Tracking Russian prospects is easier than it was 20 years ago but it’s no picnic. I can tell you Maxim Denezhkin is a lefty center, with great passing skills and an idea about the complete game. He’s undersized, his skating is good and he plays for a fine club (Yaroslavl) in the MHL.
The MHL is a junior league that contains 34 teams over four countries. You can’t be 20 on Sugar Mountain, or in the MHL.
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 Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Projecting the Oilers’ black aces and how much they’ll play
- New Jonathan Willis: Projecting the Oilers’ lineup for their play-in series versus the Blackhawks
- New Lowetide: Could the Oilers draft a defenceman in the first round?
- Lowetide: Why the Oilers should extend Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as soon as possible
- Lowetide: Oilers farmhand Josh Currie’s small window of opportunity
- Lowetide: Oilers coach Dave Tippett’s track record in developing young players
- Jonathan Willis: Misguided priorities helped turn the Oilers’ 2010 rebuild into a debacle
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘It’s what’s best for the league’: Oilers accept challenge of play-in series
- Lowetide: Oilers greatest areas of need for the 2020 draft
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Six bold (and not so bold) predictions as the Oilers prepare for the Blackhawks
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers facing a bonus penalty for 2020-21 but the news isn’t all bad
- Jonathan Willis: Multiple choice: What might an Oilers trade at the 2020 NHL Draft look like?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers return to play guide: How the NHL’s 24-team format impacts Edmonton
- Lowetide: Mike Green’s playoff role and possible future with the Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers’ most likely recalls from Bakersfield for the playoff run
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘We rallied and regrouped’: How the Oilers won the 1990 Stanley Cup
- Lowetide: Why Kailer Yamamoto represents ‘Money Puck’ value for NHL teams
- Lowetide: Exploring hidden-gem draft options for the Edmonton Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘He set his place in history’: On Bill Ranford’s Conn Smythe run, 30 years later
- Jonathan Willis: Why NHL teams should gamble on defencemen over forwards later in the draft
- Lowetide: Oilers GM Ken Holland should shop for picks at the draft
MAXIM DENEZHKIN MHL
Denezhkin was an older first-time eligible on his draft day (December 2000) and his even strength scoring is excellent but he’s in a junior league while the parent KHL club (the Konovalov-MacTavsh Torpedo band) did have teenagers (Nikolai Kovalenko) taking regular shifts. Denezhkin’s NHLE (12.5) suggests he is likely to fall shy of the NHL. Still, he’s an interesting pick, and there are miles to go.
RODION AMIROV MHL
Amirov is a big, skilled winger and a great skater. He’s 6.01, 182 but if he grows a little we might see ‘power forward’ mentioned in his bio down the line. I have him No. 24. If Ken Holland is as devoted to adding speed as I think he is, then Amirov is a possible for Edmonton in the first round of the 2020 draft.
OILERS LW DEPTH CHART, SEPTEMBER 2007
Below the LW depth chart and the verbal as it appeared intact via a post on this blog September 8, 2007
1. Dustin Penner- 06-07 numbers were ES points-per-60 mins: 1.92, PP points-per-60-mins: 4.01. His numbers are well back of Hemsky, similar but inferior to Stoll and he scores about as often as Raffi Torres at EV. His numbers are solid, not spectacular. Penner will likely play with Horcoff and Hemsky and get mammoth PP time.
2. Raffi Torres- 06-07 numbers were ES points-per-60mins: 1.94, PP points-per-60mins: 0.40. If I were defending Kevin Lowe’s moves this summer (which is exactly as difficult as jumping Snake River Canyon), I’d probably start with Torres’ oddly impressive stats. The numbers say he’s a good hockey player at EVs, according to Desjardins he played the second toughest minutes among Oilers forwards last season (Pisani the toughest). His EV scoring results trailed only Stoll and Hemsky among returning Oiler forwards.
3. Patrick Thoresen- 06-07 numbers were ES Points-per-60mins: 1.15, PP Points-per-60mins: 3.26. I have a feeling that Thoresen is going to blossom and end up playing top 6 minutes at EVs this season. With all the excitement over the kids, there seems to be a tendency to overlook a guy who played multiple roles last season, passed every test and ripped up the lesser league when demoted briefly. One night in October when Nilsson is the suck and Sanderson’s hands make him look 50, the coach is going to look down that bench and spot Patrick Thoresen.
4. Ethan Moreau- 06-07 numbers were EV points-per-60mins: 1.10, PP points-per-60mins: 3.85 in limited action. Moreau is a key player on this team, even moreso with the Pisani injury. He is not Pisani’s equal without the puck, and he still takes some dumb penalties, but he’ll be relied on heavily by MacT in all sorts of roles, including his usual mentor role for young 2-way forwards.
5. Geoff Sanderson- 06-07 numbers were EV points-per-60mins: 2.06, PP points-per-60mins: 2.45. I think they’ll use him at RW on a 2-4 (which I’ll be buying daily) rotation with Robert Nilsson until he either settles in or they go for another option.
6. Robert Nilsson- 05-06 numbers were EV points-per-60mins: 1.56, PP points-per-60mins: 3.37. It may seem like I’m down on the guy, but it isn’t really about him at all. Listen, Robert Nilsson is skilled. However, there’s just not enough clearance between him and a bunch of other kids on this roster for him to have any leeway at all. Maybe the Gods smile on him and he pops 5 goals in October, or maybe he gets a hat-trick opening night and then rolls. However, he’s not really a top drawer prospect (as some seem to be hyping him this fall) like Gagner, Cogliano and (I believe) Slava Trukhno. He’s a guy who can have a career if everything breaks right.
7. Jean Francois Jacques- Going into camp the tea leaves look like he’ll be heading to Pennsylvania. Jacques made the team last season but didn’t do enough to get into the lineup (just like Mikhnov) and unlike Thoresen never really did prove he belonged in the NHL. He has an advantage in that (unlike Nilsson) he does have some unique qualities that make his inclusion on the big roster attractive, but he’s likely headed to the AHL with the hope that he sets it on fire.
8. Slava Trukhno- Has a wide range of skills, including size, skill and grit. We don’t know if he’ll get a good shot or even if he’ll take advantage should it come his way, but the resume is pretty impressive. The most overlooked prospect by the fanbase, you’ll often see HFboards descriptions of him as “one dimensional” or that he “scored points in an inferior league.” Knowing the limitations of junior scoring numbers, imo Trukhno is a legit high end prospect.
9. Ryan Flinn- Derek Boogaard he isn’t, but Flinn is likely to play some games at the NHL level this winter. Oilers did suffer during several NW matchups because they had no answer for the opposition ruffian. If only Brad Winchester could have filled the role.
10. Liam Reddox- Spent much of the season in the ECHL last year, would have to be considered out of the running before the parade to the post.
11. Tim Sestito- Looks like an AHL role player to me, but he’s 23 and could surprise.
12. Geoff Paukovich- I put him here because center is so crowded. I imagine he’ll (like McDonald and Rohlfs) impress because of size but end up being sent down to the AHL to learn his trade.
WHAT HAPPENED 2007-08 ON LEFT WING OPENING NIGHT?
Dustin Penner played on a line with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky opening night against the San Jose Sharks. Trio won the shot share 7-4 but were outscored 1-0 at five on five.
Raffi Torres played on the second line, with Jarret Stoll and Robert Nilsson. They didn’t give up any goals but were outshot 5-2, Sam Gagner appears to have replaced Nilsson at times.
Geoff Sanderson played on a line with Marty Reasoner and Kyle Brodziak, winning the shot share 5-4 and going 1-0 goals (Brodziak). Ethan Moreau was injured and didn’t play the opener.
J.F. Jacques played on a line with youngsters Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner, winning the shots 2-1 and the goals 1-0. Patrick Thoresen lost the opening night gig to Jacques, but would return and then land in Philly a week after Valentine’s Day.
2007-08 THE NUMBERS (NHL)
Here are the five on five per 60 number for LW’s in 2007-08, from the beginning of the season through the end of December.
- Robert Nilsson 2.01 (in 32 games) [13-12]
- Dustin Penner 1.37 (in 40 games) [24-16]
- Raffi Torres 1.24 (in 32 games) [15-16]
- Geoff Sanderson 1.09 (in 30 games) [7-14]
- Patrick Thoresen 0.51 (in 12 games) [2-6]
- J.F. Jacques 0.00 (in 9 games) [1-4]
- Liam Reddox 0.00 (in one game) [0-1]
Ethan Moreau played just two games and the veterans struggled to put the puck in the net. As you can see, Nilsson was the only LW posting a strong number but the top three LW’s were on successful lines. Now the second half of the season.
- Geoff Sanderson 3.56 (in 11 games) [5-7]
- Curtis Glencross 2.99 (in 26 games) [16-11]
- Robert Nilsson 2.67 (in 39 games) [26-16]
- Patrick Thoresen 2.20 (in 5 games) [2-1]
- Dustin Penner 1.24 (in 42 games) [19-29]
- Ethan Moreau 0.70 (in 23 games) [5-10]
Lowe acquired Curtis Glencross from Columbus in a deal that worked out well (would have been a home run if they’d signed him). Torres was lost due to a knee injury mid-December through the end of the year. Robert Nilsson had a strong year, Dustin Penner a disappointing one.
The minor league team had some good stories. Two quotes in The Republican (Springfield paper) from Kevin Lowe detailed how the organization sees the top prospects bubbling under. “Robbie Schremp was the most noteworthy player – and getting 75 points in the AHL is nothing to sneeze at – but that was expected of him. Liam Reddox probably made the most improvement over what he was last season (in the ECHL), and Slava Trukhno made the most improvement within the season.”
- Patrick Thoresen 29, 13-13-26 .90 points per game
- Liam Reddox 65, 16-28-44 .68
- J.F. Jacques 38, 11-14-25 .66
- Slava Trukhno 64, 14-21-35 .55
- Tim Sestito 77, 7-10-17 .22
None of these kids made the grade, such a miserable era for minor league development. At least they all lived in Springfield and were wearing the same laundry.
Two questions: Did you enjoy this trip through the past, would you like to see it again? Second question: How does the current LW depth chart compare to the 2007-08 edition?
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, we approach the weekend like Temba, his arms wide, on TSN1260. Steve Lansky from BigMouthSports will chat about the NHL’s plan for the playoffs and what it might look like (can you make teams play at 10am and 8pm in the same week?). Matthew Iwanyk will chat about the NBA, NHL and MLB plans for opening/not opening. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.