The role of a farm team is to produce NHL players for the parent team. That’s a simple statement and it’s universally understood. Until the first puck drops. Then the prospect goalie needs to be replaced and the kid blue is blind and that scorer your brought in from St. Walburg in the junior league never saw a hockey stick in his life I swear to God!
Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. I am proud to be part of The Athletic. Here are the most recent Oilers stories.
- New Lowetide: Everything you forgot (but need to know) about Oilers’ 2019-20 season
- New Eric Duhatschek: Q&A: Wayne Gretzky on making whisky, learning to like IPAs and loving cheap wine
- Lowetide: Injury is biggest factor in the Oilers’ hopes for extended playoff run
- Lowetide: Tyler Benson’s struggle to score might affect future role with Oilers
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s second Oilers draft should deliver high-octane offence
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘It’s all surreal’: Kevin Lowe’s Hall of Fame nod nets surprise and satisfaction
- Lowetide: 10 things to look for at Oilers training camp and the 2020 playoffs
- Lowetide: Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones and the Oilers’ need for veteran insurance
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Why the Oilers should protect these 8 skaters in the Seattle expansion draft
- Jonathan Willis: Why Carl Soderberg is an intriguing free agent possibility for the Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers prospect Raphael Lavoie’s possible impact in his first year pro
- Lowetide: Every prospect in the Oilers system and what’s next for each player
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Projecting the Oilers’ black aces and how much they’ll play
- Jonathan Willis: Projecting the Oilers’ lineup for their play-in series versus the Blackhawks
THE 2020-21 BAKERSFIELD CONDORS
There is one substantial NHL draft pick and plenty of potential, but this will be a year of pushing for the playoffs instead of trying to win the Calder Cup. Good things coming. Consider this an educated guess, AHL contracts where noted.
1 G Stuart Skinner. He delivered some strong outings in Bakersfield in his first full AHL season, including a truly impressive November. He isn’t certain to be the starter but will get a chance to audition.
2 G Dylan Wells. He is two seasons into a pro career that looks like it’s peaking at this level. He has played 19 AHL games, only seven this year when the club badly needed solutions. That’s a tell.
3 G Olivier Rodrigue. I’m serious when saying Rodrigue could win the starter’s job in Bakersfield. He ended his QMJHL career with a .918 save percentage (Skinner was .905 his final junior season, Wells .896) and there’s every chance he shows he can stop more pucks than the competition in California.
4 RD Evan Bouchard. A fine puck-moving defenseman whose coverage and urgency improved during his rookie pro season in Bakersfield. He won’t be in California long, if at all, in 2020-21, but every day he’s a Condor Bouchard will be the team’s best player.
5 LD William Lagesson. I don’t think he clears waivers but if he does Lagesson should be a big piece of the Bakersfield defense. He is a shutdown type but can move the puck and posts crooked numbers at this level. I think he has an NHL future.
6 LD Theodor Lennstrom. Always difficult to project hands across the water (water), but Lennstrom is a bona fide SHL veteran so should be able to slide easily into the top-four on the Condors back line. Great speed, great passer, likely to get playing time in all disciplines.
7 RD Logan Day. He’s an impressive player at this level with the puck on his stick, Day’s skills are less effective on a team with Bouchard playing the power-play minutes. His defending isn’t getting better (25-41 even strength goal differential) so he’s going to need a strong defender alongside. RFA this summer.
8. LD Markus Niemelainen. Big defender with good mobility and a shutdown style, my guess is he patrols on the third pairing for his first AHL season.
9. RD Yanni Kaldis. AHL contract. Four years at Cornell for a solid two-way defenseman should have prepared him well for the AHL. He was captain of the team and his NHLE is 19.0 and I would bet on him having some success with the Condors.
10. RD Janis Jaks. AHL contract. Righty puck moving defenseman, he was in the Washington Capitals development camp in the summer of 2019. He has skill and he is righthanded.
11 RC Cooper Marody. His offense year over year was cut in half due to injuries. If healthy, Marody is an impact player at the AHL level. Should Marody recover, he may land in the NHL during the season.
12 LC Ryan McLeod. He’s a rising prospect in the system, that speed could be useful in the NHL starting now. His even strength goal differential (27-27) was strong on a team underwater. His even strength points (5-14-19 in 56 games) is about level with Filip Chlapik, who was 57, 8-12-20 as an AHL rookie age 20 in 2016-17. This young man is a legit prospect.
13 LC Brad Malone. AHL contract. The NHL portion of his career over, Malone no doubt received a handsome contract to play exclusively in the AHL. Center is a tough spot to play and the Oilers need to develop wingers about four at a time next season. He’ll be as valuable in Bakersfield as he was a year ago.
14 LC Luke Esposito. AHL contract, plays a utility role on the team. He doesn’t have enough offense in his game to play with skill, so if you see him playing center or wing with prospects of promise, someone is injured or in the pressbox.
15 LC Devin Brosseau. AHL contract. He’s 24 and just out of college, has plenty of skill (NHLE 23.8) and he’s 6.01, 203. You never know with college kids entering pro hockey, he has some things a coach will find valuable. Could see more playing time than I believe.
16 RC Liam Folkes. AHL contract. Similar bio to Brosseau, he’s 24 and from Penn State with an NHLE of 20.3. Skilled and looked for an opportunity.
17 LW Tyler Benson. Entering the 2020-21 season, he is likely to be either in Edmonton or on the top skill line in Bakersfield. When I begin my reasonable expectations ciphering, Benson will probably see half of his time in Edmonton next year.
18 LW Joe Gambardella. He is a solid two-way player in the AHL, and may be in line for a recall (although Benson now blocks his path). I like his forechecking utility.
19 LW Ryan Kuffner. He’s RFA and did not score as hoped as a rookie pro, but he filled the net in college and Ken Holland gave him a bonus-laden contract with the DRW. One of the more anticipated seasons from an AHL acquisition in recent memory.
20 LW Jakob Stukel. AHL contract, he has experience in the league (three goals in 15 games) and enough skill to be considered for regular work. He’s 23, younger than most of the college men who he’ll compete with for time.
21 LW James Hamblin. AHL contract. This is an interesting player. Hamblin was on the radar of this blog back in 2017 (Wolfpack wrote an excellent scouting report) and now he’s gone pro with an AHL deal. In four WHL seasons he scored 113 goals. Watch for this player.
22 LW Blake Christensen. AHL contract. He’s 24, just out of college and has played in every tier 2 league in Christendom. He didn’t get much ice time in the USHL, plenty in the USHL and had a nice run at AIC (American International College).
23 RW Kirill Maksimov. I’m not certain who to list here, so will go with the fellow who has played in the league for a year. He’s a good prospect, he might be able to make the grade in more than one way, but he has to score some.
24 RW Raphael Lavoie. He scored 38 goals on 310 shots in just 55 games during his final QMJHL season. Oilers badly need to have him fly past the other wingers on the team as a scorer. I think he will.
25 LW Ostap Safin. I like the fact they left him in the ECHL to play a lot, but it’ll be time to push into a regular job with the Condors in 2020-21. We should remember he was ranked No. 51 by Bob McKenzie in 2017. There’s talent here.
26 RW Cam Hebig. He’s RFA and unlikely to return but I’ll list him because Hebig began his AHL career by scoring nine goals in his first 15 games.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning, TSN1260 beginning at 10. Maybe something breaks on the NHL front, Edmonton looks more promising as a hub city each passing hour. How do we feel about that? Kaitlyn McGrath from The Athletic will talk Blue Jays and baseball at 10:20, Ryan Rishaug from TSN gives the latest NHL and Oilers news, Michael Hurley from WBZ Boston to chat New England Patriots, Cam Newton and another fine. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!