The first time I saw Shawn Horcoff, he was on the proper side of his mark as the puck went screaming through the slot in a front of the Edmonton net during a preseason game in the fall of 2000. He and his opponent glided into the corner, the puck a safe distance from danger. Horcoff was 22, just graduated from Michigan State Spartans and looking for an NHL job with Edmonton.
A fourth-round pick, who did have a monster final season in the NCAA, Horcoff was impressive but facing an uphill battle. I felt he would eventually make the NHL roster, and he did, in time for the Oilers thirtieth game of the season.
If I asked you to name one Oilers prospect, who has never played an NHL game, as your pick for the next NHL debut among the men in Edmonton’s pipeline, who would it be?
For me, it’s Philip Broberg.
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 should Oilers expect from Duncan Keith in his first season?
- Lowetide: Did the Oilers find the new Fernando Pisani when signing Derek Ryan?
- Jonathan Willis: Tyler Benson, Devin Shore and the 4-year difference between a prospect and a has-been
- Lowetide: What should Oilers fans expect from Zach Hyman in his first season?
- Lowetide: Dylan Holloway headlines new arrivals for Bakersfield Condors in 2021-22
- Lowetide: Will the Ethan Bear trade be the latest shortsighted move that haunts the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Why Oilers fans should expect more trades and a deep playoff run this season
- Lowetide: How much playing time will Evan Bouchard get with the Oilers this coming season?
- Lowetide: What are reasonable expectations for the 2021-22 Oilers?
- Lowetide: What are the Oilers’ ‘perfect lines’ for next season?
- Lowetide: The Oilers and value contracts. Three now, two later
- Jonathan Willis: A resurgent Zack Kassian could be an important part of the Oilers’ scoring
- Lowetide: Oilers sign Darnell Nurse to a massive 8-year contract extension
- Lowetide: How many goals will Jesse Puljujarvi score for the Oilers next season?
- Lowetide: What are Oilers’ ideal defence pairings for 2021-22?
- 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
- DNB: Oilers draft day notebook
JUNK VERSUS STUFF
I’ve always had the view, and there’s all kinds of proof, that new general managers don’t value the previous administration’s assessment of talent. This is especially true with draft picks, you may recall Magnus Paajarvi, Teemu Hartikainen and Toni Rajala being shuffled along by new general manager Craig MacTavish. Or Peter Chiarelli’s sending away Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, among others.
Ken Holland traded Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones this summer, and we’ll see how things progress in the days to come. One way of looking at it is through this George Carlin skit (it starts at 6:45), where he says “did you ever notice their stuff is shxx and your shxx is stuff?” and I think that’s how most general managers look at things they inherit.
It’s human nature. Daryl Katz didn’t hire Ken Holland so he could stay the course, there was urgency. Obviously. Anyway, I think that’s how this stuff happens and it’s not a shot at current management every new admin has the same basic view of the past.
Philip Broberg was a Ken Holland pick. I think he beats Dmitri Samorukov, Markus Niemelainen, Filip Berglund, Dylan Holloway, Ilya Konovalov, Raphael Lavoie and others to the NHL. How about you?
One of my failed ideas (I have so many) over the years involved rookie scoring during the pre-season offering some clues about future success. Here are the leading rookie scorers from the fall of 2007:
- Andrew Cogliano 5gp, 4-3-7 +3 (18-27-45)
- Kyle Brodziak 5gp, 3-2-5 +1 (14-17-31)
- Slava Trukhno 3gp, 1-2-3 E
- Sam Gagner 4gp, 2-0-2 +1 (13-36-49)
- Tom Gilbert 4gp, 2-0-2 +1 (13-20-33)
- Tim Sestito 2gp, 1-0-1 E
- Rob Schremp 3gp, 0-1-1 +1 (0-0-0)
- Troy Bodie 2gp, 0-1-1 +2
- Jonas Almtorp 3gp, 0-0-0 E
- Ryan O’Marra 2gp, 0-0-0 -2
Gagner had a summer tournament against a bunch of Russians and arrived at camp in mid-season form, and MacT would not stop talking about Cogliano and Brodziak. Gilbert was miles ahead of everybody but he was just that much better than all of the other young blue. Fall 2010 was also an interesting time for preseason scoring:
- Magnus Paajarvi 3, 3-1-4 (15-19-34)
- Chris VandeVelde 3, 2-2-4 (0-2-2)
- Alex Plante 2, 0-4-4 (0-0-0)
- Jordan Eberle 4, 2-1-3 (18-25-43)
- Linus Omark, 3, 1-2-3 (5-22-27)
- Taylor Hall 3, 1-2-3 (22-20-42)
- Colin McDonald 2, 1-0-1
- Jeff Petry 2, 1-0-1 (1-4-5)
- Teemu Hartikainen 2, 0-1-1 (3-2-5)
- Shawn Belle 2, 0-1-1 (0-0-0)
- Ryan O’Marra 4, 0-1-1 (1-4-5)
- Devan Dubnyk 3, 2.61 .920 (35, 2.71 .916)
There was so much going on in the fall of 2010 that talented players were falling through the cracks. Linus Omark had a strong NHL debut but fell off the following year, as did Magnus Paajarvi. Meanwhile, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Jeff Petry and Devan Dubnyk made this one of the great rookie crops in Oilers history.
THIS YEAR’S PRESEASON
All the men on this list will get some pre-season time, but their jobs don’t depend on performance. This is the heart of the order, and any rookie/fringe veteran will have to work in order to grab the few minutes that remain available. Those men can emerge as prominent players, but only due to injury or poor play from one of the above. I expect we’re going to see Kris Russell a lot this year.
Here we have the group who will be playing several games so the coach can have a look. I’d bet on Stalock and Skinner playing more than one complete game, plus Koekkoek, Lagesson and Samorukov getting plenty of game action. Shore, Turris, Benson, Perlini, McLeod plus Yamamoto and Marody if they sign will get long auditions this fall. Yamamoto will have the team made the moment he signs, but his second half struggle a year ago may put his spot on the depth chart in play for the coming season.
Holloway will get plenty of action, I’m hopeful Konovalov will too, but he’ll be running against size bias so will have to knock it out of the park to impress. Broberg is my pick as the pleasant surprise of training camp, he did it at the Hlinka, then the bubble and even at the WJ’s until injuries made things difficult. Broberg likes the Rogers ice, and the competition at LHD isn’t exactly Robinson-Lapointe-Langway, so he’s the top name on my list to emerge from the prospect group.
Lavoie, Maksimov and Safin are a little older than guys like Bourgault and Chiasson, so should have more impact. Watch Bourgault, he has a range of skills along with being a first-rate scorer. He won’t make the team but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play more than expected entering camp. I’ll also mention Niemelainen as a player who impressed me in Bakersfield last season and may stand out early in camp.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy Lowdown this morning at 10, TSN1260. Steve Lansky will join us to talk about the Jays, Women’s World Hockey Championships and the difficult moments in producing a hockey game for television. We’ll also chat with Cheryl Pounder about the big win for Canada over the USA last night at the Women’s WHC, and with Dan Ralph from The Canadian Press about Week 4 of the CFL season. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!