A good way to track prospects progress is to take note of their arrows. Good arrows, bad arrows, they all count. Jani Rita’s WJ goal, his first season in the AHL–those are good arrows. Any comment made by Craig MacTavish about Jani Rita? Down arrow. It’s been years–over a decade–since the Edmonton Oilers had so many up arrows. It is a little overhwelming. 

I’ve been struck by the quality of the prospects being sent down so far. On September 20, Edmonton sent away 20 players, including Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Martindale  and Martin Marincin. These kids are all fairly high draft picks, and were known quantities before the Oilers selected them in the most recent draft. They’re not long shots, they’re good bets. I know injuries and life can get in the way, and lord knows an old Oiler fan like me knows for sure that prospects don’t develop in a straight line. But those three kids had draft pedigree, there are no Niininmaki’s or Colin McDonald’s (both of whom were drafted well before they were expected to go).

The Oilers used to draft Coke Machines and now they’re drafting hockey players with size. Subtle difference, but I think Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor may have found a formula that works: find hockey players, draft as many as possible, make sure they play in a league and situation that will benefit them (Rita sat on his arse in the Finnish league, playing 5 minutes a night in very important development years). That’s another reason for all the arrows.

On September 21, the Oilers sent down Olivier Roy. This young man has a chance to be on the World Junior team this Christmas, and his resume already includes some outstanding work (Roy started slowly last year in junior, then had an exceptional run to finish well in the Q; he followed that up with a most impressive 140 minutes in Springfield).

Yesterday, the club sent down Tyler Pitlick. Pretty much everyone agrees this young man showed a wide range of skills and God-given talent during his time in the city. Pitlick may be that Coke Machine poor old Kevin Prendergast spent much of the ott’s looking for. and it doesn’t look like this one will take long to figure everything out. Pitlick’s arrows are all positive from here.

Many years ago, the Hockey News told me the Edmonton Oilers had some nice talent on the horizon. This was just after the crazy period when Gretzky was joined by Lowe, Anderson, Messier, Coffey, Kurri, Moog, Fuhr. The article mentioned Steve Smith, Jim Playfair and spent a lot of time promising me Raimo Summanen would be the ultimate LW for Gretzky-to-Kurri. Right at the end of the article the author said something like "and Esa Tikkanen may also help down the line." Well, yes.

Ten years ago, the Oilers training camp roster included the following prospects who became NHL players of note: L Jason Chimera, L Daniel Cleary, C Mike Comrie, D Alex Henry, C Shawn Horcoff, L Dan Lacouture, C Matthew Lombardi, R Fernando Pisani, D Alexei Semenov. Some nice forwards in there. notable in that none of them were Oilers first rounders and that Lombardi got away. Also interesting: not much from the blueline and no goalies made it. Perhaps its the water.

This year’s list has some advantages, not the least of which is a #1 overall pick, two other top quality first rounders and that kid Pitlick who is already looking like a real gem. If there’s a Tikkanen in there somewhere, the Oilers will be flush in a couple of years. Either way, I like this year’s group a little more than the one the club brought in 10 years ago. The Riesens, Henrich’s and Mikhnov’s have been replaced by Hall, Pääjärvi and Eberle. This decade is starting very well in terms of talent procurement.

  • BArmstrong

    Could Teemu Hartikainen be the next Tikkanen? His play, not his ability to get under one’s skin?

    Fin. Good defensively. Wins battles on the boards.

    But no question, the prospects in the system are miles better than a few years back. Thanks MBS.

    And I know it’s a little embarrassing ‘cuz it’s 7:35am on a Saturday morning, but…fist?

  • @ LT,

    All arrows have Oiler fans drowning in Kool-Aid.

    The Sea of Red thinks Edmonton is getting ahead of themselves…

    This group hasn’t played a game in the NHL and Stu MacGregor is glossed “Magnificent Bastard”.

    How many busts will it take for the “Magnificent” to be dropped?

    There’s too much hype for all of these guys to live up to the expecations put on them.

    • Pajamah

      I agree us fans need to temper our expectations of what these kids can do, but thats not taking away from the incredible amount of talent we have potentially joining the team in the next 2-3 years.

      MBS is just being compared to the previous regime, who did next to nothing to truly improve the team.

      Scouting is as much hard work as it is luck, but when you pick the right players, your odds definately go up in terms of NHL players chosen.

    • Pajamah

      Expectations are always high. However the Oilers are doing a good job at drafting players depending on their skill set, rather than drafting kids based upon their draft ranking. They used to just take the highest ranked kid that had size or speed. Now they’re looking at how they play the game. It’s not so much expectations are that much higher so much as MacGregor seems to be actually doing his job.
      I won’t start calling him magnificent until I see him draft well from the blue line and in the crease. I don’t think there is any choice but to pick Adam Larsson next year barring something catastrophic. This team needs someone to anchor the blue line and they don’t have anyone in the system who can do this.

        • Rogue

          Sorry I should clarify. I meant they took the best kid with speed or size, not that they took the best player overall. Like when they drafted guys like Devereaux and Steve Kelly. They were the fastest kids in the draft with skill but not the most talented overall.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      First time I’ve agreed with you. One spectacular pre-season game against an 80% AHL roster and expectations seem to be too high already.

      • Rogue

        Did you forget the game we had 80% of our AHL team up againts most of the Casucks starters? I remember just watching the Oilers play their first couple of Pre-games and thinking “Oh jesus Christ what the hell kind of crap hockey is this? Now seeing these two games the overall energy, grit, forcheck, hitting, speed has me pretty Effin stocked for the Reg season.

    • Uhh I’d wager that the fan-base is on point right now. Not all will become top tier players obviously, but if we hit 2 of 3 with the MPS, Hall, Eberle we’re on the right track. I’d say that’s well within the realm of reality.

  • after the season that Oilers fans just went through, I’m not going to try and rain on anyone’s parade for getting excited about the future of this team.

    As long and management has their heads screwed on straight, what’s the harm in fans getting ahead of themselves a bit and declaring Paajarvi the next bure or forsburg?

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Here’s the harm: We drasticaly overate any young player coming in. Player doesn’t quite live up to the unrealistic expectations we’ve put on him and then the fan base slowly turns on the player, until he’s eventually given the Arnott treatment (see Carey Price in Montreal for a current example).

      It’s already starting to happen with Gagner, as the anti-Sam cru is slowly picking up steam. I hope for his sake he puts up 60+ this year or it’s going to start getting ugly.

      • That’s a great point, but as a sports fan, the second best time of the year (first being when your team is in the playoffs) is preseason when anything is possible.

        If you deny yourself that hope and excitement, I would ask why bother being a fan in the first place? Seems just like a lot of work with no reward.

        With the crop of prospects we have right now; if you are not excited – when would you allow yourself to be? This is the best time to be an oilers fan. Let yourself get excited for a few weeks right now – there will be plenty of chances to mourn the state of our team throughout the season.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    Who is going to come to the games? It is a good chance the Oilers are to miss the play offs this year, this is a perfect time for young talent to gain experience in the NHL, plus the fans will get the chance to watch them play. Do you really want to watch the team with the same line up as we had last season?

  • Rogue

    The problem with the drafting crew of old was they thought they were smarter than the whole player rankings. It was an arrogance that proved itself in the lack of talent that the Oil had for years. Hopefully this has changed.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    @ Team Hall

    Did you forget the game we had 80% of our AHL team up againts most of the Casucks starters? I remember just watching the Oilers play their first couple of Pre-games(each of the last couple three years ago) and thinking “Oh jesus Christ what the hell kind of crap hockey is this? Now seeing these two games the overall energy, grit, forcheck, hitting, speed has me pretty Effin stoked for the Reg season.

    Revised a bit.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    **TSN reports Mark Streit skated off the ice cluching his shoulder, possible serious injury?
    Could they be looking at Souray now?? lets hope

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Okies… Redden waived by the Rangers. He has 4 years left at 6.5 million. If we were to pick him up off waivers does that mean we get him for 4 years at 3.25 million per year?

    Just wondering as im not as astute with waivers as most are on here.

    Redden for 3.25 a year doesn’t seem to bad to me especially if we can off load Souray eh…

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Not at $6.5, but if they do happen to put him on re-entry waivers, $3.25 for 4 years would be a sweet deal im thinking.

    Being last place we get first crack at him do we not?

    • fuck off

      You’re right, the Oil do get first crack at Redden through waivers.

      @ Ross Creek or anyone else who’d care to answer:
      What would be the likelihood of Redden + prospects/picks/gumdrops for Souray?