The Oilers, most often during team existence, draft a forward with the first selection and follow with a defender. It’s a thing, or was a thing, you can check it out. Brock Otten mentioned to me yesterday that the Los Angeles Kings love the OHL (smart) and overage picks from the OHL later (smart again). I wonder if NHL teams have a book of tendencies, these patterns can be useful on draft weekend.
There’s a chance we are going to see some unusual things this winter in Edmonton, things that run counter to what I consider established trends going back over some time. Several of these established, universal trends are included in my annual Farm Workers post.
Men who are over 30 and come out of the minors to establish (or re-establish) themselves are pretty much a thing of the past.
This is beyond rare, it’s blue rare. Mark Fayne is now 30 and spent last season (mostly) in the AHL. Todd McLellan wanted a swifter defense group and one capable of moving the puck more efficiently, and Kris Russell happened along right on time. The only way Fayne makes it back with the Oilers is due to injury at the NHL level, right?
CONDORS BLUE 2017-18
The qual comp is about the same across the board and the only real offense from the group is the now departed Oesterle. Dillon Simpson and Mark Fayne seem to be the most effective in the group based on these numbers. As you know, I’m doing the RE series now and one of the questions I had was “how difficult is it going to be for Mark Fayne to put himself into the conversation for NHL work?” With Andrej Sekera injured, Kris Russell might have to move to LH side, putting Eric Gryba as 6D until Andrej Sekera gets back. Now, maybe Yohann Auvitu puts this all to rest, but I think Mark Fayne is a reasonable candidate to be that rare blue who could re-emerge as an NHL player after turning 30. Perhaps some showcase NHL games during the early part of the season allows Edmonton to offload Fayne during the year or at the deadline. Crazy idea? We wait.
- I ran all the junior blue and thought it would be a fine idea to collect the information for the forwards, too.
- Yamamoto is clearly the class of the group, he delivered his offense 5×5 against the toughest opponents (according to Prospect-Stats.com).
- Tyler Benson shows well here, young man should post a very high number if he can stay healthy. Benson is a little over six months older than Yamamoto.
- Rasanen posted solid numbers as well, a righty center has increased value and there’s some offense here for sure.
Pretty much everyone who is in the AHL past (say) 21 has some issues and is going to do some meandering. If you haven’t established yourself as a prospect of interest by 22 you are in trouble. The players who have graduated to useful NHL careers have at least played some NHL games by the end of their entry level deals. A large group of players on the current team could be described in the “tweener” division.
- Anton Lander wasn’t a tweener and he surely did some meandering. I’ll suggest an NHL team with some vision would have sent Anton to the AHL straightaway in his first North American season. I also believe he had some of the Mark Fayne (lacking foot speed) issue.
- Anton Slepyshev qualifies as a “graduate” and he had a period in the AHL where offense wasn’t there. I count him as the first true Condor to graduate to the NHL, now it’s a matter of how high can he fly?
- Jujhar Khaira is somewhere between “tweener” and “graduate” we’ll just have to see how this plays out. Interesting season ahead.
- Jesse Puljujarvi is on this list strictly because of his European status. I don’t believe any of the measures above describe him, he’ll be long in the NHL by age 21.
- The rest are tweeners, save Laleggia and his late run to daylight via position change.
AHL FORWARD ACQUISITIONS
- Based on the information, Edmonton did get player who (at the AHL level) are on the ice in the big parts of the game.
- The offense across the board from these men isn’t fantastic, perhaps giving us a clue as to their ‘tweener’ status (none have established themselves in the NHL).
- Whenever I see Mitch Callahan, I think of Hal Holbrook yelling at Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. Maybe he finds a way to the NHL in the Matt Hendricks role.
- Ty Rattie, although it isn’t on display here, probably has the best chance to make the Oilers among this group.
Exceptions are college men. Playing 4 NCAA seasons means turning pro at 22, meaning a “late start” for some quality prospects.
It’s true, we saw that one year ago when Matt Benning and Drake Caggiula jumped ahead of Edmonton’s minor league prospects to win NHL employment. It could happen again this season.
Joe Gambardella doesn’t have a lot of buzz around him but no one I know thought Matt Benning or Drake Caggiula would play as much NHL as they did in 2017-18. It’s something to keep in mind as we enter training camp.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The math tells us Jesse Puljujarvi, Anton Slepyshev, Kailer Yamamoto and Tyler Benson are the blue chip forwards, and that Aapeli Rasanen (Bruce McCurdy wrote about him here) may be able to hang with that group. One area I didn’t cover from Farm Workers was the college men, suspect Joe Gambardella will make his presence known as well.
It sounds like Kladno may win the lottery, Jaromir Jagr has some NHL interest but it doesn’t sound like a lot. I’d love to see him here, but for Peter Chiarelli it’s a matter of start as you mean to go. The plan is to find out about Jesse Puljujarvi, about Anton Slepyshev, about Drake Caggiula.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning on the Lowdown beginning at 10. TSN1260, scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Gretzky sale, Oilers prospects, Mud Lake!
- Jimmy Morrison, Edmonton Prospects. A win last night and a chance to advance with a win tonight!
- Dave Dawson, Onside CFL Fantasy. Another week of CFL action featuring the Eskimos injured and in tough in the nation’s capital.
- Rob Vollman, ESPN and NHL.com. The new book is an instant best seller, and Sidney at 30.