Plenty of chatter the last couple of days about prospects turning into NHL players this fall. We’ve seen articles on Jujhar Khaira and Bogdan Yakimov, two big centers who fans will see in orange and blue down the line. It’s fun to talk about Khaira jumping up this fall and grabbing a job, but is it realistic? Are we likely to see another “Anton Lander sure is fast” training camp?
The Edmonton Oilers do have some openings—currently listed as No. 2 center and No. 4 RW—on their depth chart. Now, they can easily adjust that situation, moving Gordon to No. 3 center and going back to a more traditional look. The No. 4 C might be Anton Lander or Mark Arcobello in a case of that kind. It isn’t perfect, and the 2line would have to be a soft minutes group (with Leon at C), but with David Legwand off the market the situation is down to trade or solving the problem from within. Could that involve Taylor Hall at C?
The solution is going to come via trade, a David Perron style mid-summer deal as we saw one year ago. Who could it be? I’ll guess Brayden Schenn and we’ll see how it goes. The articles on Khaira and Yakimov are probably two years early, that’s a guess maybe it’s four. Please understand, if either of these chaps win an NHL job this season, I’ll be wildly impressed. However, let us not forget the lessons of Anton Lander—pushing these kids up the depth chart too early is death. Surely the Oilers know this well. Are there any centers who have yet to see NHL action the Oilers can count on this season?
OILERS-BARONS CENTER DEPTH CHART (PROJECTED) 2014-15
|WILL ACTON (Barons)
|JUJHAR KHAIRA (Barons)
|BOGDAN YAKIMOV (Barons)
This is not a good depth chart for an NHL team. As much as people bitched and moaned about the Horcoff years, this team rode that guy and he made up for a lot of mistakes among the department of youth centers 2006+. At this point, Mark Arcobello is probably looking at 400 at-bats no matter how this thing breaks down. He may end up playing up and down the lineup at center and on the wing, but there’s no way to keep him out of the top 12F’s unless Edmonton brings in two more NHL forwards. Will that happen?
If I were to choose a list of players who remain prospects to tout as solutions this coming season, it would look like this:
- C Mark Arcobello—A lock. He’s going to get 70 games in the NHL. A quality signing. 100%.
- D Martin Marincin—There are some who believe there’s a chance Marincin begins the season in OKC. I’d suggest it’s 95% he makes it.
- C Leon Draisaitl—He’s written in pen over at MacT’s office, No. 3 center. 90% chance he makes opening night roster.
- R Tyler Pitlick—Oilers haven’t solved the RW situation yet, that’s his job to lose right now. 75%.
- D Oscar Klefbom—The Oilers like this guy plenty. I think it’s 50% he makes the opening night roster.
- R Steve Pinizzotto: In contention for the Pitlick role. 30%.
- R Iiro Pakarinen: A hard-working winger with some skill. 25%.
- D Darnell Nurse—He’s determined and unique on this roster. 20% chance he makes opening night.
- L Mitch Moroz—Gazdic may miss start of season. There’s a role there. 10%.
- C Will Acton: Made his NHL debut last season, coach knows him. 10%.
- C Bogdan Yakimov—Draisaitl ate his lunch. Less than 5%.
- C Greg Chase—A puncher’s chance, he’s going to get noticed. Less than 3%.
- D Martin Gernat—Injuries above him and a stunning pre-season, but he’s in the conversation. Less than 1%.
- D David Musil—He’s a defenseman who doesn’t do spectacular things, but he’s on the outskirts. Less than 1%.
- D Dillon Simpson—A very long shot, injuries would need to occur. Less than 1%.
- C Jujhar Khaira—The Oilers need him now, but they need him at 22. Less than 1%.
- L Ryan Hamilton: If he could skate just a little better he’d have an NHL career. 1%.