If you look back on the Oilers recent past, there’s plenty of young talent that has fallen through the cracks. We tend to dismiss all of those who don’t make the NHL, but productive seasons in quality leagues like the KHL and SHL reflect success, too.
Did all of these young men fail? Or did the Oilers fail these young men?
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’s the latest!
- New Lowetide: Is this the year the Oilers find a world-class agitator in the draft?
- Lowetide: Which draft prospects will be available when the Oilers pick at No. 19?
- Lowetide: Oilers 2021-22 roster projection, including trade and free agent targets
- DNB: How do Oilers fans feel about their team’s 2020-21 season?
- Lowetide: What is a reasonable trade price for Oilers to pay for Duncan Keith?
- Lowetide: Will the Oilers draft from the OHL after a season that never happened?
- DNB: Oilers are interested in trading for Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith — at a price
- Lowetide: Finding the ideal No. 3 centre for the Edmonton Oilers
- New DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers offseason
- Lowetide: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ future value to the Oilers will be defined by his adaptability
- DNB: Oilers’ Connor McDavid wants ‘more consistency’ with NHL playoff officiating
- DNB: How re-signing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for eight years could help and hurt the Oilers
- DNB: Five offseason scenarios that could upend the Oilers’ best-laid plans
- Lowetide: Will the Oilers return to the WHL prospect pool in the 2021 draft?
- Lowetide: Why Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard is poised to exceed expectations
- Lowetide: Oilers’ prospect pipeline could be at stake as AHL coach Jay Woodcroft outgrows his minor-league role
- Jonathan Willis: How the Oilers could make a Jack Eichel-level trade happen this offseason
- Lowetide: The 7 Oilers roster spots GM Ken Holland must improve this offseason
- Lowetide: Caleb Jones, Oilers reach crossroads that could land Jones in Seattle
- Lowetide: What will Oilers do if they must replace Oscar Klefbom?
- Jonathan Willis: What comes next for the Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi?
- Lowetide: Why Evan Bouchard, Ryan McLeod and more prospects are options for Oilers in 2021-22
- DNB: Ten teams the Oilers should be targeting for trades ahead of the Kraken expansion draft
- Lowetide: How Ken Holland’s transaction history could foreshadow the Oilers summer to come
- Jonathan Willis: Why some of the most popular moves Ken Holland could make would be mistakes
- Lowetide: Why huge Oil Kings goalie Sebastian Cossa could be the perfect first-round fit for the Oilers
2015 SUMMER TOP 20
Right after the draft, as I usually do, I posted a re-rank of the top-20 Oilers prospects. Edmonton has reaped great benefits from those men in the years since, but how many could have contributed more to the Oilers?
- LC Connor McDavid. The franchise. Words are all we have until fall, and we used them all up before the draft. NHLE: 82GP, 23-40-63. McDavid is the best player in the game, 407 career NHL games, averaging 39-77-116 per 82 games and three Art Ross, three Ted Lindsay and two Hart trophies.
- LC Leon Draisaitl. Remember the days without a big C in the system? Maybe he ends up on LW but the size/skill combination is too good to trade no matter how severe the defensive woes become this fall. I love his passing, he’s a wonderful player. NHLE: 82GP, 15-26-41. Winner of the Hart, Lindsay and Art Ross in 2020, he has played in 478 NHL games. Draisaitl averages 34-53-87 per 82 games.
- LHD Darnell Nurse. The Oilers future on blue, it’s just a matter of when he arrives. The big item for Nurse is his speed, he’s a fast train who can recover quickly and pressure opponents into mistakes. I don’t think there’s evidence that he’ll score 40 points a season, but that aside, Nurse does appear to have the full range of skills. NHLE: 82GP, 7-16-23. He hit 40 points at 23, and had his best season in 2020-21. Had plenty of detractors but that seems to be in the past (mostly). Has played 406 NHL games, 9-23-32 for 82 games.
- LHD Griffin Reinhart. Big defender (6.04, 217) was a dominant junior player, basically neutralizing his part of the ice as an Oil Kings blue (and playing monster minutes each game). His one pro season contained (in his own words) some struggles. NHLE: 82GP, 6-11-17. Played 30 games with the Oilers, incredible unforced error.
- LC Bogdan Yakimov. Big C impressed during TC, then struggled offensively for long stretches. It took time for him to find his way in OKC, but when he finally settled in the results started to roll in. He hit his stride in final 13 AHL games (6-6-12) before losing his season to injury. NHLE: 82GP, 10-13-23. Russians don’t like playing minor league games for the Oilers. Yakimov had a disappointing career overall.
- RW Iiro Pakarinen. 6.01, 205 winger with grit and skill. He came into the organization and passed damn near everybody, eventually finding his way to the NHL before injuries derailed his season a little. I think he has a real chance here. NHLE: 82GP, 16-11-27. He was a better scorer than he was given credit for, but did get into 134 NHL games (about two seasons) and scored 10-13-23.
- RC Kyle Platzer. He emerged as a genuine NHL prospect in his final junior year. Platzer has skill in abundance, but before he blossomed the young man’s reputation was as a two-way type. NHLE: 82GP, 12-17-29. He didn’t develop as an offensive player .
- RW Greg Chase. Gritty forward with offensive ability. Agitator of the first degree. Chase remains unique on the Oilers prospect list, a fiery player with skill and attitude, willing to give no quarter and likely to initiate trouble. NHLE: 82GP, 8-16-24. Like Platzer, he couldn’t deliver enough offensively to move up the depth chart in the AHL.
- RW Anton Slepyshev. It is so difficult to project prospects who play in Euro major leagues. Slepyshev scored 15 goals in a tough damn league playing 12:26 a night, that’s a substantial player (especially at 20). Began the KHL season 39GP 5-7-12, then posted 19GP, 10-3-13 to end the year. NHLE: 82GP, 17-11-28. Slepyshev is one of the reasons I decided to do this little exercise, he is one of the men who Edmonton might have found useful over these last years. Holland tried to get him signed to a contract a year ago, his KHL season in 2020-21 delivered an NHLE of 49 points in 82 games.
- RHD Ethan Bear. Bear clicked off all of the boxes: Good skater, makes pinpoint passes, makes good decisions, calm feet, built like a tank (5.11, 200) and can hit hard. NHLE: 82GP, 5-9-14. One of the true success stories outside the top three, Bear has played in 132 NHL games. He is averaging 5-15-20 per 82 games and has played much of his first two seasons against elite competition .
- G Laurent Brossoit. One of the best stories out of OKC last season, Brossoit’s numbers (.918SP) suggest an actual goalie prospect on the horizon. Edmonton’s goalie situation remains fluid despite the acquisition of Cam Talbot, don’t count out a recall if things go wacky again in Edmonton. Brossoit has played in 82 NHL games, and has proven to be a solid backup for the Winnipeg Jets in two of the last three seasons.
- LHD Joey Laleggia. Quality offensive defenseman at the NCAA level, the downside is size (5.09, 182) and the upside is a splendid puck-moving defenseman. The Oilers have a few in the system (Justin Schultz, Brad Hunt) and the level and degree of ability varies. NHLE: 82GP, 14-23-37. He delivered three impressive seasons in the minors but never made an NHL appearance.
- LHD Dillon Simpson. The jump from college to pro was a big challenge early for the young defender, but he found his way as the season rolled along. Doesn’t bring much offense. NHLE: 82GP, 2-9-11. He played three NHL games and has been a solid AHL blue for seven seasons now.
- G Eetu Laurikainen. His scouting report (athletic with a great glove) and save percentage are strong. He has established himself as a No. 1 goalie in the Liiga.
- RW Andrew Miller. Season over season progress in the AHL (34 points in year one, 60 in year two) indicates the period of adjustment is over and he may be ready for a higher league. NHLE: 82GP, 16-19-35. Miller made it to the NHL for 15 games.
- LHD Jordan Oesterle. I’ve absolutely bought in on Oesterle after seeing him at the NHL level. He’s fast! You have to respect a player with wheels and in Oesterle’s case there’s a substantial amount of good information on the resume. NHLE: 82GP, 6-12-18. I’m not sure Edmonton can be blamed for cutting him loose but he has played as an NHL regular for four seasons now. He has played 252 NHL games and is averaging 5-16-21 per 82 games.
- LHD Caleb Jones. A mobile defender with a reputation for being a very good passer (seemed to be a theme in this year’s draft). 6.0, 194, can skate well and thinks the game well based on scouting reports. NHLE: 82GP, 2-5-7. Based on speed alone it’s easy to project a 15-year career but he had struggles this year. Has played in 93 NHL games and is averaging 4-13-17 per 82 games.
- LHC Jujhar Khaira. If he could only score a little more, Khaira would be much higher on this list. The Oilers have drafted so many players his size (6.03, 214) who have one flaw or another. We identify the flaw early, watch the player progress, stall and then get flushed out of the league. Travis Ewanyk is a recent example. NHLE: 82GP, 4-5-9. Despite shy offense, his size and rugged play has earned Khaira an NHL career. He has played 258 NHL games, averaging 8-12-20 per 82 games.
- RW Tyler Pitlick. He’s the ultimate recent example of a guy who always looks like a player but the results don’t follow. Injuries have derailed him, he’s Wile E. Coyote. I think he may need a second organization. There’s always a chance, the new coach coming in might like what he brings. NHLE: 82GP, 8-16-24. Has now played in 286 NHL games, averaging 13-11-24 per 82 games. Josh Archibald is in his role, I think Pitlick is a better player.
- LHD William Lagesson. Physical defenseman with a reputation for being solid in coverage. It’s so hard to quantify his progress but I believe (based on reports) he had a good season. Years away. NHLE: 82GP, 1-6-7. Lagesson has played in 27 NHL games and is facing a somewhat uncertain future with a lot of competition on the way.
PER 82 GAMES
- Connor McDavid 39-77-116
- Leon Draisaitl 34-53-87
- Darnell Nurse 9-23-32
- Tyler Pitlick 13-11-24
- Jordan Oesterle 5-16-21
- Jujhar Khaira 8-12-20
- Ethan Bear 5-15-20
- Anton Slepyshev 8-11-19
- Caleb Jones 4-13-17
- Iiro Pakarinen 6-8-14
- Laurent Brossoit 82 games, .908
Frank Seravalli was dropping truth bombs on the Lowdown yesterday, giving us some insight into the ‘Hawks-Oilers negotiations re: Duncan Keith. As I understand it, the names we’ve been hearing (Jones) and some of the details (Chicago won’t retain) appear to be coming from the Chicago side. Frank suggested Ken Holland has rejected several asks (Elliotte Friedman dropped his thoughts late last night and had the same general thrust) and I think we’re at a game of chicken at this time.
If this happens, I suspect it’ll be something close to Jones for Keith with some money retained via including Kyle Turris in the trade or having Stan Bowman retain. I’m not sure why Oilers fans are mad at Bowman, asking for more than value is part of negotiation.
There’s some rumblings that Hall will hit the open market and if he does Holland needs to pursue him with a furious urgency. He can push the river, play with 97 or 29 or even 93, and his zone exits and entries have shone like a diamond forever. Injuries are a concern, but Hall remains a unique talent and Edmonton could close a massive talent gap and basically guarantee two outscoring lines with his acquisition.
I have never been more sure of anything in my life as a hockey fan. Get. Taylor. Freaking. Hall!