A DOWN YEAR FOR FRESHMAN?

Lowetide
August 28 2013 08:36PM

After an exceptional three season run of impact rookies on their way to being impact NHLers, the cupboard is decidedly bare for Oiler rookies this season. Or is it?

THE ROOKIES 2010-2013

Since 2010 fall, Edmonton has played a lot of rookies, a lot! Here's the damage (by TOI):

  1. Devan Dubnyk (10-11) 2061
  2. Magnus Paajarvi (10-11) 1231
  3. Jordan Eberle (10-11) 1220
  4. Taylor Hall (10-11) 1140
  5. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (11-12) 1091
  6. Justin Schultz (12-13) 1029
  7. Linus Omark (10-11) 783
  8. Jeff Petry (10-11) 713
  9. Nail Yakupov (12-13) 699
  10. Anton Lander (11-12) 594
  11. Lennart Petrell (11-12) 578
  12. Colten Teubert (11-12) 303
  13. Ryan O’Marra (10-11) 231
  14. Teemu Hartikainen (11-12) 221
  15. Chris VandeVelde (10-11) 207
  16. Shawn Belle (10-11) 82
  17. Alex Plante (10-11) 45
  18. Phil Cornet (11-12) 21
  19. Mark Arcobello (12-13) 18

Holy hell. Holy holy hell! That's a lot of rookie in three seasons. Three number one overalls, plus 1st rounders Devan Dubnyk, Magnus Paajarvi, Jordan Eberle, Colten Teubert, Ryan O'Marra, Shawn Belle, Alex Plante; and of course a few other gems like Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry, Linus Omark, Anton Lander and others.

It's a helluva cluster. Can we agree? A three year rookie run this good has to result in some major league improvement. Right?

THIS SEASON

Rookies as rookies are interesting, but the important thing is that they turn into useful NHL players. Gordie Howe wore #17 as a rookie, but ended up with #9 and helped keep Motown Hockeytown.

  1. Oscar Klefbom: The strongest candidate because he solved the problem running around in Craig MacTavish's brain as he arrived to scout Klefbom. MacT: “In the course of what I was doing this year early, I took a trip to Farjestad to watch Oscar. I went in there with one of our Swedish scouts, Pelle Eklund, and it was one of those games where I walked in, sat down, watched warm-up, Oscar came on the ice. The team that they were playing, Modo at the time, dumped the puck in the corner. Oscar pivoted and went back hard and fast for the puck. He fought off a pretty physical forecheck, turned to the back of the net, made a movement of the puck, a simple play, a direct pass up to the wall. That player subsequently turned the puck over. Oscar closed the gap in a hurry in the corner, used his stick, finished his check, knocked the guy off the puck, spun the other side of the net and moved the puck out. I turned to Pelle at the time and said, we can pretty much pack up our briefcase right now and get outta here, I’ve seen enough. I’m always a little bit skeptical when I hear very positive things without having seen them myself. I wanted to spend that trip, get over, take a look at Oscar and we have high hopes that he’ll be a part of our team very quickly. Whether he needs some time, we like to think that all players are benefited from some sort of time in the American Hockey League. Oscar, having played with men this year, might be an exception, but that will be determined at training camp for him.”
  2. Anton Belov: Fascinating signing by the Oilers. Dmitri Chesnokov: “I’d say that the past season, and considering it was a lockout season so there were a lot of NHL players in the KHL, he was probably, unofficially the best defenceman in the KHL. This is the best way to describe him. He was one of the brighter spots on the Russian national team at the World Championships. Everybody knows the … performance that team had, but he was one of the players who stood out. The amount of improvement he has shown the past few years along with his maturity, I think Edmonton has got a great, great player.
  3. Martin Marincin: The day the drafted him, the Oilers were just short of panic (Oil Change documented the moment) in regard to their blueline depth. They considered taking him at #31 overall in 2010, but dealt Riley Nash to get the pick later in round 2 that ended up being Marincin. Tall, thin, mobile, and remains one of the best prospects in the system. He had a solid AHL debut at age 20, a tough item for an AHL player.
  4. Andrew Miller: A bit of a mystery (he'll be a rookie pro this fall) but his college resume looks good. You never know, but if he displays some two-way ability he could pass these other centermen like a house on the side of the road.
  5. Taylor Fedun: Here's a guy who has worked so hard to get back to where he was before the stupidity, and I'm cheering like hell for him. I think he's been passed by too many, but you never know.
  6. Mark Arcobello: Another guy who probably gets passed but the window is open just a sliver. I'm not really sure if there's much difference between Miller and Arcobello, but this fellow has played a lot of pro level games so that probably gives him the edge.
  7. Ryan Hamilton: Big guy, I talked to Noah Love about him yesterday and Mirtle about him a few weeks ago, both feel there's a chance for this guy. His agent Tom Lynn was thrilled for the signing, feeling his client had a real chance to make an impact. I think he's right.
  8. Will Acton: Another center, this guy can penalty kill (they need PK help after flushing Horcoff and Belanger) and he's got some grit. You. never. know.
  9. Tyler Pitlick: I know there's not much to recommend him, but there's a role waiting for his player type. Energy, physical, 2-way player, it's a long shot and this is a pivotal season.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The roster spots get fewer and fewer every year, and we won't see three years like 2010-13 again during my lifetime (in terms of rookie appearances of this quality), but there's still a spot or two on the blue and some question about the center position.

I don't think we'll see an Oiler rookie pass 30 games this season.

(Schultz photo by Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved).

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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 TSN 1260.
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#1 Oilers42
August 28 2013, 10:06PM
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IMO Belov will definitely play over 30 games

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#2 Westcoastoil
August 28 2013, 10:00PM
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An NHL roster that's tough for a rookie to get playing time - music!

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#3 Johe
August 28 2013, 10:09PM
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Belov is my sleeper pick. I think that he is going to be a very pleasant surprise. He tops 30 games easy.

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#4 Archaeologuy
August 29 2013, 08:06AM
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I am legitimately excited about the prospect of watching a team where a rookie actually has to beat someone to win a roster spot

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#6 The_CWD_GarbageMan
August 29 2013, 07:48AM
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For the love of all that's holy, give Klefbom more time to develop in OKC. Is he really going to come in and be that critical factor that makes us a playoff contender? No.

Lets finally start doing things properly and ease him into the role and responsibility of being an NHL defenseman. A role that we all know takes a couple years to get comfortable with. Monitor his progress after the first 15-20 games with OKC see if can come in and improve the lineup if the oil's defense is fit for a CWD bin (shameless plug).

We were just talking a few days ago about how to develop our young players and their skill sets. This is how its accomplished.

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#7 yawto
August 28 2013, 08:49PM
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Been spoiled these past couple years with the fist overalls. Have to get used to the fact the impact players are here and getting experience daily. #hallforsochi

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#8 H4LL
August 28 2013, 11:05PM
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I want to see Taylor Fedun in an Oilers jersey this year. He almost made the team 2 years ago before that stupid play by Nystrom. He's a hard worker and a very smart player.

He can move the puck up the ice and the Oilers need that. We spend too much time in our own end because our defense can't get control and make the first pass.

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#9 NJ
August 29 2013, 08:47AM
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Based on comments by other oiler fans and having had the opportunity to play with Taylor Fedun, I'm hoping that the cheering and ever verbal urges of fans such as myself push him to another level. He IS a smart player, a great puck mover and really has picked his game up through the last half of last season in OKC.

I've also never met another player who walked into a rec league dressing room and shook hands with everyone... not arrogant, just a good guy. He's fought hard to come back from yet another injury caused by an unnecessary icing rule.

That being said, being nice and smart won't earn you a spot on this roster, especially considering the #5/6 D spots should be hotly contested by no less than a half dozen NHL hungry dudes. It's unfortunate for Taylor, but deep competition never hurt anyone.

Final Note: having another Taylor on the team seems about as brilliant as drafting someone named Yakumov, just sayin.

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#10 Walter Sobchak
August 28 2013, 09:39PM
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I'm guessing Klefbom makes the team out of camp, I'm really not at all sold on Grebeshkov or Larsen.

As for never seeing three years like that in a life time again......With K.Lowe in charge, anything is possible.

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#11 The Last Big Bear
August 28 2013, 10:55PM
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I don't doubt Belov will be a gamer, the only question to me is will the Oilers be in a position to utilize his skillset properly?

Not knowing much about the player, I can't say much in that regard one way or another.

But using a similar example from down the road, Anton Babchuk showed in Carolina and Calgary that when given sheltered minutes on the blueline he was an absolute offensive threat. Point production, big +/-, great Corsi, etc. But when the Flames no longer had the horses to shelter him, it was off to the pressbox (and eventually the Ukraine) with him.

Despite having many NHL-level tools in his skill set, his club was simply not in a position to deploy him properly.

I don't know much about Belov's skill set, but his KHL success suggests that it should have some tools to allow him success in the NHL. My only doubts about his ability to do so come from the question marks on the Oilers' defence. Put another way, Belov may be a square peg, but we don't yet know what shape the holes in the Oilers' defence are going to be.

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#12 JodanM15
August 28 2013, 09:32PM
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Lowetide, sorry to ask such a dumb question but what the hell is the number in the last column of the rookie table? is it minutes played? that seems to be the only thing that makes sense....love your blog and radio show btw. big fan

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#14 Fresh Mess
August 29 2013, 06:55AM
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"Oscar, having played with men this year, might be an exception, but that will be determined at training camp for him.”

Mactavish is starting to worry me with silly comments like this as well as some of the moves he has made (trading MPS +pick for Perron, signing freakinGrebeshkov)

Klefbom missed nearly the entire year. He needs at least one season in the A.

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#15 The Last Big Bear
August 28 2013, 08:53PM
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I generally still consider a player a rookie if he's Calder eligible, even if it's not his fist season.

edited: dangit

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#16 106 and 106
August 29 2013, 12:29AM
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#Belov4(Russian)President.

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#17 justDOit
August 29 2013, 02:35PM
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I friend of mine who played US College hockey at a high level, before a shoulder injury derailed him, says that Klefbom will have to learn to widen is skating stance to be effective in the NHL.

Take that for what it is, but this guy can still carve up the ice with aplomb, and he's almost 50!

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