Dave Tippett found a way to deploy three young Bakersfield Condors in the NHL during 2019-20, or perhaps more accurately the players stepped up when opportunity knocked. Ethan Bear, Kailer Yamamoto and Caleb Jones should be productive Oilers for the next five seasons or more.
If the organization can find three more in the coming season, those six names would represent 26 percent of the roster coming through the Bakersfield pipeline. Who among the prospects is NHL-ready?
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.
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These are Eric Rodgers numbers, fantastic work from a selfless man going back to the OKC days. Amazing. I don’t recall seeing a rookie defenseman recover in the second half of the season in this manner. Bouchard was playing for a below average team but at even strength he played the league above par in the second half of his freshman campaign.
We don’t have time on ice so it’s not a grand statistic but we do see he was productive offensively. Jeff Petry as a rookie posted 41, 4-7-11 (.268) at even strength and 41, 2-10-12 (.292) on the power play. Jordan Oesterle as a rookie delivered 65, 6-12-18 (.277) but didn’t get much power-play time. Ethan Bear was 37, 6-5-11 (.297) at evens and 37, 0-7-7 (.189) with the man advantage as a rookie. Safe to say Bouchard is the most substantial offensive defenseman of the decade (I’m not including Justin Schultz who played in special circumstances).
NHL READY LIST 2020-21
LW Tyler Benson. It’s clear Benson has an NHL future that can start anytime. He wins battles, his passing is exceptional and he’s always been capable as a two-way forward. Per 82 games in the AHL, he is averaging 197 shots and 16 goals (8 percent). I know everyone worries about his speed but he can play in the NHL and he’s a fabulous passer. I don’t know if he’s going to score 15 goals a year based on his AHL shooting percentage. What does that mean? Third and fourth line usage.
LD William Lagesson. He really is a good NHL defensive prospect but it’s hard to get anyone’s attention with the current LH depth chart in Edmonton. How ready is he? In 92 AHL games, Lagesson’s on-ice even strength goal differential is 82-58, +24. In the same two year period, Ethan Bear (43-29, +14 playing just 2018-19) and Caleb Jones (59-46, +13 in a year and 14 games 2019-20) flourished and found NHL employment. Lagesson is NHL-ready and NHL-calibre.
RC Cooper Marody. This is all about injury. If Marody is healthy then we’re going to see him play some NHL hockey based on his outstanding rookie season in the AHL 2018-19 (58 games, 19-45-64 and an on-ice even strength goal differential of 60-36).
RW Jesse Puljujarvi. I can’t imagine any push back on this claim. NHLE from his Liiga season (35.1) lands him No. 202 among NHL forwards (30 or more games) in 2019-20 points-per-game. That’s a third-line winger. He’s beyond ready for that role.
LC Ryan McLeod. I mentioned it all during the spring, McLeod’s rookie AHL season was very impressive. His on ice even strength goal differential (27-27) was slightly superior to other rookie forwards on the team (Kirill Maksimov 26-30; Jakob Stukel 14-16) and his estimated NHLE (all of this via our friend Eric Rodgers) was 15.83. That number is also superior to Maksimov (12.85) and Stukel (10.71). Note: This could flip a year from now. What won’t flip is that McLeod is a center, and he does have some things to recommend him at the position. In just under 80 preseason minutes over two seasons, McLeod’s five on five offense (0-3-3, 2.26 points per 60) and shot differential (52 percent) are rock solid. His faceoff percentage (46 percent) is lagging, and he’ll need more time, but man this looks like a good second round pick. Like Benson, I now believe McLeod will have an NHL career. His speed is the most compelling bullet point on the resume.
G Ilya Konovalov. I’m convinced of this guy. Honestly. In the last two seasons in the KHL, a very good league, he has stopped 92.1 percent of the shots headed his way. That’s 167 goals against in 2120 shots. He just turned 22, I don’t think Ken Holland is wondering what to do. Konovalov is free to sign in Edmonton 2021 offseason.
LD Theodor Lennstrom. A solid resume but he may not receive a recall even when he’s ready. Based on success and experience it’s difficult for me to imagine he’s less NHL-ready than Joel Persson but there are minor league games in Lennstrom’s future.
BOB GREEN’S WHITEBOARD (FEB 2016)
Bob Green’s official title with the Edmonton Oilers is Director of Player Personnel, a wide-ranging role that (according to the website) involves many areas of the game. Today, I am most interested in this passage of the job description:
Oversee the Edmonton Oilers scouting operations as well as continue to identify and recruit NCAA, CHL and European free agents and develop a free agent priority list.
Interesting. We have already seen a lot of Green’s work, he is responsible for men like Jordan Oesterle, Josh Winquist and others being in the system. Edmonton’s AHL team next year is going to be a team in transition, as the club moves away from the failed draft picks and (I assume) signs college and graduating juniors to both NHL and AHL contracts. Here are some candidates to keep in mind who have a general or specific association with the team at this time:
L Josh Winquist. He has been on an AHL contract for two seasons now, may have earned an NHL deal this summer. Although he has been injured much of the season (knee), the numbers (16, 7-9-16) suggest he may have a future.
C Josh Currie. Won AHL contract in January, has played well (33, 4-6-10) in a two-way role in Bakersfield.
C-L Marco Roy. Former second-round selection has an AHL deal (28, 5-3-8) and is finding his way.
F Roman Horak. A damn good player, no indication he is coming back.
Green will have to decide if any of these men are viable NHL prospects and worthy of a big league deal. If not, perhaps they will be retained for another season on an AHL deal. At the same time, Green will probably be looking for some of those CHL and NCAA free agents who can step right in next year. I spoke to Guy Flaming of the Pipeline Show recently and he provided some interesting names (previously mentioned here):
LW Dryden Hunt, Moose Jaw Warriors. A strong skater having a terrific year, he is 15-8-23 in his last 10 WHL games. He is 6.01, 201 and would be a fantastic get in an area of need.
C Reid Gardiner, Prince Albert Raiders. This is a pretty good player, surprised he wasn’t drafted last summer. He is 5.11, 195, and 6-6-12 in his last 10 games.
F Drake Caggiula, University of North Dakota. Another terrific scorer (23GP, 15-15-30), he has good speed and a range of skills. 5.10, 180.
D Troy Stecher, University of North Dakota. Righthanded blue with all kinds of offense (28GP, 5-14-19) and he is an excellent skater. 5.10, 190.
R Nick Betz, Erie Otters. This player comes via Brock Otten and his excellent OHL Prospects site, and Betz is a big power winger with average speed. What makes him interesting is size (6.04, 220) and offense (47GP, 15-24-39) that appears to be attached to net-front presence. Source
The Oilers are going to need to sign some kids, both NHL and AHL deals. Why? Well part of the issue comes from expiring deals they may not want to renew:
UFA: Teddy Purcell, Eric Gryba, Nikita Nikitin, Rob Klinkhammer, Brad Hunt, Andrew Miller, Ryan Hamilton. (7)
RFA: Iiro Pakarinen, Zack Kassian, Justin Schultz, Brandon Davidson, Adam Clendening, Laurent Brossoit, Anders Nilsson, Luke Gazdic, Tyler Pitlick, Martin Gernat, Jordan Oesterle, David Musil, Kale Kessy. (13)
That is 20 contracts, fully 40 percent of the entire 50-man list. The Oilers have a big issue here: They should walk (or trade out of) eight of the minor league deals (Hunt, Miller, Hamilton, Gazdic, Pitlick, Gernat, Musil, Kessy). The NHL deals we will leave alone for now and revisit another time.
Edmonton does not have eight players from previous drafts worth signing. NOT CLOSE. And the best ones are, you guessed it, defensemen:
- D William Lagesson—NCAA freshman, very good at the WJs.
- F Tyler Vesel—Two-way college player, jury is out.
- L Evan Campbell—He does not appear to be a future NHL player.
- G Zach Nagelvoort—He hasn’t played much this year, never a good sign.
- F Aidan Muir—Big forward not progressing.
- G Miroslav Svoboda—Big goalie miles away.
- G Keven Bouchard—QMJHL goalie, I don’t think they sign him in the spring.
- D Ziyat Paigin—Enjoying a brilliant KHL season, signed for another year.
With that as the backdrop, what does the ideal Bob Green whiteboard (in his office) for the 16-17 Bakersfield Condors look like?
- Goal: Laurent Brossoit, Eetu Laurikainen
- Defense: Griffin Reinhart, David Musil, Jordan Oesterle, Joey Laleggia, Dillon Simpson, Ben Betker, TROY STECHER
- Center: Bogdan Yakimov, Jujhar Khaira, Kyle Platzer, Marco Roy
- Left Wing: Josh Winquist, DRYDEN HUNT, Braden Christoffer, Mitchell Moroz
- Right Wing: Anton Slepyshev, Greg Chase, NICK BETZ
Plus the AHL veterans. It is still not close to enough, but the Oilers have traded away a lot of their draft picks and signed the worthy men from 2013 long ago. Bob Green may need a second whiteboard.