I am not sure how we got here, but there seems to be at least a small shadow cast on young Anton Slepyshev these days. Candidates for this include Bogdan Yakimov’s jump to the KHL (maybe he would follow?), an AHL performance that lacks impressive boxcars, and lack of information about the player since he left town. Let’s have a look at these things, maybe we can get some idea about what has happened.
Slepyshev’s stats so far this season have not been impressive since a strong pre-season:
- NHL pre-season: 7gp, 2-2-4 (13 shots)
- NHL regular season: 11gp, 0-1-1 (5 shots)
- AHL regular season: 20gp, 4-1-5 (42 shots)
Aside from the pre-season (where he looked very good), we see a young man trying to adjust to the two major pro leagues in North America. However, we know he hasn’t played since January 2, and that there is an injury here. I wonder if there was a period during those 20 games that Slepyshev was productive before the injury? Turns out, he was: Check out the numbers between November 22 and December 16:
- 9gp, 4-1-5 (20 shots)
One hopes Slepyshev gets back in the next while and we can see him over a longer stretch at that level. Edmonton is going to need offensive wingers in the next couple of years as some of their top-end players move along, so Slepyshev has a big opportunity if he can prove himself. Edmonton clearly likes the guy, he made the team out of camp, and the reasons were on display most nights.
Ferraro on Anton Slepyshev: "That kid's a player. I saw him at World Junior & loved him. He's not a 3 years in the AHL" project. #Oilers
— Bruce McMcCurdy (@BruceMcCurdy) May 28, 2015
- Slepyshev on his style of play: “I do not correlate my game to a certain kind of style. I try to grow my game in all directions for example working on the strength aspect, technical aspect and hockey sense aspect of my game. I believe the most important qualities for hockey are performance, persistence, battling strength and speed.”
- Slepyshev on getting his first point with the Oilers: “I just passed him the puck still in our zone, and then he went and scored all on his own. To be honest, to call that pass an assist is difficult. I haven’t scored a goal in the NHL and that remains my dream!”
- Slepyshev on what he needs to do in order to get back to the NHL: “When the Oilers management sent me down to the AHL to play in Bakersfield they clearly let me know what I did well and what I needed to work on. I took what I needed to work on and have been developing those skills in the AHL. In my time in the AHL, I have learnt to think faster on the ice and make quicker decisions. I also learned how to play stronger and win battles against the boards. I now understand what a smart decision in this kind of hockey is and I understand what an unwise decision is. I am trying to find the keys to success in this league. I have been working on things that will translate into points. Points are what I really lack.”
It doesn’t sound like he will be a flight risk, so posting crooked numbers in California will be important once he is back. Not only does 2016-17 beckon, but you never know what will happen at the trade deadline. He can play either wing and I would rank him among the wingers (Jujhar Khaira, Andrew Miller, Ryan Hamilton) who might expect a recall around the deadline.
OILERS WINGERS SIGNED FOR NEXT SEASON
- Taylor Hall
- Jordan Eberle
- Benoit Pouliot
- Nail Yakupov
- Lauri Korpikoski
- Matt Hendricks
- Zack Kassian (RFA)
- Iiro Pakarinen (RFA)
- Luke Gazdic (RFA)
- Jujhar Khaira
- Anton Slepyshev
- Kale Kessy (RFA)
- Tyler Pitlick (RFA)
- Mitchell Moroz
- Braden Christoffer
- Greg Chase
Players like Leon Draisaitl may also play the wing. For the coming fall, there is a chance Edmonton drafts a winger in the first round who could play right away. They could also sign draft picks who play wing, like Tyler Vesel, Aidan Muir and Evan Campbell. I also think players like Josh Winquist and Marco Roy merit consideration, especially in terms of adding skill.
Anton Slepyshev hasn’t set the world on fire in Bakersfield, but I would like to know more about the injury (upper body) and the impact it may have had on him. 20 games is a small sample size, but you would still like to see more offense. He should get 30 (or so) games in the second half, important games for the young Russian.