Barring a massive set of trades by the new general manager, Edmonton fans are about to see a fairly productive pipeline of young players heading to Edmonton. From this year’s AHL team, it’s a good bet Caleb Jones, Cooper Marody and Tyler Benson will see significant NHL time in 2019-20. Players like Ethan Bear, William Lagesson, Kailer Yamamoto, Shane Starrett and Joe Gambardella could also chime in.
This is Farm Workers, 2019.
The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of the group.INSANE NEW OFFER IS HERE!
- New Lowetide: The Milan Lucic saga rolls into Year 4 for Oilers with no easy answers
- New Jonathan Willis: Who stays and who goes? An early projection of which players will remain on the Oilers’ roster in 2019-20
- Lowetide: How high can these Condors fly?
- Lowetide: Ron Hextall’s patient approach as GM would be shock to Oilers’ system
- Jonathan Willis: Michael Futa’s success at the NHL Draft makes him a credible GM candidate for the Oilers
- Lowetide: The Oilers possible summer trade pieces, and which longtime players might be saying goodbye.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ten prospects likely to be available when the Oilers make their first-round pick.
- Jonathan Willis: Bob Nicholson mostly says the right things, but stalls on making changes to the Oilers.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: The pressure’s squarely on Bob Nicholson to make right GM hire for Oilers.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers Report Cards: Few passing grades remain in season full of failure.
- Lowetide: How winning the draft lottery and drafting Jack Hughes could transform the Oilers.
- Lowetide: The Oilers have a trio of Condors blue pushing and all three are tracking well. How does this group compare to the Petry, Chorney, Wild college men from a decade ago?
- Jonathan Willis: Connor McDavid’s frustration should be seen by the Oilers as a warning of possible disaster.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers have another problem to solve: Lifting the cloud over a clearly frustrated Connor McDavid
- Lowetide: What Mark Hunter’s draft record in Toronto means for his Oilers GM candidacy.
- Lowetide: The Edmonton Oilers, the republic of Finland and the 2019 draft.
- Lowetide: The Oilers made a rare move and shopped the QMJHL at the 2018 draft. It could happen again.
- Lowetide: The Edmonton Oilers draft early, the WHL is loaded and there’s a lot of history.
- Lowetide: The Edmonton Oilers and the OHL.
FUTURE NHLERS, FARM WORKERS EDITION
It’s been a fun ride over many years, choosing ‘farm workers’ to emerge as NHL players and play 100 or more NHL games. Here are my picks by season, and NHL games played (players listed only once, in the first season I named them).
- 2009-10: Devan Dubnyk (490).
- 2010-11: Jeff Petry (609), Linus Omark (79), and Teemu Hartikainen (52).
- 2011-12: Magnus Paajarvi (467) and Tyler Pitlick (185).
- 2012-13: Anton Lander (215) and Martin Marincin (201).
- 2013-14: Oscar Klefbom (316) and Mark Arcobello (139).
- 2014-15: Jordan Oesterle (151), Iiro Pakarinen (134).
- 2015-16: Jujhar Khaira (154) and Anton Slepyshev (102), Griffin Reinhart (37).
- 2016-17: Jesse Puljujarvi (139) and Laurent Brossoit (49).
- 2017-18: Ethan Bear (18).
- 2018-19: Kailer Yamamoto (26); Caleb Jones (17); Cooper Marody (6); Tyler Benson.
Men over 30 who establish (or re-establish) themselves in the NHL are pretty much a thing of the past.
- Brad Malone was 29 this season and that’s pretty close to 30. However, his 16 NHL games in 2019-20 is shy of establishing an NHL presence. The rule remains.
If a prospect can establish himself as an AHL regular at age 20, it bodes well for an NHL career, but does not guarantee it.
- Tyler Benson covered this bet, he’s the personification of the rule. He didn’t scoot to the NHL like Leon Draisaitl or Darnell Nurse, but he did deliver at or above the level of Benoit Pouliot and Patrick Maroon when they were 20 in the AHL. It’s a good arrow.
- Benson is the tenth real prospect since 2010 to play as a regular at 20 (Teemu Hartikainen, Tyler Pitlick, Magnus Paajarvi, Martin Marincin, Martin Gernat, Bogdan Yakimov, Jujhar Khaira, Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones) and we’ll see how many men have substantial careers.
- Paajarvi is over 400 games, he would have to be considered the most successful prospect among the group.
- Caleb Jones is the new star of this little corner of our study. Although he wasn’t outstanding at 20, he was a regular in the lineup. Jones emerged as a top drawer defenseman age 21.
- I’m not counting Jesse Puljujarvi as an AHL player this year for these purposes. Kailer Yamamoto, Stuart Skinner and Dylan Wells are also 20 and played for Bakersfield in 2018-19. You could make a case for Yamamoto and Wells but I think they’re shy of ‘establishing themselves’ based on lack of games.
Pretty much every player who is in the AHL past (say) 21 is having some issues and may spend time meandering.
- Cooper Marody, Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones and Cameron Hebig are 21, William Lagesson is 22.
- Marody, Bear and Jones have already played in the NHL, the team stacking and racking while also creating competition. This is how things are supposed to work.
- All of these players have something that keeps them from the NHL at this time. For Jones, it’s strength of depth chart (Klefbom, Nurse, Sekera) and for the other two it’s experience and possibly foot speed. There’s the potential to meander, save (I believe) Jones.
If you haven’t established yourself as a prospect of interest by 22 you are in trouble. The players who will graduate to successful NHL careers have at least played some NHL games by the end of their entry deals.
- Players 22+ who made inroads at the last chance Texaco include Josh Currie, Joe Gambardella and Patrick Russell. Each of them saw NHL action and that gets them into the conversation for NHL work as role players. Important.
- Players who were in this spot recently: Jujhar Khaira, Anton Slepyshev, Griffin Reinhart, Jordan Oesterle, Iiro Pakarinen, Laurent Brossoit. Not everyone makes it.
- Players who have already cleared the bar currently in Bakersfield: Jones, Bear, Marody.
- Player who has yet to play in NHL games during entry deal but likely will: William Lagesson. All reports on the young Swede are positive. He may push his way into the lineup sooner than later.
Exceptions are college men. Playing 4 NCAA seasons means turning pro at 22. That’s a late start.
- Lots of college men, including Cooper Marody who qualifies in several categories in our farm report. Also college: Joe Gambardella, Tyler Vesel, Shane Starrett. I think this is a promising group.
- Marody is the best player in the group, I believe he’ll have an NHL career. Whether that’s 110 games or 500, or beyond? Don’t know.
- Both Gambardella and Starrett showed well this year.
- Logan Day was a revelation this season. He’s without an NHL contract, one hopes the Oilers take care of that over the summer. Dave Gust and Luke Esposito also showed well (both men also without NHL deals).
A large group of players on the current team could be described as “tweeners” meaning they’re going to spend their pro careers in that purgatory between the AHL and NHL. Call them 4A (one step beyond AAA, baseball’s highest minor league).
- The truth is that ‘tweeners’ are the biggest AHL category and point totals can fool you. Rob Schremp was a tweener, he scored 53 points in 69 AHL games at age 20 ( not quite Benson levels).
- Anton Lander was a tweener, Ty Rattie is a tweener.
- Maybe Kailer Yamamoto will be a tweener. I don’t think he will, but this blog thought Marc Pouliot, Teemu Hartikainen and Linus Omark would make it. There’s luck, good and bad, in making it from the tweener division. Part of luck is injury. Ask Pouliot.
If we make a list of minor league rfa’s each summer, we can probably pick the cuts and be pretty close.
- Oilers have very few RFA’s for 2019 summer, but will have to make decisions on Tyler Vesel, Joe Gambardella, Patrick Russell, Colin Larkin, Robin Norell and Shane Starrett.
- I’ll pick Gambardella, Russell and Starrett as keepers.
- A note here about new general managers. They have no connection to any of these players, so don’t be shocked if they’re all declined.
Daniel Cleary, Fernando Pisani and Jason Chimera became productive players in the toughest league on the planet. THEY are the stars in this study.
- This is important and it might offer us some advice on a player like Marody. A real talent, but he isn’t a bullet train. He might make it via his impressive passing and vision, but if that isn’t enough he may not be as well-suited to an NHL future as a two-way player. Same could apply for Yamamoto or Benson.
- That role may fall to Gambardella. The older player is a good forechecker, has plus speed and can learn to iron the wrinkles out of his defensive game.
- Marody probably spent most of his pre-AHL career being able to get the puck whenever he wanted, and the adjustment may take time.
- AHL grads don’t arrive in the NHL and apply for the scoring role on McDavid’s line (or Nuge, or Leon), but rather land on a support line and try to carve out a role. That’s the deal. Josh Currie and Patrick Russell also qualify here, possibly Lagesson.
Pure offensive players can succeed after prolonged AHL time but it’s rarely with their drafting team.
- This is my Marty Reasoner rule. Reasoner was a first-round pick who scored at will for Boston College and was too good for the AHL from the opening faceoff. Still, he shuttled between Worcester and St. Louis (and then Edmonton) before adding dimension to his game after Kevin Lowe waived him. He developed into a helluva player and mentor.
- Marody might qualify in this category.
The future NHL players are
- The 2018 additions to the list above are Cooper Marody, Tyler Benson, Kailer Yamamoto and Caleb Jones. I think they’ll all play 100+ games. Of course, the real hope is one or more play 500.
I write this piece every year because of Brian Conacher. He wasn’t a great hockey player but he was a good one, and over 35 years ago he wrote a tremendous book called “Hockey In Canada: The Way It Is”.Conacher’s book is very hard to find (library might have one) but if you haven’t read it it’s worth looking for if you like your hockey books intelligent and with a point.
He made many strong arguments in the book (and predicted much of what has happened since) but the one that has importance here is what he wrote about the Maple Leafs minor league team (Rochester Americans) of 65-66:
As in other areas of modern society, hockey teams too have their generation gaps. This situation stood out on the Rochester team in 1965 which consisted of three groups: the veterans (had all resigned themselves to making the best of their minor league hockey careers), the young ones (who have stars in their eyes and are in the AHL for just a little time, or so they think) and the group somewhere in between (these players kept hoping that a break would come their way and they might get their chance in the “big tent”).
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
What an amazing NHL playoffs, breaking news every night! We’ll have a lash at the latest and look forward to tonight. At 10 this morning, TSN1260:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal. Bruce’s take on the NHL playoffs, and how many current Condors will make the NHL in the coming years.
- Jon Campbell, OddsShark. What does a betting man do with this crazy playoff spring?
- Tom Reed, The Athletic Columbus. It took almost 20 years, but the Blue Jackets won a playoff round. And it was incredible.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!