Linus Omark was a pretty good comparable for Robert Nilsson who was a pretty good (and faster) comparable for Rob Schremp. The Edmonton Oilers employed all three at one point this century and didn’t get enough from any of them.
There are teams that view good prospects as a never ending resource and have no issue with trading out a developing piece for a shiny new solution. It’s a bad way to develop talent. The Oilers spent most of the first 20 years of this century representing the guy who meets a girl, falls in love, meets another girl, falls in love, and on it goes.
If an NHL team pays its scouts to uncover talent, watches the management group draft that talent, spends time, money and energy to develop that talent in the AHL, then for goodness sake the parent team’s coaching staff needs to see how things play out. It’s the right thing to do.
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, check it out here.
- New Lowetide: Exploring Oilers prospect Ryan McLeod’s possible NHL path
- Jonathan Willis: What does the path to an Oilers Stanley Cup championship in 2023 look like?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ales Hemsky on his health, alumni games, tough opponents and the Oilers’ stars
- Lowetide: Swedish export Noel Gunler offers Oilers a worthy draft target
- Scott Wheeler: Why Oilers prospect Raphael Lavoie is the shot creation king.
- Lowetide: How can Andreas Athanasiou — Ken Holland’s big bet — help the Oilers?
- Lowetide: What are Evan Bouchard’s chances of making the Oilers in 2020-21?
- Jonathan Willis and Lowetide: Who are the Oilers’ top 10 prospects and where do they project in the NHL?
- Jonathan Willis: How do Connor McDavid’s first five NHL seasons compare to the all-time greats?
- Lowetide: Oilers 2020 draft: Are fans ready for Oil Kings’ Jake Neighbours?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers need to keep feeding their currently rich pipeline of defensive prospects
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How a series of oddball jobs prepared Ken Holland for his front-office career
- Jonathan Willis: 2020 NHL offseason goalie market: Team needs, free agents and trade possibilities
- Lowetide: Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins far more than ‘also in photo’ contributor
- Jonathan Willis: Building the best all-time Oilers roster, with a twist
- Lowetide: What are Tyler Benson’s chances of making the Oilers in 2020-21?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘They were looking outside the box’: Oilers’ distinctive third jerseys still stand out
- Lowetide: If Oilers draft for skill, Seth Jarvis likely to be best available
- Jonathan Willis and Lowetide: Should the Oilers pursue Taylor Hall this summer?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis: The results are in: How you voted in our inaugural Oilers fan survey
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How the Oilers are preparing for an NHL draft in June
I have some genuine hope for the young players who played for the Bakersfield Condors in 2019-20. I had real hope for the young players who played for the Oklahoma City Barons in 2010-11. There were some fine talents on that OKC team. Here are the even strength numbers for the team’s top prospects that season:
- LW Liam Reddox (24) 37, 12-12-24 [.649]
- RC Mark Arcobello (22) 26, 7-8-15 [.577]
- LW Linus Omark (23) 28, 9-6-15 [.536]
- LW Teemu Hartikainen (20) 66, 10-22-32 [.485]
- RW Colin McDonald (25) 80, 21-13-34 [.425]
- RC Ryan O’Marra (23) 53, 2-15-17 [.321]
- LC Milan Kytnar (21) 78, 12-11-23 [.295]
- RD Jeff Petry (22) 41, 4-7-11 [.268]
- LW Phil Cornet (20) 60, 6-10-16 [.267]
- LC Chris VandeVelde (23) 67, 9-4-13 [.194]
- LD Taylor Chorney (23) 46, 1-6-7 [.152]
- RD Alex Plante (21) 73, 2-9-11 [.151]
This group had several issues, including first overall selections passing them each training camp. There are some good hockey players here, but Jeff Petry is the only man who has delivered what we could call a substantial NHL career.
Omark wasn’t close to Taylor Hall in ability, Hartikainen was slow and the team could sign Jesse Joensuu as his replacement, and on it went. Here’s the thing, though: Even if Joensuu was an upgrade in year one, so what? He’s older and has a bad back. Edmonton wasn’t upgrading enough to make that switch worthwhile.
Why not find out what the outer marker is on your own player? I sat in amazement during the 2010’s as the Oilers, time and again, tried to hurry the process. Imperfect players can be useful, even in the NHL.
CONDORS EVEN STRENGTH 2019-20
- LW Joe Gambardella (25) 50, 13-11-24 [.480]
- RW Kailer Yamamoto (20) 23, 4-6-10 [.435]
- LW Tyler Benson (21) 47, 6-13-19 [.404]
- RC Cooper Marody (22) 30, 3-8-11 [.367]
- RD Evan Bouchard (20) 54, 3-16-19 [.352]
- LC Ryan McLeod (20) 56, 5-13-18 [.321]
- LD William Lagesson (23) 25, 3-5-8 [.320]
- RW Cam Hebig (22) 31, 3-4-7 [.226]
- RW Kirill Maksimov (20) 53, 4-7-11 [.208]
- LD Dmitri Samorukov (20) 47, 2-7-9 [.191]
The Oilers recent efforts to keep first-round picks out of the NHL have already paid dividends, as two men who played for the Condors have encouraging futures. The key will be getting more, from men like Benson and McLeod, allowing those players to develop, make mistakes and become productive NHL players. They are flawed, just like Omark and Hartikainen, but given time and opportunity, they could be part of the solution.
The day Edmonton signed Jesse Joensuu he was 25. His contract was $950,000 times two years. In those two years, he played in 62 games, scoring 5-4-9 and posting a five on five points per 60 of 0.66 and 0.62 in each season.
In Hartainen’s three cups of coffee, he played in 52 games, going 6-7-13. His five on five 60 per year was 1.07, 1.37 and 0.00 (in 194 minutes, that got him fired from the NHL). His cap hit was $875,000.
What would that look like on today’s team? Let’s use Tyler Benson as the Hartikainen character in the updated play. Both men had strong AHL debuts and both men have skating as a worry (Benson’s speed is better than Hartikainen’s so it isn’t a perfect match). If Ken Holland reached out today and signed Sven Andrighetto (he can’t, Andrighetto has another year on his KHL deal), that would be about the same as the Joensuu/Hartikainen maneuvre. Better players involved in the modern example but the premise is the same.
Ken Holland’s style in Detroit was a ‘grow your own’ approach and no doubt we’ll see it here in the years to come. The farm workers can see a light at the end of the tunnel.