May 22 2011 08:39AM
This is Jeff Petry. With the enormous graduating class of 2010-11, the skilled defender finally makes his way to the top of the team's prospect list.
One of the things I've done at Lowetide that people seem to enjoy is a top 20 list. The winter edition is the one that goes in depth, with the summer top 20 a snapshot of the available talent gathered together by the procurement department. The final top 20 will appear the Sunday after this season's entry draft, but I always like to do a list that sheds the graduates and shines a light on some of the less famous kids. Here's the 20, pre-draft. Winter numbers in brackets, I count any player beyond 50 games as a graduate. This year's class includes Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, MPS, Linus Omark, Devan Dubnyk, Taylor Chorney and Theo Peckham. Man that's a lot of talent.
- (12) D Jeff Petry. Mobile defender with a wide range of skills, has shown enough already to suggest the Oilers have a legit top 4 talent here. Young man with size, mobility and intelligence. They don't grow on trees. Jeff Petry's development may hold the key to Edmonton's decision to pass over Adam Larsson in favor of a forward (should the choose to do so).
- (17) L Teemu Hartikainen. Wow. Just wow. Hartikainen showed well when called up at the end of a very successful AHL rookie season. A wonderful prospect with size, skill and hands. Hartikainen was not a highly touted prospect and his draft day scouting report suggested foot speed would be his anchor. That didn't look like a problem during his late season audition.
- (6) L Curtis Hamilton. Young WHL winger turned on the offense in November (11gp, 9-11-20) and never stopped impressing from there through season's end. A WJC invite turned into a roster spot and an effective two weeks playing for Canada. A smart, 2-way winger with a good motor. Curtis Hamilton is exactly what the Oilers need on the wing.
- (9) C Anton Lander. The future 3line center enjoyed a strong season in the Swedish Elite League which included a marked increase in offensive production. Depending on what happens this summer, he could push for NHL employment as early as this fall.
- (4) D Martin Marincin. An outstanding start to his WHL season (first half: 33gp, 10-25-35 +6) gave way to struggles in the second half (34gp, 4-17-21 -18) for the lanky rearguard. Good skater, nice range of skills. He needs to fill out that frame, gain strength and play more consistently.
- (12) G Tyler Bunz. What I don't know about goalies is pretty much everything, but he had a big season. BIG season. His SP (.919) ranked among the WHL's best and he showed very well in the playoffs (although he did sustain an injury). Oilers don't fast track goaltenders so it's going to be awhile (Roy will get his shot first, it's shaping us as another JDD-DD match). But the arrows are strong.
- (7) R Tyler Pitlick. PF prospect suffered a late season injury and played the entire season on the wing. His offense was a little shy, but the boxcars (56gp, 27-35-62) ranked him 3rd among WHL rookies and his EV stats (56gp, 22-19-41) suggest he might be a player. His 22 EV goals rank him 2nd among Tigers during the regular season despite missing several games and playing only sporadically on the big scoring line.
- (15) G Olivier Roy. Solid technical goaltender lacks the size most NHL teams look for in their starters (he's listed at 6,00, 180 so he's not an imp). Butterfly type, he ran hot and cold all year long but looks like a legit pro prospect. Oilers have signed him, and if things go according to Hoyle the club will have Roy spend at least part of the season in Stockton (ECHL).
- (14) C Chris VandeVelde. Looked pedestrian based on AHL numbers, but his coach defended his play and there was anecdotal evidence VandeVelde was being used as a tough-line match up. His play when called to the NHL was solid and helped his final number on this list.
- (19) D Jeremie Blain. Impressive season for lanky defender. Although he took forever to recover from injury, once he did Blain showed a nice range of skills and reports have him being vital to the team's success. Oilers think he'll fill out and he could be a late round gem down the line.
- (NR) D Colten Teubert. Tough defender is a real throwback and an intimidating player. Thunderous hits and a mean streak make him somewhat unique and his role as an enforcer is backed up by the ability to play a regular shift. Unlikely to impact at the NHL level next season, he should see a cup of coffee during 11-12.
- (13) C Ryan Martindale. Enjoyed a very strong OHL season and looks ready to turn pro. Has not signed a contract with the Oilers, so that's something to follow this spring. Played on a very famous line and delivered impressive numbers. His issues had mostly to do with consistency so the offensive output would seem to answer that question.
- (10) D Alex Plante. Enjoyed a much stronger season in 10-11 at the AHL level, but has been unable to jump the queue. Petry, Peckham and Chorney have held serve, and although Plante has not been passed by draft picks taken later, it's also true that the organization felt a need to trade for a similar player (Colten Teubert). I think Plante may be in a little trouble as an Oilers prospect.
- (18) D Brandon Davidson. Late bloomer has calm feet and can move the puck expertly at junior level. Knock on him was skating but he seems to have improved enough for it to be a non-issue in the WHL. Played 2 AHL games on a PTO (professional tryout) and early returns were positive.
- (NR) L Drew Czerwonka. Big man impressed with rugged style and surge offensively. Part of a surprising Kootenay Ice team, we have to wonder a little about the offense but he does seem to have decent hands. If Czerwonka emerged as a legit PF prospect, Stu MacGregor should receive the Nobel Prize.
- (NR) R Toni Rajala. Undersized skill winger had a solid year in Finland. Teenagers often get benched for long periods in the SM-Liiga (ask Jani Rita) so the fact that Rajala played a regular shift in 44 games bodes well.
- (NR) C Tanner House. The Oilers might have something here. A nice range of skills, including a solid defensive rep plus he delivered in a very short period in OKC (6gp, 1-4-5 at the tail end of the regular season). One never knows, but he could fast track to the NHL should Lander show signs he needs AHL time and VandeVelde falters in TC. A very nice signing by the Oilers.
- (NR) C Milan Kytnar. Enjoyed a solid first year pro after spending an extra year in junior. Kytnar didn't see a lot of post-season action, perhaps a reflection of his status once all those prospects were sent down from Edmonton at the end of the season. A player to watch in 2011-12, he certainly surprised with his quality of play in OKC.
- (NR) D Kyle Bigos. Huge defender (6.05, 230) had another solid year for Merrimack (NCAA). Scouting reports have him playing heavy minutes in all disciplines, so it looks like the Oilers may have at least an AHL regular in the big man. It'll be years before we know the entire story.
- (NR) C Mark Arcobello. Not on the radar to begin the season, the undersized center forced his way up the OKC depth chart upon his arrival. An absolute long shot to have an NHL career, there are Frank St. Marseille's every once in awhile and this guy might be one.