We are now down to the final 11 names who can be regarded as prospects for the Winter 2016 list. Some of these young men are stragglers who should (and could) be much higher, but are not getting at-bats at the AHL level at this time. Others are pro additions to the roster who were never meant to be NHL prospects, but rather AHL help to fill in the holes each season. Finally, we have a few signings from previous management who are not yet off the books.
- No. 31 (No. 31 Winter 2015) LD Ben Betker, Bakersfield Condors. Big defender (6.06, 228) who has good mobility for his size. Is showing well with the Condors, after playing most of last season in the ECHL. He is currently 15gp, 1-2-3, and Prospect-Stats estimates his even-strength ice time at 13:19. If that number is correct, Betker would rank No. 7 in TOI per game among regulars (normal for a rookie). Lots of developing to do, but he is a tower and that has appeal.
- No. 32 (No. 17 Winter 2015) LD Joey Laleggia, Bakersfield Condors. Small defender with skill, he appears to be something of a tweener. His boxcars (22gp, 2-5-7) are down from a year ago, and his pre-season performance with the big club showed real chaos. He is in the final year of his entry level deal, and at 24 his time should be now. Unlike some of the players listed 31-40, he is getting a push. Prospect-Stats estimates him at over 18 minutes a night even strength. Things do not appear to be going well at this time, I am not certain what could be altered to get him back on track as an Oilers prospect. This is not the career path of a future NHL player.
Photo by Mark Williams, all rights reserved
- No. 33 (No. 19 Winter 2015) R Greg Chase, Bakersfield Condors. Playing an estimated 7:53 per night in the AHL, Chase is 13gp, 1-1-2 so far this year. One year (after this one) on his entry-level deal, he needs to play more but is blocked by a combination of AHL veterans and other prospects. The Condors RW depth chart (Taylor Beck, Josh Currie, Patrick Russell, Chase) should not be to much to overcome, but so far Chase is often the odd man out. At some point this season, he may get a chance to increase his role, but this has been a very quiet second pro season so far.
- No. 34 (No. 35 Winter 2015) G Zach Nagelvoort, Michigan Wolverines. Nagelvoort’s numbers are improved this season, but playing time remains an issue. He is 5gp, 2.52 .927 this year, those are good numbers—but he is one of three men in a goalie rotation. The other two prospects are younger, and both have played more this season (although not by much). I am unsure about his future based on the numbers (he is in his senior year) but the Oilers may have an opening next fall behind Nick Ellis in Bakersfield so a strong finish may help his chances of getting signed.
- No. 35 (NR Winter 2015) C Jere Sallinen, Bakersfield Condors. The KHL and Sm-Liiga veteran hasn’t been in the news much since arriving in North America. Has one even-strength point (a goal) and is playing about 10:30 a night at evens. He is 21gp, 2-0-2 so far this year, and his contract (one year) seems unlikely to be renewed based on performance so far.
Photo by Mark Williams
- No. 36 (NR Winter 2015) R Patrick Russell, Bakersfield Condors. Patrick Russell is the fourth of the four college men signed last summer. Foot speed is his issue, and it is a problem based on visual and anecdotal. If he can improve his speed, there is some evidence of offense with him. Currently 22gp, 0-4-4, his estimated TOI 5×5 is about 10:40 a night. Long view is probably wise.
- No. 37 (NR Winter 2015) RD Vincent Desharnais, Providence Friars. Impossible to know if he is going to make an impact, stay-at-home college blue are terribly difficult to track even with years of evidence. He is 12gp, 1-0-1, we are in the early stages of evaluation.
- No. 38 (NR Winter 2015) L Joey Benik, Bakersfield Condors.
Joey Benik is the first player on this year’s list who is neither a draft pick nor a member of the 50-man list. He is one of the few forwards with a scoring touch (his four goals in 18 games ranks Benik No. 5 among prospects in Bakersfield) and gets reasonable minutes based on Prospect-Stats. No promises that he is a scoring Arcobello, and I did move him down the list because he is not on the 50-man list, but Benik is more interesting than a few of these fellows.
- No. 39 (No.34 Winter 2015) L Braden Christoffer, Bakersfield Condors.
Braden Christoffer is in the AHL full time this year, but offense remains in issue. He is 21gp, 1-1-2 so far, and overall with Bakersfield he has posted 2-5-7 in 54 games. Christoffer is a rugged 5.10 winger who doesn’t score a lot, so projecting him beyond the AHL is impossible.
No. 40 (No.39 Winter 2015) L Evan Campbell, UMass Lowell River Hawks.
Evan Campbell is 23 and in his final NCAA season. His peak in college came in 2014-15, when he scored 27 points in 34 games. This year, he is 1-3-4 in 17 games and there are 10 forwards who have more points than Campbell.
Photo by Mark Williams. All rights reserved
- No. 41 (No. 22 Winter 2015) G Eetu Laurikainen, Norfolk Admirals
Signed in May 2015, I still don’t know if this was MacT’s final signing, or the first one for Chiarelli. Either way, he played reasonably well last season in Finland and Bakersfield (.907), but is strictly ECHL this season and struggling (.881). It is unlikely he will be on this list a year from now.
There are a few players in the system (Jaedon Descheneau, etc) who are of interest, but I decided to cut the list here. The complete list for 2016 Winter, by position, along with their possible futures, will be published Thursday.
Graduating from one year ago (with last year’s winter ranking) are:
- No. 1 C Connor McDavid, graduated to the NHL. Now at 79 games (88 points).
- No. 2 C Leon Draisaitl, graduated to the NHL. Now at 143 games.
- No. 3 D Darnell Nurse, graduated to the NHL. Now at 96 games.
- No. 7 G Anders Nilsson, traded at the deadline (pick was Graham McPhee) and now with Buffalo Sabres. 62 NHL games.
- No. 8 D Brandon Davidson, graduated to the NHL. Now at 67 games.
- No. 10 R Iiro Pakarinen, graduated to the NHL. Now at 80 games.
- No. 24 L Kale Kessy, Oilers did not retain him, he is now in the Winnipeg Jets organization.
- No. 26 C Andrew Miller, he moved on to the Carolina Hurricanes organization. Now at 15 NHL games.
- No. 29 L Josh Winquist, he moved on to the Islanders organization this past summer.
- No. 30 C Alexis Loiseau, AHL contract the Oilers set free. Now in ECHL.
- No. 33 D Brad Hunt, went unsigned and is now in the St. Louis Blues organization. Now at 25 NHL games (four this year with STL).
- No. 36 G Keven Bouchard, Oilers did not sign him, he went back to junior.
- No. 38 D Martin Gernat, Oilers dealt him to Anaheim in the Patrick Maroon deal, he now plays in the Czech league.
- No. 40 G Ty Rimmer. He was not on the 50-man list and was not signed by Bakersfield. Not playing this year.
- No. 40 C Marco Roy. Former second-round pick, Bakersfield signed him but he moved over to the Vancouver Canucks organization this past summer.
Winter 2015 was the best list since 2010, probably the best list since 1982 (or so). Wrap on Thursday.