June 28 2011 06:59PM
A year ago, there was already a buzz in the streets of Edmonton. Taylor, Jordan and Magnum PS brought with them the promise of youth and Oilers Nation was reborn. What can they do for an encore?
All three Oiler rookies had solid rookie seasons. Two of them suffered injury and the third took some time to get rolling, but overall it's obvious these kids have real ability and room to grow. Since 2000, the Oilers have given very few rookie forwards more than 600 minutes of icetime as rookies. Here's the list:
- Sam Gagner (07-08) 1238:31
- Magnus Paajarvi (10-11) 1231:05
- Jordan Eberle (10-11) 1220:08
- Taylor Hall (10-11) 1183:38
- Andrew Cogliano (07-08) 1112:17
- Kyle Brodziak (07-08) 1033:24
- Jarret Stoll (03-04) 945:18
- Linus Omark (10-11) 783:08
- Patrick Thoresen (06-07) 776:33
- Ales Hemsky (02-03) 712:12
- Jason Chimera (02-03) 710:06
- Marc Pouliot (06-07) 600:12
It's an interesting list, pretty much everyone of the good players are here save for the "called up in mid-season" group (Horcoff, Pisani, Comrie). That's a pretty nice list of hockey players there, and the organization still holds the rights to 7 of them.
There are a few forwards who may end up playing for the Oilers in 2011-12. Here's the list based, order based on the odds of them staying for a large portion of the season (most to least).
- C Ryan Nugent Hopkins: I didn't think he would make the NHL team until speaking to Cam Moon in Red Deer. Moon talked at length (and with passion) about the weight issue and convinced me that RNH's story is about skill, vision and elusiveness. He's going to get a look, and could very well be sent to Red Deer early in camp. However, I've always maintained that a player should be elevated when ready to contribute and Nugent-Hopkins skill is going to be on display. I believe he'll outclass the competition and stay the season. Estimated games played: 75.
- L Teemu Hartikainen: The organization is clearing the decks for him, with JFJ already off the books and the number of 4line LW candidates being reduced daily. He could line up behind an impressive top 3L (Hall, Smyth, MP) or move up the depth chart if the Oilers decide to move Paajarvi to the off wing. Either way, his energy, size and skill are very likely to be in the NHL for a large portion of the season. Most likely destination: 4th line, with a veteran center between Hartikainen and Ryan Jones. Estimated games played: 55.
- C Anton Lander: The center position is fluid at this time, it's hard to know what is going to happen. My guess is the Oilers move a veteran C into the lineup and go with a top 4C of Gagner, RNH, Horcoff and that veteran for the 4line. Lander would be among the first options for recall from OKC and he could force his way onto the roster with a strong start in the AHL. Estimated games played: 25.
- C Chris Vande Velde: He's in tough now, this organization has options here, there and everywhere. Should the Oilers stay the course, he would be a strong option to start the season as 4line C; however, Lander holds the key to his future: when the Swede is ready, the organization will make room. Estimated games played: 12.
- F Lennert Petrell: Interesting winger brings a nice range of skills and some maturity. I don't think he makes the team, but he should get a cup of coffee when injuries hit. Estimated games played: 7.
- W Antti Tyrvainen: Agitator is going to stand out in OKC and should do enough to get a quick look from the major league team as the season winds down. Estimated games played: 5.
- C Tanner House: Cup of coffee for a strong OKC season. He's an interesting player. Estimated games played: 2.