Three’s company…

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.

Year Player GP G A Pts
1997 Joe Thornton 55 3 4 7
1998 Vinny Lecavalier 82 13 15 28
1999 Patrik Stefan 72 5 20 25
2000 Rick Dipietro 20 (3-15-1) 3.49 GAA, 0.878 SV%
2001 Ilya Kovalchuk 64 29 22 51
2002 Rick Nash 74 17 22 39
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
2005 Sidney Crosby 81 39 63 102
2006 Erik Johnson Played one year in NCAA, and scored 5-28—33 as a rookie in 2007/2008
2007 Patrik Kane 82 21 51 72
2008 Steve Stamkos 79 23 23 46
2009 John Tavares 82 24 30 54

The second picks have rarely gone directly to the NHL.

Year Player GP G A Pts
1997 Patrick Marleau 74 13 19 32
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
2003 Eric Staal 81 11 20 31
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
2006 Jordan Staal 81 29 13 42
2007 James Van Riemsdyk Played two years in NCAA, and tallied 15-20-35 this season
2008 Drew Doughty 81 6 21 27
2009 Victor Hedman 74 4 16 20

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.


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.


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.

  • Dan the Man

    If the Oilers really want to “change the culture” I’d think Moreau would be the first one gone.

    Based on what they bring as players I think O’Sullivan will likely end up being a better player than Nilsson but POS was complete garbage on so many nights last year I think they need to get rid of him.

    Anyone that puts forth such a horrible effort on a nightly basis should be on the way out. I’d love it if the Oilers held on to him and made him play in Oklahoma for the year.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      O’Sullivan pisses me off, he has some pretty good natural ability up front and is a 30 goal scorer waiting to happen. I just don’t know that he gets it done with us.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Interesting timing in firing Chris McCarthy.

    Based in Boston, McCarthy was an area scout covering the Eastern NCAA Conferences and the QMJHL. He also spent a lot of time in Minnesota watching high school hockey and Midwest covering the USHL.
    pipeline show

  • Let's Rebuild

    I was wondering if we draft Seguin and send him back to Jrs, do the Oilers have any pull to get him traded to a team that might do a lot better next year. I think Plymouth isn’t planning on having him back so they might welocme a trade and get some assets. Seguin might light it up even more on a better team and then lead Team Canada in the WJC. It might give him the oppertunity to play for a Memorial cup as well.

    Another question. What happens if we draft Hall/Seguin, don’t sign them, they play the first 8 games of the season and get injured. Could we still send them back to Jrs?

  • Yeah, I don’t really understand the automatic preference some people seem to have of Seguin/Hall starting in the NHL next season over Eberle.

    I mean…aside from maybe the size issue, all three players put up similar numbers last season in Junior. You could argue that Eberle is older and wiser than Hall or Seguin and has experience in the AHL and WHC, so therefore may have more tools to succeed in the NHL out of the gate. Is the thinking that “because he’s 1st overall he has to play (edit: over someone else maybe equally skilled)”? I don’t agree with that. I say if you bring in the 1st overall to the big club, you should also bring in Eberle. What’s to lose.

    The same theory goes for MPS, he’s a beast and I say he should get a shot based on his proven ability to perform in the SEL and WHC alone.

    So basically I’m in for all three. Why the hell not?

  • Teed

    Who is this Richard Cloutier who blogs for the buzz, seems smart but he changes his opinion every other day…anyway…WE MUST DRAFT HALL, screw drafting by position, BPA you guys all said it, he’ll be the superstar we’ve been lacking, he’ll sell tickets, jerseys, attract media. CMON TAMBI DO IT!

    • Petr's Jofa

      He’s just a fan who posted at HockeyBuzz and was asked to blog. He has no special insight and although I’ll give him credit for pumping out blogs on a regular basis, I often think he is out to lunch.

    • DoubleJ

      Richard Cloutier is just a well written Oilers fan with a really low Hockey IQ. I’ll read anything written about the Oilers, so I have stopped on his blogs before. They’re never thought out and most of his trade/ufa ideas seem to be right out of a video game.

      He’s perfect for Hockey buzz.

  • Ender

    I was wondering, is there any merit in asking a very talented junior eligible prospect to go to Europe for a year instead of back to (for example) the OHL?

    A junior-eligible kid is not allowed to play in the AHL, but if he’s better than junior calibre but not good enough for the NHL, is a euro-league a happy medium that could challenge the kid to grow as a player without getting him destroyed by 6’5″ defenders?

    I’m probably gonna get laughed out of the internet for this one, but I’m genuinely curious about what people think…

  • Let's Rebuild

    Another move that Tambellini made that has helped this club was not bringing in another goalie when Khabibulin went down. He chose the stick with the young guys so he could get a good read on their potential and in a sense he chose to tank the season and get #1 draft pick. If you hold him responsible for his negative decisions you have to hold him responsible for the positives as well. (Would Lowe have chose not to bring in another goalie?) Basically what I’m saying is that Tambellini is directly responsible for bringing in a potential franchise player.

    • Yes. This is true. Any GM who decimates a club’s talent level to the point that it performs the worst in the league IS responsible for the subsequent lottery pick that comes the next draft.

      I say take all 3 rookies, if they legitimately outperform the returning veterans. I THINK Eberle will be here, I think the 1st overall pick will be here, and after seeing more of MPS I think he has a good chance at being here. If either MPS or Eberle have to start the season in Oklahoma I dont see them spending more than a couple months before getting called up anyway.

      Neither MPS or Eberle have been rushed, and based on what I’ve heard from every scout I’ve seen interviewed BOTH Hall and Seguin should make the NHL next year, regardless of who’s “more NHL ready”.

      If Tambellini doesnt want the kids to all make the team at once he’s going to need to get something in return for Souray, Moreau, and POS that can fight for a roster spot. Either that or add some bodies in Free Agency that fill spots, a direction I dont think they’ll be taking.

      • Let's Rebuild

        I was more thinking about a list of good moves that Tambellini has made versus a list of bad moves he has made and I would say that not bringing in a vetran goalie should be on the good move list.

  • I wouldn’t be opposed to sending Seguin back to the OHL for one last year, then bringing him up in in 2011.

    Why not give him another year to mature/fill out/improve his game/whatever else? There’s really no rush to get him up on the big club, as we won’t be that much improved next year.

    EDIT: As for MPS and Eberle, if they can earn a spot on the Oilers, they’ve paid their dues, IMO.

  • washed up

    Seeing all three prospects make the lineup would be very exciting, and as much as i would like to see it happen, it think the outcome for the next season would be about the same either way. As in a prior post with Moreau and Nilson comming off the books next season IMO it would be a poor move to buy them out although i’m not against trading them for picks or pospects. I would like to see MPS on the big club because IMO he’s the most ready to play. The size with skill is something the oilers really lack. I’ve been built up so many times with the oilers only to get torn down by the first week in December. Let’s do it right this time around. Besides one more #1 pick couldn’t hurt. Could it?

  • Poo Czar

    MPS looks like Sloth from the Goonies in that pic, Hall, ugly as he is, might be an improvement on the original Janet, and I think even with Seguin’s face on there I’d still take a run at Chrissy.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Let Moreau, O’sullivan and Nilsson play out their commitments here. We’re going to need these guys if we’re going to be offering up Hemsky, Penner and whomever else in order to land another top 5 pick this summer. If i had my way i’d put that money towards buying out Horcoff next summer and officially usher in a whole new era of Oilers hockey.

    We know Taylor Hall will be in the lineup in October…..having MPS and Eberle in as well will lead to us getting pushed around even more. Bring them up after Christmas if the roster continues to be decimated by injuries.Without someone to ride shotgun with this number of smaller or younger players in the lineup we’re only asking for trouble.

    The Oilers better not trade down and take the second best player in this draft (Seguin)…..with the abundance of players that won’t be re-signing here it’ll be a disappointment to not have another top five pick this summer. Time to do things different here now Mr. Tambellini.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Watch him go now….

      Maybe he’s just started to embrace his computer self. Not being exposed to the written word for a few years takes it’s toll on grammar and spelling.

      Good on you Madjam.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Here’s an idea why not wait and see what happens at camp? I could care less if we have 1 or 3 rookies in the line up as long as they are BETTER than the other guys. I’m not in favour of sending guys down just for TFOI. If Eberle, MPS,Hall/Seguin are better than what we have here then they stay if not then the go down that is all there is to it. I don’t understand why people say we can’t have 3 guys at once, if they are better than what we have up here send down the other guys. If they earn a spot it should be there’s not this he played great “but” crap.

  • smiliegirl15

    Jack Tripper looks like an extra from The Hills Have Eyes.

    Here’s the question – Will having all three young guys playing with the big club in the fall hinder their development if the team, as a whole, doesn’t win as much as we hope it will?

    I think if we buy out Moreau, POS and Nilsson we should get ourselves a couple more good vets to help the players we currently have. Let’s not squander our rebuild by ruining our youth.

  • Ender

    Wouldn’t it be nice, though, to actually look forward to a few injuries? It seemed like everytime we had an injury it was the end of the world no matter who came up. The Oil can stick Eberle, MPS and some of the others they have signed to the minors and they suddenly don’t have all of thier eggs in one basket, which would be somewhat refreshing. We shouldn’t need to see them immediately; I would be happy just to see Hemsky back for a bit, and take shots of adrenaline as the Oil start to faulter by way of an MPS or Eberle injection. It may help fans get through another bad season if we gradually introduce these players, and take the pressure off the team to perform.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F


      We know injuries are coming. Lets have Eberle ready for 1st call up rather then Reddox. Maybe that way when the bodies start to drop it doesn’t automatically mean the season is over.

  • MPS has spent 3 years in the SEL so he’s used to playing with full grown men. I’d send him to the AHL just to get a sense of how he’ll adapt to the North American game. Eberle just to get him more time playing in a men’s league. But Seguin has little left to prove in junior so I don’t think there’s any point, especially if he comes to camp physically strong enough to compete.

    This is all predicated on how the three perform in camp though. If they end up being the best three players in camp I don’t see how you can send them to the AHL/OHL. The Oilers have done it two years in a row to Eberle who was the best performer in the preseason both years. That would be pretty deflating just because the Oilers wouldn’t want to set a precedent on playing three rookies.

  • I have one word for you: transitional vets.
    I like the idea of starting MPS and Ebs in the A for some seasoning, bringing them up partway through the season and easing them in. Seguin can start the year the 2nd line centre in the big show.