If there’s one thing Anton Lander has shown the Oilers (and their fans) it’s that patience is a virtue. Drafted in 2009, hurried to the NHL in 2011, arrived in 2015. Craig MacTavish mentioned the ‘Detroit model’ of development not long ago and Lander is that brand of development personified. If that’s the new way of doing things—patience—when should we expect the kids bubbling under to arrive as NHL players?
- D Oscar Klefbom. It seems silly to list him here but there were questions about development time at the beginning of the year and Klefbom did in fact spend time in OKC this season. He won’t see the minors again.
- C Anton Lander. The new contract signals arrival and if that wasn’t enough watching the games shows his growth as a player. My oh my, what a wonderful thing to see: An actual NHL player developed via the minor league system. Now that the club has done it, the trick is to repeat it.
- R Tyler Pitlick. If the young man could stay healthy I’d be willing to bet Pitlick is on the opening night roster in the fall. This week’s games had value despite the standings, as the young winger has sown a range of skills (and scored a goal) to put his name front and center for next year.
- D Martin Marincin. There are gaps in his game (awareness, strength) but it’s my guess he’ll settle in as a solid top 6 defenseman for many NHL seasons—hopefully with the Oilers.
- D Brandon Davidson. I think he’s ready for the 7D role, but that job is likely to be gifted to a veteran like Nikitin or Ference next season. Davidson has impressed me with his mobility, grit and passing. Far better player than I thought he’d be, Davidson has a chance to have a career.
ANY DAY NOW
- D Darnell Nurse. I think it makes worlds of sense to place him in Bakersfield, but if Nurse arrives in training camp and is clearly among the six best defensemen? Keep him, even if it mean placing a veteran on waivers—up to and including Niki Nikitin and Andrew Ference.
- C Leon Draisaitl. I have a feeling the big man is going to make it very difficult to send him back this fall. Leon’s performance this season showed he wasn’t ready but there were exceptional elements to his game. He’s not THAT far way.
ONE MORE YEAR OR LESS
- R Andrew Miller. His NHL audition recently suggests we’re looking at an NHL-ready player. I was impressed with his skills and speed, clearly faster than his TC’s as an Oiler.
- G Laurent Brossoit. He has showed a lot this winter and spring but caution is always a good idea with goaltenders. I loved Brossoit’s game last night but sending him back today (and not playing him tomorrow) was absolutely the right call. Let him bask in that effort all summer long.
- R Iiro Pakarinen. Injuries have obscured his initial impressions but a healthy Pakarinen brings a unique phyical element married to some skill. I wouldn’t be shocked if he won a job in TC.
- L Curtis Hamilton. One healthy season has him heading in a good direction and another should get him closer to his goal. I don’t know if Hamilton gets a contract for next season but suspect some NHL team grabs him if Edmonton moves on.
- D David Musil. Getting his first cup of coffee and looking good as an NHL player. Musil’s skills imply third pairing and that job belongs (probably) to Andrew Ference for at least 2015-16. I can see him getting more games next season and then taking a job (perhaps 7D) in 2016-17.
- D Jordan Oesterle. He was less impressive to my eye than Davidson or Musil, but he’s in the range with Musil in terms of being NHL-ready. A lot of this will be dictated by needs at the NHL level—Musil and Oesterle aren’t applying for the same jobs—but he needs a little more time.
TWO MORE YEARS OR LESS
- C Bogdan Yakimov. He impressed in TC and then started slowly in the AHL, but turned the corner around new year’s. I think a season in Bakersfield might be enough but we may not see him again in the NHL until 2017-18. Either way, he’s a promising prospect.
- L Anton Slepyshev. This is a flashy, experienced kid who has had success at high levels. If he signs this summer there’s little doubt an AHL audition is in order. I don’t know if it takes an entire season for him to figure out the NA game and get a cup of coffee but the club has some impressive options on skill wing.
- D Dillon Simpson. College defender turned pro this season and didn’t get call to the NHL, so that probably comes this time next season. He’s a quick study, so could arrive earlier than later but the pipeline is beginning to deliver so there’s no hurry.
- D Joey Laleggia. I’ve chatted with several people familiar with Laleggia and believe he may be closer than the other 2012-drafted kids. Mobile puck mover, great passer and better defensively than we’d think based on size. I can’t wait to see him.
- R Greg Chase. His unique skill set and comfort with the physical game should make Chase a quick study in the AHL. I bet we see him play about 120 AHL games before the first recall, but this is a very promising prospect.
- L Kale Kessy. His increase in speed opens up some options for Kessy and he showed well before the injury. Definitely a player to watch this fall.
THREE MORE YEARS OR LESS
- L Mitchell Moroz. You’ll see plenty of negative about him this summer as we all review prospect seasons but Moroz is coming on as the season ends and playing time has been sparse this year. Luke Gazdic had three goals in his first AHL season, Moroz has five. If we had TOI we could better measure his offense but I think it unwise to write him off.
- C Jujhar Khaira. Like Moroz, he had a tough time posting offense. Unlike Moroz, he played a lot but scored at about the same level (10 points to Moroz’ 8). I’d be more concerned about this young man’s future than Moroz, but again it’s early. Khaira’s bat is a question, no doubt about it.
- C Marco Roy (unsigned). If he signs, I think Edmonton will give him at least two seasons in the minors to find his way. Roy is a favorite of mine because of his range of skills and the analytics connection. I hope they sign him.
- C Kyle Platzer. I think Platzer will be more of a two-way pro player than his final OHL season implies, but he could be a very valuable addition down the line. Very hopeful we see him for 10 games or so in the AHL this spring.
- D Ben Betker. I suspect Betker will play most or all of his entry-level deal in the minors before getting the call. Brandon Davidson’s progress might be a very good template to follow.
- L Josh Winquist (unsigned). I like him plenty and believe he’s shown enough to earn a contract, but pegging him into the NHL is projected a little too far.
OFF THE GRID
- D Martin Gernat. He had a poor season, beginning with a very quick demotion and then secondary minutes. He’ll have to work very hard to get back into the organization’s plans in my opinion, which is a shame because he has talent.
- C Travis Ewanyk. We knew it draft day: He doesn’t have the bat.