Yesterday, we looked at the best teams of the 1980s and 1990s in terms of Oilers farm clubs—those were my choices—and today we look at the first two decades of this century.
2001-02 HAMILTON BULLDOGS (BEST OF THE 00S)
- L Jason Chimera: He has played 951 NHL games and another 69 in the playoffs. His speed was always a calling card and no doubt contributed to his staying power. Scored 20 last season, age 36.
- D Marc-Andre Bergeron: He played 490 NHL games and 57 in the playoffs. Because of the playoff play (Roloson injury) there is a tendency to devalue his contributions—he was a legit NHL player.
- R Fernando Pisani: He played 462 NHL games and is the most famous playoff Oiler of this century. An effective two-way winger the Oilers have not yet replaced.
- G Ty Conklin: He played in 215 NHL games, and two in the playoffs. I will spend the rest of my life trying to forget one of those playoff games.
- D Alexei Semenov: He played 208 NHL games, and eight more in the playoffs. A giant defender who offered defense-first but mobility was an issue.
- D Alex Henry: He played 177 NHL games, mostly as an enforcer on defense.
- D Sven Butenschoen: He played in 140 NHL games, mostly as a 6-7D.
- G Jussi Markkanen: He played in 128 NHL games, and another seven in the playoffs. I have only fond memories of him as an Oiler.
2013-14 OKLAHOMA CITY BARONS (THE TENS)
- C Anton Lander: He has played in 193 NHL games, while not yet establishing himself as a regular. Tough thing to do, this coming season is a big one for his career.
- D Martin Marincin: He has played in 150 NHL games and is finally getting some traction as a player in the league. This blog and other suggested he had a good chance, the Oilers thought otherwise.
- C Mark Arcobello: He has played in 139 NHL games, and emerged as a useful player during a time when Edmonton had few worthy options at his position.
- D Oscar Klefbom: He has played 107 NHL games, and has the look of a decade or more solution on defense. His speed and range of skills is close to complete.
- R Linus Omark: He has played in 79 NHL games, and I think he would have had a more substantial career had he played for a more organized team.
- D Brandon Davidson: He has played in 63 NHL games and looks like a real gem. Davidson’s rookie season shines like a diamond compared to other rookies over the last decade.
There are others (Laurent Brossoit, Jordan Oesterle) who may eventually reach the 50-game mark (I used 50 games since this team has had so little track).
THE 2015-16 BAKERSFIELD CONDORS
- C Leon Draisaitl: He has played in 109 NHL games and would have to be considered a good bet for a substantial NHL career. He lasted six games in the AHL.
- D Darnell Nurse: He has played in 71 NHL games and appears destined for a long NHL career in Edmonton.
- D Griffin Reinhart: He has played 37 games in the NHL, and his draft pedigree basically guarantees he will pass 100. Will it be in Edmonton?
- R Tyler Pitlick: He has played 27 games in the NHL. There is a tendency to disregard him due to all of the injuries, but he is 24 and has at least one more chance.
- D Jordan Oesterle: He has played 23 games so far in the NHL. Oesterle’s speed is exceptional, meaning he should have a long career in the game. The question is how many will be in the NHL?
- C Jujhar Khaira: He has played 15 games and is one of the most promising AHL players in the system. Offense will be an issue, but he looks like a reasonable bet for a checking job.
- R Anton Slepyshev: He has played 11 games and has a great deal of talent. His size/speed/skill combination means he will get several chances from the Oilers or another NHL team.
- G Laurent Brossoit: He has played six games and one suspects he will add to the total this coming year. Brossoit has two solid AHL seasons on his resume, it is reasonable to expect him to push for employment in 2016-17.
Some of these players were also on the 2013-14 team, but have not yet reached 50 games. I think last year’s Bakersfield squad has a good chance to be the best of the decade due to the presence of two top 10 overall selections. Thoughts? Other suggestions?
Finally, taking all teams mentioned into account (the Wichita Wind and Cape Breton Oilers from yesterday) who is your choice for best minor league team in Oilers history? Or do you have another candidate?