The Edmonton Oilers prospect depth chart is not among the NHL’s best. No harm there, the procurement of names like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom and others since 2011 should sustain the big club for years to come. Having said that, there needs to he a pipeline that can offer the NHL team consistent options for needs that arise (or assets who can be exchanged for same).
Bogdan Yakimov should be in North America right now preparing for the NHL/AHL season. Instead he is in Neftekhimik and playing well (4gp, 0-2-2) early in the KHL campaign. He’s playing 15:21 a night and is winning over 60 percent of his faceoffs. The relationship between Yakimov and the Oilers lacks the clarity of Anton Slepyshev’s experience but it shouldn’t obscure his ability or the possibilities. Here are the men who played at least 50 games under Gerry Fleming in the AHL and have played at least 25 (10 for goalies) games in the NHL so far:
- Anton Slepyshev: 58 AHL games, 52 NHL games
- Tyler Pitlick: 51 AHL games, 48 NHL games
- Brad Hunt: 142 AHL games, 30 NHL games
- Griffin Reinhart: 84 AHL games, 29 NHL games
- Jordan Oesterle: 153 AHL games, 25 NHL games
- Jujhar Khaira: 127 AHL games, 25 NHL games
- Laurent Brossoit: 105 AHL games, 14 NHL games
Complementary players sure, but it’s also possible Slepyshev emerges as a solid top 9F. Yakimov should be on this list, possible we see him next fall at training camp. It should also be mentioned that Jesse Puljujarvi played for him in the AHL one year ago and should be counted as a Bakersfield hopeful.
POSSIBLE CONDORS ROSTER 2017-18
There are no first-rounders here, and the top prospects by my estimate (Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Ziyat Paigin, Joe Gambardella) are likely one year away. It’s also true that we (I) tend to overestimate prospects and we would do well to assume failure for most of the names listed here. Consider another AHL team from the past.
SPRINGFIELD FALCONS 2008-09
There were several first-round selections on this roster (Devan Dubnyk, Gilbert Brule, Rob Schremp, Ryan O’Marra) but only Dubnyk turned out. I don’t think it’s fair to put all blame these prospects, the organization simply didn’t have the acumen to suss out talent and bring it to the NHL in an orderly way. Even Devan Dubnyk, by any stretch a quality prospect, was cast aside and forced to find his way in another organization after establishing himself as a No. 1 goalie.
I think that’s probably the most encouraging thing about the current team. Edmonton is no longer in need of one dozen solutions every summer. Still, counting on a bunch of the 2017-18 Condors to deliver as NHL players is unwise, and projecting any of them into a significant role this coming season is folly. It’s the chief reason why I still think we might see an addition to the training camp roster.
These are solid to excellent young prospects, but we should monitor them over their entry-level deals, and lower NHL expectations in year one.