This is Mike Kesselring. He was drafted in 2018, and that was three years ago. It would be nice to be able to make the call on him by now, good to know if he was going to be an everyday NHL player. We’re miles from knowing. We know he has size, and some skill, but we’re still many miles from being able to project him as a possible NHL talent.
I like to run NHL equivalencies for AHL players, it gives us an idea about who might be able to jump up to a skill position in the NHL. It doesn’t inform us about the Jujhar Khaira, Chris VandeVelde centers and it’s not perfect in identifying the defensemen who will break through. Still, it’s something we have that might offer us some insight into the future. Does it work?
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!
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- 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 top 20 prospects, summer 2021
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- Jonathan Willis: Zach Hyman, by the numbers
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2010-11 OKLAHOMA CITY BARONS
If we randomly look back at a minor-league club, one season only, can we identify the future NHL players? Any forward who posts a number near 30 NHLE (while also being a prospect) has cleared the AHL hurdle. If he has speed and some range of skills, we can count him as a “likely” NHL player. For defensemen, I count anything in the teens as being at least possibly worthy, but there’s a wide range due to the nature of the position. Goalies? Anything over .910 is a prospect worth paying attention to based on observing goalies over many years.
- Left Wing: Linus Omark 44.1; Teemu Hartikainen 25.4; Phil Cornet 15.3
- Center: Mark Arcobello 33.7; Ryan O’Marra 16.5; Milan Kytnar 14.8; Chris VandeVelde 9.5
- Right Wing: Liam Reddox 35.5; Colin McDonald 28.9
- Left Defense: Taylor Chorney 13.9
- Right Defense: Jeff Petry 23.3; Colten Teubert 13.9; Alex Plante 9.3; Johan Motin 4.7
- Goalie: Jeff Deslauriers .906; Bryan Pitton .897
Linus Omark shines like a diamond offensively here, and there are good showings by Liam Reddox and Mark Arcobello. I’d argue that Colin McDonald and Teemu Hartikainen could move the needle offensively, but more likely in a bottom-six forward role if they continued to develop.
Among defensemen, Jeff Petry looks extremely promising, and both Taylor Chorney and Colten Teubert were at the outer marker and worth considering (with defensive acumen also to be considered). Jeff Deslauriers was just outside the range of NHL goaltender but he was worth noting. How did it work out in terms of NHL career games?
- Jeff Petry 735
- Chris VandeVelde 278
- Taylor Chorney 166
- Colin McDonald 148
- Mark Arcobello 139
- Liam Reddox 100
- Linus Omark 79
- Jeff Deslauriers 62
- Teemu Hartikainen 52
- Ryan O’Marra 33
- Colten Teubert 24
- Alex Plante 10
- Phil Cornet 2
- Milan Kytnar 1
- Johan Motin 1
How many of these names did NHLE identify? Well Jeff Petry for sure, as well as (at least somewhat) Chorney, McDonald, Arcobello and Reddox among men who played 100 or more games.
I’ll also linger here to make two points.
First, not identifying VandeVelde isn’t a tragedy. No. 4 centers are far easier to find in free agency than someone who has more potential to play higher in the lineup. I’d rather see a scouting department take a chance on a guy with a great shot (Colin McDonald) or electric puck skills (Linus Omark) even if they don’t work out.
Second, I believe it’s fair to suggest Omark did in fact have NHL talent but also had bad timing. He arrived in Edmonton looking for a job on the wing the same year as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi were grabbing their luggage off the YEG moving sidewalks.
2020-21 BAKERSFIELD CONDORS
So, observing those stats, and seeing how things played out, can we identify the best candidates for NHL success from the Bakersfield Condors most recent season?
- Left Wing: Tyler Benson 39.9; Raphael Lavoie 21.0; James Hamblin 15.7
- Center: Ryan McLeod 39.9; Joe Gambardella 19.2
- Right Wing: Cooper Marody 36.8; Ostap Safin 10.9
- Left Defense: Max Gildon 23.6; Theodor Lennstrom 14.7; Markus Niemelainen 11.4
- Right Defense: Mike Kesselring 5.7; Phil Kemp 3.3
- Goalie: Stuart Skinner .914; Olivier Rodrigue .894
Among forwards, Ryan McLeod posts a strong NHLE while also having the range of skills we discussed earlier. I’d count him as more of a sure thing for an NHL career than any forward on the previous list.
Tyler Benson and Cooper Marody have the resume of NHL players, but foot speed is more important every year and Ken Holland spent the summer piling left wingers on the roster.
On defense, Max Gildon has a great future. The Oilers prospects have a story to tell, with Niemelainen likely a third pairing option and we’ll have to wait and see on Kesselring plus Kemp.
Stuart Skinner had a good year but you’d like to see another, Rodrique is just getting started.
My bottom line: Bet on McLeod and Gildon. Wait a year on Lavoie because circumstances. Jaundiced eye for all others.