The Edmonton Oilers Top-50 Prospects

Jonathan Willis
April 25 2009 11:33AM

peckham

This is my ranking of Oilers prospects; every single prospect of note is included somewhere on this list. It differs significantly from similar efforts by The Hockey News and Hockey’s Future - I’m much less concerned with draft position than I am in where the prospects are right now.

I use statistics a lot in my rankings, but I also take into account scouting reports and what I’ve seen of each individual prospect. The one exception I will make is that I don’t place a ton of emphasis on Kevin Prendergast’s public statements – sometimes they’re blatantly wrong, often they contradict what he said in the not too distant past. Without further ado, here’s the list:

1. Theo Peckham – Peckham has limited offensive upside at the NHL level, but he’s got size and plays a mean game. More than that, he was an outstanding shut-down defenseman in Springfield this season, constantly playing the toughest minutes, and didn’t look out of place in 15 NHL games. 2. Riley Nash - Nash has good offensive upside and plays a two-way game; unfortunately for the Oilers his development may be stagnating in Cornell and he still needs to add size. 3. Jordan Eberle - A natural goal-scorer, Eberle took a modest step forward in the WHL this year and starred for Canada at the World Juniors. He showed an ability to translate his offense to the AHL as well, scoring nine points in nine games. Will need more time before being NHL ready. 4. Linus Omark - The best offensive talent in the system right now, Omark had a phenomenal year in Sweden but is small and has never played in North America. 5. Devan Dubnyk - Dubnyk’s AHL numbers aren’t impressive, but he was playing for an absolutely abysmal team and lost more than twice as many games as he won. He was not part of the problem this season. 6. Gilbert Brule - His grit and offensive ability are undeniable; he is however both undersized and was injured (again) this season. Brule was rushed into the NHL and won’t ever be the player he was projected as in his draft year. 7. Teemu Hartikainen - The gritty Finn was one of the youngest players in his country’s top league and still managed 17 goals. His skating is still reportedly not very good and his -8 on a good team is cause for concern. Overall, he looks like a mid-round steal by the scouting staff at this point. 8. Philippe Cornet - Another pick that looks like a steal, Cornet actually put up more points than Eberle this season. He has a reputation as a smart, two-way player. 9. Ryan Potulny - Potulny’s track record just screams “tweener” to me, but he was far and away the best forward in Springfield and scoring 38 goals was an incredible accomplishment in that environment. Looked good during his NHL recall. 10. Chris Vande Velde - Vande Velde has size and faceoff ability and has put up decent point totals in college hockey. At this point he seems like a decent bet to have a future as a checking forward. 11. Alexandre Plante - The massive defenseman bounced back from a poor 2007-08 and added an edge to his game. On the other hand, Calgary was such a dominant squad that it’s questionable whether much of his offense will make it to the NHL. 12. Cody Wild - It was a strange season for Wild, who played a half dozen games in the ECHL this season and had trouble staying in the lineup under Jeff Truitt, but he was one of the few bright spots in Springfield. 13. Taylor Chorney - Kevin Prendergast swears that Chorney’s a better player than Wild, but the fact is that he played similar competition, posted vastly inferior numbers and is smaller to boot. His -29 was the worst on the team, and his defense partners (notably Roy and Wild) were vastly better without him than with him. 14. Jeff Petry - The two-way defenseman’s numbers dropped off this year as Michigan State was outscored nearly 2:1 by their opponents. That said, Petry’s -31 was easily the worst on the team. 15. Liam Reddox - The dependable defensive player doesn’t bring size to the NHL but he does bring willingness and smarts. He’s been a coach’s favourite everywhere he’s been, but the change in coaches may mean he ends up back in the AHL. 16. Jean-Francois Jacques - Jacques finally notched an NHL point after being a dependable AHL scorer for years. He’s a brilliant AHL player and adds size and energy to the lineup; if he’s finally figured out how to translate his game to the NHL he could be a force. 17. Milan Kytnar - Displayed offensive capability this season in Saskatoon and reportedly plays a well-rounded game. 18. Tyler Spurgeon - Was tremendous in a defensive role in Springfield this season; his -4 was one of the best marks on the team and Spurgeon was consistently used against tough opponents. Injuries are still a major concern. 19. Rob Schremp - Schremp’s season was an absolute disaster. He should have been on the cusp of NHL duty, but wasn’t even a leader in Springfield this season. His -26 was the worst mark among forwards despite the fact that he was playing some of the softest minutes on the team. Still, this is rock bottom and he’ll get at least one more year to try and turn things around. 20. Johan Motin - A big defenseman who was used sparingly in the Elitserien, Motin may not be developing as hoped. He would likely benefit from coming over to North America. 21. Ryan Stone - May have a career as an energy forward. Stone has never had a high-end offensive game but adds size and is a tough customer. 22. Colin McDonald - Played tough-minutes this season and showed some offensive talent down the stretch, where Rob Daum leaned on him heavily. He’s a big man with a good shot who may end up having a career as a 4th-liner. 23. Vyacheslav Trukhno - For the second year in a row, Trukhno has failed to translate his junior offense to the professional game. He doesn’t do enough other things well if he isn’t scoring to make the jump to the NHL. 24. Andrew Perugini - The Oilers signed Perugini to a minor-league contract, and he responded by outplaying draft pick Bryan Pitton and stealing the starting job with Stockton. That said, his numbers aren’t good enough at this point. 25. Josef Hrabal - This season went very poorly for Hrabal, who will be at Oilers training camp next fall. He was supposed to be one of Springfield’s top defensemen but was injured early and then used badly by Jeff Truitt. On his third trip to Stockton he left for Europe where he had six poor games in Sweden. He needs to show something this year or I think he’s done. 26. Alexei Mikhnov - Incredibly, Mikhnov’s still in the conversation. The Oilers have been in contact with him and he’s still interested in coming over, but likely only on a one-way deal. He would be ranked higher if I thought the Oilers were inclined to give him one. 27. Bryan Lerg - Lerg was injured this season, but comments from the Oilers have not been encouraging and it very much sounds like he may not be in the plans. A well-rounded player with a good NCAA career, Lerg is undersized and had a disappointing professional debut. As an undrafted player, he also gets less benefit of the doubt from the team. 28. Guillaume Lefebvre - Lefebvre, rather shockingly, led the Falcons in difficulty of competition and also contributed as the team’s resident tough guy. He’s getting older, but a fourth line job may yet be his. 29. Glenn Fisher - This player simply refuses to die. After being drafted he had lousy years with the University of Denver before blowing the doors off in his final NCAA season. Edmonton signed him; he responded with a middling ECHL year. He was signed to an AHL/ECHL deal and seldom used as Devan Dubnyk’s backup, but when the acquisition of Dany Sabourin forced a move he posted phenomenal numbers with Las Vegas of the ECHL. He’ll be 26 this week and is a bit of an enigma. 30. Tim Sestito - The organization’s love for this player is baffling; he must be a heck of a character guy because he doesn’t contribute at all offensively and isn’t blessed with size either. He’s a hardnosed guy who handles AHL tough minutes, but even a regular fourth-line job is probably not a realistic possibility. 31. Sebastien Bisaillon - Smallish, injury-prone defenseman showed a high-level offensive game in junior, but doesn’t bring enough offense as a pro to justify his other deficiencies. 32. Ryan O’Marra - O’Marra has size and is still young. He managed one goal on the season in the AHL and is rapidly running out of time with the organization. 33. Mathieu Roy - At one point Roy looked like a good bet for a career as a #6/#7 defenseman, but injuries have taken a toll. He has size, some offense, and a nasty disposition, but I think he’s already played the bulk of his NHL career. 34. Bryan Young - Big hitter has only average size and doesn’t contribute at all offensively. He plays a safe reliable game against soft AHL competition and isn’t a prospect of interest at this point. 35. Bjorn Bjurling - Bjurling had an off year, and will be thirty before next season. He doesn’t seem to be in the organization’s long-term plans. 36. Jake Taylor - Veteran minor-leaguer probably deserves to be ranked higher, but despite having size and playing a gritty game he’s at the age where NHL teams stop looking. 37. Bryan Pitton - Had a disastrous professional debut in the ECHL, losing his starting job to Andrew Perugini. He got a second chance when Perugini was injured in game one of the playoffs, but imploded so badly that Parker Van Buskirk, coming off a middling season in junior, replaced him as Stockton’s starter. Still has two years on his NHL deal, so he has time to rebound. 38. Jordan Bendfeld - A nasty defenseman with size and toughness, Bendfeld’s an ECHL player at this point. 39. Geoff Paukovich - Has size and occasionally injures people by hitting them from behind. Not a prospect of note. 40. Stephane Goulet - A 50-goal scorer in junior, Goulet’s a tall, lanky winger who has had three bad professional seasons and is probably done with the organization. 41. Charles Linglet - The undrafted 26-year old looked good in 21 games with Springfield and has some size but is realistically a career minor-leaguer at this point. 42. Alexander Bumagin - The 22-year old Russian seems to have peaked in his draft year. 43. William Quist - Quist hasn’t followed the Oilers’ recommendations and had a poor season with Nybro in Sweden’s second-best league. The 6’5” enigma is not likely to ever where an Oilers’ uniform. 44. Robby Dee - A part-time player with the University of Maine, it’s very doubtful that Dee gets a contract offer when he finishes school. 45. Matt Glasser - The smallish Glasser has had three uneventful seasons with the University of Denver and is in much the same position as Dee. 46. Robbie Bina - Had a lousy professional debut and was outmatched at every level. The undersized defenseman is already one of the older prospects in the system. 47. Parker Van Buskirk - Undrafted goaltender has been OK as Stockton’s starter in the ECHL playoffs but in all likelihood is only a stop-gap. 48. Mikahil Zhukov - Scored a career-high 5 goals in the KHL this past season. Not a player of interest at this point. 49. Jeff Lee - Big winger was rewarded for a fine season with the Oil Kings by being signed to a professional tryout; he was pointless in two AHL games. 50. David Rohlfs - Sometimes a forward, sometimes a defenseman, Rohlfs is almost always an ECHL player.

Some Elaboration

There were undoubtedly a few surprises on this list, so I’m just going to comment on those and a few other points. There are a couple of places where there is a real drop-off between players. I think Peckham has some space in the number one slot and is easily the surest bet in the system. Devan Dubnyk may be an elite AHL goaltender; with the quality of Springfield this season it’s hard to be sure based on the numbers. I’d say there’s a bit of a drop-off from Dubnyk in the number five spot to Brule at number six.

I have Jeff Petry rated quite low; THN ranks him as the second-best prospect in the system and Hockey’s Future has him in the number three slot. He hasn’t shown NHL-level offense during his NCAA career and his defensive numbers, both this year and last haven’t been inspiring either.

Rob Schremp also fares badly on my list; THN has him ranked 10th overall and Hockey’s Future slots him in the #6 spot. I tend to ascribe this to a difference in how we view probability – other outlets like him because he probably won’t be an NHL’er, but he has a shot at putting up big points if he does make it. Personally, I rate that behind a guy like Tyler Spurgeon, who has a better chance at an NHL career but probably won’t be a particularly special player if he does make it.

The other thing that I do is draw extensively on my AHL Quality of Competition rankings, which give us a better idea of which low-offense types are being elite AHL checkers and which ones are just being AHL grinders. For instance, Ryan O’Marra, who Prendergast tossed under a bus in his interview the other day, was frequently praised during the year as a shut-down player by Oilers’ brass when it was obvious from his QualComp numbers that he was playing on the fourth line.

There are two more big drop-offs at about the #17 and #25 slots. Players below #17 are real long-shots, and players below #25 are probably write-offs at this point although one or two may surprise.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Mike76
April 25 2009, 05:33PM
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On a different note. Did everyone see that Eric Francis from the Calgary Sun is already looking forward to a Vancouver vs. Calgary secound round series? That guy bugs me. He is a homer. Go Blackhawks.

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#52 Jonathan Willis
April 25 2009, 05:47PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

We could have a great debate on here if we picked ten players we think will play more than 30 games for the Oilers in the next five years. Because we both know that if 20% of this list eventually make it that will be a high number.

Agreed. My ten would be:

Peckham, Eberle, Omark, Brule, Potulny, Spurgeon, Jacques, Reddox, Chorney and Vande Velde.

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#53 Chris
April 25 2009, 05:53PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Seriously Willis. Are you saying the Oilers top five prospects consist of a potential bottom pairing defenceman, a guy at Cornell, a tiny winger, an even smaller KHL'er, and a goalie who loses twice as many games as he wins? All five Detroit prospects I listed come in ahead of this group... (Yes I am aware that Kindl was drafted the same year as Coglino and has yet to contribute at the NHL... but Detroit doesn't rush prospects and Kindl got back on track this season and will probably have a stellar NHL career) Kudos to Haken Andersson for finding a goalie in the third round that can post those kind of numbers in the competative SEL, and a 6th round pick in Mursak who actually came to play in the AHL; posting more than a point/game even though a roster spot is unlikly to be available next season... (Makes me even angrier at the lack of character shown by Omark)

I will personnally drink a keg of BUD LIGHT and host a "dance of joy" party if Tambellini finally holds Predergast/MacGregor responsible for the lack of young talent in the system. (By Sending them packing) Any staff would/could have drafted Gagner at 6th in 2007... It's what they did with the other two first round selections that make me angry...

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#54 Mike76
April 25 2009, 06:18PM
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Flames SUck!!! Go Blackhawks

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#55 TDSM31
April 25 2009, 06:33PM
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Sweden 7 Austria 1 at the world championships. Linus with 5 assists on goals from Woodstock, Pig Pen and a Peppermint Patty hat-trick...

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#56 Jonathan Willis
April 25 2009, 08:06PM
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Chris wrote:

Are you saying the Oilers top five prospects consist of a potential bottom pairing defenceman, a guy at Cornell, a tiny winger, an even smaller KHL’er, and a goalie who loses twice as many games as he wins?

No, I'm saying the Oilers top-five consists of a guy who will probably be a top-four defenseman, a guy at Cornell, a goal-scorer, a better goal-scorer, and a big goalie who has posted decent numbers on an indecent team.

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#57 Brian O'Neill
April 25 2009, 08:26PM
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Brule, was unbelievable in Vancouver, I don't know why he hasn't performed in the big leagues. He was so much better than all the rest in his last year as a giant, It doesn't make sense. IF you want we'll take him back in Vancouver.

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#58 Jonathan Willis
April 25 2009, 08:52PM
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@ Brian O'Neill:

Personally, I blame Doug MacLean.

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#59 voxel
April 25 2009, 09:09PM
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I don't get the love for Brule at all. I'd swap Petry(6) with Brule(14)

Petry has undeniable skill... he's probably the best player on a crap Michigan State team that scored 62 goals in 38 games (Petry was part of 22% of those 62 goals). There was a game he was playing forward as well as D (30+ minutes in that game).

IMO the only two players on that list that will become long-term NHL players are Nash and Petry. Peckham and Eberle have question marks.... then again... didn't everyone think O'Marra would be a NHL player?

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#60 Jonathan Willis
April 25 2009, 09:43PM
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voxel wrote:

Peckham and Eberle have question marks

What's the question mark with Peckham?

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#61 Colin
April 25 2009, 10:15PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

What’s the question mark with Peckham?

Does he like MILFs?

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#62 Jay
April 25 2009, 10:20PM
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@ Jason Gregor:

The tools and we've yet to see the tool box. They each have 1 point in their NHL careers, 1 assist for Stone (8 games) and 1 goal for Jacques (60 games). As for skating? As we all know skating can be worked on (didn't I hear that on the radio Friday?). I don't for one second believe a fight by Jacques has anyone believing he has arrived. It's wishful thinking. Both have to show it, one of them has seen action in 4 seasons and hasn't seized the spot on a weak team. The other was in a deep organization and not given the same opportunity.

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#63 GSC
April 25 2009, 10:42PM
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Jay wrote:

@ Jason Gregor: The tools and we’ve yet to see the tool box. They each have 1 point in their NHL careers, 1 assist for Stone (8 games) and 1 goal for Jacques (60 games). As for skating? As we all know skating can be worked on (didn’t I hear that on the radio Friday?). I don’t for one second believe a fight by Jacques has anyone believing he has arrived. It’s wishful thinking. Both have to show it, one of them has seen action in 4 seasons and hasn’t seized the spot on a weak team. The other was in a deep organization and not given the same opportunity.

I agree on Jacques, the guy had his chance and its time to move on.

But as for Stone, he was passed up by other prospects in the Penguins organization. He's nothing more than a middling prospect, and at this stage it's more than likely he's nothing more than a career minor-leaguer.

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#64 esa tikkanen
April 25 2009, 10:50PM
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hey gregor I called in on Friday to talk about who are the best defensive players in the league and you poopooed me when i said Maddon wasn't anymore because he is losing it a bit as he has played big for a small guy and it is wearing on him because he is now 36. you said he isn't close to 36. look it up dude, he is 36.

Jonathan , great list, thanks for the work. Where is Jagr on that list? LOL

I think as Oilers fans we better hope someone like Jacques makes the team and starts to fulfill his potential, he could become a very important member of this team if he can score 8-10 goals like Gregor suggests, and hits, fights, and with his speed and size maybe develop into a good penalty killer.

I would like to open a discussion on the forum though: who are the elite defensive forwards in the NHL now? Who are this era's version of Mike Peca, Chris Draper, Jere Lehtinen, Guy Carboneau, Mike Kean, and Esa Tikkanen? A player who does not get tons of points but is every bit as important to winning cups as the scorers? I remember too well Carbonneau and Kean shutting down the oilers best forwards year after year in Dallas. I wonder if the Oil could trade O'Sullivan or Cogs to get one of those really good two way players. Or maybe just sign Malhotra or Paulson??

look forward to your comments folks.

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#65 GSC
April 25 2009, 10:55PM
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And not to mention, are we really debating between Jacques and Stone and their potential as NHLers? Is this organization's developmental system THAT F'ed up? I'm starting to think so...

We Oiler fans tend to really overrate our prospects, IMO. That being said, I'm all about Vande Velde. I believe he has the potential to be a Glencross-esque type of winger, and given North Dakota's track record of alums going to the NHL (and staying) I'm very comfortable with that assessment.

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#66 Jay
April 25 2009, 11:05PM
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GSC wrote:

And not to mention, are we really debating between Jacques and Stone and their potential as NHLers? Is this organization’s developmental system THAT F’ed up? I’m starting to think so… We Oiler fans tend to really overrate our prospects, IMO. That being said, I’m all about Vande Velde. I believe he has the potential to be a Glencross-esque type of winger, and given North Dakota’s track record of alums going to the NHL (and staying) I’m very comfortable with that assessment.

It'a list about who's less sh&%$y. There's maybe 5 good prospects and that's about it.

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#67 voxel
April 25 2009, 11:35PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

voxel wrote: Peckham and Eberle have question marks What’s the question mark with Peckham?

With such limited offensive upside, if he stalls "defensively" then he's just third pairing / waiver fodder / NHL-AHL tweener. Nothing special about his shot, his skating or passing... he's a great pugilist tho.

Watch Petry (who can shoot, skate, pass better than most of the NCAA) pass Peckham in 2-3 years. The big worry is that Petry becomes Jack Johnson v2.0 and struggles with NHL-level speed.

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#68 Jonathan Willis
April 26 2009, 12:01AM
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@ voxel:

Given that he was -31 this season, I'd say Petry's struggling with NCAA speed right now.

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#69 Chris
April 26 2009, 12:49AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Chris wrote: Are you saying the Oilers top five prospects consist of a potential bottom pairing defenceman, a guy at Cornell, a tiny winger, an even smaller KHL’er, and a goalie who loses twice as many games as he wins? No, I’m saying the Oilers top-five consists of a guy who will probably be a top-four defenseman, a guy at Cornell, a goal-scorer, a better goal-scorer, and a big goalie who has posted decent numbers on an indecent team.

Take off the OilerGoggles Willis: Peckham will only be a top four d-man on a team that either misses the playoffs or battles for eighth. Nash is an enigma that values his comfort zone more than developing into a serious NHL'er. Eberle will be lucky to develop into a twenty goal scorer who lacks physical dimenson. Omark will NEVER play in the NHL and Dubnyk is a big oaf who can't come across his crease fast enough to stop a Dale Weise wrist shot let alone an NHL grade slapshot... Let's face it a .904 or .906 save percentage in the AHL (even with a bad team) doesn't inspire confidence with anyone who watches goalie prospects. This a poor group. To say otherwise is to mislead the Oilersnation faithful. Tambellini has almost nothing to work with here... I hope Lowe and MacT are enjoying their beers at the Bellagio... It's fun to watch Calgary lose...It would be more fun if the boy's-on-the-bus-management-club hadn't screwed this franchise for the next five years.

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#70 Mike Roberts
April 26 2009, 12:53AM
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@ Thunder: Thunder wrote:

... But by removing some other smaller guys like Pouliot, Reddox or Pisani would still allow us to get bigger...

Although Reddox is Small, Pisani and Pouliot are both 6'1 and 205 / 195 respectively. Not exactly small.

Also the issue is more of the size in our top 6. We're still going to have Nillson Gagner and Cogliano at under 6' in the top 6. Omark would make another top 6 forward under 6'.

@ JW I'm pretty sure Omark's deal is two years with an option to escape after the first year if he comes to the NHL

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#71 Mike Roberts
April 26 2009, 01:25AM
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@ Chris: Chris wrote:

Take off the OilerGoggles Willis: Peckham will only be a top four d-man on a team that either misses the playoffs or battles for eighth. Nash is an enigma that values his comfort zone more than developing into a serious NHL’er. Eberle will be lucky to develop into a twenty goal scorer who lacks physical dimenson. Omark will NEVER play in the NHL and Dubnyk is a big oaf who can’t come across his crease fast enough to stop a Dale Weise wrist shot let alone an NHL grade slapshot… Let’s face it a .904 or .906 save percentage in the AHL (even with a bad team) doesn’t inspire confidence with anyone who watches goalie prospects. This a poor group. To say otherwise is to mislead the Oilersnation faithful. Tambellini has almost nothing to work with here… I hope Lowe and MacT are enjoying their beers at the Bellagio… It’s fun to watch Calgary lose…It would be more fun if the boy’s-on-the-bus-management-club hadn’t screwed this franchise for the next five years.

I'm not sure I disagree about Peckham. He has bottom 6 potential in my opinion.

But for Dubnyk? .904 | .906 in your first couple seasons in the AHL isn't a bad start. Pekka Rinne was .904 | .920 | .908 his first three seasons in the AHL. Marc-André Fleury: .901 in his first season in the AHL. Mike Smith: .906 |.908 first two seasons in the AHL.

All are starters now. If Dubnyk becomes any one of them (only 3 of a few more examples I could name) I'd be very happy.

Speaking of goggles it is pretty obvious to me and everyone else here that you are upset with the state of our beloved Oil and that has coloured your opinion on everything to do with them. At the very least provide some insight into your views. Why are our prospects garbage?

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#72 Chris
April 26 2009, 09:28AM
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@ Mike Roberts:

I didn't say the Oiler prospects were garbage. I said they were a POOR GROUP. Each individual hasn't even come close to achieving their high end game so it's hard to speculate... That is the beauty of the draft game. You can keep people waiting for years and years before your performance at the draft table can be accurately evaluated.

When I said the current crop of Oiler prospects were a poor group it was for three reasons: 1) This group doesn't contain NHL ready players to address current Oiler roster needs. 2) This group of players is riddled with guys who have a poor attitude. Plante, who demanded a trade. Omark who demanded a guaranteed roster spot. Nash who seems content to waste away in Cornell, and so on. (Don't even get me started on Trukhno...) 3) This group and most of the players in it haven't DONE anything yet to inspire my confidence. Most have underperformed after their draft year... Other than Omark in the SEL nobody is lighting it up, so to speak... (REALLY LIGHTING IT UP, I mean... don't find me lame examples of the minor achievemnts of Oiler prospects... if they were doing anything truly great the Oiler media machine would already be whipping us up into a frenzy....)

I don't hate this group... I just don't think it stacks upwell against the prospects pools of many, many other teams. I used Detroit as an example. It's just sad to me that a team that has been at the top for so many years, and really doesn't need to improve, has the pieces in the system to reamin solid for years to come... Meanwhile the Oilers, who obviously need to get better, have an abysmal AHL affiliate, and a pretty unspectacular group of prospects overall. Tambellini needs to remove Predergast from this organization.

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#73 Jonathan Willis
April 26 2009, 09:45AM
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Chris wrote:

1) This group doesn’t contain NHL ready players to address current Oiler roster needs.

Theo Peckham is big, tough and mean and played 15 games for the Oilers this year. He fits a need and he's NHL ready.

Besides, most of the Oilers NHL-ready prospects over the past two years already graduated: Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Robert Nilsson, Kyle Brodziak, Zach Stortini, Marc Pouliot, Tom Gilbert, Denis Grebeshkov and Ladislav Smid. That really isn't a bad list of players graduating from the farm to the NHL over the past few years.

This group of players is riddled with guys who have a poor attitude. Plante, who demanded a trade. Omark who demanded a guaranteed roster spot. Nash who seems content to waste away in Cornell, and so on. (Don’t even get me started on Trukhno…)

If Plante gets knocked for demanding a trade, doesn't he also get credit for going and talking to his coaches and sorting everything out, then playing as hard as he can for them despite the problems in their relationship? That to me shows a good attitude.

Most have underperformed after their draft year… Other than Omark in the SEL nobody is lighting it up, so to speak… (REALLY LIGHTING IT UP, I mean… don’t find me lame examples of the minor achievemnts of Oiler prospects… if they were doing anything truly great the Oiler media machine would already be whipping us up into a frenzy….)

Teemu Hartikainen's 17 goals right after his draft year in the Finnish league was an incredible achievement. Of course, he was a late-round pick and is in Europe, so it'll take a bit for the hype machine to start pushing him as the next great power forward.

Ryan Potulny's 38 goals this season in Springfield really is amazing, considering the supporting cast.

As for disappointments, where did you expect lower picks like Peckham, Vande Velde and Cornet to be this year? If you seriously think they underachieved, you have some crazy expectations.

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#74 Chris
April 26 2009, 09:53AM
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As for my being critical of Oilers drafting... Willis and I have had a running gun battle concerning the Oilers draft record. I contended that it's awful and Willis with good info and steady patient responses had finally convinced me that the Oiler draft record during the Lowe erea has been above average...

Now I'm leaning back. Sorry. There just isn't a lot of help coming from the group drafted since the lockout. Lowetide did an interesting article concerning the draft on April 21...(You need to go back to the older posts to read it) The gist of the article is that 55% of drafted players NHL wide never play a game. 24% play less than 200. 15% become average NHL'ers. 4% become impact players and 2% become truly elite... This is the league wide average.(Between 1979-1995) Apply this standard to the Predergast/MacGregor record; and at best you can argue they are an average crew. At worst, somewhat below average... Depends if you believe Hemsky is a truly elite player, or if Gagner will become one, and so on. Like I said, it's hard to tell how you've drafted until years and years later...then if you know you need to make changes: you're organization is already a mess.

I'd say this organization is already a mess.

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#75 Dan
April 26 2009, 09:54AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ voxel: Given that he was -31 this season, I’d say Petry’s struggling with NCAA speed right now.

That -31 stat is red flag alarming. Not saying that Petry won't be a player, but him staying in the NCAA is doing him no good.

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#76 Chris
April 26 2009, 09:57AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: I see you side stepped comparing the Oiler top five prospects to the Detroit top five... The Oilers need to draft like Detroit if they want to ever start winning cups again. Average Oiler drafting, whether slightly above average, or below (up for debate)... will not cut it if Stanley is ever going to come back to town.

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#77 Chris
April 26 2009, 10:10AM
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When the Oiler players fail to perform at the level necessary to beat Detroit on the ice, everyone is comfortable with making personnel changes/trades to address this and improve. People clamour for change. When the player procurement group is regularly out-performed on draft day, however, everyone seems reluctant to make changes. In 2001 Predergast drafted the absolute best player available (Hemsky) in round one... and has been living off that one big coup ever since. It has started to wear thin.

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#78 Jay
April 26 2009, 10:43AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Theo Peckham is big, tough and mean and played 15 games for the Oilers this year. He fits a need and he’s NHL ready.

Besides, most of the Oilers NHL-ready prospects over the past two years already graduated: Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Robert Nilsson, Kyle Brodziak, Zach Stortini, Marc Pouliot, Tom Gilbert, Denis Grebeshkov and Ladislav Smid. That really isn’t a bad list of players graduating from the farm to the NHL over the past few years.

Peckham is no where near an NHL regular, his speed (not skating) is an issue, his defensive coverage is debatable, and most importantly he has no upside. He's a filler, he's not a 6th defenseman if he is your organization is in serious trouble.

As for the NHL ready prospects. Brodz is a 4th liner, Storts is a 13th forward, Pouliot is an AHLer, Nilsson is not consistent and likely on the move, Gilbert is a terrible defender. Gagner and Cogliano maybe be talented, but can't win a faceoff, and should be wingers. Smid and Grebs are good where they are.

Try to have perspective.

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#79 Jonathan Willis
April 26 2009, 11:03AM
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Chris wrote:

I see you side stepped comparing the Oiler top five prospects to the Detroit top five…

Because I think you have a tendency to overrate non-Oilers prospects. Kindl, for example, will probably be a good NHL player but 33 points in his second AHL season isn't great and he was picked well ahead of Cogliano in 2005. If there were a do-over, I think Detroit would prefer our pick.

That's one example. On the whole though, the Red Wings have a much deeper NHL team, so their prospects have to fight harder to get into the lineup (and consequently spend more time in the minors) so their prospect depth at the AHL and amateur level is logically going to be better - at least until the Oilers improve at the NHL level.

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#80 Jonathan Willis
April 26 2009, 11:12AM
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Jay wrote:

Peckham is no where near an NHL regular, his speed (not skating) is an issue, his defensive coverage is debatable, and most importantly he has no upside. He’s a filler, he’s not a 6th defenseman if he is your organization is in serious trouble.

Why does Peckham have no upside? His offense has improved every single year, and he's playing the toughest minutes on the farm. He has upside in a Robyn Regehr role; I realize you disagree with this but right now we're arguing opinion vs. opinion so it isn't like you can prove your point.

As for the NHL ready prospects. Brodz is a 4th liner, Storts is a 13th forward, Pouliot is an AHLer, Nilsson is not consistent and likely on the move, Gilbert is a terrible defender. Gagner and Cogliano maybe be talented, but can’t win a faceoff, and should be wingers. Smid and Grebs are good where they are. Try to have perspective.

20 points in 63 games, largely on the 4th line, +1 and a 1.67 PTS/60 scoring rate at evens say that Marc Pouliot's an NHL'er. Tom Gilbert had one of the best +/- numbers on the team and put up a ton of points, Gagner's tracking ahead of Hemsky in scoring right now - at a full year younger! Andrew Cogliano (25th overall pick) is the 4th-best scorer from his draft year. Smid's fine, Grebeshkov is better than that.

All those prospects in only two years. Show me five better groups of two-year players from around the NHL; hell, show me one group that didn't have a top-five pick in it. Then you can talk about perspective.

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#81 Jonathan Willis
April 26 2009, 11:17AM
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Further on Jakub Kindl, a quick comparison to Theo Peckham. Keep in mind that Peckham's the defensive defenseman with offensive issues, and Kindl's the offensive defenseman with defensive issues.

AHL PPG this season: Kindl - .423 Peckham - .404

AHL PPG, Career: Kindl - .327 Peckham - .302

Peckham's bigger, stronger, and better defensively. Kindl put up -34 and -14 as his +/- on better teams than Peckham has played for. Peckham, in contrast, was -14 and -7.

I wouldn't trade Peckham for Kindl.

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#82 Chris
April 26 2009, 11:22AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Because I think you have a tendency to overrate non-Oilers prospects

And I think you tend to overrate THE Oiler prospects...Though I appreciate your optimism.

Jonathan Willis wrote:

That’s one example. On the whole though, the Red Wings have a much deeper NHL team, so their prospects have to fight harder to get into the lineup (and consequently spend more time in the minors) so their prospect depth at the AHL and amateur level is logically going to be better - at least until the Oilers improve at the NHL level.

How did they get so much deeper? Could it be superior draft performance over the last ten years? I admire your passion Willis, but unless the Oilers are drafting at the highest level possible, and our back and forth centers around the argument of whether the Oilers have the BEST draft record or the third best etc... Changes should be made.

Thanks for the rundown on our prospects. You're list was thoughtful and detailed. I'm hoping the Oilers make changes in the player procurement department, draft well this July, and are able to sort out the mess in Springfield. This franchise was once great on the strenghth of a few short remarkable draft years... I hope one day this will be the case again.

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#83 roughneck
April 26 2009, 11:37AM
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Mike76 wrote:

On a different note. Did everyone see that Eric Francis from the Calgary Sun is already looking forward to a Vancouver vs. Calgary secound round series? That guy bugs me. He is a homer. Go Blackhawks.

You got your wish.... whats he saying this morning?

I was kinda hoping for that matchup in the WHL final but the giants appear out of gas

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#84 Ogden Brother
April 26 2009, 11:54AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Jason Gregor wrote: We could have a great debate on here if we picked ten players we think will play more than 30 games for the Oilers in the next five years. Because we both know that if 20% of this list eventually make it that will be a high number. Agreed. My ten would be: Peckham, Eberle, Omark, Brule, Potulny, Spurgeon, Jacques, Reddox, Chorney and Vande Velde.

No love for Petry?

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#85 Ogden Brother
April 26 2009, 11:59AM
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Chris wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: Seriously Willis. Are you saying the Oilers top five prospects consist of a potential bottom pairing defenceman, a guy at Cornell, a tiny winger, an even smaller KHL’er, and a goalie who loses twice as many games as he wins? All five Detroit prospects I listed come in ahead of this group… (Yes I am aware that Kindl was drafted the same year as Coglino and has yet to contribute at the NHL… but Detroit doesn’t rush prospects and Kindl got back on track this season and will probably have a stellar NHL career) Kudos to Haken Andersson for finding a goalie in the third round that can post those kind of numbers in the competative SEL, and a 6th round pick in Mursak who actually came to play in the AHL; posting more than a point/game even though a roster spot is unlikly to be available next season… (Makes me even angrier at the lack of character shown by Omark) I will personnally drink a keg of BUD LIGHT and host a “dance of joy” party if Tambellini finally holds Predergast/MacGregor responsible for the lack of young talent in the system. (By Sending them packing) Any staff would/could have drafted Gagner at 6th in 2007… It’s what they did with the other two first round selections that make me angry…

I agree that the team has their work cut out for them re-filling the system, but realistically most of our top prospects hit the team in the last couple of years

Gagner Cogliano Nilson Brodziak Stortini Gilbert JDD

I doubt theirs many teams that have a third of their roster come up over a couple of years, which skews the quality of our development system.

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#86 Chris
April 26 2009, 12:49PM
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I'm critical of the Oilers draft AND development. The decision by Lowe and the EIG to simply not have an AHL affiliate a few years back is inexcusable. The decision to rush players like Cogliano into NHL service is not proper asset management. I've said this before; The Oilers have cashed in assets like Coglino prematurely to the detrimate of the entire organization... and repeatedly missed the playoffs anyway... Oh and not be nitpicking, but players like Gilbert and Nilsson entered the Oilers sytem not through the draft, but by moving roster players... Hence the need to rush players like Coglino into early service in the first place. MacGregor/Predergast have drafted a fine volume of players who will see NHL duty. My issue is with the overall quality of thier development, and the glaring lack of truly high impact players. Maybe I'm still just hung up on the Pouliot thing... but that was a huge gaffe. I wish Richards or Getzlaf was centering the first line next year...

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#87 Jonathan Willis
April 26 2009, 01:02PM
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Chris wrote:

The decision by Lowe and the EIG to simply not have an AHL affiliate a few years back is inexcusable. The decision to rush players like Cogliano into NHL service is not proper asset management.

100% agree on the AHL team, and I would be inclined to agree with your take on Cogliano's rookie year except that 45 points is a fine total and he wasn't injured.

Chris wrote:

MacGregor/Predergast have drafted a fine volume of players who will see NHL duty. My issue is with the overall quality of thier development, and the glaring lack of truly high impact players.

We'll see, but it's true that Prendergast hasn't grabbed an impact player yet - although I'd bet on Gagner to reach that point somewhere.

MacGregor's first draft looks good so far - Eberle had his WJC and both Cornet and Hartikainen are well ahead of the curve for their draft position.

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#88 Ogden Brother
April 26 2009, 01:10PM
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Chris wrote:

I’m critical of the Oilers draft AND development. The decision by Lowe and the EIG to simply not have an AHL affiliate a few years back is inexcusable. The decision to rush players like Cogliano into NHL service is not proper asset management. I’ve said this before; The Oilers have cashed in assets like Coglino prematurely to the detrimate of the entire organization… and repeatedly missed the playoffs anyway… Oh and not be nitpicking, but players like Gilbert and Nilsson entered the Oilers sytem not through the draft, but by moving roster players… Hence the need to rush players like Coglino into early service in the first place. MacGregor/Predergast have drafted a fine volume of players who will see NHL duty. My issue is with the overall quality of thier development, and the glaring lack of truly high impact players. Maybe I’m still just hung up on the Pouliot thing… but that was a huge gaffe. I wish Richards or Getzlaf was centering the first line next year…

I'm not really sure why you think Cogs was rushed, he'd be a competent 2nd liner on almost any team in the league from day one. He was also 20 when he enterd the league... which is probably average for 1st rounders.

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#89 Chris
April 26 2009, 01:22PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

I’m not really sure why you think Cogs was rushed, he’d be a competent 2nd liner on almost any team in the league from day one. He was also 20 when he enterd the league… which is probably average for 1st rounders.

Because Cogs could have been a big part of creating a winning culture in Springfield... and don't underestimate the importance of that. Instead of rushing Coglino up; the Oilers could have signed a journeyman third line center who could have won 50% of his draws, been a plus player, and still chipped in 30 or so points... The Oilers would still have missed the playoffs, but at least we would have a prospect in Springfield to be excited about. Also Coglino would be ready to contribute THIS season in a big way without even being two years closer to RFA status. Why not let our guys get bigger and stonger in the AHL instead of making excuses for them in the big show.

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#90 Chris
April 26 2009, 01:29PM
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After the Smyth debauchle and subsequent collapse of the Oilers, Lowe decided to "rebuild on the fly"... and very few good decisions have been made ever since.

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#91 Ogden Brother
April 26 2009, 01:44PM
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Chris wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: I’m not really sure why you think Cogs was rushed, he’d be a competent 2nd liner on almost any team in the league from day one. He was also 20 when he enterd the league… which is probably average for 1st rounders. Because Cogs could have been a big part of creating a winning culture in Springfield… and don’t underestimate the importance of that. Instead of rushing Coglino up; the Oilers could have signed a journeyman third line center who could have won 50% of his draws, been a plus player, and still chipped in 30 or so points… The Oilers would still have missed the playoffs, but at least we would have a prospect in Springfield to be excited about. Also Coglino would be ready to contribute THIS season in a big way without even being two years closer to RFA status. Why not let our guys get bigger and stonger in the AHL instead of making excuses for them in the big show.

Pretty pie in the sky man. Every team brings guys up when they are deemed ready... and from Cogs peformance I think it's safe to say he's ready.

You've seen the whining from Oiler fans about Schremp.... imagine holding Cogs down?

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#92 Chris
April 26 2009, 01:54PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

You call winning 37% of his draws being ready? Coglino needs to get bigger and stronger... He could have done that in the minors. Lot's of older guys could have filled in for Cogs with the big team while that happened.

Ogden Brother wrote:

You’ve seen the whining from Oiler fans about Schremp…. imagine holding Cogs down?

Since when do the fans GM this organization? A slower more patient approach to player development would have the Oilers ahead of where they are now. I've argued this point before with little or no support from the fans at OilersNation... But the fact is, winning organizations don't rush every single NHL ready prospect into immediate service. It's not prudent.

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#93 Archaeologuy
April 26 2009, 02:08PM
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Chris wrote:

You call winning 37% of his draws being ready? Coglino needs to get bigger and stronger… He could have done that in the minors. Lot’s of older guys could have filled in for Cogs with the big team while that happened.

I think youre over-valuing faceoff percentage here. It's a very important stat, but you've completely discounted the fact that he scored more goals than Horcoff this year while playing on the checking line with a mish mash of non-offensive players and with almost no PP time. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps he was misused as a 3rd line center? The guy has dynamic speed and a knack for puting the puck in the net. He needs to get bigger and stronger for faceoffs, not bigger and stronger to play in the NHL.

Many people dont think he'll even be playing at Centre next season. If the team had gotten a 3rd line vet to fill in for that role the Oilers would have plugged him in on the top 2 lines where he belongs, and not back to the minors.

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#94 Chris
April 26 2009, 02:37PM
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@ Archaeologuy: We can argue and argue this in circles so let's agree to disagree. Brule was used by Columbus too soon and it ruined him. The Oilers couldn't even recall Brule down the stretch for fear of crossing the 160 game mark... Cogliano will be entering his third NHL season... What did it serve the organization to have him up the previous two seasons? He scored 45 points? Who cares... the Oilers missed the playoffs... and Coglino will be heading into restricted free agency status just in time for the cap to shrink. Meanwhile Oiler fans had to endure watching young inexperienced players make a disproportionate amount of mistakes on RX1 ice; the whole time saying, "You can't hold that against these guys because they are so young." Well if they were too young; Why did they have roster spots in the first place? Look I like Coglino... But there was no need to develop him in the NHL. The fans in Edmonton should be tired of watching an AHL training camp. We deserve better. When a prospect hits the big show, his performance shouldn't be evaluated in relation to his age; but in relation to what a different player could have done given the same ice time... If size and strength are still an issue; the player shouldn't be up with the big club.

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#95 Chris
April 26 2009, 02:54PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

On another note: Lowetide was certainly very complimentary of this post... And I concur. I enjoy reading everything you write even though we don't always agree. Have a great weekend Willis... Same to the rest of you guys.

*Tip of the hat*

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#96 Ogden Brother
April 26 2009, 02:58PM
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Chris wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: You call winning 37% of his draws being ready? Coglino needs to get bigger and stronger… He could have done that in the minors. Lot’s of older guys could have filled in for Cogs with the big team while that happened. Ogden Brother wrote: You’ve seen the whining from Oiler fans about Schremp…. imagine holding Cogs down? Since when do the fans GM this organization? A slower more patient approach to player development would have the Oilers ahead of where they are now. I’ve argued this point before with little or no support from the fans at OilersNation… But the fact is, winning organizations don’t rush every single NHL ready prospect into immediate service. It’s not prudent.

His FO stink, but really that's a relatively small part of the game... and something that can be shelterd from.

Interesting contradiction: "Rush NHL ready prospects"

Basically what you are advocating is the team tanking - ie purposely icing a weaker team then they could.

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#97 Ogden Brother
April 26 2009, 03:00PM
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Chris wrote:

@ Archaeologuy: We can argue and argue this in circles so let’s agree to disagree. Brule was used by Columbus too soon and it ruined him. The Oilers couldn’t even recall Brule down the stretch for fear of crossing the 160 game mark… Cogliano will be entering his third NHL season… What did it serve the organization to have him up the previous two seasons? He scored 45 points? Who cares… the Oilers missed the playoffs… and Coglino will be heading into restricted free agency status just in time for the cap to shrink. Meanwhile Oiler fans had to endure watching young inexperienced players make a disproportionate amount of mistakes on RX1 ice; the whole time saying, “You can’t hold that against these guys because they are so young.” Well if they were too young; Why did they have roster spots in the first place? Look I like Coglino… But there was no need to develop him in the NHL. The fans in Edmonton should be tired of watching an AHL training camp. We deserve better. When a prospect hits the big show, his performance shouldn’t be evaluated in relation to his age; but in relation to what a different player could have done given the same ice time… If size and strength are still an issue; the player shouldn’t be up with the big club.

Interesting note: Hitting RFA status when the cap shrinks will probably end up being a positive for the team.. ie they'll likely get him locked up cheaper.

Also, it's speculation that Brule was ruined by coming up too early, perhaps he just doesn't have "it"

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#98 Archaeologuy
April 26 2009, 03:17PM
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@ Chris: Comparing Brule to Cogliano is laughable. Brule crumbled under the pressure and Cogliano has continued to produce at expected levels. Brule, in almost as many games as Cogs, has produced less than half the amount of points.

What has Cogs' NHL experience have served the team? He almost led the team to the Playoffs in his rookie year and he outscored our 1st line Centre in his 2nd. What would keeping him in the AHL have done for his development? Given him some complacency in his game because he'd pawn the competition every night? He'd still be that much closer to his RFA status except his ridiculous AHL numbers would draw all kinds of attention to him.

The only thing I had trouble enduring from Cogs is the ridiculous way MacT used him in the worst possible ways. He was developed in the NCAA, not the AHL. It happens. Get over it. How many players do you think could have scored 18 goals on the Oilers' 3rd line? only 1 person beat that mark on the 1st line!

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#99 Chris
April 26 2009, 03:29PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Basically what you are advocating is the team tanking - ie purposely icing a weaker team then they could.

I've tried to disengage from this argument... but you sucked me back in. I'm saying Oilers management could have signed a vetran third line center to competantly fill the minutes played by Coglino last season. The Oilers may have even been better off. Coglino, meanwhile could have been brought up more slowly as a key part of a successful AHL affiliate. To use a proven player on your NHL roster instead of a 20yr old prospect who needs time to grow and mature, isn't neccessarily "purposely icing a weaker team." It's the way a lot of successful organizations manage their assets. It's already clear that we just disagree... so let's stop beating a dead horse. If the Oilers were in the playoffs we probably wouldn't be having this back and forth... But they aren't... If you don't like the Coglino example; fine. Fact is I've sufferd through 18 of the last twenty editions of Oilers being a "young team" with "lots of potential" who will "do better next season" when the players get "more experienced"... The Oilers have rushed so many prospects into early NHL service over the years, that it gives punks like Omark the cheek to demand a guaranteed roster spot. Meanwhile players in the Detroit system (like Jan Mursak) quietly put up good numbers in the AHL, win games, and report to camp truly appreciating the level of commitment required to be part of somthing special like playing on THAT roster. It's time to think beyond just the next season: It's time for Oilers management to decide what kind of franchise they want to be. It's time to rebuild the right way. No quick fixes, no shortcuts, or we will be having this same argument year in and year out for another twenty years.

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#100 Ogden Brother
April 26 2009, 03:39PM
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@ Chris:

Ya I'm sure they could have gotten a capable third line center... that's not the point though, they'd still be purposly icing an inferior team.

If you were talking about Gagner, you'd probably get a little more support, but Cogs was 20 last year... not rediculously young to be in the league.

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