BLUE WAVE

The CHL and European leagues have completed their regular seasons, and that means we can suss through the numbers and project the offensive future for Edmonton’s prospects. Using Gabriel Desjardins NHL equivalencies, Martin Gernat is a rising star.

Years ago–before Gabriel Desjardins–we could talk about junior and minor league numbers in their own context. We might say "The Nuge was pretty good offensively in Red Deer, I wonder how much of that will come with him to Edmonton?" but the hard work of finding the line in the sand wasn’t clear. Gabe’s method–which seems to simple that it is easy to discard its worth–suggests there is a line in the sand, a reasonable conclusion.

  • Gabe: One way to evaluate the difficulty of one league relative to another is examine the relative performance of players who have played in both leagues. Players rarely play significant time in two leagues in the same year, but they often play in one league in one year and in another the next. As long as a player’s skill level is approximately constant over this two year period, the ratio of his performance in each league can be used to estimate the relative difficulty of the two leagues.

LET’S GET ROLLING!

When I run the numbers, I put them in 82 game notation. This differs from others, but for me the boxcar is the easiest way to have the numbers register. Here are the 82 game "boxcars" for each CHL, NCAA and Euro kid run through the NHLE magic toy:

DEFENSEMEN (per 82 gp)

  • Martin Gernat 4-19-23
  • Jeremie Blain 4-16-20
  • Martin Marincin 5-12-17
  • Brandon Davidson 5-12-17*
  • Kyle Bigos 4-13-17
  • Dillon Simpson 2-13-15
  • David Musil 3-8-11
  • Oscar Klefbom 4-0-4

Gernat’s number is very good, partly due to playing for a quality WHL team but there’s also little doubt he was a hidden gem in the 2011 entry draft. At this point, I think it’s reasonable to adjust our sights on Gernat and project him as beyond a typical 5th round pick. Signing him should be a priority, as his value has increased markedly since draft day.

Pretty much everyone on this list has some offensive potential–Klefbom played in the SEL and would have received far less PP time than the rest of these players in their leagues–and I’d suggest all but David Musil could be described as "two-way" defenders instead of "stay-at-home" types.

Davidson gets an asterisk because he was 20-years old in a junior league.

LOOKING FORWARD

FORWARDS (per 82 gp)

  • Tobias Rieder 17-17-34
  • Kellen Jones 13-21-34
  • Toni Rajala 14-11-25
  • Kristians Pelss 11-9-20
  • Drew Czerwonka 9-11-20
  • Travis Ewanyk 2-7-9

Rieder and Jones are having fine seasons, on a par with Curtis Hamilton one year ago. Rajala is a small forward running in place and one wonders if he has a future outside of Finland. Pelss is a bubble player, the Oilers may or may not sign him to a pro deal, but Czerwonka’s size gets him a contract this summer (in my opinion).

The Oilers have to get some of these kids under contract before June’s draft, and kids like Klefbom, Gernat and Musil could get signed too just to make sure they’ll be Oilers when they do turn pro or come over to North America.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

If I’m guessing, the brightest futures belong to Klefbom, Marincin and Gernat. Oilers–despite the #1 overalls coming right to the show–have a strong prospect group in Europe, NCAA and CHL. That amateur scouting department is delivering quality and these defensemen are looking good.

The forwards are going to have a helluva time breaking through–even to the AHL level. And don’t get me started on the 50 Man List. A player like Drew Czerwonka probably has a much better chance of getting a pro contract than Kristians Pelss, simply because of size and style of play.

The Oilers are set at small forward for a long time. Linus Omark’s situation is proof. For someone like Kellen Jones, the best solution is to stay in school. Two years down the line things could be different.

  • bazmagoo

    If the Oilers end up picking 3rd we can stock the shelf with another quality d man. Only trouble is we need some more NHL ready d men now. As well as some depth forwards and a # 1 Goalie. I’m sure Tambo will address this this summer.

    • Dan the Man

      If a top quality d-man is available there’s nothing wrong with the Oilers trying to obtain him but I don’t think the Oilers have to mortgage the farm to obtain an NHL defenceman! Whitney looks like he’s coming back to form along side Schultz & I really like the tandem of Petry & Smid! Petry’s going to be a top two pairing d-man easily! Nothing wrong with Potter’s all around game with Pecks & Sutton rounding out the third pairing. Like I said, if there was a good hockey deal out there for a top two d-man there’s nothing wrong with that but I wouldn’t start giving up multiple assets at this point, let what we have develop!

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I think Paajarvi had a much better offensive season than what Forsberg has had this season, Forsberg has half the goals Paajarvi had. I’m a little leary of swedes since being burned on that Paajarvi selection. How many yrs would it be before Forsberg even makes the Oilers?

        • Quicksilver ballet

          No idea exactly what his timeline is like, or even much for thoughts on where he’d rank for me, although I’d like to see more production from a guy rated that highly.

          He’s not playing in the SEL, but then again neither was Ekman-Larsson and he looks pretty decent in his 3rd year post-draft?

        • TLHansum

          100% agree, props to you. Craig Button is so incredibly bad my eyes want to bleed when i read his crap.

          Unfortunately he’s employed by TSN so i find myself accidentally reading his drivel all the time 🙁

  • Dan the Man

    Some other interesting numbers….

    Martin Gernat 6’5″

    Jeremie Blain 6’2″

    Martin Marincin 6’4″

    Brandon Davidson 6’2″

    Kyle Bigos 6’5″

    Dillon Simpson 6’1″

    David Musil 6’4″

    Oscar Klefbom 6’3″

  • RexLibris

    Hey Lowetide you are an amazing stats guy, but how can you suggest the Oil need another solid stay at home defender (Murray) over a likely offensively elite defender in Dumba. I would ask you to look at a the number of elite offensive defenders around the NHL and find out how many shoot right and how many shoot left? (Karlsson, Byfuglien, Webber, Pietrangelo, Letang, Doughty…)I will leave you to consider your own opinion as to who is an elite defender. (Take a look at the top pairings and you will always find a righty with a lefty) You should also note that the Oilers D currents and prospects number of left handed D far outnumber right handed D. Then revisit your suggestion for the Oil to Draft Murray over Dumba.

    • Lowetide

      I’m not really a stats guy, although I do pay close attention to the advanced stats guys and what they say, and attempt to figure out what those stats mean.

      Also, my own opinion isn’t really the issue–I haven’t decided which player is the 2nd best prospect available and won’t until late June and even then it’s not really that important.

      When I say the Oilers will take Murray, it’s what I believe they’ll do. It seems to me that it is far more interesting to talk about what they might do than me blathering on about a prospect.

      So, I think Ryan Murray is the played EDM will take. I’ll figure out who I like in June, but it’ll be a fans opinion and there are lots of people whose opinion has more merit.

      • bazmagoo

        Agreed Lowetide. I think there are a couple of things in the favour of the Oilers drafting Murray:

        – He seems like the consensus overall best d-man in the draft and we can all agree defence is the area where the Oilers most need help

        – He plays in the WHL, and the Oilers have shown a preference for drafting young players from this league recently

        – Dumba plays an aggressive big hitting style, which is a quality that is slowly having it’s effectiveness limited in the NHL

        If the Oilers are drafting 3rd, which as of today they are most likely to be, they will draft Murray imo.

      • RexLibris

        Re: Ryan Murray – I’m not really on the Murray bandwagon (in ’10 I preferred Seguin because I felt they needed to build down the middle and last season I was in favour of RNH just before Christmas and all the way through, so my opinion is probably about as good as a coin toss). That being said, I had a look at his numbers in the Everett playoff game the other night where they got smoked by Tri-City 7-2 and Murray had a goal, an assist, and was even at the end of that horrible night. And no penalties.

        This reinforced what I had heard about his offensive game as well as giving me some insight into his defensive abilities, to come out even after a night where the opposition scored 7. The lack of penalties suggests that he plays a “clean” game and prefers to stay on the ice rather than “send messages”. That is neither good nor bad, just interesting.

        Personally, if the Oilers were to draft 3rd overall I would have no issues with them taking Galchenyuk. Or if they were to draft Murray I’d simply trust in Stu MacGregor and pray myself silly that Murray doesn’t become a Barker or a Bogosian. If the Oilers were to trade down and draft Reinhart that is perhaps the decision I would be most comfortable with. If they could add a second-round pick and still come away with someone like Griffin Reinhart that would tell me that MacGregor had him pegged as the best bet out of the whole group.

        As for Dumba, no thank you. I’ve seen him and he reminds me a bit of P.K. Subban. That isn’t a bad thing, but if I had to choose between someone like a Petry and a Subban, I’d take Petry’s type. Dumba has lots of offensive potential and loves the big hits, but that only works for so long and this team is going to have lots of offensive firepower at forward. They need someone to help get them the puck and then keep things tidy in their own zone. If we want Dubnyk to make the next step and become a starting number one goaltender then we’ll need more responsible defencemen and fewer river-boat gamblers. Besides, we already have one in Gernat (huge fan of his right now).

        Adding Reinhart to a defence corps that already has Musil, Gernat, Marincin, Klefbom, Davidson, Blain, Simpson, and Bigos would just make this group an almost can’t miss cluster of prospects.

    • RexLibris

      Just wanted to point out that 3 of those 6 superstar defenders were drafted outside the first round. Defence are weird to project cause I think Weber is the best out of that group and he could easily get drafted first overal but was taken in the second round. Point Im trying to make is do the Oil go after a D in the first round knowing that we have bonafide junior stars down the line? I think Marincin, Musil, Klefbom will be top 4 D in the NHL with Bigos having a Sutton/Rome/Carkner/Weaver type career. Gernat is still a wild card for me cause we all saw what happened to Marincins numbers when he was on a good team opposed to a bad team. Oil Kings are almost to good to truely gauge how good Gernant is. Although I hope the Oil have the Slovak towers on the same Dline in the future. That would be cool. Remind me of the two Russian defencmen in Goon haha.

      • RexLibris

        Agreed. I like the draft strategy that the Oilers have employed the last few years (and Lowetide has commented on) where they take the best forward available with their first round pick, a defenceman or size+skill forward in the second, and then pick up a number of d-men and goalies in the middle rounds.

        To date this has added both bulk and quality to the prospect stable and where the quality of scouting has made the picks good bets to have a career, the quantity has helped to hedge those bets against the natural attrition of developing talent.

        If the Oilers draft 4th or 5th and Yakupov, Grigorenko and Murray are on the board I’d be happy with Reinhart, Galchenyuk, Forsberg or even Dumba.

        As for the second round, I desperately want the Oilers to pick Henrik Samuelsson. Big and mean with good hands and hockey sense; it’d be so nice to have a player who initiates the talked-about hits rather than trying to find the elusive one who will respond.

  • Dan the Man

    For those of you interested in Reider go to the Kitchener Ranger site and see some of his goals.If he is really 5ft11and 190lbs he could turn into a top six guy.

    He also has a ton of shorthanded goals including one in playoffs.So far in two playoff games he has three goals and two assists.

    I heard that the oil were quite impresses with him at development camp and I can see why

    • RexLibris

      Agreed. I’ve taken a long look at each of the Oiler’s junior-level prospects and Rieder is one that stood out for me. He is one of the leaders in the OHL, ahead of some other notable prospects like Mark Scheifele, and his numbers have some nice splits. He isn’t just the trigger man but seems to create as well as finish, which is something I look for.

      I think Rieder enters the AHL next season and the Oilers have to say goodbye to some others like Green and Rajala.

      Czerwonka is another player I’ve been interested in. He strikes me as a bit of a sleeper prospect. He may not turn into anything out of this world in the NHL, but you can’t find that out without taking a look at him first.

  • Truth

    If I had a vote it would be for the Oilers to draft Dumba. From everything I have seen, which is limited, this guy competes.

    From what I understand the prospect pool is full of two way defenders, it would be beneficial for them to have a hard hitting no bs offensive defenseman. If the guy was 6’3″ I don’t think there would be any debate he would be the first d-man taken.

    • RexLibris

      Agreed, if Dumba were bigger he might be more of a concensus pick, but his game can be a bit like Phaneuf (leaving his position to go for a big hit) at times from what I have seen and read.

      That’s why players like Reilly, Reinhart, Murray and even Trouba are also being considered. I think many of them, Murray especially, have a more polished game and that always attracts a team as it shows that the player has a demonstrated ability to learn and improve.

      When the Oilers drafted Klefbom they indicated that they were interested in the tools rather than the finish (Klefbom was rated as highly as Larsson, but was considered to have lacked the same polish to his game). Given that it is entirely possible that they select Dumba. They have had a very good long look at him after watching RNH and the Rebels last year. However, they have also had a very close look at Reinhart and have shown an affinity for sons of former NHLers.

      I also think they have that hard hitting offensively-inclined defenceman in Marincin.

      This June will be interesting. I only wish they had another first round pick. If they could have walked away from the first day having selected both Reinhart (or Dumba) and Galchenyuk (or Grigorenko) that would have been a beautiful day for this city (and royally ticked off our friends down the QE2).