When should we expect Brandon Davidson to arrive as an NHL player (should he do it)? Is there an acceptable timeline? Colin McDonald was drafted in 2003 and became an NHL regular in 2013, Bryan Bickell was drafted in 2004 and arrived in 2010—how many years should an organization invest in one player?
The answer of course–it depends. Davidson is not a high draft pick–miles from the first round–so his development timeline is closely tied to the entry level deal he signed coming out of junior. Let’s take Bickell as an example:
- 20 years old: turns pro, 48, 10-15-25 (AHL) and an NHL cup of coffee (3, 2-0-2)
- 21 years old: 73, 19-20-39 (AHL) and another cup of NHL coffee (4, 0-0-0)
- 22 years old: 42, 6-8-14 (AHL)
- 23 years old: 65, 16-15-31 (AHL) and 16, 1-3-4 (NHL)
- 24 years old: 78, 17-20-37 and arrived in the NHL
In his fifth pro season–beyond his entry level deal, Bryan Bickell made the step into the NHL. Let’s compare that to Teemu Hartikainen:
- 20 years old: turns pro, 66, 17, 25-42 and an NHL stay (12, 3-2-5)
- 21 years old: 51, 14-18-32 (AHL) and another NHL stay (17, 2-3-5)
- 22 years old: 47, 14-23-37 (AHL) and another NHL stay (23, 1-2-3)
Hartikainen has completed his third pro season, and would appear to be ahead of Bickell at this point in time. The Oilers have other options and may not be as patient as Chicago was with Bickell, and Bickell was a much higher draft selection. So, even with a strong performance, Brandon Davidson has to shine compared to Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin and a long list of higher picks. We can say it doesn’t matter–and coaches do say it–but a first round pick is going to get every chance to show the organization they were right–that’s just good business (if not the right decision).
The Oilers have a large group of players turning pro each season. The 2010 entry draft saw Edmonton sign 8 men, and the 2011 edition has produced 7 more (although Rieder was traded before he signed) and an 8th is on the way (Dillon Simpson) unless something goes terribly wrong. So, what does that mean? A lot of new blood in the system since 2010:
- 2010 fall: Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, Linus Omark, Teemu Hartikainen, Phil Cornet, Milan Kytnar, Jeff Petry, Chris VandeVelde (9)
- 2011 fall: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Anton Lander, Cameron Abney, Olivier Roy, Brandon Davidson, Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Martindale, Mark Arcobello (9)
- 2012 fall: Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz, Toni Rajala, Martin Marincin, Tyler Bunz, Kristians Pelss, Taylor Fedun (7)
- 2013 fall: Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, Travis Ewanyk, Kale Kessy, Martin Gernat, Frans Tuohimaa (??) (6)
That’s an insane group of players who’ve turned pro in the last few seasons. About 30–an entire AHL team plus taxi squad–all arriving in pro hockey and in the Edmonton organization in a four year cluster. Good problem to have, but the decisions about playing time and who to sign are happening at lightning speed.
The players who have spent extended periods in the NHL have emerged from junior (#1’s, Eberle), college (Petry, Schultz) and Europe (Paajarvi, Omark, Hartikainen, Lander). The Oilers traded away a couple of picks this winter and spring, but could add some picks by dealing a few of the names above. If the Oilers are serious about getting at-bats for these prospects in the AHL, then it makes sense to clear out some of the older players.
The question for you: if we’re going to populate the AHL team with 2 goalies, 8 defensemen and 15 forwards, how many of these kids start next fall in OKC? The blue alone (Davidson, Marincin, Fedun, Klefbom, Musil, Gernat) counts 6 before we add a veteran, and the forwards (Cornet, VandeVelde, Lander, Abney, Pitlick, Hamilton, Martindale, Arcobello, Ewanyk) number 9 without any AHL veteran help.
Who stays? Who slides? Who do you trade? Which rfa’s do you walk away from?
(photo of Brandon Davidson courtesy Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved).