This is our annual midway stop between the Winter Top 20 and its summer edition. A chance to update each prospect on the top 20 (and the rest), while also counting errors. In our first installment (here), we found out about some rough and rocky traveling for Jesse Puljujarvi (but he appears to be finding his way), a splendid performance by Matt Benning, and real injury worries for Tyler Benson. Here are the final 21.
- No. 21 RHD John Marino, Harvard (26, 2-7-9). He is playing well in College. Alex Thomas over at the Oilers Rig has had kind things to say about him, and he is 15, 1-5-6 since I wrote about him in December. There is some evidence that, despite having good puck skills, he isn’t getting prime power-play minutes. That may mean his boxcars are shy in terms of reflecting actual offensive talent.
- No. 22 G Miroslav Svoboda, Dukla Jihlava (25, 1.60 .944). I parked him here because it was a fairly safe spot, but in all honesty it is impossible to properly rank him. If these numbers are an actual reflection of talent, he belongs in the top 10 prospects. If the league he plays in is terrible, then he should rank at the bottom of the prospect list. Get thee to a higher league, young man.
- No. 23 LD David Musil, Bakersfield Condors (42, 3-9-12). He is as he has always been: A strong defensive defender at the AHL level hoping for a chance at the NHL level. Musil is the No. 7 LHD prospect on my list, meaning 30 percent of the top 23 names are lefty blue. Add Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Brandon Davidson, and Musil is the eleventh player of his type on the depth chart. It must be suffocating.
- No. 24 LD Matt Cairns, Powell River Kings (17, 2-13-15) and Fargo Force (17, 0-4-4). He plays in leagues we don’t see, but we are building his resume. A smart hockey man told me that Edmonton taking Cairns where they did (No. 84) was an intelligent move, because by that number the top CHL kids are gone and higher ceilings may be available in lesser leagues. His BCHL numbers give us an NHLE (82gp, 9 points) do not indicate we should count him as an offensive defenseman. Next season we will find out more about him.
- No. 25 LD Jordan Oesterle, Edmonton Oilers (2, 0-0-0) and Bakersfield Condors (26, 3-15-18). Fleet puck mover has impressed since arriving in pro hockey in 2014. Blocked six ways to Sunday, I ranked him low for defensive issues—but he looked better in his recent NHL time. CapFriendly has him as a UFA this summer, Edmonton may decide to walk him in efforts to cull the Leftorium. I hope he stays, although he is not yet a proven NHL player.
- No. 26 LC Bogdan Yakimov, Neftekhimik (50, 3-8-11). He was 32, 3-5-8 when I ranked him in December and went 18, 0-3-3 afterward. I have no idea what happens from here, only that he did not post a strong bullet point on his resume in terms of boxcars. Suspect he would have been better off in Bakersfield.
- No. 27 RC Kyle Platzer, Bakersfield Condors (43, 1-6-7). He went 48, 6-11-17 as an AHL rookie one year ago, but he has either regressed badly or is not getting any playing time. The Oilers took him No. 96 in 2013, so odds were against him, but I can’t help feeling he should have gotten more playing time.
- No. 28 L Mitch Moroz Bakersfield Condors (17, 1-2-3) and Tuscon Roadrunners (4, 0-1-1). Former Oil King was sent down the line for Henrik Samuelsson in a minor-league deal at the beginning of the month. Neither man is lighting it up in his new town.
- No. 29 L Aidan Muir, Western Michigan (17, 2-8-10). He missed a great deal of time this season, and was 9, 1-6-7 when I ranked him in December. Since returning, the big forward is 8, 1-2-3. He is 6.04, 212 and has one more year of college eligibility. Edmonton needs forwards, so it is possible Muir signs a pro contract this spring, but I think Tyler Vesel is a more likely candidate.
- No. 30 L Graham McPhee, Boston College (33, 1-7-8). One of the more intriguing Oilers prospects, he has some two-way abilities and he started 20, 0-4-4 this year. Since then, he is 13, 1-3-4, and beyond that it is difficult to know how much progress he is making. He is the No. 10 scorer among forwards at Boston College, meaning he is likely getting bottom 6F minutes. That is typical of college freshmen, and we should expect progress in the coming seasons.
- No. 31 LD Ben Betker, Bakersfield Condors (15, 1-2-3). He was showing good progress early in the year, but has not played since the rankings.
- No. 32 L Joey Laleggia, Bakersfield Condors (45, 11-8-19). A position change (permanent this time) has resulted in a spike in goals (he is 23, 9-3-12) and possibly a renewal as a prospect. Always a long shot for the NHL, the Oilers are not flush with wingers capable of scoring 20+ goals in the AHL.
- No. 33 R Greg Chase, Bakersfield Condors (32, 1-5-6). Began the year 13, 1-1-2 and has gone 19, 0-4-4 since. As is the case with Kyle Platzer, it seems the Oilers have moved on from him in spirit if not in fact.
- No. 34 G Zack Nagelvoort, Michigan (10, 3.39 .902). His best season in college got him drafted in 2014, but each season afterward has been a struggle. There are three goalies on his team, none of them has been able to grab the top job.
- No. 35 C Jere Sallinen, Bakersfield Condors (43, 4-3-7). Very poor production for a KHL and Sm-Liiga veteran with some offensive success, but we know the AHL is a tough league in its own right. He was 21, 2-0-2 when I wrote about him in December, he is 22, 2-3-5 since.
- No. 36 R Patrick Russell, Bakersfield Condors (46, 4-6-10). Russell has come on some since December (he was 22, 0-4-4 when I ranked him here). In his last 24 AHL games, Russell is 4-2-6 and has moved up the depth chart a little. Among the college signings last spring and summer (Caggiula, Benning, Ellis, Russell), he has struggled with the speed of the pro game.
- No. 37 RD Vincent Desharnais, Providence College (26, 2-1-3). He is 14, 1-1-2 since I ranked him for the Winter Top 20 and we have seen a few positive reports about his play. He is 20, and so we should expect him to emerge fairly soon as a real prospect (if it is going to happen).
- No. 38 L Joey Benik, Bakersfield Condors (21, 4-1-5) and Norfolk Admirals (17, 7-8-15). AHL only deal, I included him because of promising offense. He is not yet Josh Winquist let alone Mark Arcobello, but the offense is there. His ECHL NHL is 16 points.
- No. 39 L Braden Christoffer, Bakersfield Condors (37, 1-2-3). As is the case with Kyle Platzer and Greg Chase, Christoffer has been passed by names like Scott Allen. The Condors have played him in 37 games and he has three points. No matter his agitation abilities, a prospect has to score at least a little in order to make that next step.
- No. 40 L Evan Campbell, UMass Lowell River Rats (29, 1-3-4). His final college season has been disappointing. He has played 12 games since December, scoring zero points.
- No. 41 G Eetu Laurikainen, Norfolk Admirals (11, 3.77 .881). Admirals have employed five goalies this season, Laurikainen has not played in some time.
GRADUATIONS & EXITS
From last year’s (2015) Winter List:
- No. 1 C Connor McDavid, graduated to the NHL.
- No. 2 C Leon Draisaitl, graduated to the NHL.
- No. 3 D Darnell Nurse, graduated to the NHL.
- No. 7 G Anders Nilsson, graduated to the NHL.
- No. 8 D Brandon Davidson, graduated to the NHL.
- No. 10 R Iiro Pakarinen, graduated to the NHL.
- No. 24 L Kale Kessy, Oilers did not retain him.
- No. 26 C Andrew Miller, he moved on to the Carolina Hurricanes organization.
- No. 29 L Josh Winquist, he moved on to the Islanders organization.
- No. 30 C Alexis Loiseau, AHL contract the Oilers set free.
- No. 33 D Brad Hunt, went unsigned by the Oilers.
- 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.
- No. 40 G Ty Rimmer. He was not on the 50-man list and was not signed by Bakersfield.
- No. 40 C Marco Roy. Unsigned by the Oilers, now playing in the AHL.
From this year’s (2016) Winter List:
- No. 10 R Tyler Pitlick, graduated to the NHL.
- No. 28 L Mitch Moroz, traded to Arizona Coyotes organization.
That 2015 list is a crushing group, Peter Chiarelli arrived to a watershed of prospects—much as he did when taking over the Boston Bruins a decade ago. The 2016 list will eventually graduate Matt Benning, Drake Caggiula, Anton Slepyshev and others. Jesse Puljujarvi will likely graduate during the 2017-18 season.