A first NHL recall is damned important, but context matters. Fernando Pisani’s came after 172 AHL games and four years in college. It came in mid-season and he was inserted into the lineup where he ate Daniel Cleary’s lunch immediately.
Curtis Hamilton’s first recall came after 208 AHL games, and was an end of season (and entry deal) ‘sail on’ thanks from an organization that misspent a valuable draft pick on a player with a substantial injury history. Hamilton damned near got thrown out of the game on the first shift, and was off to Europe the next fall. The recall is important, but context matters.
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 Athletic, there is a Puck Drop Special offer here.
- New Lowetide: Josh Archibald’s injury and limited replacements available puts some pressure on Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: 4 reasons why the Oilers passed their first true test of the season
- Lowetide: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and James Neal are leading a quality Oilers second line
- Lowetide: Assessing the early season progress of Oilers’ defence and goaltending
- Jonathan Willis: A rare success during Edmonton’s long rebuild, why Oscar Klefbom is the model for finishing Oilers’ blue line
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi’s impressive Liiga performance headlines Oilers prospects this week
- Lowetide: Oilers recall Sam Gagner to bolster offensive depth, option Gaetan Haas
- Jonathan Willis: Can the Oilers afford to pursue Taylor Hall in free agency?
- Lowetide: There are many similarities between this year’s Oilers team after seven and the 2016-17 team that made the playoffs. Similarities, differences and the work that needs to be done.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘That was pretty sick’: What teammates and opponents are saying about Connor McDavid’s latest goal
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘I’m gonna bring a bigger bag with me’: Oilers rookies learn about life on the road in the NHL
- Jonathan Willis: A deep dive on the Oilers’ bottom six, which needs to produce more offence
- Lowetide: Ethan Bear’s early success with the Oilers and what it might mean at the trade deadline
- Jonathan Willis: How well are the solutions to key Oilers weaknesses working?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ Oscar Klefbom playing tough minutes with inexperienced partners — and looking good doing it
- Corey Pronman: Oilers No. 9 farm system.
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects summer 2019.
- October 15, recalled C Kyle Brodziak (10 games no points)
- November 4, recalled D Danny Syvret (10 games no points)
- November 4, recalled D Dan Smith (7 games, no points)
- November 5, recalled G Ty Conklin (18, 2.80, .880 spring Armageddon)
- December 7, recalled Matt Greene (27 games, two points, plus 18 playoff games)
- December 20, recalled L Brad Winchester (12, 0-1-1, big playoff goal)
- January 31, recalled J-F Jacques (7 games, and no points)
- February 11, recalled Mathieu Roy (1 game, no points)
- February 28, recalled Yan Stastny (3 games, no points)
- March 13, recalled Marc Pouliot (8 games, a goal, mono)
- May 21, recalled Toby Petersen (2 games, one goal, in playoffs)
The best players, as it turned out, were Brodziak and Greene. Both men were traded early by the organization, and the heart of their careers spent elsewhere. Here are my top 20 prospects from May of 2005, notice the slotting of Brodziak and Greene. What you see below is exactly what I wrote 14.5 years ago, was dying to edit but didn’t touch a thing.
TOP 20 PROSPECTS, MAY 2005
- Marc Antoine Pouliot-Has a lot going for him imo. Good size, can make a pass, and appears to be one of the few first round forwards the coach might like.
- Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers-The first of many prospects who didn’t have a solid season, but he did play and ended the season with more good than poor efforts.
- Devan Dubnyk-He had a solid season and played well late in the season and in the short playoff.
- Rob Schremp-Improved as a scorer, but apparently hasn’t progressed as a 5×5 player. Some complained when London acquired Fritsche, but the real question is why did the team feel a need to go get him?
- Matt Greene-If he turns pro, it’ll be interesting to see how long it takes the coach to elevate him past Woywitka.
- Doug Lynch-Had a poor season after a terrific rookie season as a pro. I’m betting he comes back strong in the fall and returns to 03-04 form.
- Kyle Brodziak-Fine 20 year old AHL season, especially the second half. This generation’s Shaun Van Allen?
- JF Jacques-Prototype for the new generation of Oiler winger. Had a terrific season.
- Jeff Woywitka-In danger of getting passed by a second tier of defensemen.
- Brad Winchester-Splendid season. Back on track as a prospect after a couple of indifferent college seasons and a rough transition to pro.
- Dragan Umicevic-Did the Oilers accidentally pick a guy the Senators wanted?
- Liam Reddox-Scored at a Schremp-like pace and isn’t as small as first thought.
- Geoff Paukovich-Half hockey player, half monster.
- Colin McDonald-Injury hurt his season.
- Mathieu Roy-Got everything possible out of this season.
- Roman Tesliuk-Started terribly, improved as the season rolled on.
- Alexei Mikhnov-Season wasn’t as bad as it first appeared. Get him over here.
- Jani Rita-All reports say he had a good season in Finland.
- Tom Gilbert-Had a very good season.
- Tony Salmelainen-Missed a massive chance to move ahead of Rita, etc.
Anyway, back to Pisani and Hamilton. Both men turned pro in the Lowe-MacT era, and there were certain things about the Oilers at that time that could be viewed as unusual. For instance, MacT wasn’t overly fond of the Oilers first-round picks. He liked later picks, would often elevate a smart player like Pisani ahead of the first rounder.
We’re finding out about the Ken Holland Oilers as the days go down. There’s a recall coming, and last night’s game featured a strong Colby Cave performance and a goal from Joe Gambardella. Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody and Kailer Yamamoto were also in the game, but didn’t shine like diamonds. Who is the Kyle Brodziak and who is the Curtis Hamilton?
Safe options include Colby Cave, Josh Currie, Joe Gambardella, Brad Malone. Prospect options include Yamamoto, Benson, Marody, maybe even Ryan McLeod.
At the time of his recall, Kyle Brodziak was playing for the Iowa Stars (this was during the time Edmonton had no AHL affiliate of its own). He played in 55 games, went 12-19-31 and played a solid two-way game. Brodziak would play another AHL season, in which he blossomed offensively (62, 24-32-56) before landing as a fulltime NHL player. He was 21 in 2005-06, 23 when he made it to the NHL for good.
AHL POINT PER GAME TOTALS, CAREER
- Cooper Marody 1.03
- Tyler Benson .925
- Kyle Brodziak .688
- Kailer Yamamoto .676
- Joe Gambardella .673
- Josh Currie .613
- Gaetan Haas .500
- Brad Malone .490
- Colby Cave .486
- Ryan McLeod .429
Based on performance this season, I think Kailer Yamamoto is the choice. Based on the Lowe-MacT era criteria, I’d say someone like Gambardella or Currie might be the choice.
I wrote all of this to get here: For Benson and Marody, if there is no recall, this is a bit of an opportunity missed. Entering training camp, both would have been considered better bets than the rest of the field. No one is suggesting a Curtis Hamilton future, but if both men are in the AHL Monday, that’s an opportunity missed. Context matters.