Anton Slepyshev’s season is now complete and the young Russian has a strong story to tell. The Edmonton Oilers can sign him this spring and if they bring him over there’s every chance he’ll emerge as a legit prospect and one of the best young scorers in the system.
THE BOXCARS FROM RUSSIA
- Boxcars: 58GP, 15-10-25 in regular season
- Breakdown: 14 goals at even strength, one on the power play
- SOG: 129 (11.6 shooting percentage, 2.22 shots-per-game)
- TOI/game: 12:25
- Points-per-60: 2.08
- Playoff boxcars: 5GP, 0-2-2
- Playoffs SOG: 14 (2.8 shots-per-game)
- Playoffs TOI/game: 16:26
- Points-per-60: 3.66
- NHLE (Regular season): 82GP, 17-11-28
I think it makes him the best scoring option among the new hires for 2015-16 at the AHL level and he’ll probably be heard from in the NHL sooner than later.
Slepyshev is a fascinating prospect for a few reasons. His arrival will come at a time when the organization is taking a great deal of heat about their drafting record and he should be able to break through the minor-league competition fairly soon. Here’s a look at where he might land on the team’s depth chart in 2015-16, beginning at the NHL level:
- L Taylor Hall: He’s No. 1 if healthy.
- R Jordan Eberle: Top RW. Book it.
- L Benoit Pouliot: He’s shown enough in year one to get a top 6F gig.
- R Nail Yakupov: Surging as the season winds down, suspect he’ll be a feature player next year.
- R Teddy Purcell: Skill winger has come in very handy during this trying season.
- L Matt Hendricks: As long as he can keep up he’ll have a job. Posting a terrific year.
- R Rob Klinkhammer: Like Hendricks, completes assignments on time and legibly.
- R Tyler Pitlick: Getting mighty crowded but his speed keeps him in the NHL ahead of Fraser, maybe others.
- L Luke Gazdic: The only question surrounds his skill set. If Edmonton employs an enforcer F, he’s it.
- L Matt Fraser: I can’t see him returning, not at the NHL level. He simply hasn’t shown enough.
I think the top seven men return, meaning there are two openings. One is likely Gazdic’s to lose and Pitlick probably beats out Fraser (we’re assuming the club doesn’t add anyone, suspect they will). Now let’s examine the AHL plus possible additions via graduating draft picks/prospects (new pro’s underlined):
- R Iiro Pakarinen: He’s absolutely the top option available. I don’t see a reasonable argument to the contrary.
- L Leon Draisaitl: Likely headed to AHL and may emerge as a C option but I could see him playing as a LW for portions of 2015-16.
- L Ryan Hamilton: On the strength of his two-way deal I’ll say he’s in the mix in a big way.
- L Anton Slepyshev: If he signs, my guess is he emerges as an AHL first-shot scorer in short order.
- R Andrew Miller: He may get a chance here but there’s so much ahead of him. In the old-timey days, they’d called it a ‘numbers game’ for Miller.
- L Curtis Hamilton: He impressed enough to get another deal in my opinion.
- L Kale Kessy: Will have to re-establish himself but good things were happening when the injury derailed him.
- R Greg Chase: Excited to see how he’ll adjust. We’ll assume two years in the minors but I wouldn’t bet on it.
- L Mitch Moroz: Basically a lost season due to inactivity (an organizational error) he’ll be an AHL regular in 2015-16.
- R Jackson Houck: I have a hard time seeing where he fits. I think they thought they were drafting a more physical player.
- R John McCarron: Big college winger, no idea if they plan to sign him.
The Oilers will probably employ 18-20 wingers in Edmonton and Bakersfield next season. Among the 23 I’ve listed here, it would seem to me that if Slepyshev does sign he’s probably two NHL injuries from making an appearance in the show during 2015-16. If he gets off to a fast start, or the new coach decides speed is an issue (right now for Edmonton’s NHL wingers, speed is an issue) I think we could see Slepyshev in year one of his entry-level deal.