Oilers Sign Abney

Lowetide
April 22 2011 07:54AM

In a draft cluster that features Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, it's easy for an enforcer like Cameron Abney to get lost in the shuffle. A meandering season filled with injury and growing pains didn't help, but a strong showing in the playoffs probably saved Abney's status as an Oiler prospect. Can Abney help the Edmonton Oilers?

BEAUTY IS ONLY SKIN DEEP

On his draft day, Stu MacGregor told us about Abney: "He's a big kid who had a huge growth spurt in the last couple of years. A kid that has to improve skating, obviously, when you grow that much you're going to have to improve your skating. We needed to try and get some physicality and he's a young guy who we think is going to be a huge advantage for us."

Abney's independent scouting report talked about a large frame, good fighter, surprisingly good skating ability and a hitter. Doing things to help win hockey games would be the major negative for him in any assessment that projected him into the future.

Abney had an uneven junior career. This past season he set personal bests in goals (7) and points (20) while fighting less due to injury.

UPSWING

Kent Simpson, commentator for Oil Kings broadcasts on Team 1260 had some interesting thoughts when we chatted on Nation Radio in late March. Simpson: "Abney's playing some of the best hockey I've seen in a year and a half. I think the biggest thing that's changed is he's starting to move his feet.  He's starting to realzie that if he moves his feet and makes a good pass he might get it back. It's night and day the way this guy is skating. Early in the year he was a little to late getting in on the forecheck, but now he's playing like the light's turned on."

Abney was battling a hand injury for most of the season and there was also a much repeated theory that even when healthy the kid wasn't going to get into too many fights because his reputation preceded him. It may be a blessing in disguise, as the young man appears to have devoted time to improving foot speed and thinking the game at a higher level. In his last 18 regular season games, Abney scored 3-7-10 points. As Simpson stated, a light appears to have turned on.

WHAT'S NEXT?

I think it's likely Abney spends at least some of next season in the ECHL. Although the WHL is a strong junior league, the speed and size of the AHL has ground a lot of new pro's into a fine white powder. 40 games in Stockton to adjust to the rigors of the pro game might be just what the doctor ordered.

Abney's possible roles as a pro player (enforcer, tough winger with some skill) rely on his ability to move his feet and adjust to new challenges as he moves up the ladder.

He's got an opportunity. Coach Tom Renney sent away Zack Stortini because of foot speed issues and the organization has only Steve MacIntyre (a UFA July 1st) as a real NHL enforcer option. Unless someone already in the system starts to fill that role (Alex Plante has been fighting more, as an example) there's a major void. The quicker Abney learns his lessons in the minors the faster track he's on for an NHL career.

The kid has a shot.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#1 Jonathan Willis
April 22 2011, 10:13AM
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Jean-Francois Jacques, draft year: 67GP - 12G - 21A - 33PTS

Zack Stortini, draft year: 62GP - 13G - 16A - 29PTS

Georges Laraque, draft year: 62GP - 19G - 22A - 41PTS

Cameron Abney, fifth WHL season, two years after being drafted: 60GP - 7G -13A - 20PTS

This isn't going to be a fourth-liner who can play. He can fight, no question, and he's shown that time and again, but he's auditioning for a MacIntyre-type role, not the role of a guy who can handle a regular shift.

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#2 Robin Brownlee
April 22 2011, 11:10AM
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@Jonathan Willis

When are the Oilers going to realize they're wasting so much money on staffing for scouting and player development?

If you can sit out in B.C. and say with certainty, despite never having been near the kid, what Abney's ceiling is by simply comparing him to the players you listed, why are the Oilers wasting all this time and making a fuss?

May I pass your name and number on to Steve Tambellini?

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#3 Jonathan Willis
April 22 2011, 12:02PM
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@ coco crisp:

Two points:

1) 'Glass half full' is an optimistic point of view.

2) The reason we dump on players years down the road for not living up to our lofty expectations is because our expectations were so insanely optimistic to begin with. A reasonable expectation for a player with Abeny's track record is as an enforcer. If he manages to beat the odds and exceed that, great, but there's no reason to pretend he's on pace to turn into Zack Stortini - a guy who was playing a top-six role and doing well at it at the same age as Abney.

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#4 Robin Brownlee
April 22 2011, 08:04AM
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Yes. Yes, he does.

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#5 Bucknuck
April 22 2011, 08:59AM
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Because so many folks were dumping all over the organization for taking him in the third round, I have always had a soft spot for Cameron Abney. I wanted him to shove it up the backsides of all his critics.

Good for him in taking a step in that direction.

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#6 OILERSORDEATH
April 22 2011, 09:08AM
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A bit of topic, but I dont get all the crap scouts and critics were talking about Hartikanen's skating. Its not fluid like MIke Modano but this kids not slow by any means. I mean look at the chances he gets evey game! He's creating those with his husle and skating.

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#7 Romanus
April 22 2011, 11:05AM
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Who is that? wow.

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#8 Jonathan Willis
April 22 2011, 11:37AM
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@Robin Brownlee

I'm sorry, did I ruffle your feathers when I suggested that a kid who in five WHL seasons has hit the lofty 20 point mark once was never going to be a regular-shift guy in the NHL?

Gosh, I guess I shouldn't have gone way out on a limb like that.

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#9 Jonathan Willis
April 22 2011, 11:59AM
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@Evilas

In three of his four CCHA (40-game) seasons, Ryan Jones recorded more goals than Cameron Abney has points this season.

A year after being drafted, in his debut WHL season, Zdeno Chara recorded 22 points in just 49 games, and added eight points in 15 playoff games.

So that's a forward who records more goals in fewer games than Abney has points, and a defensive defenseman who blows Abney's point-per-game totals out of the water at the same age.

I've been looking for a comparable to Abney in some earlier drafts. Just went through the third round of the '60 draft - not one Major Jr. player, some of whom went on to iffy ECHL careers, had point production even in the range of Abney.

Players who score 20 points in the WHL two years post-draft simply don't go on to play a regular shift in the NHL. I'd love to see someone show me an example of someone who did that, because I've never seen it.

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#11 fuck off
April 22 2011, 12:55PM
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coco crisp wrote:

Would you please sit down Willis,, No one wants to hear a whining, glass half full type of attitude on good friday

Cliche FAIL

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#12 Jonathan Willis
April 22 2011, 02:20PM
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@OILERSORDEATH

Of course, Clifford's doing it at the same age as Abney...

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#13 fuck off
April 22 2011, 08:40AM
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Totally off topic, but since the other new rookie contracts have yet to inspire an article here, I'd just like to mention that Brandon Davidson's moniker, if he ever makes the show, should be "Stuff."

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#14 Coco crisp
April 22 2011, 08:42AM
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Mac will be back next season. Maybe he will teach this kid the ropes in training camp.

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#15 EasyOil
April 22 2011, 08:53AM
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To be honest, if in a few years he can be a combo of Smac, Zach and Jacques (that wasn't intentional...), he could turn out to be very useful. I still wouldn't have spent a 3rd rounder on him, but if he can be a player with Smac's fighting ability, Jacques skating and hitting ability and Zach's all-round intelligent game (i.e. not hurting the team, maybe even helping), then he could be exactly what the doctor ordered. Far more interested in this kid than I was a year ago. (although he still could turn out to be useless...)

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#16 a lg dubl dubl
April 22 2011, 08:56AM
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Coco crisp wrote:

Mac will be back next season. Maybe he will teach this kid the ropes in training camp.

I hope Mac's back too and Renney plays him more

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#17 fuck off
April 22 2011, 09:16AM
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For all the critics ranting about his third round selection, you have to consider his ranking and that the Oilers were looking for that type of player at that time in the draft. Very likely they could have waited but WHAT IF they did wait and never had the chance to take him? Oh, that's right, then the critics would shut up.

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#18 Ducey
April 22 2011, 09:26AM
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Saw him good at some Oil Kings games. He can skate, cycle the puck and goes to the net.

He should be able to ride the range effectively as a fourth liner. ETA 2013-14

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#19 Krusher
April 22 2011, 10:00AM
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It's great that he is 6'5 and still filling out. We can only hope of having a tough guy in the lineup who can play a few shifts a game and actually contribute.

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#20 Peterborough
April 22 2011, 10:36AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Jean-Francois Jacques, draft year: 67GP - 12G - 21A - 33PTS

Zack Stortini, draft year: 62GP - 13G - 16A - 29PTS

Georges Laraque, draft year: 62GP - 19G - 22A - 41PTS

Cameron Abney, fifth WHL season, two years after being drafted: 60GP - 7G -13A - 20PTS

This isn't going to be a fourth-liner who can play. He can fight, no question, and he's shown that time and again, but he's auditioning for a MacIntyre-type role, not the role of a guy who can handle a regular shift.

There are late bloomers, it does happen that people develope in their 20's. That being said: Those number don't bode well for him being much more than a depth AHLer of or a liability forth liner/enforcer in the show. H.O.P.E. its the former and its not like we don't have room down there to give him a chance.

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#21 Oilcruzer
April 22 2011, 10:55AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Yes, agreed Willis.

A player who is groomed to play maybe 5 min a game, max 40 games a year, is supposed to be a nuclear deterrent (i.e. detente).

Never a plan as a scoring threat.

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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Jean-Francois Jacques, draft year: 67GP - 12G - 21A - 33PTS

Zack Stortini, draft year: 62GP - 13G - 16A - 29PTS

Georges Laraque, draft year: 62GP - 19G - 22A - 41PTS

Cameron Abney, fifth WHL season, two years after being drafted: 60GP - 7G -13A - 20PTS

This isn't going to be a fourth-liner who can play. He can fight, no question, and he's shown that time and again, but he's auditioning for a MacIntyre-type role, not the role of a guy who can handle a regular shift.

JFJ had 33 points in his draft year?? Mind: blown!

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#23 Robin Brownlee
April 22 2011, 11:12AM
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@Bicepus Maximus - Peter, The Great. Potter, the Goat.

Yes, he did -- on a team that led the QMJHL in points with 108 and in goals with 319.

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#24 Jonathan Willis
April 22 2011, 11:45AM
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And to clarify here, on Abney: I shouldn't have said this is a guy who won't be a fourth-liner who can play, I should have said that's the high-probability outcome.

I don't have a crystal ball to peer into the future, but I do know that the number of guys who score 20 points in the WHL two years after being drafted that go on to play a regular shift in the NHL is awfully small.

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#25 Evilas
April 22 2011, 11:52AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'm sorry, did I ruffle your feathers when I suggested that a kid who in five WHL seasons has hit the lofty 20 point mark once was never going to be a regular-shift guy in the NHL?

Gosh, I guess I shouldn't have gone way out on a limb like that.

I wonder how many NHLers have been in similar positions. How does a guy like Ryan Jones, who only played Jr B, make it to the show? Abney has grown physically in the last year, this will have an impact on who he eventually becomes. Odds are against him, but under the right conditions, you never know. He was chosen for more than just his fists, I am sure. I also remember that a guy like Chara, for example couldn't even really skate, so why in the Hell would anyone want to even take a chance on him, oh right, he is a big guy....You can develop skill and skating, but you can't develop size...I bet you in a couple years he will be knocking on the door....

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#26 speeds
April 22 2011, 11:53AM
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Bucknuck wrote:

Because so many folks were dumping all over the organization for taking him in the third round, I have always had a soft spot for Cameron Abney. I wanted him to shove it up the backsides of all his critics.

Good for him in taking a step in that direction.

I was a critic, and still am, of the pick.

For me, the problem with the pick is that it shows a misunderstanding of the market for players of Abney's type. There is no reason to spend a 3rd round pick to draft a player that is unlikely to carry more value than the 3rd round pick he took to draft even if he pans out.

I would rather roll the dice and try to find an actual hockey player.

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#27 coco crisp
April 22 2011, 11:58AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Would you please sit down Willis,, No one wants to hear a whining, glass half full type of attitude on good friday

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#28 Karth
April 22 2011, 12:43PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Well said!

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#29 RLH
April 22 2011, 12:45PM
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Even if he doesn't make the show, I think that having that size and willingness to throw down in OKC is beneficial. Protection of the main-line prospects has merit as well, even if it won't net you $700K/year.

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#30 Quicksilver ballet
April 22 2011, 01:26PM
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The kid certainly had curb appeal, seen close to 20 games this year. Cameron will make a fine Fire Fighter wherever he chooses to settle down.

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#32 OILERSORDEATH
April 22 2011, 02:14PM
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You just never know, I mean look at LA's rookie Kyle Clifford! Who'd of thought he'd be a regular 3rd liner in the NHL?? He's been one of their best players in the playoffs!! Damn you San Jose!

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#33 Quicksilver ballet
April 22 2011, 02:24PM
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Lowetide wrote:

lol. Do you scout for Redline report? :-)

What's preventing this kid from moving back to the blueline LT, to me it looks as though he may be better off with the game in front of him. His best shot at making it is as a blueliner me thinks.

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#34 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
April 22 2011, 02:39PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Of course, Clifford's doing it at the same age as Abney...

And he was almost at a PPG last year in jr.

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#35 Bank Shot
April 22 2011, 02:40PM
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Willis: Travis Moen is an example of a guy who never really put up any numbers at any level but has succeeded in being a regular NHLer. 16 points in his draft year and 27 points in his final year of junior.

I do agree that the deck is heavily stacked against Abney though. Moen is a one in a hundred type and I'm not sure players like that make good comparables.

Brownlee: Abney has almost no chance of becoming an regular shift guy in the NHL. I'm sure you'll get to be good friends sitting together in the press box. So that's good.

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#37 Jonathan Willis
April 22 2011, 02:57PM
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@Bank Shot

Nice call on Travis Moen. Definitely has had a better career than we would have expected based on junior production.

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#38 OILERSORDEATH
April 22 2011, 03:03PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

And he was almost at a PPG last year in jr.

Good point, I didn't dig that deep.

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#39 dougtheslug
April 22 2011, 03:53PM
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This is completely off the topic and totally unrelated, but has anybody else been visiting the canuck fanblogs since last night? The level of rage, self-pity and self-loathing is approaching cataclysmic, and if they lose this series, I fear the outpouring of frustration will trigger the big one, and Vancouver will just slide off into the Strait of Georgia. Highly entertaining.

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#40 OILERSORDEATH
April 22 2011, 04:56PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

This is completely off the topic and totally unrelated, but has anybody else been visiting the canuck fanblogs since last night? The level of rage, self-pity and self-loathing is approaching cataclysmic, and if they lose this series, I fear the outpouring of frustration will trigger the big one, and Vancouver will just slide off into the Strait of Georgia. Highly entertaining.

Ahhh yessss music to my ears...

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#41 Old but still around
April 22 2011, 10:57PM
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A comment....re Willis and others...

those that cant become teachers...

actors who cant act become critics...

Why go on and on...Hes a long shot...so are most draft picks past the top 30 ..in the final analysis...

make your point, then move on...the kid is still 10 years younger then Mac...will he continue to develop, who knows..but big kids take longer to develop..by and large..

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#42 Clyde Frog
April 22 2011, 11:33PM
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I like to look at the 5 picks after a player to guage how the team did, I figure although some-one 10 places back may have turned out to be the second coming of Jesus... Even if we didn't draft our player chances are we would have taken one of the next 5!

Fear not Oil fans! Only 1 player taken in the 5 after Abney has made the jump to the AHL, he put up a respectable 23 points and -11 as a defensemen. I imagine solid rookie numbers, but nothing on the magical Oh god! Why god! Who the F***k is Jesse Ninimakii!?!?! level.

I imagine enforcers are hard to boxcar at the best of times, but he kept it to a decent -3 and 72 pims. If he has a decent defensive game, decent speed and good positional sense, I am not too worried about the lack of production for a fighting 4th liner.

But I am under no apprehensions this kid will be potting 15+, picking 20+ apples and racking up 300 penalty minutes in a season.

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#43 book¡e
April 22 2011, 11:49PM
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EasyOil wrote:

To be honest, if in a few years he can be a combo of Smac, Zach and Jacques (that wasn't intentional...), he could turn out to be very useful. I still wouldn't have spent a 3rd rounder on him, but if he can be a player with Smac's fighting ability, Jacques skating and hitting ability and Zach's all-round intelligent game (i.e. not hurting the team, maybe even helping), then he could be exactly what the doctor ordered. Far more interested in this kid than I was a year ago. (although he still could turn out to be useless...)

If he plays in the NHL for a few years and contributes in any role - then a 3rd rounder was probably a good deal.

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#44 Woodguy
April 23 2011, 12:00AM
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I guess we'll have to wait for Abney to shove it up his critic's back sides.

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#45 Oilcruzer
April 23 2011, 12:42AM
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Who knows? Maybe he is the next King of the Face off Dot.

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#46 pelhem grenville
April 23 2011, 05:40AM
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dougtheslug wrote:

This is completely off the topic and totally unrelated, but has anybody else been visiting the canuck fanblogs since last night? The level of rage, self-pity and self-loathing is approaching cataclysmic, and if they lose this series, I fear the outpouring of frustration will trigger the big one, and Vancouver will just slide off into the Strait of Georgia. Highly entertaining.

...our nation affiliate canuck army is all but silent as of this a.m. doug...i see ZERO comments on a piece cam davie did yesterday!!!that's real fan participation out on the wet coast...did they all lay down in some pishposh mansion? shroud themselves in purple blankies and kill themselves waiting for the big space ship?

that's a confident bunch out there...while i love "paradise" for R&R i couldn't handle being a season ticket holder there...waaay too uncommitted when the chips are down...wait 'til they lose game seven and the idiot 'fans' riot til the sun comes up monday morning ...

that'll show them proud. lose canucks lose

carry on the tradition

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#47 Death Metal Nightmare
April 23 2011, 08:15AM
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wheres the CORSI and sabermetrics? this hardly even equates to an article if it doesnt have behindthenet.ca stats in it.

actually, the article is kind of scary about the kids up and down playing. it took him until this year to move his feet consistently as a hustle player? yikes. how intelligent is he when not with the puck? having Dummies around is a thing of the past. you either build your bottom 6 with mean, yet intelligent dudes or stop "rebuilding". having Skill Soft Bimbos and a Punching Bag on a team isnt high end hockey.

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#48 madjam
April 23 2011, 08:20AM
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Nashville has remained a competitive team by drafting a lot of defencemen .Some say they have cornered that market in draftees and thus remain very competitive despite little offensive power . Their results over the years are impressive considering how much attention and money they spend on the rest of their teams . They have even less goals than we do most seasons , and it's all because they covet drafting defencemen . Most ON feels, for some odd reason, that the Nashville template is not a way to start building our teams competitiveness . I say we get back and build the backend like Nashville , and draft heavily this season on our backend .

We can always add the offensive pieces down the line .

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#49 speeds
April 23 2011, 08:46AM
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Clyde Frog wrote:

I like to look at the 5 picks after a player to guage how the team did, I figure although some-one 10 places back may have turned out to be the second coming of Jesus... Even if we didn't draft our player chances are we would have taken one of the next 5!

Fear not Oil fans! Only 1 player taken in the 5 after Abney has made the jump to the AHL, he put up a respectable 23 points and -11 as a defensemen. I imagine solid rookie numbers, but nothing on the magical Oh god! Why god! Who the F***k is Jesse Ninimakii!?!?! level.

I imagine enforcers are hard to boxcar at the best of times, but he kept it to a decent -3 and 72 pims. If he has a decent defensive game, decent speed and good positional sense, I am not too worried about the lack of production for a fighting 4th liner.

But I am under no apprehensions this kid will be potting 15+, picking 20+ apples and racking up 300 penalty minutes in a season.

Why would "made the jump to the AHL" be a main criteria - some of those guys aren't even AHL eligible yet?

73 OV was Abney. The next 5 picks were D Connauton (the D you mentioned, although you neglected to mention he had a 72 point season, as a D, for the Vancouver Giants in the WHL last season), D Deslauriers, F Eakin, D Button, D Bertilsson.

Are you trying to tell me they Oilers wouldn't rather have Cody Eakin than Cam Abney?

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#50 nelson88
April 23 2011, 10:25AM
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I posted this during an earlier Abney debate and have yet to see a good response from the "he'll never play a regular shift" crowd.

Reportedly Abney is a pretty decent skater for his size and from a number of viewings he is a good fighter (I doubt Plante will ever be). As an earlier poster commented. If gets his skating up to NHL level (seems plausible) and he is smart enough for decent positional play what is stopping him from playing an effective 8-10 minutes a game even if the offense is not there? Comparing him to Smac at this stage is lazy and intellectually dishonest imo.

For all the folks criticizing the management and scouting staff. I'm too lazy to search for the quote but remember an in interview with Stu during the draft (after the MPS and Lander pick) that they felt they had safe picks and were going to make a couple of reaches. I would not want to see it every year but they obviously it was part of the strategy.

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