Prevailing wisdom has championship teams building ‘up the middle.’ For the Edmonton Oilers, luck and circumstance have dictated adding wingmen of high quality. Can this group send the Edmonton Oilers to infinity and beyond?


  1. Taylor Hall: Outstanding talent poised to go super nova, the only thing that can hold him back is injury. Advanced stats are betting heavily on the young Oiler star being something special.
  2. Jordan Eberle: Too good to be true? We’ll see. So far, all Jordan Eberle has done is astonish, entertain and find the net in every way possible. Like Hall, the big contract will increase expectations and pressure.
  3. Nail Yakupov: Can you believe it? ANOTHER elite teenager on the wing. Crazy. Yakupov is an accurate sniper who finds a way to make the play and has a fantastic release. Could he bring home the Calder?
  4. Ales Hemsky: Suddenly the ‘old man’ among the skill wingers, Hemsky’s 2-year contract is a perfect opportunity to find out just how high this group can fly. Amazing passer.
  5. Ryan Smyth: Captain grit got himself traded to Edmonton, re-signed by Edmonton, so maybe he can turn back time one more time in Edmonton. Still delivering at a quality level deep into a black and blue career.
  6. Ryan Jones: Hockey’s Butch Hobson has posted solid numbers two seasons in a row. Most models of the Oilers forward depth chart have him in the top 9 for 12-13.
  7. Ben Eager: Big, tough, fast winger may not have the chops to play on a skill line, but he can most certainly deliver physical play from the 3-4 lines. Eager came under some criticism last season for not playing the role of protector to the Nuge, but one expects that’s a lesson learned.
  8. Darcy Hordichuk: Rugged winger who can enforce and not bitch and moan over a week of HS’s. Hordichuk has the ‘team player’ mentality and that is reflected in his getting another contract for 12-13. He’ll be an end-of-roster forward but he’ll also play 35-40 games against carefully selected opponents.
  9. Teemu Hartikainein: The organization has been patient and the big Finn has been developing. There currently exists a "perfect storm" opportunity with the Oilers needing size and skill combined with Hartikainen being the only obvious option close to NHL ready. If he has a strong TC, this could be the season he emerges as an NHL regular.
  10. Lennart Petrell: Outstanding forechecker and part of a solid PK group one year ago, Petrell’s even strength numbers were an adventure. Despite signing an NHL contract I thnk he might be pushed down to OKC at some point during the season.


  1. Magnus Paajarvi: Likely begins fall as a ‘bubble player’ but Paajarvi’s range of skills should mean plenty of NHL time before the curtain closes on 12-13. A fast train, he’s defensively aware and scored 15 NHL goals in a season as a teenager. One of the important assignments for new coach Ralph Krueger.
  2. Dane Byers: Tough winger with some skill and plenty of pro experience, Byers will get a chance to play top 6F in OKC and might even get an NHL shot if things break right. His resume reads like a perfect fit for the Oilers needs, but Eager is ahead of him on the depth chart.
  3. Phil Cornet: Had a strong offensive season in 11-12, owing to extended use on the PP and a ridiculous shooting percentage in the first half of the season. Either way, it ignited his career and Cornet even got a cup of coffee in the NHL. Odds are not in his favor, but he’s already gone farther than his draft number suggested.
  4. Tyler Pitlick: Size, speed and some skill–that’s the kind of player the Oilers could use for the future. Pitlick started slowly first year pro but improved as the year turned over. A player to watch this winter in OKC.
  5. Curtis Hamilton: Struggled early and then was injured. This is a big season for Hamilton, look for the Oilers to move him up on the depth chart in a fashion similar to Phil Cornet last season. Hamilton has the talent–his final junior season was outstanding. The leap from WHL to AHL was too much for one season, but he should be more prepared in 12-13.
  6. Cameron Abney: Enforcer played 29 regular season games in Stockton and 14 in OKC. Suspect he’ll be over 40 games in the AHL this coming season. You never know with enforcers–he could make his NHL debut this season, wait 5 years or never play a game in the NHL. Timeline is in the ether.
  7. Kristians Pelss: This guy has already won based on getting a pro contract. Solid 2-way skills and a rifle shot, he could surprise. 28 goals a year ago, 19 of them at even strength. Pelss brings it every shift, I think he’ll be a fan favorite. Could start his career in Stockton depending on how things break.


  1. Tobias Rieder: Look, it’s nothing, and no one is saying anything, but this guy had an outstanding season in 11-12, I mean he kicked the entire OHL in the proverbial gonads. If he takes another step forward, the Oilers might have something special in this 2-way winger.
  2. Toni Rajala: Back in Finland again in 12-13 according to Elite Prospects, Rajala led Ilves Tampere in goals (16) this past season. Oilers are crawling with undersized skill wingers so it’s uncertain when or if we’ll see him in NA.
  3. Linus Omark: Just signed in Switzerland, surely the Oilers have seen the last of him at one of their training camps. Suspect he’ll be traded in the next 10 months.
  4. Kellen Jones: Undersized skill winger had a solid NCAA season but faces a long uphill battle to earn a pro contract with the Oilers.
  5. Daniil Zharkov: Big skill winger with some finishing skills should make enough headlines this winter to be easy to track. Scored 23 in the OHL a year ago, can he post 30 this season?
  6. Mitch Moroz: Oilers drafted a fast, big man who can fight and score a little high in the draft. I’ve spoken with a few people with some knowledge of the Oil Kings, all of them convinced he’ll get extended time on a skill line this coming season. On a list of ‘players to watch’ this winter, Moroz would have to rank very high.
  7. Jujhar Khaira: Big, tough winger with skill, Khaira should get an immediate opportunity with Michigan Tech. This will likely to be a long term project, but if he turns out, look out.
  8. John McCarron: Big college winger at big brained Cornell, the offense turned on in the new year this past season. Maybe he turned a corner? You never know.


The signings of Hall and Eberle late this summer indicate just how strong Edmonton’s wingers are moving out over the rest of this decade. Hell, Ales Hemsky and Nail Yakupov make 4 ridiculous talents on the wings alone!

Paajarvi, Hartikainen, Pitlick, Hamilton, Rieder. Down the line somewhere, the Oilers will have a need and will be able to deal from their strength on the wing. This is a tremendous amount of talent. Massive.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Looks great until we get to the #7 spot on the big club list.

    Eager/Hordi/Petrell should be 13th forward at best.

    I’m still hoping they bring in someone to slot either directly above or below Jones. If not I’ve accepted that TH should be on the 4th line.

  • OilDoug


    MPS should play ahead of Jones, Eager, Belanger, Petrell and Hordichuk. Place him on the 3rd line with Smyth and Horcoff.

    The kid was drafted in the top 10, was a top player at the WJHC and an all-star a the Worlds. Why doesn’t he get the same opportunities that the other young kids get? His offense may not be on the same level but MPS is a better two way player than most of the other kids.

    My fear is he will be the one that got away because the Oil will use him as trade bate.

  • Good read LT.

    I’m concerned that the good players are too small and the big players are not good enough.

    I hope that makes sense.

    I’m really pushing for Pelss and Rieder, especially after watching Pelss play a lot last year, he really took his game to another level last year.

    The Oilers have some good prospects but after that I’m thinking they a little thin in the NHL ready department.

    I don’t know why, but I don’t see what others see in Hartikainein? I guess I just haven’t seen enough to make an opinion.

    As for Paajarvi, man I hope this kid can re-bound.

    After that, I think the Oilers 3rd and 4th line players are brutal;(Smyth is the exception)

    I don’t have many nice things to say about them so I won’t, but the Oilers need to upgrade that badly.

  • dessert1111

    When I think about Pajaarvi playing in the AHL for awhile I like the resigning of Petrell more. There isn’t too much pressure to keep him in the NHL mid-season if Pajaarvi looks ready after some seasoning, and he is a serviceable stop gap. I think there are better players the Oilers could have gotten for their 12th/13th forward but you know what he’s only going into his second year in NA and he might have a better year. If not, worst case scenario there is no pressure to have Pajaarvi come to the bigs until he works a bit more on the scoring touch, which he’ll get a better chance to do in the A. Not a bad thing for Pajaarvi, even if he ends up as a career 3rd liner–imagine Pajaarvi’s defensive prowess with 20+ goals a year, what’d that be a dream group of wingers. Here’s hoping they can offload Eager before the end of the year and they don’t feel the need to resign Hordichuk or Petrell again–the 4th line wingers are my only concern at this point (as far as the wings, of course).

  • dessert1111

    As per two of the above comments Magnus is so much more than a goal scorer and even with his sophmore jinx is still a better player than many you listed above . I’m one hoping Ralph gives him the push / advice he needs . This one player could define Tambellini.

  • The Soup Fascist

    I’m a little more interested in whats going to happen with the defense. I would love to see Fedun come out flying and force the Oil to put Potter on Waivers.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    After going through the NHL, I’m trying to figure out if there’s another team with as much ‘skill’ in there top six as the Oil. By skill I mean smaller speedsters with great finishing and passing ability. In fact, I’m not sure there’s ever been a team like this.

    I know most people think the center position is the most important, but with this amount of skill on our wings, it’s hard not to think of a dominant rush team.

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I cannot wait to watch Hall and Nail play on the same line, especially if it’s the first overall line with Nuge in the middle. It’s going to be like that oop-tee-oop scene from Varsity Blues where the defense is just scrambling to understand what is happening and trying to cover. Especially after watching Nail make some Nuge level passing at the last tournament. I thought he was joking in that one interview, but now I really believe that Nail can be whatever player you need him to be. A slick playmaker, a quick rusher, a strong forechecker, a dynamic scorer. Everything maybe but a shut down forward. This kid is going to make Kruger look so good.
    “Nail get out there and __________”
    “You got it coach!”
    Is how I imagine a lot of conversations will go.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Yup, and had about 9 Oilers listed as centers a few years ago.

      He plays wing in the AHL and he played wing in the CHL. (for the most part)

  • paul wodehouse

    I believe that Sam Gagner and Nugent-Hopkins hold the future of this team in their hands.And in that order for at least one more year.

    No team is built from only one foundation post,sure we have many elite level wingers–potentially–and thats the point,centermen create potential useing wingers.

    After this year when we need to deal with Gagner again,we will see our biggest “dodge”moneywise ,Sam is this teams catalyst IMHO.And if he lights it up as he is being put in a position to do,we will find ourselves paying dearly for his services with yet another year of NHL experience and upwards growth under his young belt.

    I see our lines set already with Nuge-Ebbs,and our second with Gagner-Hemsky,Hall and Yakupov will rotate as needed scoreing their butts off.Our third line Belanger-MPS,our fourth line Horcoff-Smyth,and let er rip with offense all the way down.

    Lets not overlook the fact that talented wingers make scoreing centermen,so I predict Gagner has a career year in pts and GOALS,and Nuge has a ppg pace with new marks set everywhere.

    Heres my guess,a centerman named Gagner will have more multi-point games than any of our winger this year.Just one facet of the game I know but still an indicator of system direction.

    Our wingers are in deep this year because defences are going to be sitting back on them worried and they will need to really rely on their centermens creativity inside the offensive blueline,rushes wont be our bread and butter,no one is being taken by surprise here,ha ha ha ha.Only well executed zone transitions can feed a team as talent laden as this with offensive opportunitys on a consistant basis,one heavy enough to let them excell.I guess Kruegers job is being defined already by the talent level we see,it is undeniable and really unstoppable.Hopefully he finds it manageable.

    Just watch from the beginning of the year,all teams will sit back on us and deny us the effective rush by stacking their blueline,it will be the only way to stop us,and it will generally work,so obviously we need a good transition game to overcome the only effective way of stopping our talent.And this means our centermen will lead us every night.

    Teams will be forced to let us enter the zone and take the fast shot every time,then we are in our own back-yard,thats what we want.First shot and rebound pursuit.As many times as we can get it in 60mins.we use all of our wingers skill to support our centermen in a sucessful o-zone transition,and then those elite wingers play hot potato until they score goals for us.

    Sorry folks,we wont see many of those rushes we all expect,but we will see a lot of really lightening fast finishing from our forwards in the o-zone.We should see beautiful and smooth and well paced zone transitions all year long with this much depth on the wings.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      I think Kruger is going to have a lot of options when it comes to his bottom lines. This is going to be good for our depth and utility, allowing us to slot in the right players for the right opposition. I think Eagre, Hordichuck and Paajarvi were all misused players last year. I’m excited for Kruger’s fair approach where the best player will play. No more watching Hemsky take shifts off, circling around and losing the puck in the offensive zone. Because if he does, Kruger won’t care what kind of vet he is, he will have a better option.

      I look forward as well to seeing Hordichuck and Eager let off the chain a little more this year. Hordichuck was horribly underused last year. We are a team with one of the best PP’s in the league. Hordichuck is one of the best drawers of penalties in the league. So why wasn’t he out there drawing penalties and running guys over on a semi nightly basis? Paajarvi too is such a good drawer of penalties with his crazy speed. I think he can slot perfectly into a tough minutes, defensively responsible role on the third line.

      As for Harti, I’m really hoping for a Lucic like breakthrough year, where all of a sudden he’s playing left wing on a top line, banging bodies, forechecking, and created chances for our skilled guys, while being a good net presence.

      • Harti is more physical but I think Paajarvi is more skilled. I would probably put Paajarvi out on a scoring line as his speed would open up lanes for others and we would have good skilled players picking up his rebounds.

        Paajarvi seems to be one of those players that could be a good 2 way player on a top line or a good shut down player on a defensive line. Offensively he is not going to do a lot without skilled players to feed and feed off of.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Finally we can deal from a position of strength. If we need to make a move for a dman at some point in the future, the gun is loaded. It’s up to Tambo to pull the trigger when the time is right.