We often debate the minor league system and how much it should be producing each fall. I heard many years ago that a good draft produces two actual NHL players a season, so if we add .5 players for the college and CHL undrafted free agents we arrive at 2.5 per year.
The other question surrounds qualifying as an actual NHL player. Scott Cullen’s line in the sand suggests 100 games, based on draft results. Many commenters have suggested that’s a low bar, so what’s reasonable? 400 games? Let’s start at the beginning of this century, count the graduates and their games played and see how many successful crops we’ve seen.
Finally, since the Oilers have been drafting so high over the last several years, I’m going to expand it from “guys who came up through the minors” to “players who entered the NHL via the draft or amateur procurement” and make the AHL unnecessary to qualify for the list.
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- Lowetide: No. 9 prospect—Filip Berglund.
- Jonathan Willis: No. 10 prospect—Dmitri Samorukov.
- Lowetide: No. 11 prospect—Stuart Skinner’s net worth.
- Jonathan Willis: No. 12 prospect—Joel Persson.
- Lowetide: No. 13 prospect—Ostap Safin
- Jonathan Willis: No. 14 prospect—Olivier Rodrigue
- Lowetide: No. 15 prospect—William Lagesson
- Jonathan Willis: No. 16 prospect—Cameron Hebig
- Lowetide: No. 17 prospect—Graham McPhee
- Jonathan Willis: No. 18 prospect—Ryan Mantha
- Lowetide: No. 19 prospect—John Marino
- Jonathan Willis: No. 20 prospect—Tyler Vesel
- Lowetide: Top 20 prospects: Forwards outside the top 20
- Jonathan Willis: Are Hayden Hawkey and Phil Kemp underrated gems?
- Lowetide: Assessing the cost of the Oilers ill-advised AHL experiment.
- Lowetide: Oilers 2013 draft: Two NHL players and one crazy trade.
- Lowetide: Some lingering questions about Oilers 2018 draft and evaluating goalies.
- Lowetide: Oilers training camp: 28 men for 23 jobs.
- Lowetide: Is Evan Bouchard NHL-ready?
- Lowetide: The maturation of Daryl Katz, or heading down a dangerous road?
- 1999-00: Daniel Cleary (938); Dan Lacouture (337)
- 2000-01: Shawn Horcoff (1008); Mike Comrie (589)
- 2001-02: Jussi Markkanen (128)
- 2002-03: Jason Chimera (1107); Ales Hemsky (845); Fernando Pisani (462)
- 2003-04: Jarret Stoll (872); Raffi Torres (635); Marc-Andre Bergeron (490); Ty Conklin (216)
- 2004-05: LOCKOUT
- 2005-06: Matt Greene (615); Brad Winchester (390)
- 2006-07: Jan Hejda (627); Ladislav Smid (583)
- 2007-08: Andrew Cogliano (866); Kyle Brodziak (847); Sam Gagner (770); Tom Gilbert (655)
- 2008-09: Theo Peckham (160)
- 2009-10: Devan Dubnyk (423)
If we’re using 2.5 players per year and 400 games in a career, some of these seasons are winners (2000-01; 2002-03; 2003-04; 2005-06; 2006-07; 2007-08) and some are not but should be (1999-00; 2009-10) while others fell short (2001-02, 2008-09).
- 2010-11: Jordan Eberle (588); Taylor Hall (529); Jeff Petry (527); Magnus Paajarvi (387)
- 2011-12: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (457)
- 2012-13: Justin Schultz (407); Nail Yakupov (350); Chris VandeVelde (278)
- 2013-14: Oscar Klefbom (255); Martin Marincin (177)
- 2014-15: Leon Draisaitl (269); Tyler Pitlick (138)
- 2015-16: Connor McDavid (209); Darnell Nurse (197); Brandon Davidson (152)
- 2016-17: Matt Benning (135); Drake Caggiula (127); Jesse Puljujarvi (93)
- 2017-18: Jujhar Khaira (94); Pontus Aberg (68)
We can’t use 400 games, but we can say 2010-11 was a party. If the Oilers could keep all of their graduates, things would look much better. Alas, the sheer number of good young players who were sent away too soon (Jason Chimera, Jarret Stoll, Raffi Torres, Kyle Brodziak, Jan Hejda, Andrew Cogliano, Devan Dubnyk, Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle) carved a big hole in both decades. In many, many ways, trading Jesse Puljujarvi this instant would be in keeping with a terrible Oilers tradition. Get good players, keep good players.
ETHAN BEAR AT 20
Bear is an interesting player, it wasn’t obvious on draft day he would emerge as the second best prospect for the Oilers from the 2015 draft. It still could turn out a different way, but in the three years since he was chosen Bear has been tearing up the blacktop. In his look-see at the end of the 2017-18 season, he showed excellent passing ability and decision making with the puck, while also showing us there’s miles to go in coverage.
How much of a wallop does he pack offensively? One way for us to track his progress is comparing other 20-year old defensemen in the same league, same season:
Bear is in good company, and did have some power-play success (7 assists). I don’t know if he’s going to make it as an NHL player, but the three seasons post draft have been good ones for Bear. I’m cheering for him.
PROJECTED CONDORS 2018-19 (WITH NHLE)
- I don’t think Kailer Yamamoto spends a long time in the AHL, but he should dominate while there.
- Cooper Marody went 1-2-3 in three Bakersfield games at the end of the season, he assisted on two goals by Tyler Vesel, while scoring off a pass from Dave Gust.
- Tyler Benson assisted on three AHL goals in five games (scored by Kyle Platzer, Joey Laleggia and Tyler Vesel) and I think we’ll see him in a prominent role all season in Bakersfield.
- Tyler Vesel may be able to find his way up to the Oilers at some point, he has some nice two-way skills. Jonathan Willis wrote a fine piece for The Athletic on him here.