Every summer I spend time with the outsiders, minor leaguers and college men who aren’t expected to make the big club in the fall, and in most cases won’t play in the NHL at all. NHL equivalencies are a major help, as forwards need to score at a certain level and defenseman have to bring some potential offensively in order to be considered viable NHLers.
Jujhar Khaira, who has now played in more than 250 NHL games, didn’t get a real look in the world’s best league until his equivalency reached 30. Defensemen usually need to deliver 10+ in order to have enough momentum to make a dent. It’s possible to overlook some great talents, or talents that we’ve taken for granted, and NHLE resets things and reminds us we should be paying attention.
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: What are Oilers’ ideal defence pairings for 2021-22?
- Lowetide: The future may come early for three Oilers prospect defencemen
- DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers offseason, 4.0
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers 2021-22 depth chart
- Lowetide: Warren Foegele acquisition possible key to improving the Oilers third line
- DNB: Ethan Bear on being traded, his time with the Oilers
- DNB: Ethan Bear out, Cody Ceci in, Tyson Barrie stays
- DNB: ‘Ultimate competitor’ Zach Hyman signs with Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers targets for early and late in NHL free agency
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects, summer 2021
- DNB: Oilers draft day notebook
- DNB: Oilers come under the microscope after passing on Jesper Wallstedt
- Jonathan Willis: Zach Hyman, by the numbers
- Lowetide: 5 players outside the NHL who could help the Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: Yes or no? Have your say on 10 hypothetical Oilers trades
- Lowetide: Why Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard is poised to exceed expectations
- Lowetide: The 7 Oilers roster spots GM Ken Holland must improve this offseason
DYLAN HOLLOWAY (41.6)
Holloway took a major step forward in his sophomore college season and is the top option for the NHL team from the forwards available in the system. He has good size, excellent speed and no fear. Holloway is currently blocked at center and (after the addition of Zach Hyman and Warren Foegele) at left wing. That’s fine, he could be an impact recall from Bakersfield during the season. That’s a feature and a benefit of good NHL teams.
RYAN MCLEOD (39.9)
I watched him quite a bit in Bakersfield this season and he was a more confident player with the puck on his stick. The speed and puck retrieval have always been there (he gobbles up loose pucks so quickly it’ll make your head spin) but his ability to exit and enter with the puck on his stick was a key for the Condors in 2020-21. I don’t know that he’ll be able to do that in the NHL but suspect we’ll see him on the No. 4 line and possibly higher all year in Edmonton 2021-22.
TYLER BENSON (39.9)
He delivered another strong season and is waiver eligible, but Benson will have to earn a spot over names like Devin Shore, Cooper Marody and Kyle Turris (fourth line and extra forwards). Oilers don’t have a bunch of young emerging forwards who can post offense and are under control, so I expect he’ll make it as No. 4 LW (Hyman, Nuge, Foegele) and battle Shore for playing time.
COOPER MARODY (36.8)
Marody is well above the 30-point cutline and moved to right wing for much of the AHL season. Could he make the team in a utility role? His competition (Josh Archibald, Benson, Turris) is less offensively talented than Marody, but foot speed is a problem and he really isn’t a prospect (25 in November) anymore.
KIRILL MAKSIMOV (33.6)
I’m not completely comfortable with using VHL (second Russian pro league) for a player who is 22, especially since he played quite a lot (12:23) in his 16 KHL games without scoring (2-1-3). He did have a strong showing (12-15-27 in 25 games) for his VHL team. Maksimov is a talented player and showed some range in his AHL season (including penalty kill). I don’t know if he’s a future NHL player but his skill set is intriguing.
XAVIER BOURGAULT (32.1)
Scott Wheeler from The Athletic said he has a “deceptive release” and remarked on his creative play inside the offensive zone. He projects him as a top-six NHL forward down the line based on 15 years worth of staring at Oilers draft picks (Jordan Eberle was 82, 15-12-27 in his draft season). He can play center or wing and has two-way skills.
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. If he spikes again offensively expect him to turn pro (and possibly play some NHL games next spring).
WILLIAM LAGESSON (25.3)
The big defensive defender had a big run in the Allsvenskan for two different teams before the NHL got back in gear. He’s more of a shutdown defenseman than a two-way man, but his AHL even strength totals rivaled both Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear as they were coming up. Lagesson is the final member of that promising trio who is still in the organization, his role for the coming year (if there is one) completely unknown. He had early success and then struggled in the NHL one year ago.
EVAN BOUCHARD (21.9)
The top prospect in the system, the team is making way for Bouchard to play every night in the NHL in 2021-22. Fantastic passer and highly creative with the puck. Posted 2-3-5 in 14 games with Edmonton last season, that works out to 29 points in a full season. He is not eligible for the Calder Trophy, will make some mistakes this season, but it’s important to play him every night.
PHILIP BROBERG (14.4)
Big, fast two-way defenseman had an uneven season in Sweden and some injury issues. A full Condors season would be best, but I don’t know if he’ll get it. Broberg can play either side and can defend, his career trajectory looking very similar to Oscar Klefbom’s so far. Among Oilers prospects who could emerge as key players sooner than later, Broberg trails only Holloway, Samorkov and goalie Konovalov in my opinion.
DMITRI SAMORUKOV (10.8)
Big, strong bull of a defender with miles of future. Among the men who might be able to have an Adam Larsson-style career, he’s closest to NHL ready. If he comes into camp healthy (he had a shoulder injury in February) he could force his way past Lagesson and earn a starting spot. Best open ice hitter Oilers fans will have seen in many moons.
FORWARDS (THE REST)
- Raphael Lavoie (Allsvenskan) 26.0
- Jake Chiasson (WHL) 21.5
- Maxim Denezhkin (VHL) 21.2
- Tyler Tullio (Slovakia) 16.7
- Maxim Berezkin (MHL) 16.5
- Filip Engaras (Hockey East) 16.1
- Ostap Safin (AHL) 10.9
- Matvey Petrov (MHL) 10.7
- Skyler Brind’Amour (ECAC) 8.8
- Patrik Siikanen (Liiga) 7.2
- Jeremias Lindewall (Allsvenskan) 4.1
- Scott Lachance (NCDC) 2.0
From this list, I think Lavoie has the best chance to play in the NHL. Nice showing by Chiasson, Denezhkin is a fascinating prospect and Tullio has an agitating and aggressive style that the Oilers need badly. Petrov and Lindewall are better than their numbers and we don’t know much about Lachance.
DEFENSE (THE REST)
- Filip Berglund (SHL) 12.2
- Markus Niemelainen (AHL) 11.4
- Matt Cairns (NCHC) 8.0
- Max Wenner (WHL) 5.8
- Mike Kesselring (AHL) 5.7
- Phil Kemp (AHL) 3.3
- Luca Münzenberger (DNL U20) 1.2
Berglund could be included in the group above but he’s coming to North America after his least successful season so I’m wary. Best to lower expectations and then be pleasantly surprised.
Niemelainen is going to get chances to play in the NHL as early as this season. His size/speed make him attractive to an Oilers team looking for some suppression on the blue. Kesselring and Kemp are just getting started in pro hockey.
Oh. I found a nice scouting report on Luca from Steve Kournianos The Draft Analyst.
“A big-bodied vacuum cleaner on defense who’s been eating minutes like mad, Munzenberger is a first-year draft eligible with a late-2002 birthday who is committed to the University of Vermont. He was left off Central Scouting’s initial Watch List but his play for Kolner Junghaie in Germany coupled with his ongoing performance in Edmonton at the World Juniors . He has ideal size (6-foot-, 190 pounds) but has the mobility and agility to cover faster players, especially when holding his line and transitioning into a backskate. Munzenberger’s stride is as wide as they come and although he’s style may not look pretty, he definitely gets from Point A to Point B faster than most teenage defensemen his size. He plays a mean, physical brand of hockey and can be considered a bit of a throwback.” Source