Most, not all, NHL players have an AHL resume. Among current Edmonton Oilers who were chosen by the team at the draft, only Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins among the high picks went straight to the NHL without AHL time.
Tonight, one of the strongest rosters in team history debuts in Bakersfield, California. Like Buck Owens 60 years ago, something special might be building in Kern County, USA.
THE POSSIBLE LINEUP
- Tyler Benson-Cooper Marody-Josh Currie
- Joe Gambardella-Brad Malone-Kailer Yamamoto
- Kirill Maksimov-Ryan McLeod-Sam Gagner
- Nolan Vesey-Luke Esposito- Cameron Hebig
- Keegan Lowe-Evan Bouchard
- Jake Kulevich-Caleb Jones
- Dmitri Samorukov-Vincent Desharnais
- Starrett (Stuart Skinner)
Shane Starrett. He was a major part of the Condors success last season, it’s reasonable to expect him to build on that and (at some point) make his NHL debut. Stuart Skinner RE: Emerge as a legit starting AHL goaltending option.
Evan Bouchard scored eight points in eight AHL playoff games, but didn’t play big minutes. Reasonable should be top 4D minutes in Bakersfield, a feature role on the power play and a point-per-game during the regular season. I also think NHL time is a reasonable expectation.
Dmitri Samorukov had a breakout season in the OHL, so finding reasonable is difficult. I’m going to say that establishing himself as a solid AHL regular, with a positive even-strength goal differential, is reasonable.
Cooper Marody rocked the casbah in year one, I think reasonable expectations should include 25+ NHL games and over a point-per-game in the AHL.
Tyler Benson should increase his point total and demonstrably improve his goal total in Bakersfield. I’ll say 12 goals and 40 points in 34 games before getting the NHL call.
Kailer Yamamoto might be the most interesting player in this group. He scored 10 goals in 27 games a year ago, I think 25 goals based on a 68-game season in reasonable. No NHL games expected, if he earns them that’s a positive arrow.
Ryan McLeod has terrific speed and two-way acumen, so his emerging as an AHL regular is reasonable. Offensively, 25+ points over 68 games seems reasonable (assuming he gets a regular shift).
Kirill Maksimov is a terrific goal-scorer and Jay Woodcroft’s ability to unlock rookies was a key to Benson, Marody and their seasons. He’s a scorer, but overestimating goal scorers is the easiest mistake in reasonable expectations. I’ll say 20 goals in 68 games for Maksimov. That’s a handsome rookie total and 25 percent more than Benson, who was projected to score 14 by NHLE metrics (he scored 15).