2008-09 Springfield Falcons: Five Years Later

Jonathan Willis
July 16 2014 07:00AM

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On Tuesday we glanced backward at the forwards of the 2008-09 Springfield Falcons, looking to identify how much future value the Oilers had stashed away on a largely inept team. The stars of the forward group were Gilbert Brule and Colin McDonald. Did the team fare any better in net or on defence?

As with the last post, were looking only at players who appeared in a minimum of 25 games, and we’re ignoring anybody older than 25 as of February 1 of the season in question.

Defencemen

  • Taylor Chorney (21 y.o., 65 GP, 21 points). Like a lot of the forwards, Chorney got al ong stint with the 2009-10 Oilers! He played the heart of his NHL career under Pat Quinn before settling in as a solid AHL defender. Between the AHL and NHL in 2008-09 and 2009-10 he went an amazing minus-74 in just 144 games.
  • Theo Peckham (21 y.o., 47GP, 19 points). For a brief period of time, Peckham was an appealing player in Edmonton because he was big and mean and he could play a little bit. The 2012-13 lockout wasn’t kind to him, as he fell out of favour amid concerns about conditioning and his NHL career has yet to recover. He played 45 games for Chicago’s AHL team in 2013-14.
  • Cody Wild (21 y.o., 59GP, 18 points). He was a minor darling of the stats crowd (myself included) for playing tough minutes in 2008-09. His Quality of Competition number turned out not to be a good indicator of the quality of player he was; these days he’s mostly an ECHL’er.
  • Mathieu Roy (25 y.o., 59GP, 17 points). Roy was getting long in the tooth for a prospect by 2008-09; he’d been a fairly decent defenceman for the Oilers over parts of three seasons but injuries were a constant problem. He didn’t get a recall in this season but he would leave as a free agent in the summer and spend most of the next year with Columbus.
  • Sebastien Bisaillon (22 y.o., 31 GP, 12 points). Bisaillon had been an emergency recall out of junior for the Oilers back in 2006-07, getting into two games, but at this point his hockey career was winding down. The offensive defender split time between the AHL and ECHL and by the end of the campaign had definitively proven himself not to be an NHL prospect.
  • Bryan Young (22 y.o., 63GP, 10 points). Another defender who had a cup of coffee in 2006-07 during a terrible run of blue line injuries, Young’s star was also fading. 2008-09 would be his last full AHL season and the second last at any high level.
  • Jake Taylor (25 y.o., 28GP, four points). Taylor, along with Roy, was supposed to provide some veteran backbone for the Falcons. Instead, injury cut sharply into his season and he didn’t end up delivering much of anything as a result.

Goalies

40-Dubnyk-14

  • Devan Dubnyk (22 y.o., 62GP, 0.906 SV%). Dubnyk saw a lot of rubber for a terrible team, going 18-41-2 on the season. It paid off for the Oilers, though, as Dubnyk would go on to play 171 games for the parent team, posting a 0.910 save percentage over that span. The Oilers are still getting value from that development in a sense, as forward Matt Hendricks came back in trade for Dubnyk.

The Chart

The table below shows how many NHL games played each guy would go on to play after the 2008-09 season; players with an asterisk have a reasonable chance of adding to their totals. We’ve added in the forwards from yesterday to give a representation of the entire accomplishments of this group of players:

Player Pos. NHL GP What Happened? 
Devan Dubnyk* G 173 Traded for Matt Hendricks
Theo Peckham LD 144 Left as free agent
Gilbert Brule C/RW 142 Claimed on waivers by PHX
Colin McDonald* RW 115 Left as free agent
Rob Schremp C 107 Claimed on waivers by NYI
Tim Sestito* C 85 Traded for future considerations
Ryan Potulny C 74 Left as free agent
Taylor Chorney LD 59 Left as free agent
Mathieu Roy RD 36 Left as free agent
Ryan O'Marra C 33 Traded for Bryan Rodney
Ryan Stone LW 27 Left as free agent
Slava Trukhno LW 0 Left as free agent
Tyler Spurgeon C 0 Left as free agent
Cody Wild LD 0 Traded for Matt Marquardt
Bryan Lerg LW 0 Left as free agent
Sebastien Bisaillon RD 0 Left as free agent
Bryan Young  RD 0 Left as free agent
Geoff Paukovich C/LW 0 Left as free agent
Jake Taylor RD 0 Left as free agent

This is a better group than the Falcon’s record (24-44-12, worst in the AHL) might suggest at first glance. Six guys would end up playing between 20-100 NHL games in the seasons to come; useful injury filler if nothing else.

Dubnyk is pretty clearly the best player to come out of this group. He’s still being paid to play NHL hockey, and nearly 200 games with a 0.910 save percentage shows that he supplied some useful minutes to the Oilers, however his career in Edmonton may have ended. Uniquely among these players, he was traded for someone (Hendricks) who is still contributing.

Three of the others – Brule, Peckham and McDonald – all had decent NHL stints, with Brule at times playing up the lineup. None of them look especially likely to hit 200 games as role players, though McDonald has a reasonable shot at it. As for Schremp, the problems that kept him out of the Oilers’ lineup for so long never really went away.

Is that a reasonable haul from an AHL team – one significant NHL player, three short-term role players, and seven guys who were more-or-less warm bodies when needed?

For the sake of contrast, Detroit’s affiliate in Grand Rapids had Justin Abdelkader, Ville Leino, Darren Helm, Cory Emmerton, Jakub Kindl, Jonathan Ericsson and Jim Howard, along with a bunch of players who made it to the majors but couldn’t stick. To be sure, the Red Wings are the gold standard, but the disparity is massive.

It doesn’t seem a stretch to suggest that the lack of quality players on the Oilers’ AHL team in 2008-09 was a significant contributing factor to the years in the wilderness that have followed.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 vetinari
July 16 2014, 07:15AM
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Great retrospect JW... and by the way, blink twice if you need us to send help because they have you chained to a desk, pumping out articles while the others play in the summer heat?

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#2 RDS
July 16 2014, 07:20AM
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So is it bad drafting or bad player development? Would these players have turned out better had they been in Detroit's system? It's a question I have often pondered but it seems like a chicken/egg kind of deal...

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#3 Ambassador humantorch
July 16 2014, 07:40AM
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RDS wrote:

So is it bad drafting or bad player development? Would these players have turned out better had they been in Detroit's system? It's a question I have often pondered but it seems like a chicken/egg kind of deal...

Why can't it be both? We drafted bad players and then set them up for failure.

With the Edmonton Oilers, the most incompetent answer is usually closest to the truth.

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#4 Mike Krushelnyski
July 16 2014, 07:44AM
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Wow not a lot of use gotten out of that group.

Although Jake Taylor did have that one game where he called his homerun and then bunted. That was cool.

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#5 Racki
July 16 2014, 08:00AM
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Terrible group of players. Thanks for reminding us ;) if Devan Dubnyk is the success story that says a hell of a lot. Sorry to be a downer about it. That just is not good at all.

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#6 Leef O'Golin
July 16 2014, 08:04AM
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Your article curiously fails to mention how the devastating loss of seasoned head coach Kelly Buchberger was obviously the cruellest blow dealt to that year's team. Or maybe that will be addressed tomorrow??

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#7 Bubba
July 16 2014, 08:10AM
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Just a crazy thought, but given our improving defence, maybe having Dubnyk as a backup might not be such bad idea... if he can just keep that right shoulder a little higher

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#8 madjam
July 16 2014, 08:20AM
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I remember going to the rookie camp out in the Park to see Cogliano and Peckham specifically , but came away impressed with Bisaillon . Sebastion was faster than Cogliano , good passer , stick handler and good shot . Stuck out like a sore thumb - oozing with talent and skill . The kid seem to have it all and a hockey IQ as well . He just appeared to have to add a more physical presence to his skill set . He was pressing Gilbert and doing a good job of it . A year later for whatever reasons he lost it all : confidence , skating ability , skill , shot , passing tape to tape and hockey IQ . What a waste of talent that showed so much initial promise . Peckham was a character guy , one you could see would be coveted by teammates , but his skills were very limited . Cogliano did not overly stick out at that time .

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#9 Privateeye
July 16 2014, 08:29AM
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Ryan Potulny grew a fantastic muzzy, that's all I can remember about the guy.

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#10 Quicksilver ballet
July 16 2014, 08:50AM
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No 411 on the Bart Simpson kid?

Always had that guy pegged for a fake tough type. His father (Homer) nailed it when he stated, we're the suckiest bunch of sucks to ever suck.

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#11 The Real Scuba Steve
July 16 2014, 08:58AM
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That's bad hockey management.

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#12 The Soup Fascist
July 16 2014, 09:15AM
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Geez, Struddy featured prominently in the Willis offering this morning. 3:45 long shift on the first clip. Some guys careers don't last that long.

Then good 'ol #43 getting jumped by three Sharks in clip #2.

Teddy Peckham(burger) will always be one of my favorites no matter how fat he gets. If for nothing else for beating the tar out of Claude "The Shield" Lemieux, the biggest poser the league has ever known.

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#13 Dave240
July 16 2014, 09:22AM
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Great series. Would have loved to see another column in your chart that was 'Where they are now' (playing in Europe, no longer playing pro, etc)

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#14 Jacques Strap
July 16 2014, 09:27AM
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On the bright side, that sad tragic list of turnover machines helped us get Hall, Nuge and Yak. Hopefully the FA signings this summer can finally fill that giant vortex of suck that was created.

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#15 The Last Big Bear
July 16 2014, 09:33AM
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So the net contribution of the entire AHL development system was to provide the Oilers with a 33 year old 4th line grinder on a $7.4m contract?

Ouch.

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#16 Geoff
July 16 2014, 09:48AM
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Jacques Strap wrote:

On the bright side, that sad tragic list of turnover machines helped us get Hall, Nuge and Yak. Hopefully the FA signings this summer can finally fill that giant vortex of suck that was created.

If your gonna be bad you may as well do it properly =D

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#17 Ambassador humantorch
July 16 2014, 10:07AM
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The Last Big Bear wrote:

So the net contribution of the entire AHL development system was to provide the Oilers with a 33 year old 4th line grinder on a $7.4m contract?

Ouch.

Thanks for that, this team wasn't already depressing me enough today.

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#18 Jason
July 16 2014, 11:54AM
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Were those guys who played 20 -100 games really useful fill in? What was the Oiler's record with those callups in the lineup? I know it sucked with the regulars who were essentially filler and placeholders as well, but calling these guys useful as replacements only acknowleges that the guys they were replacing weren't much better.

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#19 Woogie63
July 16 2014, 12:36PM
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JW

Over the last 15 years which AHL team has produced the most NHL games from its graduating players, and how are they structured?

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#20 Spydyr
July 16 2014, 12:43PM
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Sad,just sad the amount of incompetence within this organization.

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#22 Dwayne Roloson 35
July 16 2014, 04:11PM
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This is exactly the reason we took so long to rebuild.we had no value anywhere in the organization and any little value we had was traded for nothing or we let them walk.

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#23 Jason
July 17 2014, 07:50AM
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RDS wrote:

So is it bad drafting or bad player development? Would these players have turned out better had they been in Detroit's system? It's a question I have often pondered but it seems like a chicken/egg kind of deal...

Yeah, if this was Detroit's system the Oilers would have won a Stanley Cup last season under Captain Robby Schremp, with Dubnyk standing on his head in the blue paint and stifling defence from Theo Peckham.

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#24 nugeformayor
July 17 2014, 12:41PM
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can we not show pictures of dubnyk anymore. all that does is remind us what a crap gm tambo was for signing him to 7 mill 2 year contract and ruining our season from the start last year

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