but the finish is intriguing and we’ll get a better view next season when he hits Western Michigan.
- Anton Slepyshev 5-9-14. In the same way we can mess around with the Yakimov offense, we can also tweak young Slepyshev’s boxcars. He played just over 10 minutes per game, so if we boost it to 15, the NHLE transforms to 8-13-21. Still no screaming hell, but the TOI clearly impacted both Russians and I think we get a clearer view by estimating an increase in playing time in order to level comparisons.
- Kyle Platzer 8-5-13. When he was drafted, we were informed that Platzer was a sleeper who couldn’t get playing time because the London Knights were so deep. When they finally dealt him, Platzer went 27GP, 13-6-19 (NHLE 82gp, 12-5-17). It’s hard to know what kind of player he is—Platzer did all asked in London, including playing the blue—but it’s never a good sign that you’re one year in to following a prospect and still don’t have an idea about him.
- Evan Campbell 7-2-9. Didn’t piss a drop forever, then finally started to post some crooked numbers deep into the fall. This young man is 21, and there’s a certain urgency here. He’ll need to deliver some impressive numbers in 2014-15 to be considered a prospect, and I do think we can begin having the conversation about this being a miss selection. I don’t like to do that so early, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot here.
I’ll say that Chase, Yakimov and Houck are on track, we have legit concerns about Roy, Muir and Slepslappy, and that Platzer/Campbell are trailing by enough to be a real worry.
DEFENSE (per 82GP)
- Darnell Nurse 5-14-19. This is a solid number, I think that’s in the range of expectations for Nurse. A lot of his value will come from defensive play, and if he ever does spend time on the power play it’ll be miles down the road. Those numbers would fit in with Jason Smith, and Nurse should fall into a Smith/Eric Brewer range offensively.
- Ben Betker 2-5-7. I like this prospect, despite the NHLE. He’s a big guy with speed, and they got him deep in the entry draft. He’s basically a Matt Greene type, only take 158th overall. Interesting player.
There’s a lot of fretting going on over Darnell Nurse, but I’m not among the group who is losing sleep about him. Nurse had a season of progress, spent some time in the AHL at the end of the year, and looks sufficiently blocked at the NHL level for next season. Another year in junior and let’s see how this turns out. It is a good reminder for all of us to keep these things in context. Hockey prospects don’t develop in a straight line, and defensemen can absolutely look like they are lagging behind early in the process. Let’s try not to eat our young here.
As for Betker, everyone appears to love the guy. I can’t find a negative word about him. He’s a big guy with footspeed. Crazy crazy. I’ll count both of these young men as good arrows.
RANKING THE 2013 OILER DRAFT GROUP
- D Darnell Nurse
- C Greg Chase
- C Bogdan Yakimov
- L Marco Roy
- R Jackson Houck
- L Anton Slepyshev
- D Ben Betker
- L Aidan Muir
- C Kyle Platzer
- L Evan Campbell
I think the Oilers have three players on track as actual NHL prospects, and then a group who will need to step up the pace in order to be considered for pro hockey. At this point, Darnell Nurse and Bogdan Yakimov are already signed to pro contracts. Chase, Roy, Houck and Betker would seem like locks for pro contracts sometime this season or next spring.
The rest are in limbo.