While the successes of the second round (Martin Marincin, Tyler Pitlick, Anton Lander) play in the NHL as support players, 2013 third-round selection Anton Slepyshev has first-round talent and what looks like an excellent future.
I am hopeful we can have a reasonable conversation about Oilers past drafting, taking out bias and inserting rational thought. In order to do this, we absolutely have to agree on some things:
- We can’t judge a drafted player weeks after his selection.
- We can count arrows, and they are a good indicator.
- We cannot expect all of the picks to succeed, that isn’t reasonable.
- We have come to a conclusion about a line in the sand and agree to it (the Cullen grades).
Cullen’s numbers suggest a third-round selection has a 27.3% chance of playing 100 NHL games. Notable Oilers picks from the third round this century include Zack Stortini (297 NHL games) and Theo Peckham (160 NHL games).
OILERS THRD ROUND 2008-17
- 2008: No second-round selections (Kevin Lowe) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2009: Troy Hesketh (Steve Tambellini) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2009: Cameron Abney (Steve Tambellini) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2010: Ryan Martindale (Steve Tambellini) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2011: Samu Perhonen (Steve Tambellini) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2011: Travis Ewanyk (Steve Tambellini) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2012: Jujhar Khaira (Steve Tambellini) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2012: Daniil Zharkov (Steve Tambellini) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2013: Bogdan Yakimov (Craig MacTavish) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2013: Anton Slepyshev (Craig MacTavish) (Stu MacGregor)
- 2016: Markus Niemelainen (Peter Chiarelli) (Bob Green)
- 2016: Matt Cairns (Peter Chiarelli) (Bob Green)
- 2016: Filip Berglund (Peter Chiarelli) (Bob Green)
- 2017: Stuart Skinner (Peter Chiarelli) (Bob Green)
- 2017: Dmitri Samorukov (Peter Chiarelli) (Bob Green)
There are a number of picks—especially in the early years—that were poor the moment they were made. The first pick with a chance was Ryan Martindale (NHLE on draft day: 26 points) in 2010, and by 2012 things were a little more reasonable (although offensive potential remained a concern). I think MacT had a fine day in 2013, both Russians have played in the NHL. No picks in 2014 and 2015, three in 2016 and two in 2017. The Oilers have chosen five in this round in the last two years, that portion of this group will take some time to come into view.
2017 SUMMER (CAREER NHL GP)
- Anton Slepyshev 52
- Jujhar Khaira 25
- Bogdan Yakimov 1
MacT’s crazy trade in 2013 may have fetched a quality player in Slepyshev. Corey Pronman was on him the year before Edmonton drafted him. He ranked him No. 17 overall (remember this is 2012, the Yakupov draft year).
- Pronman: Slepyshev is one of the rare 17-year-old forwards who has been able to step into the KHL and produce, albeit at a marginal level. His production is along the lines of what elite prospects Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vladimir Tarasenko did in their 17-year-old seasons, though, for example. Slepyshev is an above-average skater who is tremendously agile and is also able to get up to a notable top gear. When you combine his great agility with the fact he has high-end puck skills, he really is a nuisance to check. Slepyshev is very effective at dodging opponents and creating space for himself. I’ve seen times on penalty kills where he would dance around the opposing zone for 15-25 seconds because several opponents keep missing him. Slepyshev has a plus if not near that shot and he knows it, as he has a shoot-first mentality with the ability to score from way out. He can still make plays and doesn’t have tunnel vision, but I wouldn’t classify him as a playmaker. Slepyshev’s physical game needs some work as while he’s average-sized, he’s got a bean pole frame and can easily be pushed off the puck. He will show some physical effort, although that at times could be better, and has some defensive value too, but his strength level is way behind where it needs to be.
- “It’s over” arrows: Troy Hesketh, Cameron Abney, Ryan Martindale, Samu Perhonen, Travis Ewanyk, Daniil Zharkov
- Bad arrows: Bogdan Yakimov, Markus Niemelainen, Matt Cairns
- Lukewarm arrows:
- Good arrows: Jujhar Khaira, Filip Berglund
- Very good arrows: Anton Slepyshev
A very encouraging season, Slepyshev may not turn out but this past season featured some real progress. Khaira remains a prospect of note, Berglund had good arrows. Niemelainen could have been placed higher but there should be concern about him, and Matt Cairns has some issues and we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Bogdan Yakimov is unresolved business, I wonder if there’s a deal that can be struck (contract) at this point in time.
ONE BY ONE
- D Troy Hesketh: 54 players who have played in the NHL were chosen after Hesketh, who did not play hockey after 2011-12.
- R Cameron Abney: Scored four points in 48 WHL games in his draft year.
- C Ryan Martindale: Peaked in the AHL, played in Denmark 2016-17.
- G Samu Perhonen: Struggled (.888) with KooKoo of Sm-Liiga 2016-17.
- C Travis Ewanyk: Played most of 2016-17 in the ECHL (two different teams) and has signed a minor-league deal with Wichita (ECHL), coincidentally now the minor-league affiliate for the Oilers organization.
- C Jujhar Khaira: Khaira was unlucky this year because of injury, but effective when he played. His AHL offense (27, 8-12-20) and NHL performance (10gp, 1-0-1) mean we have surrounded him offensively. If he can deliver enough offense in the NHL, Khaira will be around for some time. Waiver eligible this fall.
- L Daniil Zharkov: Played six games in the KHL this season and hopefully he regains good health (injured badly in Bakersfield 2015 fall) and continues his career.
- C Bogdan Yakimov: He had a pedestrian KHL season (50gp, 3-8-11) but the Oilers qualified him to retain rights. Probably nothing but the qualifying implies interest.
- L Anton Slepyshev: A strong step forward this past season is one of the most encouraging stories in the entire system. In Edmonton he posted a solid half season (41gp, 4-6-10) and then scored three goals in 12 playoff games.
- LD Markus Niemelainen: He fell off badly in offense (fell to nine points from 27) despite playing a full season. The information I received suggested Niemelainen remained effective defensively, but there had to be a disconnect somewhere.
- LD Matt Cairns: When your new draft pick can’t get into a USHL lineup regularly, that’s a bad arrow. He did play in the BCHL but for me this is a major sign of danger.
- RD Filip Berglund: There are good things about his season, including increased playing time in the SHL. Berglund’s season ahead will tell us a lot about him but legit progress is being made and there is promise with this player.