May 02 2014 11:06PM
The Edmonton Oilers are importing tall trees this summer, in the hopes that one of them eventually finds a way to impact at the NHL level. The Oilers HAVE drafted a two-way NHL center in the last few years—Riley Nash—and the NHL is populated with former Oilers like Jarret Stoll and Kyle Brodziak who can effectively play the position. Will this generation's centers fill the holes?
Craig MacTavish is bringing some big centers in this spring, and they're going to be taller in the fall. Let's have a look at the current pro centers 'bubbling under' the NHL.
- Jujhar Khaira 6.03, 210
- Bogdan Yakimov 6.05, 202
- Will Acton, 6.01, 199
- Anton Lander 6.00, 194
- Travis Ewanyk 6.02, 192
- Mark Arcobello 5.08, 166
That runs the gamut, no doubt about it. I don't think we'll see any of these men in the NHL next season (save Arcobello, and Lander should he sign), and it might be a couple for Khaira and Yakimov. The prospects we're talking about at number 3 overall vary a little in size:
- Leon Draisaitl 6.02, 204
- Sam Reinhart 6.01, 185
- Sam Bennett 6.00, 178
Here are some bigger centers available in this year's draft:
- Shane Eiserman, Dubuque (USHL) 6.02, 200
- Keegan Iverson, Portland (WHL) 6,01, 219
- Kyle Petit, Erie (OHL) 6.04, 200
Far below the bigger centers, Brett Pollock looks like a player. I'm sure there are portions of the fanbase who won't be impressed because of his lack of size, but I'll wager Pollock has more of a hockey future than most if not all of the bigger men outside the projected first round.
- Regular season: 71gp, 25-30-55 .775
- Down the stretch: 35gp, 12-18-30 .857
- Postseason: 14gp, 10-7-17 1.21
Kyle Woodlief, Red Line Report (October)
The other pleasant surprise is forward Brett Pollock, who managed to make the club last year, but sat on the bench most of the season. Red Line liked him in a very limited energy role last year, as he used his big frame to spark the team with an up-tempo forecheck. But the fact that he has already eclipsed his offensive numbers from last year in this campaign's first four games has drawn our attention. Pollock seems to have come back with a much smoother and improved skating stride, and a new-found confidence in his puckhandling.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Oilers have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner and Boyd Gordon at the NHL level and some interesting pro hockey players beyond that trio. Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander are likely to see NHL time (should Lander sign) and we can look forward to seeing progress from Khaira and Yakimov in Oklahoma City.
The truth—and this isn't a great piece of news—is that all of these men are shy offensively. A guy like Lander can handle NHL penalty killing and should help a contending club defensively, but where are the goals going to come from? There's some hope that Khaira and Yakimov can provide a combination of offense, rugged play and checking to be useful NHL players.
Beyond that? I'd take this Pollock kid if he's available when the Oilers make their second pick. Oh, I know it's "another damn Oil King" and that's not cool. I think Brett Pollock is worth the risk.
He's a helluva young player, and has a nice range of skills. If the Oilers are fortunate enough to land a second round pick at the draft, Pollock is worthy of consideration.