March 09 2012 07:25AM
Oscar Klefbom had a strong World Junior tournament and played another season in the pro Swedish Elite League. Klefbom even scored a couple of goals right at season's end to eclipse last year's boxcars. Now, the young man--regarded as the top blueline prospect in the Oilers system--will have to hurdle many, many older kids hoping for the same thing: a pro contract this summer.
The number of blueline prospects who are going to push for pro roster spots this fall is ridiculous. The Edmonton Oilers are going to have to make some decisions, maybe as early as this spring. They can trade some of the surplus, they can sign the graduating class and send the rest back to junior, college or Euro pro, or they can flush a bunch of pro hockey players currently on their 50 man list (and playing in the AHL) in favor of the new hires.
- Ryan Whitney (signed through 2013 summer, then UFA)
- Nick Schultz (signed through 2014 summer, then UFA)
- Ladislav Smid (signed through 2013 summer, then UFA)
- Andy Sutton (signed through 2013 summer, then UFA)
- Cam Barker (RFA this summer)
- Jeff Petry (RFA this summer)
- Theo Peckham (RFA this summer)
- Corey Potter (signed through 2014 summer, then UFA)
There's obviously going to be some movement this off-season (the Oilers already made a move at the deadline) so at least a couple of these names should be flushed before September. A guess might be Barker and Peckham out, but we also know that the Oilers plan on bringing in at least one defensemen. Added to the roster pressure is the distinct possibility Edmonton will select a defender with their lottery selection. If they add Ryan Murray or Griffin Reinhart, where does that put all of these kids from junior, college and European leagues?
SIGNED MINOR LEAGUE DEFENSEMEN
- Colten Teubert (signed through 2014 summer, then RFA)
- Taylor Fedun (signed through 2014 summer, then RFA)
- Alex Plante (RFA)
- Taylor Chorney (RFA)
Oilers have a few interesting young defensemen on AHL contracts--the crazy Russian Kirill Tulupov, for one--and they may factor in at some point, However, for the sake of conversation, let's assume the 12 names listed here are the incumbents heading into summer. The Oilers current 50 Man Reserve List has 14 defensemen listed, down one from Johan Motin's departure early this season. If Edmonton keeps Whitney, Smid, Schultz, Sutton, Petry, Potter and the 4 AHL defenders that's 10 in total. Throw in the one defenseman Steve Tambellini plans to add to the NHL roster and the roster crunch is a real item.
THE BACK END 12-13
Let's approach this starting with those most likely to turn pro based on age and expiring eligibilty in their current league. There's one man who already has his entry level deal (Marincin) so it's a good guess he's going to get his ticket stamped to pro hockey in the fall.
- Brandon Davidson: He's 21 in August and won't be junior eligible in 2012-13. Edmonton will either sign him, trade him or walk away. Davidson's numbers (64, 13-34-47 +22) and the scouting reports I've heard suggest that he is a legit prospect.
- Kyle Bigos: Big man turns 23 in May and is having a solid year at Merrimack of the NCAA (31, 4-13-17). Bigos does have another season of college eligibility and the club may decide to keep him outside pro hockey for another year.
- Martin Marincin: Entry level contract has already been signed, he'll turn pro this fall. 54, 11-27-38 -4 and closing strong in Regina, Marincin is one of the big blueliners Edmonton is very excited about moving forward.
- Jeremie Blain: It sounds insane, but the depth is so impressive at this position there might be a chance that Blain plays another season in the QMJHL (he turns 20 in 2 weeks). 54, 9-39-48 +26 and the scouting reports say nice things about him.
- Oscar Klefbom: No pressure to bring him over and put him in the AHL/NHL, but the club probably wants to sign him and take away any possible draft re-entry for 2013. 33, 2-0-2 -1 for his SEL season, he was staring at goose eggs all season before punching through. I have no idea if they'll sign him, but do believe there's a chance they leave the top D prospect in Sweden next year while breaking in (at least) a trio of youngsters in the AHL.
- Martin Gernat: 55, 8-40-48 +38 is incredible production for a 5th round pick and he's still over a year from his 20th birthday. He should be back in Edmonton playing with the Oil Kings in the fall, although it does appear he could qualify for AHL action as early as this fall. The money quote is "Players drafted from European and NCAA leagues aren't held to these terms" and the Oilers selected him out of Kosice of the Czech juniors. Scouting reports are exceptional. **I'd love input into this item, because I'm not 100% certain I'm reading this correctly.
- David Musil: Musil plays a very mature game for his age and anyone observing him during the WJ's knows how much he's capable of doing defensively. 56, 5-19-24 +13 with Vancouver of the WHL. Musil's only chance to turn pro is as an Edmonton Oiler, so he is not a signing priority over the summer.
The Oilers have 5 or 6 defensemen who they could sign and turn pro, and the other two have a chance to get signed and then returned to junior for a final season. They're graduating by the 6-pak.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Oilers are going to sign as many as 6 amateur defensemen from their previous drafts to pro contracts this summer. It's a good bet that at least one of them spends their rookie season in Stockton and there's a chance Edmonton either makes a trade involving one of them or walks someone like Brandon Davidson. Or they might ask Kyle Bigos to stay in college for a final season. The numbers don't add up. Believe it or not, there's too much on the way. I expect we'll see a trade before or at the draft involving one or more of the prospect blue.