If NHLE had universal acceptance, Linus Omark would have been in the NHL opening night 2009-10. His enormous 2008-09 SHL season (at that time Sweden’s best league was called the SEL) delivered an NHL equivalency of 50.7, one of the highest this century for an Oilers prospect. That would have given Omark a full year to establish himself ahead of incoming left-wingers Taylor Hall and Magnus Paajarvi.
How many kids bubbling under have strong enough equivalency numbers to be considered for next year’s NHL team? You’ll be surprised. I generally used 30 points NHLE as the line in the sand. Let’s have a look.
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DYLAN HOLLOWAY (41.6)
A massive step forward in his sophomore Big-10 season earned him an NHL contract and possibly a fast track to the NHL beginning in the fall. I expect the Oilers will re-sign Nuge and add a scoring LW as well, but Holloway is a strong option in case Edmonton is unable to score in free agency.
RYAN MCLEOD (39.9)
No one knows for sure, but McLeod sure looks like a guy who is going to be a successful top-nine center based on his first 10 games. Points haven’t come (just one assist) but he spiked year over year in the AHL and gets to so many loose pucks in all three zones I expect the points will come.
TYLER BENSON (39.9)
He has delivered another strong season and I expect we’ll see Benson as a bottom-six forward in the NHL next year. There’s a small chance Seattle grabs him, but I think he’ll be on LW with McLeod or Khaira opening night 2021-22.
COOPER MARODY (36.6)
Marody is well above the 30-point cutline but has also been moved to right wing for much of the season (Ryan McLeod passed him as a pivot). So despite a quality year, he doesn’t really have a path to the NHL.
KIRILL MAKSIMOV (33.7)
The great thing about NHLE is that it doesn’t care about bias, it just delivers the math. Now, Maksimov’s numbers were delivered in the VHL, Russia’s second pro league. There is an NHLE number for it and Maksimov’s performance gets him here. We’ll see where he lands and how well he does in the year to come. I can’t find a list of players who have jumped to the Super League, so the NHLE translation number isn’t as strong as (say) the KHL, SHL or AHL.
CARTER SAVOIE (30.0)
Another draft pick forward scores in college hockey out of the box. Savoie’s goal-scoring for the Denver Pioneers equates to 19.5 per 82 games in the NHL and makes him one of best scoring prospects in the system. Likely another college season from signing, he could be a perfect fit in Edmonton.
RAPHAEL LAVOIE (26.0)
He scored well in the Allsvenskan (13.3 goals per 82 games NHLE) and had early AHL success but has since slowed. An unusual but encouraging season, I’d guess a full season with the Condors is in order. He remains a scoring threat with a release that can be beat goalies clean in every league he’s played in.
MATEJ BLUMEL (23.3)
A strong season in the Czech league, that included legit usage in all three game states, has Blumel looking like a real NHL prospect again. NHLE for goals (12.4) has him at the low end of a list of scoring forward prospects that includes all names above him.
EVAN BOUCHARD (21.9)
The most obviously talented offensive defenseman drafted by the club since Paul Coffey, Edmonton’s delay in deploying him has outraged countless Oilers fans. He’ll be in the lineup this fall and I expect power-play time will follow shortly after.
MAXIM BENEZHKIN (20.2)
Two-way Russian center with enough offense to be considered a possible solution in a depth role down the line. He still hasn’t played in the KHL as a regular but is just 20 and has had a couple of cups of coffee.
MAXIM BEREZKIN (16.5)
He averaged fewer than six minutes a night in the KHL, but scored well enough in the MHL for us to consider him on track as an NHL prospect. At 6,02, 201 he’s another big athlete drafted by Tyler Wright and we’ll see if the hockey is something he can play at highest levels.
THEODOR LENNSTROM (14.7)
The Swede has impressed but will have to deal with the Leftorium if he hangs around in the organization. Ken Holland hired him, that’s his man advantage.
PHILIP BROBERG (14.4)
Big, fast two-way defenseman had an uneven season in Sweden and some injury issues on both sides of the border. I expect it’ll mean starting in Bakersfield and possibly watching Samorukov play in NHL games first, but overall he remains a quality prospect.
DMITRI SAMORUKOV (10.8)
I won’t include all of the names who deliver lower NHLE but in the case of Samorukov he’s more likely than most on this list to play at least some next season. Big, strong bull of a defender with miles of future.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
It’s Friday! We kickstart the weekend at 10 this morning, TSN 1260. At 10:20, Steve Lansky from Inside the Truck podcast will answer the question “how far can the Oilers go?” and pick his ultimate playoff broadcast team for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Matthew Iwanyk arrives at 11 to talk Oilers who should rest on Saturday, and major losses for Edmonton’s football team. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide twitter. The joint will be rocking!