It’s my belief that draft picks and players procured via non-NHL free agency will form the backbone of Oilers future. Ken Holland doesn’t make many player for player trades, and in Detroit he was very patient with prospects. It’s likely Edmonton’s AHL team will bear more fruit than in the past, and that prospects spend longer in the minors.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.
- New Lowetide: Increase in skill wingers adds mystery to Oilers preseason
- Lowetide: How many ‘peak seasons’ can Oilers fans expect from Connor McDavid?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ increased focus on drafting skill is key to future success
- Lowetide: A short history of Oilers’ impact prospects at the world juniors
- Lowetide: Why Dave Tippett’s training camp with Oilers will be so compelling
- Lowetide: Oilers first-round pick Dylan Holloway’s fast start has fans buzzing
- Jonathan Willis: A brief history of Oilers teams with goalie problems, and how they overcame them
- Jonathan Willis: The Oilers are better with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl apart at 5-on-5
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations for 2020-21: The results
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations for 2020-21: Goals against
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations for 2020-21: The Goals
- Lowetide: Oilers Top 20 prospects, post-draft edition.
October 9, 2015
On this date, the Bakersfield Condors played its first AHL game against the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Griffins were Detroit’s farm club, so it gives us a good starting point to see how much progress prospects made. I’m looking for number of graduates, length of stay in the AHL before making the NHL, NHL games and picks outside the first round who landed prominent NHL jobs (top two lines and pairings, No. 1 goalie and No. 3 center).
The Red Wings roster delivered 10 names to the NHL, some productive players here. Important to remember the AHL produces support players but the Red Wings were able to use four men in important roles (top two lines and pairings, starting goalie and No. 3 center) and would have had inexpensive solutions to real problems in those years. A player like Bertuzzi is a real find, Jensen too for some of these years. Mantha was a first-round pick, so the AHL was helpful but he was probably ready before recall. He might be a comparable to Evan Bouchard in this way.
These are the top 10 Oilers from that opening night game in 2015, two men emerged in a vital NHL role (Draiasitl, Nurse). Four of the 10 spent less than a full season in the AHL. No player on that team was chosen outside the first round while also finding a way to play a feature role in the NHL. What’s more, Brossoit, Pitlick, Oesterle and Hunt were plucked for little by other organizations and used productively. Edmonton is an easy team to raid, partly because of the ‘under new management’ sign that is often in place.
The Oilers have used their AHL team differently and have been easy prey when it comes to lifting useful pieces for little return. The successes are Draisaitl and Nurse, and they barely played in the AHL. The 50 percent of career elsewhere piece is especially galling.