It has been an eventful day for Oilers fans, Condors fans too. Seems Peter Chiarelli and the scouts have been doing their due diligence and the result is some new hires for the farm, and some indication about how things may look in the fall.
- April 3: Bakersfield signs Ryan Mantha and Joe Gambardella to ATO’s for the rest of the season.
- April 4: Edmonton assigns forward Jujhar Khaira to the Condors.
- April 5: Bakersfield signs LHD Ziyat Paigin to an ATO for the rest of the season.
- April 5: Reports have L Evan Polei also signing an ATO and a one-year AHL contract.
— Troy Gillard (@Troy_Gillard) April 5, 2017
That’s a whole lot of things in a very short space of time. So, let’s take them one at a time and see what we can see.
- RHD Ryan Mantha is a giant defenseman who was drafted by the NY Rangers in 2014. After two seasons, New York decided he hadn’t progressed enough and passed on signing him. He blossomed this year (65, 17-41-58) with the Niagara Ice Dogs and he’ll get a full AHL season in 2017-18. Important not to overreact to a 20-year old dominating junior, but if reports of improved development (foot speed) are true, the 6.05, 225 defender could be a real find.
- C Joe Gambardella is a center and a fascinating addition for the Oilers. He is an aggressive forechecker and turns that skill into offense off turnovers. With an NHLE of 82, 13-25-38, he’ll be a help in Bakersfield.
- F Jujhar Khaira is a quality player at this level, and this may be his last trip to the minors for several years. He will be waiver eligible in the fall, and it’s a good guess he lines up as 4L with the Oilers in the fall.
- LHD Ziyat Paigin is one of the most anticipated draft picks from recent years and this ATO no doubt signals an entry-level contract in the coming days. Paigin’s handling this season was curious and I wonder if contract negotiations with Kazan Ak-Bars impacted where he spent the winter. He has been described to me as a giant (6.06, 209) defender whose offense comes mostly from his point shot. We’ll have to see how well he moves the puck, but that giant wingspan will be useful defensively.
- L Evan Polei has been mentioned a few times on this blog over the years, his size and skill (6.02, 227 and 33 goals) are intriguing. Looks like an AHL deal and (imo) a solid player for the Condors.
- Joey Laleggia-Anton Lander-Patrick Russell
- Ryan Hamilton-Joe Gambardella-Jujhar Khaira
- Jaedon Descheneau-Josh Currie-Jesse Puljujarvi
- Jere Sallinen-Brodie Dupont-Scott Allen
- Griffin Reinhart-Jordan Oesterle
- Mark Fraser-Dillon Simpson
- Ben Betker-Mark Fayne
- Nick Ellis (Jonas Gustavsson)
A lot of play online about Jesse Puljujarvi playing on the 3line, but the truth is JP has been playing with Josh Currie quite a bit recently. I would rank Justin Fontaine not being in the lineup as a bigger news item, but Puljujarvi is the most important player in the minors so I get it. Gambardella is the first of the new hires, interesting to see Patrick Russell getting the push, and a reminder about not getting too upset about lineups at the beginning of the game. They could be changed by the first t.v. timeout.
NEXT YEAR CONDORS
These acquisitions give us some indications about what the Condors might look like in the fall. Here’s my estimate of the roster based on waivers, contracts and possible roles:
- Joey Laleggia (waiver eligible)-Joe Gambardella-Justin Fontaine
- Scott Allen-Kyle Platzer-Patrick Russell
- Evan Polei-Josh Currie-Greg Chase
- Braden Christoffer
- Ziyat Paigin-Dillon Simpson
- Caleb Jones-(veteran AHL player, less expensive Mark Fayne)
- Ben Betker-Ethan Bear
- Ryan Mantha
- Nick Ellis (no backup)
We should see more NHL and AHL contracts, suspect they will come over the next several months. The key, ladies and men, is the forwards. How many F’s in tonight’s lineup are a lock for NHL careers? Not enough by plenty. There’s your need.
Note: Bakersfield loaned D Bryce Aneloski to Florida (ECHL) as part of all the movement. PS, I love this stuff! We’re searching for Larry Mavety, and it don’t come easy.