Each year, I look back on the AHL season for Oiler prospects and see if there are any clues in regard to development. This season has been peculiar, mostly because the lockout saw many of these kids spend time in Buck Owens country. There was some progress made, let’s see how it compares to the past, distant and recent.
A couple of years ago I used Brian Conacher’s book to give us a guideline for minor league players and their development timeline. That post is here. Let’s have a look at the rules laid down there and see how they apply to the 2012-13 OKC Barons. Last year’s look is here.
- Men who are over 30 and come out of the minors to establish (0r re-establish) themselves are pretty much a thing of the past. You’ll find the odd goalie or defenseman but unlike the orginal 6 era very few teams have enough depth and free agency makes it impossible to keep them on the farm. Which is a good thing. BARONS 12-13: Yann Danis (31) got into three games, perfectly matching hockey’s past.
- Pretty much everyone who is in the AHL past (say) 21 has some issues and is going to do some meandering (this is universal from 1965 through 2009). Barons 12-13: If we exclude Hall and co from the lockout, you bet. Even guys like Paajarvi are working on something (although he’s made solid progress, a reflection of the wisdom of keeping most of your prospects in the AHL for a significant portion of their entry level deal).
- We shouldn’t expect Rob Schremp to play more career games than Sam Gagner or Andrew Cogliano. Whatever that line in the sand is, that line sticks. BARONS 12-13: I think Paajarvi is going to have a long career, but that’s a guess and he has certainly played enough in the AHL (72 games now) for there to be a gap in GP compared to kids who never played in the minors.
- No minor league regular is likely to do anything incredible like play in 1,000 NHL games. It is a rare thing for a player to spend a couple of seasons in the minors and then go on to a 1,000 NHL game calibre career. Barons 12-13: Paajarvi’s played 163 at age 21, he’s certainly ahead of most AHL players at that age. I think he might be that rare item, but we’re still a little ways from knowing if he’ll be an everyday player on a contending team. Let’s mark him down as a possible outlier and check back each season until he’s 25. If he’s 400+ games by then, I think he’ll have a good shot at 1,000 NHL game.
- If you haven’t established yourself as a prospect of interest by 22 you are in trouble. The players who have graduated to useful NHL careers have at least played some NHL games by the end of their entry level deals. Barons 12-13: Sure, agreed. I think Paajarvi, Hartikainen, Marincin, Lander and now Rajala have done enough to be considered NHL prospects. Pitlick, Hamilton, Pelss, Davidson, Roy, Bunz etc are not yet there but have at least a little time.
- Exceptions are college men. Playing 4 NCAA seasons means turning pro at 22, meaning a “late start” for some quality prospects. Barons 12-13: The obvious recent examples are Jeff Petry and this past season Justin Schultz, I think Taylor Fedun is probably on the outside looking in but that’s not established. Young C Andrew Miller wil be a player to follow from this category next season. This is an area Edmonton should be extremely aggressive in moving forward, it’s a great way to increase the depth of that 20-22 year old organizational cluster.
- A large group of players on the current team could be described in the “tweener” division. History tells us we’ll have our answers on men like Schremp, Spurgeon, Roy and Reddox very soon. It also tells us we already have our answer on Colin McDonald. Barons 12-13: Last time it was Hartikainen, Omark, etc and now it’s Cornet, Arcobello, Rajala, Lander. Interesting that Colin McDonald changed the answer. Good for him.
- If we make a list of the minor league RFA’s each summerwe can probably as a group 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.
- Daniel Cleary, Fernando Pisani and Jason Chimera became productive players in the toughest league on the planet. THEY are the stars in this study. Barons 12-13: Hartikainen, Lander and maybe down the line guys like Marincin are the ones with the best chance to find their way. The AHL is a lot about grinding the flaws out of the players and making them into useful role players for NHL coaching staffs. Play the role, keep the job. Ad-lib like Taylor Hall? See you in OKC. Oilers have passed on skilled men like Schremp and Omark over their recent history, mostly because the really talented offensive forwards don’t spend any time in the AHL.
- For Rob Schremp fans, there’s exactly ONE pure offensive player who made it: Mike Walton. Barons 12-13: Omark didn’t make it, we’ll see about Rajala. The odds are stacked against him in all kinds of ways, not the least of which is the ridiculous NHL depth chart on the wings.
- The future NHLERS are……..If I’m a betting man, these are the winners from the current group to be the new Cleary and Chimera. Barons 12-13: I choose Paajarvi, Lander, Hartikainen and Marincin. I know that’s a lot (four), but Paajarvi is a 10th overall selection, Lander and Marincin are second rounders and Hartikainen is one of those guys who beat his draft number. He’s 52 games into an NHL career that should never have happened based on where he was selected (6th round).
Today at 10am on Team 1260, it’s the Lowdown with Lowetide. Scheduled to appear:
- Dave Jamieson, president of the Edmonton Rush. We’ll talk about the rumored move to Saskatoon, the impact of Mark Matthews and check in on an organization that appears to be on the verge of winning their first championship.
- Travis Yost, who blogs on the Ottawa Senators. We’ll talk about the ‘no-name’ Sens and their miracle run, and I’ll ask if there’s any way the can extend it against Pittsburgh.
- Terry Jones from the Edmonton Sun. Last time we had Terry on, he talked about the Arena deal and proved quite prophetic. We’ll talk arena, Oilers, and I’ll ask if we see Katz spending to the cap any time soon.
- James Mirtle from the Globe and Mail. Mirtle’s coverage of the Bruins-Leafs series was outstanding, we’ll sift through the wreckage and look forward to the summer.
Hope you can tune in, and remember the shows are archived almost immediately at TEAM 1260’s website under podcasts.