If two’s company and three’s a crowd, is it realistic to picture three offensive rookies playing for the Oilers next season? Is it likely Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and Taylor Hall/Tyler Seguin will all be here in October?
It’s rare that three rookies would make any team in the same year, never mind three players who haven’t played one season in the AHL. Based on past history the player most likely to make the team will be Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin. Since 1997, the only first overall picks not to play as 18-year-olds were Alex Ovechkin (lockout) and Erik Johnson.
|2000||Rick Dipietro||20||(3-15-1) 3.49 GAA, 0.878 SV%|
|2003||Marc-Andre Fleury||22||(4-14-2) 3.64 GAA, 0.896 SV%|
|2004||Alex Ovechkin||Played in Russia due to lockout. Scored 52-54-106 rookie|
|2006||Erik Johnson||Played one year in NCAA, and scored 5-28—33 as a rookie in 2007/2008|
The second picks have rarely gone directly to the NHL.
|1998||David Legwand||Went back to junior (31-49-80)|
|1999||Daniel Sedin||Played one more year in SEL. Scored 20-14-34 1st year in the NHL|
|2000||Dany Heatley||Played one more year in NCAA. Scored 26-41-67 his rookie season|
|2001||Jason Spezza||Went back to junior, then spent half year in AHL. In 2003/04 tallied 22-33-55, then played next year AHL due to stike|
|2002||Kari Lehtonen||Played another year in Finland, then two years in AHL, before playing 38 games in 2005/06|
|2004||Evgeni Malkin||Played two more years in Russia before scoring 80 points as a rookie in 2006/07|
|2005||Bobby Ryan||Played two more years in junior, then split season between AHL and NHL, before scoring 31-26-57 as a 21 year-old|
|2007||James Van Riemsdyk||Played two years in NCAA, and tallied 15-20-35 this season|
Three offensive rookies have broken in together before, but it’s rare to have three of them all 20 years old or younger. It’s more likely to see pairs of rookies than a trio.
The Colorado Avalanche did have three offensive rookies this past year, Matt Duchene (24-31-55), Ryan O’Reilly (8-18-26) and T.J Galiardi (15-24-39). Galiardi was 21 and played a year in the AHL after being a 2nd round pick in 2007.
Thornton and Sergei Samsonov (22-25-47) were both 18 in Boston.
Marleau and Marco Sturm (10-20-30) debuted in San Jose together.
Heatley and Kovalchuk broke in together in Atlanta with Heatley being one-year older.
Mike Richards (11-23-34) and Jeff Carter (23-19-42) were 20-year-old rookies in 2005/2006, along with 23-year-old rookie RJ Umberger (20-18-38). Umberger was the 16th pick in 2001, but he spent two years in college and one year in the AHL before debuting in the NHL.
Malkin and Jordan Staal broke into together in 2006, and they had lots of sophomore teammates; Crosby, Ryan Whitney, Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen.
Jonathon Toews (24-30-54) broke in with Patrick Kane and 21-year-old Dave Bolland (4-13-17).
We’ve also seen it backfire. Kyle Turris (8-12-20) and Mikkel Boedker (11-17-28) debuted together in 2008/2009, but both found themselves in the AHL this past season.
CAN A THREESOME BE BAD?
It’s possible the Oilers will have all three in Edmonton this October, but will that be the best decision for the organization and the individual players? Is it best for Eberle and MPS to learn in the NHL or would half a season, even a full season, in the AHL better benefit their development.
History shows that a year in the AHL, NCAA or back in junior after being drafted helps prepare most players for the NHL. Eberle and MPS have had that in the WHL and SEL, so maybe they are ready to make the jump, but the likelihood is that both could benefit from some time in the AHL.
The problem for the Oilers is these two kids could easily be better than their competition in camp, so the coaches might be forced to keep them. The Oilers aren’t blessed with loads of talent right now, and I’m curious to see if Steve Tambellini elects to hand his young players a job, or if he’ll bring in some veterans who can push them.
SPEAKING OF THREESOMES
We will see what direction Tambellini is heading in when the buyout window begins. From June 15th to June 30th, NHL teams can buyout any existing contracts, and the three most likely are Ethan Moreau, Patrick O’Sullivan and Robert Nilsson.
Tambellini has fired assistant GM, Kevin Prendergast, three long-serving training staff members and some scouts so far during THE SUMMER OF STEVE, and I expect him to make a statement about the on-ice product as well.
At the end of the season, I thought Moreau’s play might have saved his contract, but I sense that isn’t the case. The bigger question is which one, if not both, of Nilsson and O’Sullivan will be bought out.
Tambellini could keep both of them, and allow Eberle and MPS to develop for a year in the AHL. That move wouldn’t sit well with most Oiler fans, but it might be the best move long term for the organization.
I’d expect him to buy out one of them to show his players he is serious about getting players who are committed to improving and winning.
I think we’ll see two buyouts this month and two first-round rookies make the team.
Seeing a threesome in either category will be a surprise from where I sit.