January 02 2011 06:54AM
Colin McDonald looks like a "late bloomer." Drafted in 2003, he's now 26 years old and technically no longer Oiler property (he is signed to an AHL contract). Why bother talking about him? McDonald is tied for 2nd in AHL goal-scoring this season. He's on pace for 40, and headlines an exceptional group of Oilers prospects who are having impact seasons.
I don't recall a time when the Edmonton Oilers had more solid NHL prospects at the AHL level. A guess would be the 99-00 team that boasted Daniel Cleary and Jason Chimera (among others). Already recalled have been Linus Omark, Jeff Petry, Shawn Belle and Ryan O'Marra.
The big difference between this year's model and past seasons is that the team has real quality at the high end of the roster which allows the kids to get their feet on the ground. Here are some quality prospects who have had a strong Christmas run for the Oklahoma City Barons:
- L Teemu Hartikainen, 20: 36gp, 10-9-19 -9. Big Finnish winger started slowly and on a depth line, but moved up when Linus Omark was recalled to Edmonton. In his last 10 games, Hartikainen has caught fire (10gp, 3-5-8 +3) and done most of his damage at even-strength (his 5 powerplay goals came in October and November). If he keeps this up, a cup of coffee with the Oilers before season's end is definitely possible.
- D Taylor Chorney, 23: 36gp, 2-10-12, +4. In his last 10 games, Chorney is 2-3-5 +1 and is having an exceptional season based on previous performance. He finished -29 and -20 in his first two AHL seasons so this has to be considered a big step forward. There are still issues with size, but his coverage and battle have been very good (source: coach Nelson) and we might see Chorney sometime this season.
- L Liam Reddox, 24: 36gp, 16-15-31 +13. The Ginger is having a fine season in OKC. He leads the club in plus minus and is a coach's dream. He's coming off another strong three weeks (10gp, 3-5-8 +3) and can play either wing and in any situation. I can't think of any good reason he's still in the AHL (scratch that: he's a small F) but if there's room in the NHL for Toby Petersen there's room for Reddox.
- R Colin McDonald, 25: 36gp, 18-5-23 +1. McDonald has been lighting it up (6-2-8 E in his last 10 games) this year. His previous career high in goals in the AHL was 12. He has some size, is a hard worker and can bring a physical presence. I don't know if he'll get a shot (the Oilers have options--Reddox, Giroux, Moran, Omark again) but no one has done more this season to get noticed than Colin McDonald.
This is Curtis Hamilton. He's enjoying a strong WJC's in Buffalo. Tracking Hamilton's steady climb up the Team Canada depth chart has been fun, as the young man keeps delivering results in any role asked of him. He's 4gp, 3-0-3 +3 at the championships and has a SHG. Hamilton is tied for 3rd overall in goals for the WJ's.
Olivier Roy's WJC's have been less impressive, although I'm surprised at how much negativity there is about his overall performance. We need to remember this is a very short tournament and not reflective of the goalie's overall quality.
He earned the opportunity to start and won everything leading up to New Year's eve; having said that, his .875 SP may mean he takes a seat and Mark Visentin starts today's game.
A reminder: the Canada-Swiss quarterfinal goes at 1 Edmonton time this afternoon. tsn has the television and Team 1260 will broadcast the game on radio.
Joanne Ireland from the EJ has the latest on Jordan Eberle's injury here. I'm never going to bet against this kid. Ever.