by Lowetide

The Edmonton Oilers Top 20 lists since 2010 reflected phenomenal talent, mostly because of the team’s consistent lottery presence. From Taylor Hall to the Nuge and Oscar Klefbom, to more recent times with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, the high-water mark on the calendar has been the draft. This season? There is still a draft, but the Oilers don’t have a table anywhere close to the first row. Finally. Here are my top five (winter editions) since 2010:


  1. L Taylor Hall (453 NHL games)
  2. R Jordan Eberle (507)
  3. L Magnus Paajarvi (308)
  4. LD Martin Marincin (175)
  5. LD Theo Peckham (160)


  1. LC Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (395)
  2. LC Anton Lander (215)
  3. LD Oscar Klefbom (189)
  4. LC Teemu Hartikainen (52)
  5. LD Martin Marincin (175)


  1. R Nail Yakupov (292)
  2. RD Justin Schultz (344)
  3. LD Oscar Klefbom (189)
  4. LD Martin Marincin (175)
  5. LC Teemu Hartikainen  (52)


  1. LD Darnell Nurse (115)
  2. LD Oscar Klefbom (189)
  3. LC Marco Roy (0)
  4. LD Martin Marincin (175)
  5. LC Jujhar Khaira (25)


  1. LC Leon Draisaitl (191)
  2. LD Darnell Nurse (115)
  3. LD Oscar Klefbom (189)
  4. LC Bogdan Yakimov (1)
  5. R Iiro Pakarinen (94)


  1. LC Connor McDavid (127)
  2. LC Leon Draisaitl (191)
  3. LD Darnell Nurse (115)
  4. R Anton Slepyshev (52)
  5. LD Griffin Reinhart (37)


  1. R Jesse Puljujarvi (28)
  2. L Tyler Benson (0)
  3. L Drake Caggiula (60)
  4. RD Matt Benning (62)
  5. LD Ziyat Paigin (0)

I think it is reasonable to suggest we will never see a seven year run of prospects like this one. The usual retort to that sentence is ‘they’ve done nothing with it’ but the McDavid era shows real promise.


I like to re-set the top 20 before the draft. I usually post it a day or two before the selection, but have stopped doing it in the last couple of years. The reason it has value (for me) is to ease the chores of turning around and posting a new top 20 the morning after the draft has completed. So, today, I am re-setting the winter list (winter numbers in brackets) and posting the prospect list for summer in its entirety. The only additions you’ll see after the draft are picks and prospects added (Spencer Foo?) after today. Now. A few details.

  • Players over 50 games graduate
  • Players who have been traded no longer appear.
  • List is based on potential and gives zero weight to being close to NHL-ready.
  • Previous ranking in brackets (previous ranking is from Winter 2016)
  • This list likes offense.
  • This list also likes prospects who can make the NHL in more than one way.
  • This list punishes lack of speed.


  • (No. 3 on winter list) L Drake Caggiula. Signed in May of 2016, Caggiula had a TC injury and struggled as an NHL pivot for much of the season. A move to wing, along with increased PK time, allowed him to show some range and have some offensive success. Finished 60gp, 7-11-18 as an Oilers rookie, plus 13gp, 3-0-3 in the playoffs. I’m still not sure of his scoring, but this was a quality signing and an encouraging year overall.
  • (No. 4 on winter list) RD Matt Benning. An absolute gem of a signing, Benning had many options (including the Bruins, who drafted him) but used that college learning to suss out the perfect fit. Started well in the minors (6gp, 1-1-2) and then showed impressive range in the NHL (62gp, 3-12-15). Also went 12gp, 0-3-3 in the playoffs and is firmly ensconced inside the team’s top 6D. That’s a college signing!
  • (No. 8 on winter list) R Anton Slepyshev. Spent little time (9gp, 3-7-10) before getting a prolonged look (41gp, 4-6-10) with the Oilers in the regular season. Fought off challengers in the playoffs and played well enough (12gp, 3-0-3) to spend time up the depth chart and in a more prominent role. His handling by McLellan runs in contrast with previous prospects of his calibre. A promising young winger with a range of skills, including size and speed.
  • (No. 10 on winter list) R Tyler Pitlick. He is now a free agent but finally passed 50 NHL games to graduate as a prospect. He was a big part of the team early, playing rambunctious fourth-line minutes and scoring goals at an impressive clip. Another injury robbed him of a full season, but the boxcars (31gp, 8-3-11) showed skill that has been evident since his draft day and time in Medicine Hat. I hope he signs with the Oilers.
  • (No. 23 on winter list) LD David Musil. In NHL circles, loaning a player is similar to cutting the cord. Musil has impressive shutdown ability, but lacks the speed of a Lagesson or Niemelainen. If he ends up going to Europe, he’ll probably play 15 years and become a legend in his town. Speed is more important every season in the NHL game.
  • (No. 26 on winter list) LC Bogdan Yakimov. Big man had a very poor year and what’s more my guess is he isn’t coming back. Edmonton’s place in the NHL is such that a player like Yakimov expects (I believe) to step right into the NHL. He didn’t get that opportunity and it must have caused a fracture. That’s the only way these two seasons make sense to me. He is listed on elite prospects as playing next season for Neftekhimik, and I think that signals the end of his association with the Oilers.
  • (No. 28 on winter list) L Mitch Moroz. Big man had a fabulous junior career in Edmonton but could never establish himself as a pro player. As a junior, Moroz had two strong checking seasons and then moved up into a more substantial role. I think the organization saw him as a PF type who could fall back into a checking role if the scoring failed him at the NHL level. The scoring failed him at the AHL level, and that’s on the Oilers. Traded for Henrik Samuelsson later in the season.
  • (No. 34 on winter list) G Zack Nagelvoort. A promising draft day selection in 2014, Nagelvoort could never match the numbers that got him drafted. Red Berenson cast about looking for a starter during Nagelvoort’s career but he could never secure a spot. Signed with Missouri of the ECHL as he turned pro this spring.
  • (No. 35 on winter list) LC Jere Sallinen. A disappointment because his offense was nonexistent on this side of the ocean. Sallinen signed with Orebro in Sweden, but his four goals (in 53 games) from the center position were ghastly. Pro scouts missed badly here.
  • (No. 40 on winter list) L Evan Campbell. One of the humorous things about the Oilers is their tendency to draft players, not sign them, but ink one of their undrafted teammates. So, we’ve been following Campbell forever and the team signs fellow UMass-Lowell forward Joe Gambardella instead.
  • (No. 41 on winter list) G Eetu Laurikainen. I don’t think the organization took him seriously, which is a shame. He signed in the days right after Peter Chiarelli took over, suspect the contract had already been agreed to and the shift occurred under his feet. I hope he has a long and productive career.

Joe Gambardella

THE TOP 20 (MAY 2017)

  1. (1) R Jesse Puljujarvi. Posted 28gp, 1-7-8 in the NHL and 39gp, 12-16-28 in Bakersfield this season. JP wasn’t dominant in either league, but considering age (18) and usage (secondary role in AHL) perhaps survival is success. All of his NHL assists were initial, he did well in possession and his AHL shots total (per game) aligned with Mikko Rantanen. I wrote about him here. Very little chance the club’s first-round pick will be more valuable, meaning JP remains the most valuable player in the system.
  2. (6) RD Ethan Bear. You could make a strong argument for Bear’s season as the best in the system (outside NHL). He ended up winning WHL Defenseman of the Year, posted 67gp, 28-42-70 and playoffs 17gp, 6-20-26. It is always best to bet on patience when it comes to defenders, and Bear’s skating and reaction are going to face a learning curve in pro. Ranking reflects his outstanding season.
  3. (7) LD Caleb Jones. Jones has blossomed into a complete defenseman, making him that rare player who defies his draft day scouting report. Delivered 63gp, 9-53-62 in regular year, plus 11gp, 2-8-10 in the postseason. He may be the best skater among defenders in the system and that’s a big advantage when hitting pro. Handedness and strength of shot have Bear ahead of Jones in the ranking, but it’s neck and neck and has been since draft day.
  4. (9) LC Jujhar Khaira. He is so close to being an NHL regular but battled injury this season. Posted 27gp, 8-12-20 in the AHL, showing real offensive growth in his third pro season. That works out to NHLE of 82gp, 13-19-32 and combined with his size and rugged play makes Khaira a very good NHL prospect. Has now played in 27 NHL games, so he should graduate by Christmas (and it could be in Vegas). Played 10 NHL games and scord a goal this year.
  5. (2) L Tyler Benson. Went 33gp, 11-31-42 with the Vancouver Giants before being shut down once again due to injury. Last we heard, Benson was seeing a specialist about his groin issues and that’s the last time anyone mentioned him. The ranking here reflects lost development time and the realization this player may not have the career hoped for due to injury issues.
  6. (5) LD Ziyat Paigin. After his watershed 2015-16 season, expectations were raised for Paigin. It’s important to remember a lot of his offense comes from power-play time (he has a terrific shot) and that appears to have dried up in 2016-17. Went 17gp, 1-3-4 while battling injury and handling during his KHL season. Signed with the Oilers and finished 5gp, 0-0-0 in Bakersfield. We have to get this player surrounded (shutdown capabilities, massive wingspan, big shot, not a puck mover) and that will happen this coming year. Ranking reflects less impressive season and others flourishing.
  7. (32) L Joey Laleggia. A revelation this season, especially with his move to LW mid-season. From Boxing Day forward, he went 43gp, 18-13-31. That works out to 16 goals NHLE for 82 games. That has value. He shoots like a maniac too (153 shots in 67 games) and that includes his time on defense. Big rise on this list, on merit. He deserves a long look in training camp.
  8. (NR) LC C Joe Gambardella is 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, I wonder if he pushes for NHL employment sometime in 2017-18.
  9. (13) LD Griffin Reinhart. He played in one NHL game, in the playoffs and he performed well. Reinhart had a difficult season, starting with a subpar training camp that led to his demotion and the signing of Kris Russell. He went 54gp, 7-14-21 in the AHL and from reports flourished in an increased role. I think he’ll be in Vegas this fall.
  10. (11) RD Filip Berglund. He spent the entire season in Sweden’s top league (SHL) and even posted some crooked numbers (49gp, 0-7-7). Berglund has expressed a desire to remain in Sweden next season, which makes sense (he is clearly going to play based on his handling this season). Encouraging year, while also recognizing there is much road to travel for this player.
  11. (12) G Laurent Brossoit. My line in the sand for goalies to graduate is 25 games, and LB is at 15. He performed very well in the AHL (21gp, 2.67 .908) although his boxcars were harmed by some wobble during Christmas week. In the NHL, he played in eight games, going 1.99, .928 and (I believing) earning a full season as backup to Talbot. Played 28 minutes during the playoffs.
  12. (14) G Nick Ellis. A strong first season of pro has Nick Ellis in the conversation for NHL employment. He posted superior numbers (34gp, 2.69 .918) to Brossoit and that came in Ellis’ debut season in the AHL. Called up during the playoff run, that may indicate the club likes his future (or they may have felt a need for a third goalie). A solid year.
  13. (20) G Dylan Wells. An amazing year for Wells, especially considering the disappointment of his previous campaign. Year over year save percentage progress (.871 to .916) was amazing and his playoff performance (.930) added to the strength of his season. Oilers signed him this week, we should look for another strong (final) junior season in 2017-18.
  14. (15) RC Aapeli Rasanen. He had some injury problems this year, but everything else came up Rasanen this year. One of the few noticeable Finns at the WJ’s, he played very well in the USHL (38gp, 7-18-25) and we can hope for progress at Boston College in the fall. He is progressing as a checking center with skill, speed being the one nervous item.
  15. (21) RD John Marino. A strong freshman season for Harvard has Marino’s stock on the rise. A mobile two-way defender, he showed slickness at both ends of the ice. His boxcars (35gp, 2-13-15) are very strong for a first-year college man and should spike as his usage increases over time.
  16. (16) LD William Lagesson. Shutdown defender had another solid year in college. He signed with the Oilers, who promptly loaned the Swede to Djurgardens IF in Sweden. The key item for a DD is speed and Lagesson is fast and mobile. He can play defense and we will probably see him fall of 2018 (Bakersfield).
  17. (25) LD Jordan Oesterle. I have a feeling these years (Oesterle has been a pro since 2014) are just the idling campaigns. He has defensive holes, but the man can wheel and clearly has a brain in his head. At age 24, I bet he is just coming into his own and I further bet he will have NHL speed at 40. I hope the Oilers sign him. Went 44gp, 7-25-32 in the AHL and played a couple of NHL games.
  18. (NR) G Shane Starrett. The Oilers newest goalie has an impressive track record. In his two NCAA seasons, he posted .924 and .925 save percentages, suggesting this is in fact his quality of play. At 22, he is a solid pro prospect. He’s tall and thin (6.05, 180) and I can’t tell you if he is a better prospect than Nick Ellis or Laurent Brossoit or Dylan Wells. I can say all four men have something to recommend them. This is a weird sensation, having more than one solid goalie bet.
  19. (19) RC Tyler Vesel. I thought we might see the club reach out and sign Vesel after his breakout (39gp, 14-21-35) college season with Omaha. Crickets so far. He has slick hands for sure, not sure how much foot speed he has or whether he’ll be able to separate from pro checking when he gets the puck. The numbers say he is emerging and the ranking reflects his season.
  20. (NR) RD Ryan Mantha. 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. Ranked here based on potential and possible offensive contributions.
  21. (17) LD Dillon Simpson. Drafted way back in 2011, Simpson didn’t turn pro until 2014 and has been making slow and steady progress since. Played in his first three NHL games this season and was quietly effective. I’m unsure where his career path is headed, partly because the team that drafted him is no longer part of the management group. I think he would be a solid first recall option out of Bakersfield, but the organization may want to move on in order to cull the Leftorium.
  22. (18) LD Markus Niemelainen. He had one of the most baffling seasons by an Oilers prospect in recent memory. His point total went from 27 to nine, but the reports I got about Niemelainen had him playing well, or at least well enough to make the dive in points mysterious. He has signed with HPK in the Sm-Liiga for next season, probably best to get him a fresh start.
  23. (22) G Miroslav Svoboda. His numbers are so damned strong but I don’t know much about his league (Czech 2). So as much as a .944SP on  your driveway suggests high skill, it’s impossible to move him higher. Will play in the main Czech league this fall, that will help us get him surrounded as a prospect.
  24. (30) L Graham McPhee. It would be easy to look at his boxcars (39gp, 2-8-10) and see him as shy offensively, but freshman forwards play sparingly for the big programs (Boston College). The most encouraging thing about him is that Corey Pronman liked him as a USHL player and I trust his opinion. Still, needs to score.
  25. (29) L Aidan Muir. Went 20gp, 2-9-11 for Western Michigan this season, suffered a hand injury that derailed him. He is 6.04, 212 and has one more year of college eligibility. His NHLE (18.5) suggests he may have pro-level offense.
  26. (36) R Patrick Russell. In looking at his overall numbers first season pro (68gp, 8-9-17) there is disappointment. However, he shoots the puck a lot (150 shots, 2.21 a game) and the Oilers need to cultivate those players. I am looking forward to his second season.
  27. (24) LD Matthew Cairns. One of the themes from the 2016 draft one year on is that the offense for this group remains a mystery. That’s an issue. Cairns started in the USHL but wasn’t playing enough, so zipped over to the BCHL. He posted 18gp, 2-14-16 (NHLE: 9.5 points) and so we’re still wondering. He is big, got flagged for speed in some of his draft day scouting reports and has a big shot but scored two goals all year. I’m not sure what he is, maybe we will know more a year from now (off to Cornell University).
  28. (27) RC Kyle Platzer. It’s difficult to look at Platzer’s pro career and feel he is getting a full shot at establishing himself. That may be a reflection of his talent, but the Oilers drafted him, signed him and should play him. Eric Rodgers’ estimate of his playing time this season (just over seven minutes) is so low as to be farce (if true). Why bother? Trade that pick (fourth rounder) for something you can use.
  29. (31) LD Ben Betker. Big man (6.06, 228) played for Bakersfield (mostly) this winter, going 30gp, 1-5-6. Eric Rodgers TOI estimates Betker played 16:28 a game (depth defender). He is 22 and this is a good bet to be the highest level he reaches, but his size is intriguing enough to get him a full chance.
  30. (33) R Greg Chase. Everything I said about Kyle Platzer also applies to Chase, who scored just 48gp, 3-11-14 this season. Rodgers’ TOI estimate for Chase is 9:17 and that is unfortunate if true. Hopefully he will get more playing time in the coming season.
  31. (37) RD Vincent Desharnais. It is difficult to get much information on players like Desharnais (college men who play a defensive style) but what we read about him this season was solid. I’m not sure when he plans to turn pro but tracking him is going to be an exercise in frustration during his NCAA time.
  32. (38) L Joey Benik. He is not an NHL contract, but is an interesting player because of his scoring ability. Went 21gp, 4-1-5 at the AHL level and was quality in the ECHL. I don’t think he gets an NHL contract but interesting player.
  33. (NR) L Evan Polei. An AHL contract, his size and skill (6.02, 227 and 33 goals) are intriguing. Good hands, speed the issue and we’ll see in a year. He was a quality junior.
  34. (NR) R Dave Gust, Ohio State (NCAA). He is 23, 5.10, 174 and had a big college season (39gp, 18-23-41). AHL contract.
  35. (NR)  R Chad Butcher. Small winger with range of skills, good offense. He is an AHL contract for 2017-18. Speed main weapon, he posted more than 100 points this year.
  36. (39) L Braden Christoffer. Signed in a training camp fever, Christoffer has been unable to score enough (49gp, 5-3-8) or get enough playing time (9:06). Has to be a great experience for him an earning an NHL contract is a dream.
  37. (NR) R Henrik Samuelsson. Acquired in the Mitchell Moroz deal, he is RFA and they basically shut him down five games into his Bakersfield career. Not  a good sign.

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[…] bit more detail below, but the good news is he had an outstanding year overall in Seattle. His play pushed him to be ranked #2 behind only Jesse Puljujarvi on Allan “Lowetide” Mitchell’s list of top Oilers […]


I missed this and finally read it now. Reading this list makes me think Chiarelli might be telling the truth about signing Russell and not doing a lot else on defence. I think he wants Russell on a 3 year deal so that there is room in a couple of years for these prospects and for Henning and Nurse. I’m not sure a trade for a more substantial this is coming. I think Russell on a 3 x 3.5 and Gryba on a 1 year and another 3rd pair this on a 1 year contract.


Thanks LT, love the effort you put into everyone of your blogs. Pleasure reading. Oilers fans are lucky, Keep up the good work.


Great job LT.

Bear with 34 goals between reg season and playoffs. That’s really something. Maybe we have found lightening in a bottle.



Thank you.


Good morning LT. Some big and small changes on these. I recall that you use a different set of numbers for your NHLE. Or do you use these?

ob Vollman‏ @robvollmanNHL6m6 minutes ago
MoreUpdated translation factors
.74 KHL
.58 SHL
.47 AHL
.43 SM-Liiga, Swiss NLA, NCHC
.38 H-East
.33 Big 10
.30 OHL
.29 WHL
.23 ECAC


– great post LT !

– looking through your rankings over the year Marco Roy sticks out as a big fail. Looking back, knowing what you know now was his “fail” relative to virtually all the other prospects you rated was it on him or did you miss something when rating him or did the organization fail him?You haven’t talked about him much. I’m curious. Does he have NHL ability do you thin?

Not sure how the Oilers failed him. He did not advance in junior.

Wasn’t he rumoured to be an analytics pick?


ob Vollman‏ @robvollmanNHL6m6 minutes ago
MoreUpdated translation factors
.74 KHL
.58 SHL
.47 AHL
.43 SM-Liiga, Swiss NLA, NCHC
.38 H-East
.33 Big 10
.30 OHL
.29 WHL
.23 ECAC

So wouldnt that mean the SHL is a better league then AHL?


– great post LT !

– looking through your rankings over the year Marco Roy sticks out as a big fail. Looking back, knowing what you know now was his “fail” relative to virtually all the other prospects you rated was it on him or did you miss something when rating him or did the organization fail him? You haven’t talked about him much. I’m curious. Does he have NHL ability do you thin?


This is fun, thanks for posting!

Here’s my questions that we can “Prognosticate for 2017 game 1”. Picks have to be in before the Vegas draft:
1) Which Oil player will Vegas select?:
2) Who is our first pick in the Entry Draft?
3) Does Ebs get moved? (bonus if you pick for who)
4) Does RNH get moved (bonus if you pick for who)
5) Who is our back-up G on game 1?
6) Total $ amount/years for Russell (0 is an answer)
7) Total $ amount/years of McDavid’s contract?
8) Total $ amount/years of Drai’s contract?
9) Which 2 D dress with Larsson/Klef/Nurse/Benning on game 1?
10) Biggest off-season F acquired?:
11) Is Jessie playing in NHL game 1?
12) How many roster trades does Chia make?
– Winner gets a LT got a paypal contribution! Same this year (and my respect: last year Leadfarmer got the most right.

2)Kole Lind
6)3.75 x 1
7)9.7 x 5
8)9.2 x 6
9)Russell, Rutta
11)Derek Ryan
13)None affecting opening line-up in Fall. All signings – UFA, college and Euro.


If Foo signed “tonight” would he make the top five on this list?


Twin Peaks tonight.

Think I’ll wait until the season is done and binge watch it. Nothing I want to watch before bed, that’s for sure.


I think Polei will surprise,I think of him as a Maroon style player. I think he has the hockey sense and maturity to understand any role he is given. And that he is also a great teammate.



If Chiarelli can continue to sign college and Euro free agents along the lines of Benning and Caggiula, that would be music! Foo and Rutta? Yes, please. Watched this on Joe Gambardella ( and am intrigued by him – blue collar/hard worker, with speed and skill… if they continue to procure along these lines, I think the prospect cupboard will be replenished at a good rate. Any other college/Euro players the Oilers should look at? Unfortunate that Tyler Benson is facing injury challenges…

unca miltie

Thank you LT for all your hard work. Wonder if Bear, Jones and Paigan are equal to or better than Wild, Chorney and Petry.Petry was my favorites because I cheered for his dad with the Tigers. I see Chorney is up to 141 NHL games,l so he might make the 200 mark.

On another note, bad day for me to watch hockey, was cheering for Ottawa, Seattle, Brooks and Canada. The big 0for.,


I love these.