Going to the End of the Line

The Oilers claimed Taylor Chorney from St. Louis yesterday, making a crowded situation in OKC almost impossible. When everyone is healthy in Edmonton, the NHL-AHL depth chart is going to be as deep as it’s been in years. And hold on! There are more kids coming. Someone is going to get lost in the flood.

At the top end of the Oilers roster, the blue looks more settled than it has in some time. Despite Ryan Whitney’s injuries, the club has had a solid beginning to the year owing to maturation, impressive additions and systems. If everyone is healthy the Oilers depth chart will probably look like this:

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  1. Ryan Whitney
  2. Tom Gilbert
  3. Ladislav Smid
  4. Corey Potter
  5. Cameron Barker
  6. Andy Sutton
  7. Theo Peckham
  8. Jeff Petry (added for injury)

The top 7 healthy and effective means–all things being equal and everyone healthy–that Jeff Petry would be an OKC Baron again. Let’s assume that injuries (Barker’s hurt now, along with Whitney) continue to keep one of the 7 names above out of the mix and that Petry remains on the roster. That means the OKC Baron depth chart, with Chorney back from the waiver wire and Teubert back from his callup, looks like this:

  1. Colten Teubert
  2. Taylor Chorney
  3. Alex Plante
  4. Johan Motin
  5. Kevin Montgomery (AHL vet, OKC signing)
  6. Bryan Helmer (AHL vet, OKC signing)
  7. Ryan Lowery (OKC signing)
  8. Kirill Tulupov (OKC signing)


Above, I’ve listed the Oiler roster players before the OKC boys, although this is not the depth chart. In fact, there’s quite a bit of evidence to suggest that Plante and Motin have been used in a third pairing rotation with Kirill Tulupov. From what I’ve been reading, the top 4 has been consistently Teubert, Montomgery, Helmer and Lowery. And the kid Russian, an OKC signng, is a player of interest for the organization.

I would suggest that based on how the coaching staff is using this group of defenders, Tulupov and Lowery are trending upward and Plante plus Motin may be in some trouble as it stands now. There’s a long way to go before the organization needs to decide, and Plante as a former first round pick is going to get more chances, but it is not reasonable to suggest that the club will fret over waivers in regard to Plante next fall.

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In other words, the waiver rule that kept Theo Peckham in Edmonton fall 2010 over Sean Belle and the one that caused the Oilers to send away Jeff Petry this fall when he was a clear top 6 defender will not serve Plante in the same manner. He is not being used in a way that suggests the Oilers see him as a legit NHL option.


The next item on the agenda when slotting these blueliners is to look at the players who can be dropped simply by not offering them a contract. RFA’s at the end of their entry level deal–Taylor Chorney, Alex Plante and Johan Motin among them–need to be pushing up the depth chart in order to be "on the list" of possible contract signings next summer.


Based on their contract status and how they are being used, my guess is that Alex Plante and Johan Motin are in their final seasons in the organization. I think it’s quite possible that Taylor Chorney, Kirill Tulupov and Ryan Lowery are offered contracts by the Edmonton Oilers and are added to next year’s 50 Man List.

It’s early, but the trends suggest that these three–along with Taylor Fedun, Colten Teubert and graduating blue Martin Marincin, Brandon Davidson, Jeremie Blain and Kyle Bigos will be pushing up the depth chart.

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NHL teams don’t make transactions for the hell of it. Taylor Chorney was a player of interest and the Oilers plucked him from waivers. He’s part of the future, as is Colten Teubert among the minor league group. Next fall Taylor Fedun is likely to be in the minors getting back into playing shape and the team will also likely add an "AHL veteran" to help the kids with heavy lifting.

That’s four, and the club will probably employ four more. Let’s say they end up keeping Marincin  and Bigos and sign both Tulupov and Lowery. That means Davidson and Blain start in Stockton. It means there may not be room for Plante or Motin and if the Oilers add a free agent or a blueliner via trade the depth chart might look even more dire for them. The entire depth chart may get some relief should the Oilers choose not to resign Cam Barker.

Asking waivers on Taylor Chorney and the performances of Lowery and Tulupov–if this holds–probably spells the end of the line for Plante or Motin. Or both.

    • Lowetide

      I think the Oilers enter next summer with three really good things: money (the Barker cash), depth (they could deal picks, roster players and prospects) and fewer than 100 needs.

      If the Oilers enter summer needing a solid top 4 defender and little else, it should bode well for them. Despite some misfires along the way, I still believe the Oilers can identify useful defensemen.

      I’d love to get any of OEL (PHX), Pieterangelo (STL) or Bogosian (WPG) but suspect they are not available.

      Maybe someone just below?

    • Lowetide

      One thing I could see happening is the Preds dealing Weber for a package and the team trading for him signing a long term deal.

      I don’t know that the team is the Oilers, but NASH has to max the return if they can’t sign Weber long term themselves.

      • Wanyes bastard child

        Yeah, I really don’t see Weber in our future either. Would you give up Whitney in a trade chip to try and get Weber or Suter?

        I think I would…

  • Clay

    No mention of Klefbom? If you believe the scouting reports, he may be the best D prospect in the system.

    If only two of Marincin, Klefbom, Davidson, Petry, Musil, Blain, Teubert, and Simpson turn into top 4 Dmen, I don’t see why they’d need to go spending on a big name free agent.

  • I doubt the Oilers qualify Chorney. They will let him walk and go find himself a shot in another organization (in the best interests of the player if he still has NHL aspirations)

    Unless, of course, he has accepted the fact that with the Oilers will be primarily viewed as an AHL vet and mentor.

    They wanted him back because they need him in OKC this year, especially if they want to win a Calder Cuup. It also takes away any excuse for sending Petry down.

    Chorney is a legit quality puck moving AHL defender.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Man that’s a lot of D… hard to juggle them all in my head and keep the depth chart straight. esp. considering Clay’s point about all the others pushing up the chart

    you are over due for a Musil update LT and a Goalie update… How’s Bunz doing and the Fin we drafted this year?

    thanks again, for the updates. awesome as usual…

  • The D situation this year was helped emensely by the acquisition of Potter. He’s been a pleasant surprise and he fills a top 4 spot on this team. Signing him to a 2 year extension should be a priority.

    Potter’s emergence is also indicative of how it normally takes several years for a draft pick to develop into an NHL defencemen. It’s fun to fire off names like Klefbom, Musil, Teubert, Marincin, and now Reinhart, but these guys are still young and have a long way to go. They would be longer term solutions.

    Perhaps next offseason, the pro scouting department can find another quality defender that another team has spent 5 years developing. They finally got one right this year so here’s hoping they can do it again.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        Except that next year we want to send Marincin, Gernat, and Musil to OKC. What do we do with Chorney then?

        The only value I see with Chorney is as a long shot trade bait for a low pick as someones Dman injuries stack up.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          I think you hit the reply button to the wrong post… but that doesn’t matter.

          I’m not saying Chorney is on the same development path as those guys at all… there is a good chance that Chorney is not brought back next year to make room for them.

          That said, I was merely pointing out that part of the development plan includes having a successful AHL team… sometimes that means going out and getting legit pros like Helmer to keep a team on its feet while the young guns develop. it gives them a model to emulate/aspire to (and beyond obviously).

          So, to me there is at least one good reason to reacquire Chorney even if the team has little interest in his future in the NHL (barring some kind of massive upgrade in his play)…

          but yeah… this spring and going into the offseason expect him to be reevaluated and either cut lose altogether, given a OKC only contract, sent to Stockton, or given a two-way again as an insurance in case of injuries (lord knows the Oil is prone!)

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Chorney stinks, plain and simple. This is a useless move, what good comes of having him in OKC taking ice time away from players who actually have a chance of making the big league in the future?

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      But if that were the case – OKC only for those the team deems future NHLers – explain why they went out and got the vet AHL presence of Helmer and why they are so happy to have him.

      Part of the development process is having steady hands at the A to:

      1) push the competition for ice time

      2) breed a spirit of winning

      3) mentor development

      Chorney’s a perfect fit for that. And if need be – ie half our d fall to injury or some other freakish thing – we know he can play in the NHL.

      • Chris.

        His play last season proved he can NOT play in th NHL. He was 8th-10th in depth on the defense of the last place team in the league. What skills does he bring in mentoring or developing players? His play is a poor example of what I would want young players strive to be. Helmer bring 18 years of pro experiance, with 150 nhl games, 2 calder cups with Hershey and 1 with Albany. You are right he is the kind of player that they should be using to develop young talent, Chorney doesn’t fit that mold other than breeding a spirit of winning if you need one guy on your team for everyone to outplay.

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          Ok. I see what you mean. I probably overstated things to add some zest to the pushback against the “Chorney stinks, plain and simple” line.

          He’s not “perfect” for the role Helmer is in. But Helmer is the mold in which I suspect the Oil sees Chorney fitting. Not a perfect fit. But that is the mold. that’s all I meant.

          I also agree that the phrase “he can play in the NHL” is missing the crucial caveat of “in a pinch and under suboptimal conditions” which I figured was implied by the injury caveat. So be it, I could have been more clear. That said, the guy is no Rob Blake, or even a Petry. But the organization knows him and I bet would be “grin and bare it” comfortable with him on the ice for limited minutes in limited situations if need be.

          For the rest of your comment. I think you simply have a hate on for the guy that can’t be accounted for. If he’s the 8 to 10 guy on an NHL team as you say… that works out to being a 2 to 4 guy on an AHL team. By your own standard that’s good enough for the A.

          I’m not sure why you think a 24 year old guy with pro experience and international experience would having nothing of value to offer younger, less experienced players. Unless you know something about his inability to communicate that I don’t… I don’t understand this argument. Is he the apogee of mentors, no… but who is saying that?

          As for whether he is worse than everyone else on that AHL team and therefore a model of decline. if we are talking about current projections, then I agree he’s no ace waiting to blossom. but at the present he’s a good deal better than you give him credit for. I agree with LT and the Oil that he is a fairly reliable pro D.

          Here’s LT on him as he went on waivers:

          “Chorney has shown an ability to play effectively in the AHL, and he has also shown an inability to be a consistent, reliable NHL defender. There’s a job for Chorney in the organization, but it’s in OKC… [he’s] a proven AHL player.”

          and again after he was picked up:

          “the OKC Baron depth chart, with Chorney back from the waiver wire and Teubert back from his callup, looks like this:

          1. Colten Teubert
          2. Taylor Chorney”

          now, clearly this is an argument from authority, but I trust the authority of LT in this case and the Oil management. All I’ve tried to do here is flesh out the case I see them making.

          Finally… we are talking about a guy that is going to play in the A and maybe not past this season. I’m hardly making some robust “Chorney FOREVER” argument.

          I simply don’t get your aversion to making this happen. It is such a minor move that has limited impact in terms of both time and affect on other players.

          [sorry all for the length]

  • PerryK

    There is one benefit for the Oilers taking another look at Taylor Chorney (before they likely let him go after this season). He got a look inside another organization. i.e. He got a second opinion/evaluation of himself from an entirely new set of eyes. He got to see where he is in the pecking order on an entirely different totem pole. That sometimes can be a real learning experience, because it can wipe out the self-pity about how current management is the blame for your current situation.

    (And the month of NHL salary ain’t bad either.)

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    LT is that first pic from “Where Eagles Dare” I don’t even know if she was in that… but that’s what came to mind when I saw that pic.

  • Chris.

    Chorney. *yawn*

    Bad players up front are being filtered out of this organization and good players are comming in. It shows on the ice. Belanger, Eager, RNH, Smyth are better than Cogliano, JFJ, Stortini, Reddox…

    Now please, please let the same phenomenia occur on the backend. Good bye Barker, Motin, Plante, Chorney… Hello Klef”bomb”, Musil, Marincin, Shea Weber…

  • Chris.

    I see Hall , Hopkins and Paajarvi in top 6 eventually – the rest might go for more size upfront to surround those 3 . Boston and Detroit game losses showed our size weakness .

  • Chris.

    How about that Cory Potter?

    Seriously… Hasen’t be been one of the top three most pleasant surprises for the Oilers so far this season? (excluding Khabibulin and RNH)