As we edge closer to the draft, it’s important to "take stock" of what is available to the organization next season. Some of the available talent is in OKC, some in junior, some in Europe and some NHL ready talent is available via the draft. Who are these "bubbling under" prospects and who among them will be part of this Oil boom?

Video courtesy this brilliant and beautiful site.

The OKC Barons are on a very nice run currently, with a chance to go deep into the AHL playoffs. This is giving the Oilers a chance to have a long look at their young prospects. Men like Magnus Paajarvi and Anton Lander are no longer rookies, but are certainly a part of the future. Others like Teemu Hartikainen have been knocking on the door for some time and may be ready to roll.


I stole the word from a football blog, but it works for this project. We’re looking at prospects in OKC over the last 10 weeks:






























































  •  Paajarvi is having a nice run, but the question about him–can he score enough to hang with the skilled men–remains. Either way, I would suggest he’s a strong option for NHL employment in 12-13.
  • Hartikainen is another winger with a real chance to make the grade in the fall. Outside the skill lines but he has a very good window here. 
  • Pitlick didn’t post good boxcars until the spring, but he’s doing fine now. It would seem unlikely that he’d push for an NHL job this fall, but it’s also true he’s done a lot to improve his status over the last 10 weeks.
  • Hunter Tremblay is an interesting case. He’s a wicked PKer, scores PK goals with a great deal of regularity and can play a solid 2-way role.
  • Chris VandeVelde keeps hanging around and despite advanced age for a prospect he can do some things. Has gained some fame with 2 OT goals in the current series against San Antonio.
  • Anton Lander is highly touted as a checker but hes going to need to score in order to stay in an NHL lineup. It’s a guess, but there’s a chance he might spend all year with OKC next season.

There are three main characters that we should pay attention to for fall: Paajarvi, Lander and Hartikainen. The rest will be fighting an uphill battle, but you never know.








GAGNER (rfa)









Edmonton has yet to decide on Ryan Smyth–that’s a huge item for the fall–and of course as outlined by Jason Gregor this afternoon there are other ufa’s up front (Petrell, Hordichuk) and rfa’s too (main one being Gagner). If the Oilers don’t sign Smyth, there’s a massive opportunity for both Hartikainen and Paajarvi. Lander would appear to be blocked, although the Oilers could move one of the centers to wing.

Should Edmonton choose to draft Nail Yakupov, a top 6 that features the young Russian with Nuge, Hall, Eberle, Gagner and Hemsky would be something to behold. I’m not sure how well they’d do without the puck though, especially playing in front of the current blue. 


The longer I look at that depth chart, the more I believe the organization needs to make signing Ryan Smyth a priority. Adding Nail Yakupov would give the Oilers another piece in an outstanding collection of young men barely 20. The NHL however is not a young man’s league and adding Ryan Smyth up front will give them team another actual NHL player who can play a strong 2-way game.

Hartikainen and Paajarvi offer more hope for the future, but the Oilers depth chart (as shown above) needs veterans. If the plan involves enough improvement to push for the playoffs, Ryan Smyth’s name on an Oiler contract needs to get done in a quick hurry. 

  • Lowetide

    I think he has a wonderful chance here. He and Paajarvi. Man it’s just waiting there. Both need to arrive in camp with the attitude of “this is it.”

    Remember when Brodziak did that? He won the job early because he was so far ahead of everyone else.

  • DieHard

    “Not a young man’s league” that’s exactly what the NHL is…. What other pro leuge in any sport has 18 19 20 year olds come in and be top players on there team? Hmmm

        • Lowetide

          How many kids can you have on a team–even gifted ones–before things go sideways? Next year, Hall will be a guy the Oilers can count on at evens but he’s remarkable.

          Nuge is still a teenager and Eberle still gives up a lot the other way. Add Nail and you’re talking about 2 scoring lines with flaws due entirely to youth.

          These are outstanding young talents, but you can’t have all these kids with only Horcoff, Jones and Hemsky to fill out the roster.

          Oilers need to sign Ryan Smyth.

          • RexLibris

            I’m not disagreeing that oilers should sign smith… I agree with what your saying I just disagree that the NHL isn’t a young mans game is all. The rest of your point is spot on!

  • DSF

    Since you’re deleting relevant posts elsewhere…getting excited about players who, after years of development, might crack your third or fourth lines, is a waste of time and resources.

    You can find competent, veteran third and fourth line line NHL players players anytime at minimal cost.

    Waiting on Hartikainen, Paajarvi, Pitlick, Lander and VandeVelde to develop into third line players is nice and all but it’s like a rocking chair…it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.

    If you think one of those guys may have top six potential, fine, worth the wait. (Hartikainen seems possible)

    Otherwise, while you wait for these guys to ripen, smart GM’s go out and sign veterans who can deliver the goods now and in the future.

    Prospects are NOT measured by the pound.

      • DSF

        Wouldn’t want any facts getting in the way of a good story now, would we?

        The Oilers can keep drafting in the lottery but the rest of their prospects are nothing special.

        If you think otherwise, show your work.

      • OnlyOil

        I think DSF is right, if your taking 2,3+ years to develop 3-4 line players something is wrong. Now what could it be, is it how the team developes these players, or is it just drafting the wrong players? I know Stu’s done a pretty good job drafting but looking back to 2009, MPS might become the player the team hopes he does or could have they done better, mind you the kid has a great attitude and is willing to learn, he will play in the show- no doubt. I think part of the problem has been rushing players who aren’t totally ready, I’m thinking Lander and MPS on this one as a prime example huge change coming from Sweden to Canada for such young men,then expecting them to perform in the best hockey league in the world. Lander was not ready to play in the NHL last year,hopefully it didn’t stunt his development.MPS played well in his rookie yr, hit a wall last yr. Even he was happy to go to OKC, that speaks volumes when the player can’t figure why he’s in the NHL.


          • StHenriOilBomb

            Detroit fills the holes until they are sure that the prospects are ready and brimming with confidence. They don’t bank on their prospects to come in quickly and fix all of their problems.

          • DSF

            Which bottom 6 players has Detroit spent years developing?

            Hudler debuted in the NHL at the age of 19 and was a regular at 22.

            Cleary was drafted by Chicago.

            Bertuzzi was drafted by the Islanders.

            Drew Miller was drafted by Anaheim.

            Eaves was drafted by Ottawa.

            The only current bottom 6 player who spent years in the AHL was Abdelkader.

          • RexLibris

            Darren Helm, Jakub Kindl, Tomas Holmstrom were all drafted and developed by the Red Wings and currently provide depth at both forward and defence.

            Considering that the Oilers have had to buy or trade for their bottom six forwards over the past few years and have almost always been found lacking in that department, developing one’s own doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

            You draft, develop and assess. If a player like Pelss or Pitlick doesn’t become a top six NHL player they can still become a decent bottom six player or a good AHL player who can play a key role on a farm team.

            I’m not against bringing in better bottom six forwards, but free agency should be the final few pieces that bring a team together so I would be wary of putting too much emphasis on signing the ultimate 3rd or 4th line winger.

          • Wax Man Riley

            Did you actually look at the names you mentioned? I was doing some research on 3rd and 4th line players that developed in the AHL, but you did it for me (save for Big Bert, that spent time in the IHL in 96-97).

            If we look at each player you mentioned, and a couple more I looked up before reading your above post:

            Jiri Hudler: AHL 03-06

            Dan Cleary: AHL 98, 99 & 2000

            Bertuzzi: IHL 96-97

            Drew Miller: AHL 05-08

            Patrick Eaves: AHL 05-06

            Mike Peca: AHL 92-95 (also went back to OHL)

            Zenon Konopka: ECHL & AHL 02-08

            Ryan Kesler: AHL 03-05

            Fernando Pisani: AHL 00-03

            So 3rd and 4th line players have to come from somewhere, and it looks like they come from the AHL. Not every player drafted can step in at 18 years old and put up 1st line numbers. the Sedins took 5 years to put up anything significant. Ditto Datsyuk.

            Most NHL players are prolific scorers at every level until they get to the NHL(or sometimes CHL/lower leagues), then many have to change their game. AHL teams are farm clubs, and you have to have players on your AHL team, so what is wrong with developing your players from your own AHL team? You are right that maybe Detroit didn’t draft EVERY bottom 6 player, but NO team will. Not even the Oilers with the players mentioned in the article.

            You made your own counter point.

          • Wax Man Riley

            But you also forgot to mention:

            Darren Helm: Drafted by Detroit, AHL 07-09

            Valtteri Filppula: Drafted by Detroit, AHL 05-06

            Cory Emmerton: Drafted by Detroit, AHL 07-11

            Gustav Nyquist: Drafted by Detroit, AHL 10-12

            Jan Mursak: Drafted by Detroit, AHL 08-11

            So, yes, all teams spend time to develop even 3rd and 4th line players. They have to come from somewhere.

          • DSF

            Holy cow!.

            Detroit has about 17 bottom 6 players.

            I’m not disputing that Detroit drafts and develops well…just that their third line is almost always comprised of players they acquired through trade of free agency.

  • DSF

    It’s a young man’s league now. You need a couple key vets that ‘can’ contribute, that ‘can’ contribute. Something the Oil didn’t get entire season from Smyth or Horc or Hemsky, just portions of the season. They need a couple vets that are consistant, Smytty is past that & slowing down fast! I hope they don’t sign him, especially for 2 years, they will regret it & stunt the growth of players like Paajarvi & Hartikainen!

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Im hoping that ST doesnt resign Petrell, sure he can hit but really I dont think PRV could have done much worse givin the same chance as Petrell to stick with the big club. If the Oilers do resign Petrell let him work in the minors as a 1/2nd call up.

    Resign Smitty, he should grow his mullet back…thatll get his mojo back.

    Whoever they draft should be put back in Junoirs for the yr, Oilers need NHL experience this yr to make the playoffs, and itll spread a few ELCs out abit more.

  • Semenko and Troy

    Agreed that a team needs veteran leadership, but we have to realize that who we have now cannot and should not be leading from the top six at the expense of the hopefully soon to be Fab Four. If the Oilers take Yakupov, push Hemsky down to the 3rd line. Play him with Horcoff and Harski.

    Give MPS an opportunity to crack the top six with an extended look, move Hall to center, and go after Chris Stewart.




    Run Lander and Petrell on the fourth with upgrades on Eager and Hordichuk. (Moen and Parros)

    Challenge Hemsky and Horcoff to play like they’re still top six.

      • StHenriOilBomb

        Oooooh. Now you’re just asking for it. It’s on. It’s on like donkey kong. Get em boys! Haha.

        Seriously, though- must you always cherry pick numbers to make yourself feel smarter than everybody else?

  • O.C.

    Lowetide wrote:

    OKC Barons win tonight, and are through to the next round. Toronto Marlies v. OKC Barons! Can we get some television on this one?

    Yep, they sure miss you Linus.

    Have a nice career in Sweden.

  • O.C.

    Our OKC prospects are not scoring that much so that has to be disappointing.

    Our best forward prospect might turn out to be Reider.he is still leading the ohl playoff scoring even after being eliminated last round.

    This season he has scored more goals per game than Bartschi who everybody is raving about and saying is a lock for flames.

    Reider has a nose for the net like Eberle and is a faster skater finishing second at the ohl all star game.

    • RexLibris

      Baertschi is at a 1.7 ppg pace. Rieder was running at a 1.68 ppg pace. They are similarly sized, both play the wing and both played on a stacked team with strong linemates. Rieder also played the PK and was apparently “a demon on the penalty kill” including scoring shorthanded several times during the playoffs.

      Personally, I am skeptical of most prospects, and I’m a draft nut. Pitlick, Lander, Paajarvi, etc are all unproven, but so was every NHL player at one time or another.

      This group hasn’t been scoring at a great clip, but to be honest, if they develop more slowly than Hall, Eberle and RNH I’m just fine with that. If it takes Pitlick two more years in the AHL to hit his stride that works for me because it will coincide very nicely for when the Oilers will actually need them.

      As for DSF’s comments, a few players may not help win the battle, but they all contribute to winning the war. Pitlick, Paajarvi and company may have been held pointless this evening, but they were largely responsible for helping to get the team there in the first place. Not to mention, I’d much rather develop a Magnus Paajarvi than overpay for a Ben Eager.

      I’ll gladly take our collection of unproven and “not-ready-for-primetime” kids over many other teams *coughCalgarycough* collection of established veterans.

      I’m intrigued by Rieder and I look forward to seeing what he can do next season in junior.

      Baertschi is virtually a given as being a Flame next season and he will likely be sheltered behind Tanguay and Glencross. He will probably produce well despite having no decent center to help him. Hmmm, a dynamic winger doing it all for his team without a playmaking center? At least Flames fans will be familiar with the script.

      Baertschi is going to tick off Oiler fans very soon. This time, however, we will have more than enough firepower and depth to reply. And in the very near future we may be talking about battles between Baertschi and Marincin or Musil the same way we spoke of Hemsky versus Regehr.

  • RexLibris

    Smyth is needed to make the playoffs? Did you watch the oilers last year? He is far to slow to be a player that tilts the rink in the oilers favour. If he is on the fourth line and second power play unit than I will be happy, for this team will be better off with Marnus, Yak and teemu learning on lines one threw three. This is a rebuild, not a rerun, smyth is one and done

  • Reg Dunlop

    @ RexLibris

    Sven vs Musil in a few years: sounds great, like Regher punishing Hemsky only this time the flame player will have to get used to eating the glass. Unfortunately, for flame fans, they may well experience what oil fans have the last 2 years; their small skilled rookie man-handled and injured by big,mean men. If the Jolly Rancher(Sutter) is hired, he may well whip the oil into a BOA frenzy and unleash Sutton. Sven’s head meeting Suttons elbow equals concussion and suspension, likely with Sutter’s blessing.

    @ OZMAN

    Agree that Smyth is past it. The oil have accumulated lots of young skill, now it is time to flesh out two top 6 spots with some experience and toughness. Also, our bottom 6 needs players that are exceptional at something, whether it is checking, hitting, agitating… instead of just taking up roster space like in recent seasons.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I disagree with you on Smyth’s value. I just don’t get keeping an unproductive, burned out Smyth with so many young players coming up through the ranks. It could be fairly argued that Smyth’s arrival de-railed Paajarvi’s season and totally robbed him of the confidence and production he had the year before.

    The Oil don’t need Smyth. Ironic that he demanded a trade out of L.A. and will likely miss his only chance to win a Cup. What if he had presented that circumstance to the Oilers? I would say we’d all see Smyth in a truer light.

    The Oil will draft another crop in the next 6 weeks. It doesn’t make sense to me to keep sacred cows hanging around plugging up the pipeline.

    Smyth apparently only wants to be an Oiler on his terms of play and salary demands. I repectfully suggest we go with youth. Is that not the very definition of a re-build?

  • bazmagoo

    Smyth should be brought back, and as long as he accepts a series of 1 year deal for the rest of his career he will retire an Oiler. If he wants a term longer than 1 year, he should be let go.

    If 1-2 of Lander, Paajarvi, Hartikainen and Pitlick start to realize their potential in 2012-13 or the following year, the Oiler forwards will be envied by many teams in the league.

    Hopefully they can get this Schultz kid everyone is talking about on d and another solid defensive vet (thinking Jackman would look good in Oilers blue), and the Oilers could and should be pushing for the playoffs next season. The challenge with signing a UFA defenceman will again come down to term.

  • bazmagoo

    Smyth apparently only wants to be an Oiler on his terms of play and salary demands. I repectfully suggest we go with youth. Is that not the very definition of a re-build?

    Rebuilding a team involves, signing vets, drafting high, and developing players (doing anything is takes to make your team better in the future). If you look at when Chicago and Pittsburgh won the cup, PIT had young stars n vets, same with Chicago. Look at Florida this year, they “rebuilt” into a playoff team by signing vets. But yes, you could also say they bought a team.

  • OnlyOil

    PUT the “peddle to the metal ” by Tams , and we could see a very competitive club for next season -no doubt . Trouble is, how long would that club be sustainable for,seeing as we would probably have to use some youth to obtain such a club ? Don’t see Tams abandoning the draft and young draftees for at least two more seasons . I don’t forsee Tams and Lowe making any moves to a good contender for at least two more years of futility and development . The longer time the more sustainable assets we might have ? I don’t like it , but i am sure Tams and Lowe do in order to keep their jobs . This to me is C.Y.A. management taken to the extreme . Dangle a few more draft choices to amuse you in the interim .

  • Reg Dunlop

    I don’t agree with the premise of most of the posts here. You’re all assuming that teams use 3rd and 4th line players as spare parts that aren’t good enough for the top 6. That is completely wrong.

    Quality 3rd and 4th line players fill specific roles that are incredibly valuable for having a COMPLETE and BALANCED team. Every team needs penalty killers, checking forwards, faceoff specialists, bangers/grinders, high-energy guys you try and get out there against the opponent’s top defence pairing so you can dump it in and wear them down, and for teams with a lot of wimpy top-6 forwards (like the Oilers) you may even need a goon.

    The more of those roles a player can fill (including scoring a few points) the more valuable he is, and multi-role players contribute a lot more than the mediocre scorers that some posters here fawn over (e.g. Gagner, Omark). Think Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby during Detroit’s best years, or Guy Carbonneau and Brian Skrudland on the late 80 / early 90 Canadiens and late 90 Stars, or Craig MacTavish, Kelly Buchberger, Dave Semenko, Dave Hunter, etc., etc…

    I’m not sure if any of the current prospects will turn into quality role players, but developing players that can fill the aforementioned roles is not a bad thing. If anything, the Oilers are sorely lacking in that area.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Personally, i enjoy reading DSF’s stuff. I feel he’s a little more in touch with reality on this Oiler front.

    If we’re going to cater to the few who want his feedom of speech contained, then where do we draw the line. Should they just ban everyone who says fire Tambellini, or whenever there’s a disagreement?

    For as many who want to see him gone, there’s just as many who want to see him stay.

    • Wax Man Riley

      I have to agree. DSF comes off pretty abrasively and always seems to argue against anything (re: EVERYTHING) being said by cherry picking random stats, but I have to appreciate the lack of Kool-Aid he drinks.

      He also tests me to actually make a valid point and back it up with numbers and at least some research. Keeps me on my toes.


    If Smyth demands $3 million per year, let it go. It is time to cut the cord with Smyth. Let another player take a bigger role or one of our prospect from the farm. We have too much of the same type of players in the top 6. We need one or two “Dustin Brown-type” to hang with them. If we can package Gagner and prospects plus a 2nd rounder next year of the same ilk to get needed dman (top 4, then lets do it. Next year we need to draft tenacity, toughness and scoring like a Kerby Rychal.

  • Lowetide

    Koivu just got 3M plus bonuses for 1 year extention from Anaheim and he is less productive, and one year older than Smyth . Smyth should be around that figure if not a tad more ? Seems like most of Oiler nation feels that is too much to pay him to retain him here . What viable alternatives do you have to replace what Smyth brings to the team ?

  • Light, Sweet, Crude

    Why is no one commenting on how killer this “Troyka” track/video is?
    My friend showed that to me a while ago, LT you are blowin’ my mind with it!

  • striker777

    I would like to see at least one big body on every line. This means Hartikeinen playing in the top 6 next season. I love his game.
    Hordichuk needs to be re-signed to protect our young crop. We also need at least 1 big center. Still a lot of holes to fill. I expect to start trading after Barons’ season ends.