The job of an AHL team is to take graduating juniors, college men and reclamation projects and grind them into useful role players. That’s it, that’s all. AHL teams don’t really develop Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse or Leon Draisaitl, those folks are just passing through. The real job of Gerry Fleming and his crew in Bakersfield is to help Jujhar Khaira find more offense, Josh Winquist to find an extra foot of speed, Joey Laleggia to know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. Is our children learning?
- D Brad Hunt 7GP, 2-7-9. Chaos incorporated increases offense for both sides more than the goal pads of yore. CHL Stats (which is going to be quoted liberally, check out their fine work here) estimates his even-strength points-per-60 (represented as /60 for the rest of this article) at 0.57/60. That means he’s helping a lot on the power play. The Oilers need a shot from the point but if they haven’t made a call yet, one wonders if Hunt sees the NHL this year.
- R Matt Ford 7GP, 3-3-6. Veteran AHL winger hasn’t seen the NHL and may not, but he’s showing well in the minors again. He is at 1.14/60 so far and Edmonton has been down a winger from opening night, suspect a recall might not be in his future.
- C-R Andrew Miller 7GP, 2-4-6. He has been up for a game already, although the quick demotion doesn’t exactly herald a strong future under the new admin. Miller’s speed is an attractive weapon and he’s absolutely a talented AHL man. His 2.03/60 is the best among players who have competed in all seven games for Bakersfield this season.
- L Josh Winquist 4GP, 2-2-4. He’s 3.56/60 and that’s the best estimate in the group so far this season—remember this is even strength. I think Winquist has an extra job that none of the signed prospects has: He has to learn at the pro level and prove he’s worth an NHL contract. As was the case one year ago, the young man appears up to the challenge.
- C Jujhar Khaira 7GP, 1-3-4. This is an interesting development. No one questions his size or edge, but the offense has always been on the down low. At 2.03/60 estimate, we may be seeing an emerging prospect. Definite bottom six F I’d guess, you know the Habs always found a way for these guys to score enough goals. Wish we knew their secret.
- L Ryan Hamilton 6GP, 3-0-3. I imagine Todd McLellan and Peter Chiarelli stressed a need for improved speed throughout the pro roster and that single thing may keep him from the NHL this year. Just 1.04/60 estimated even-strength this year.
- R Iiro Pakarinen 4GP, 1-2-3. He’s in the NHL now, I was disappointed McLellan didn’t get to see him in TC. It’s an uphill climb now, Leon and Slepy cloud the view, but there’s a chance for him and that’s all any Pakarinen can ask for in a season. His 2.13/60 estimate is No. 2 among all Condors, behind Winquist.
- C Phil McRae, 7GP, 2-0-2. A big forward, don’t really know how well he skates but a quick surge in offense probably puts him into the recall conversation. He’s 0.91/60 ES estimate, so the bat needs to get hot for him to get noticed, but he can play center or wing and the Oilers 3 and 4 lines are trash.
- C Leon Draisaitl 6GP, 1-1-2. A quiet start to the year had fans worried, but his 3-2-5 start in the major leagues has calmed the sphincters. Just 0.82/60 in the minors at even strength, I think it’s possible our friendly giant spent a day or two moping in California. No harm, he’s human. And he’s in the NHL.
- L Mitch Moroz 7GP, 1-1-2. As the rules of the game change, it’s very important for Moroz to improve his skills, and that means passing, taking a pass and posting crooked boxcars. He’s 1.14/60 estimate, meaning Khaira has an early-season lead on him but the gap isn’t enormous. I’d be interested in reading those in-house reports on him, I think the Oilers like Moroz and he is absolutely a Chiarelli-type player. Doubt he sees the NHL for more than a cup of coffee (if that) this season.
- C Bogdan Yakimov 7GP, 1-1-2. Big man getting left behind a little by the Draisaitl’s presence and the progress of others, but we should remember how little of the schedule has been played. CHL Stats estimated 1.14/60 and if we’re honest there is more rumbling about Khaira so far this year. May not see the big lights, big city this season.
- D Nikita Nikitin 2GP, 0-2-2. Hey Nikita is it cold, in your little corner of the world? Credit to him, doesn’t look like there’s much pouting going on. As has been the case so many times over these barren years, the replacements are no better than the rejects. We could see him again. 0.0/60.
- D Jordan Oesterle 7GP, 0-2-2. Speed is his calling card and I imagine we could see him again this year—although the presence of Reinhart, Nurse and Davidson on the NHL roster makes it a long shot currently. His CHL EV estimate of 0.57 is among the higher totals among the blue.
- C-R Kyle Platzer 7GP, 0-2-2. I think he got the push over Chase because of his two-way ability and disciplined play. Platzer is not a strong recall option and may not be at any point this season, but he’s a pretty good prospect. His CHL stats estimate is 1.52/60, a solid early total for a first year man.
- L Kale Kessy 5GP, 1-0-1. Big man who I see as being prime competition for Moroz in the ‘future Gazdic’ role. That job is likely going to require more offense and hockey ability, so Kessy needs to show well. So far, he’s 1.80/60 CHL estimate, we’ll see if there’s some sustain. He could get a cup of coffee.
- D Darnell Nurse 6GP, 0-1-1. Another man in the NHL after a brief detour, he has three games under his belt in the NHL and is playing a lot. We’ll see, no guarantee he won’t see the AHL again. His 0.75/60 estimate ranks No. 1 among Condors D so far this year.
- L Braden Christoffer 7GP, 0-1-1. I think the Oilers see him as a possible ‘future Hendricks’ but we’ll need to see him survive the rigors of AHL play (he’s 5.10, 190) to know if durability is part of his skill set. His 0.51/60 even-strength estimate is now but early days. I think he gets a call sometime this year.
- D Joey Laleggia 7GP, 0-1-1. Skill blue doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of PP time, which is galling if Brad Hunt is getting all the time (and he is, apparently). Joey Leggs 0.51/60 is pretty much identical to Hunt’s so the point gap is all special teams. Got a paper recall, seems a distant bell he’ll get a real one this year.
- G Laurent Brossoit 5GP, 2.96 .912. Easily the best goalie so far in Bakersfield, he was .918SP a year ago so slightly off (a couple of wobbly outings). I think he’s a strong candidate to get some NHL time at some point this season.
- G Ben Scrivens 1GP, 5.03 .848. I’m confident he’ll play in the NHL again, but it’s going to be a little while. Unless a team comes knocking, Scrivens isn’t a prime recall player.
- G Eetu Laurikainen 1GP, 4.02 .818. Not a lot to go on, we hope for the best.
David Musil, Martin Gernat, Tyler Pitlick (injured) and Nick Pageau have not yet registered a point. Among these prospects, Musil and Pitlick have a non-zero chance of being recalled.
By my estimate, these are (in order of most to least) the players we’ll likely see in the coming months:
- G Laurent Brossoit
- C Jujhar Khaira
- D Nikita Nikitin
- C Bogdan Yakimov
- L Braden Christoffer
- R Andrew Miller (again)
- G Ben Scrivens
Condors play this afternoon, I’ll update as we go.