Oilers Top 10 Calder Candidates 11-12

A year ago, the Edmonton Oilers had a trio of strong Calder candidates to start the season. In the end, none of them won the Calder trophy despite delivering solid debut seasons. This year, the Oilers don’t have any strong candidates for the trophy.

Or do they? 

Driving around listening to the radio and viewing the various blogs (is it just me, or are there more this year?) and websites, it’s clear not many believe the Oilers will employ rookies in 11-12. I respectfully disagree. It says here that the Oilers will have 9 first year players in the lineup for at least one game, and three of them will play more than 20 games. How do I know this? History.

History tells us that injuries, slumps, trades and suspensions all impact a roster during the long season. Last year the Oilers had a watershed season for new hires, including Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, Linus Omark, Devan Dubnyk, Jeff Petry and cups of coffee for several others.

I’ll break down my rookie predictions by timeline, beginning with opening night, followed by callups and ending with the cups of coffee.


Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will make the opening night roster and show enough during the first 9 games to earn his NHL ticket. RNH has displayed a nice range of skills and may be used in several roles as the year progresses (did you SEE his PK work against Taylor Hall yesterday afternoon?) and he finds his way. My prediction for Nugent-Hopkins suggests just average boxcars (63gp, 11-23-34) but he’s all that and I don’t think he spends another minute playing junior hockey.


Teemu Hartikainen is showing well early, slimmer, more fleet-of-foot and generating chances. We got a brief glimpse at the tail end of the season and this season I’m suggesting we see more of the big Finn (45gp, 7-8-15) although in a strictly 4th line role. The Oilers have so many options for top 9F over the next several years, but this is a unique talent in that he’s big and has soft hands.

Anton Lander has a nice range of skills and like Hartikainen is somewhat unique on the Oilers roster. Attention to defensive detail has been on his resume from the start, but improved footspeed over the last year has allowed him to spend more time in scoring zones. THAT feature will see Lander get a mid-season recall and I predict he’ll show us a hint of what is to come (16gp, 1-3-4) over the next several seasons.

Chris VandeVelde needs to hurry because the Oilers at C is going to be wrapped up soon and there won’t be an opening for some time. With Gagner and Horcoff already established and Belanger added, there’s a small window between RNH and Lander establishing themselves as NHL options every night. I don’t think VandeVelde will win the day, but these cups of coffee may be enough for him to attract another NHL team. The window for him is now, and I think he’ll get some games (14gp, 1-1-2) to show his abilities.

Corey Potter (25gp, 0-5-5) is a two-way defender with an outside shot at making the big club out of training camp (where IS Andy Sutton, anyway?). Potter is a RH shot, has a nice minor league resume and scouting reports suggest his speed is good enough for him to play in the NHL. Add that to Tom Renney’s knowledge of this player’s skill set and there’s a good chance we see him for an extended period during the year.


Lennert Petrell has a chance to prove that the Oilers pro scouting department has a pulse. In the olden days Oiler training camp would have several invites and signings who showed well enough to be in the mix for the big club. Lately though, the pro scouts have been graduating AHL scrubs and we can barely remember that the group found Jan Hejda in the Russian hinterland or Toby Petersen in the middle of the Wyoming valley. Petrell may be able to help out the penalty kill and has scored some goals in his time, I bet he’ll get a chance (10gp, 1-1-2) to show the Oilers what he can do in the NHL.

Curtis Hamilton reminds me of those old Habs prospects who used to come up from the farm and perform well. Montreal’s farm system in the 70s was the ultimate ‘plug and play’ minor league club and in some cases there was minimal difference between the established NHLers and the AHL stars. I don’t think Hamilton wins an NHL job this season, but do believe he’ll impress enough to get a look-see (10gp, 1-2-3) toward the end of the season.

Colten Teubert is going to get a late start to his season but should eventually be healthy enough to patrol the blue in Okla City. He’s already gained a reputation of being a punishing hitter who plays on the edge and that dimension should get his ticket punched for some NHL time (4gp, 0-0-0) this season.

Taylor Fedun is an older prospect and a player the Oilers will want to see in OKC for much of the season. Having said that, with Taylor Chorney’s future in the organization somewhat in doubt Fedun will be an option when the head coach needs a puck moving option from the farm. Jeff Petry will get the first call, but I think Fedun will get a chance (3gp, 0-1-1) after the trade deadline.


History tells us that holding on to an NHL job is a pretty damn difficult task, and a team drafting in the rarified air of lottery country makes it doubly difficult. The Oilers sent away Andrew Cogliano, Liam Reddox, Jim Vandermeer, Kurtis Foster, JF Jacques, Colin Fraser, Jason Strudwick, Zack Stortini and others after the 10-11 season. Their replacements are the names above and the next wave which includes Tyler Pitlick, Martin Marincin, David Musil and others.

Should the Oilers struggle again the purge will continue. It is the nature of an NHL team. 

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    RNH is looking insane defensively for an 18 year old. Personally, I think I’m even more excited to see this kids defensive game as opposed to his offence.

    Props to Oilers G for the subtlest fisting I done ever seen. When was the last time you got fisted and never even noticed it LT? How long would that last with Brownlee I’m wondering.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Well done sir. For someone who went 14 out of 15 in last springs playoff pool, your confidence in 93 making the club is encouraging for those who’d like to see him stay.

    While we’re on the topic of your remarkable prediction record here on ON. There were many here who believed you were taking PED’s at that time, providing you with an unfair advantage during those playoffs, did anything ever come from those tests/allegations?

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Maybe its just me but I think Brule gets the short end when Hopkins stays with the team after the 9 game mark, I like Brule’s game and I hope he turns it around but IMO the Oilers have enough “crust” and scoring amongst the other forwards, and he’s the best option(when healthy) for a trade. If ST is serious about making the playoffs he should throw in a pick with Brule to get the coveted top 2 dman the team will need if Whitney gets hurt again, the Oilers have enough prospects to carry over to the draft in 12-13.

    CAN’T WAIT for tomorrow night!!

    • Lowetide

      Yeah, agreed. The problem for Brule is that coach Renney is going to remember the nights when he couldn’t answer the bell last year and ask himself if using a roster player on Brule is prudent.

      Especially considering the available talent.

  • Lowetide

    Look how hard it is to make the 30th place Oilers… the NHL is definitely the best league in the word. Wish some hockey parents who think the world is going to end if little Tommy gets cut from Atom A would wake up and realize this. Anyway we should send Hopkins back to Red Deer after 9 games and let him play in the world junior tourney and get stronger and a little bigger. Its not like the Oil are going to win the Cup in 11/12 anyway. We should also not worry about Chorney getting picked up on waivers, but should worry about Whitney’s ankle. I think this season is going to be exciting and hopefully Hartikainen makes the team as he looks like a player we desperately need.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    Lots and lots of new faces again this season. We will likely need solid contributions from all of these guys at some point this season. One of the biggest reasons that I think RNH will be sent down after 9 games is that Anton Lander is ready for the NHL.

  • Nugent-Hopkins should get PK time, his instincts and puck retrieval are NHL ready. I can see him getting PP and PK time on RW this year.

    63 games seems low if he makes the team, no?

    77gp 9G-31A-40 pts is reasonable.