GOOD ARROWS

The Edmonton Oilers have a lot of prospects either in the system, in junior, college or European leagues. We’re early into the regular season in most of these leagues and early returns for the top 20 (and beyond) is very positive.

Top 20 from September is here, updates below.

  1. L Nail Yakupov, Neftekhimik (KHL) 6, 4-2-6 -1. First class start from a young impact player. Shoots a ton, gets into high percentage offensive areas, and he handled the Hockey Canada-IIHF fiasco with aplomb. There are no down arrows for this young player. Massive talent.
  2. D Justin Schultz, OKC (AHL) 2, 1-1-2 E. Has captured the imagination of Oilers Nation with his performances in the first two regular season games. Terrific puck handler, he’s involved a lot in plays from the neutral zone into offensive zone. Aggressive player, we don’t really know about him defensively (yet) but there’s a big brain, some ridiculous puck handling skills and a lot of confidence. I would hope (and pray) the Barons find a LH defender who can play Dallas Smith to Schultz’s Bobby Orr.
  3. D Oscar Klefbom, Farjestad (SEL) 11, 0-3-3 +7. A stunning early portion of the season has SEL observers talking in grand terms about his future. Calm feet, good decisions, his poke checks alone are worth the price of admission. I think it is fairly accepted now that Klefbom will be in North America next season–likely in the NHL.
  4. D Martin Marincin, OKC (AHL) 2, 1-0-1 +1. Big defender is finding his way in pro hockey after a solid junior career. I’m not enamored about his being paired with Schultz–both are rookie pro’s and Marincin is going to have to be the stay-at-home part of the pairing–that isn’t really his game. That quibble aside, from what I’ve seen of him we should be pleased with Marincin. Although he’s made some errors that have led directly to goals and chances, rookie defensemen develop slowly and we should be patient. Overall, good arrows. 
  5. D Martin Gernat, Edmonton (WHL). The first down arrow on the list, and for a couple of reasons. First, a shoulder injury that will apparently have him out for some time (and unlikely to play at par when he returns). Second, there seemed to be some confusion about his injury and where he should have surgery coming from the OK camp; lack of communication is a troubling sign.
  6. L Teemu Hartikainen, OKC (AHL). 2, 0-1-1 E. Fans of the Finn (like myself) are used to slow starts, and his performance in game one of the regular season was distressing. However, Hartikainen played much better in game two and looks to have fit in nicely on the 3line. This is a huge season for Harski.
  7. R Tobias Rieder, Kitchener (OHL). 7,  1-5-6 -1. Last season after 7 games (5-5-10 +6) we were talking about a possible impact player. This season, he’s started a little slower but there’s no doubt the Oilers have a splendid prospect in Rieder. We’ve discussed his ability to play in all three disciplines before, and he’s doing it again this season. Can’t wait to see him in OKC.
  8. G Tyler Bunz, Stockton (ECHL). 2, 1.00 .952 A very impressive start for Bunz, as he follows the career path of Dubnyk and the other Oiler goalies over the last several seasons. He hasn’t been busy (20 shots per game average) and that SP will fall down over the season. Still, impressive start.
  9. L Daniil Zharkov, Belleville (OHL). 9, 2-2-4 +1. Like Rieder, young Zharkov’s start a year ago (9, 7-4-11 +4) turned a lot of heads. This season, he’s off to a slower start but is still getting PP time and should improve his current numbers. Belleville is playing well, but their GF total is subpar despite the wins. They’ll need more from Zharkov to contend.
  10. R Tyler Pitlick, OKC (AHL). 2, 0-1-1 +2. Leads the Barons with 8 shots on goal and from the action I’ve seen this is a player who "gets" his role. Looks better equipped to win battles this season to my eye, he certainly shows determination along the wall. The question is offense, and coach Nelson is giving him a massive opportunity.
  11. G Olivier Roy, OKC (AHL). 2, 2.00 .949. Roy performed well in his one game with OKC, and it is very interesting to see him get in games this early. Coach Nelson talked about playing Roy quite a bit this season and he’ll be challenged in front of the current blue. Another great opportunity.
  12. D David Musil, Vancouver (WHL). 9, 2-5-7 E. At this point he’s a man among boys and clearly the class of the Vancouver defensive group. The Giants are struggling this season and I wonder if the Oil Kings might come calling at some point. Excited to see Musil join the pro kids on defense.
  13. D Colten Teubert, OKC (AHL). 2, 0-0-0 E. When chaos rules the day–and face it, the OKC Barons have FOUR rookie pro’s on the ice right now along the D–a calm presence is a welcome sight. I’ve been impressed with his physical play and quiet feet. He might be overlooked by the casual fan, but Oilers Nation knows the value of a defenseman who can stand in there and make the right play when things get dicey. At the AHL level, that’s Teubert.
  14. L Mitch Moroz, Edmonton (WHL) 9, 0-4-4 +1. Moroz began the season on a skill line but has been moving up and down the lineup. Still, Moroz has been supplying the team with physical play (he had a big fight on Friday night against Calgary) and filling a role. I’d give money to know how the Oilers feel about the way this player is being handled.
  15. D Dillon Simpson, UND (NCAA). Not much to update, the North Dakota Something Something’s have only played a couple of exhibition  games. The thing to keep in mind about this player is that he’s been taking a regular shift in NCAA hockey at an extremely young age. That will benefit him later on as he grows stronger.
  16. L Jujhar Khaira, Michigan Tech (NCAA) 2, 0-1-1 E. Khaira has 15 pims already, a reflection of a hit from behind in game one. Big winger with toughness and skill, he’s a pretty interesting prospect.
  17. L Curtis Hamilton, OKC (AHL). 1, 0-0-0 -1. At the beginning of last season, we talked about him in the same way we discussed Tyler Pitlick. Those days are gone, and Hamilton played only one weekend game in Cleveland. He’s a skilled player with two-way ability, but I think the most positive thing we can say is that Hamilton’s timeline to the NHL will meander.
  18. D Erik Gustafsson, Djurgaden (Allsvenskan) 9, 1-1-2 +5. A solid start to the season, Gustafsson has been getting some solid reviews over the last few weeks. Oilers may have selected an obscure player based on final draft lists, but appears to be a player.
  19. D Brandon Davidson, OKC (AHL). 2, 0-0-0 E. Young defender doing some good things and struggling at others. Hey, rookie defenseman should be defined by this credo (imo): survival is success. There’s miles to go, and I do believe he’d be better served by playing on a team with more experience, but if wishes were horses beggars would ride.
  20. D Taylor Fedun, OKC (AHL). 2, 0-0-0 E. He’s looked fine to my eye, I think he’ll emerge as more of a top 4 option as the season wears on. Fedun’s skill set–two way defender–fits nicely with this group and I think a youngster like Marincin might benefit from playing alongside.

AND…….

I didn’t have Ryan Martindale in my top 20 (rightly so) but his impressive early season (2, 0-2-2 +2 and winning a top 6F job) should serve as a reminder about how quickly fortunes can turn. A year ago, we were talking about Phil Cornet and Martindale was ECHL bound, and this season the roles are reversed.

This prospect development thing isn’t an exact science, and Martindale’s fall reminds us of it.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Since Taylor Hall was drafted, the Oilers top 20 lists have been ridiculous. This continues through today, with Yakupov, Schultz and the rest representing top level potential and a strong tomorrow.

I also wanted to take a moment to mention the 2010 NHL Entry draft for the Oilers. Hall (NHL), Pitlick, Marincin, Hamilton, Martindale, Davidson, Pelss (AHL) and Bunz (ECHL) are all in pro hockey today. Kellen Jones is still in school, Jeremie Blain recently signed an AHL contract and Drew Czerwonka’s back with Kootenay as an overager.

Good draft, Stu and the boys. Will it be a great one? That’s what is being decided in OKC and Stockton. Good arrows, folks. Good arrows.

  • Lowetide

    DSF: You’re late, I expected you along earlier. 🙂 We’ll see. There’s a lot of talent on this roster, and when they’re a little older the group that includes Hall, Ebs, Nuge, Yak, Schultz and Klefbom should be able to finish at the good end of the standings.

    I know you’re hoping Vancouver will contend forever, but at some point Taylor Hall will pass the Sedins as a player.

    Just a matter of time. Good thing the Canucks have all those stanleys!

    • DSF

      Oh, I have no doubt the Oilers have some nice high end talent at the top of the roster but they are far from the only team in that position.

      And, relying on 6 good players to guarantee “several deep runs” is just hilarious.

      Look no further than the LA Kings who not only have a ridiculously talented top 6, a defense that includes Doughty and Voynov, a Conn Smyth winner in goal AND still has a prospect pool that, other than Yakupov, is at least the equal of the Oilers.

      I know it’s hard to believe, but Doughty is only 6 months older than Shultz and Voynov is the same age however both are already impact players in the NHL and are wearing cup rings.

      Then you look at the forward prospects the Kings still have in their system:

      Bud Holloway – leads the SEL in scoring.

      Oscar Moller – 7 points in 8GP SEL

      Tyler Toffoli – OHL goal scoring champion with 52G and 100P in 65GP

      Linden Vey – 43 points as an AHL rookie

      Jordan Weal – 41 goals and 116 points in the WHL last season

      Brandon Kozun – 20 goals and 46 points in his rookie AHL season

      Now, not all of their prospects are likely to be successful in the NHL (like you’re counting on for the Oilers list) and, given LA’s already loaded top 6 but if looking for up arrows….there you are.

      It would seem LA and (upon closer examination) teams like MInny, who will be adding Granlund, Coyle,Phillips, Zucker, Larsson, Bulmer and Palmieri to their NHL roster as soon as this season might have something to say about those “deep runs”.

      Hell, STL managed 109 points last season and were the best defensive team in hockey but have Tarasenko, Rattie, Schwartz and Ian Cole ready to join the ranks. How ’bout them arrows?

      As for Vancouver, the one huge advantage they have is a smart GM who I’m sure won’t sit idly by while Tambellini waits for his prospects to ripen.

      And really, falling back on winning cups as a current measure of the quality of an organization, makes you look like a Leafs fan.

      The Leafs have 13 cup wins!

      • book¡e

        Howdy DSF, long time no see. I must say that you are completely out to lunch in your love of LA’s prospect list. LA has nowhere near the quality of prospects that the Oilers do, they traded Schenn and their 2011 1st and 2012 3rd to us which really put a dent in that list, they have some promising role players like Nolan and King in their system. However guys like Toffoli, Forbort, and Hickey are no match for what we have in our system beyond Yakupov. Moeller and Holloway are as solid of NHL prospects as Shirokov and Sweatt were, we probably won’t see any in the NHL anytime soon, unless of course the owners use less talented replacement players, then maybe they’ll have a shot.

        What you should be trumpeting however is LA’s current NHL depth and core (Doughty, Quick, Kopitar, Richards, Voynov, Carter, etc.) and how many years they will be solid players, on that basis you have a leg to stand on, on the basis of their prospects > or = ours = complete fantasy. There are very damn few teams with similar prospect quality and depth, Minnesota and maybe Florida off the top of my head, LA is nowhere near that list neither are the Canucks.

        BTW-Jensen looks like a solid young player for your Canucks.

      • book¡e

        I fully agree that there are a small number of teams in the NHL with up and coming talent that is similar to the Oilers. As such, I fully agree that the Oilers will be amongst a small group of elite teams in the NHL in a few years time.

        • DSF

          Remember when the Thrashers had Kovalchuk, Heatley, Slava Kozlov, Marian Hossa and Kari Lehtonen in their primes?

          But they had bumbling management that didn’t know how to build a winner?

          • Lowetide

            They didn’t have all those players in their primes. Hell, DSF, some of those guys were TRADED for each other! I’m insulted, you’re not even trying today.

            🙂

          • DSF

            Oh goodness, you mean that Heatley got traded for Hossa?

            Who knew?????

            I guess that completely vindicates their team building prowess.

            It’s kind of like trading Visnovsky for the ghost of Ryan Whitney.

            All is well.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    As far as Ebs and Nuge let’s not forget they didn’t even get a preseason warm up game. They have played well but maybe a bit guilty of trying to do too much. Nuge has looked good in the face off’s and Ebs has pulled out a few beauty moves. Hard to believe they haven’t scored with all their chances.

  • Lowetide

    Oilerpinoy: I think Hall’s coming off surgery probably means he stays at L for now. Messier made his move (the final one) about 5 years in so there’s still time.

    I think Nuge and Ebs just need to catch up, they didn’t play any pre-season and so this weekend WAS their pre-season.

    Too much talent.

  • Oilbridge

    Watched the second game online yesterday. Schultz has been very impressive. Mad stick skills, there was a play along the boards in the neutral zone by the barons blue, where Schultz transition up by putting the puck thru his legs, just beauty. Love the on PK where he was aggressive and ready to jump up. He’s going to be beauty for sure. As for ebs and the nuge, I find that they’re both struggling to find their rhythm. I’m sure there is a lot more chaos playing down in the AHL for high skilled players like ebs and rnh. There isn’t as much flow. Also, not having Hall in the lineup as always made a difference. He’s certainty the most dynamic of thr trio and is the straw that stirs the drink. Just wait and see when Hall just playing, there will be more room and energy out on that ice for the barons. Lowtide, what’s your thoughts on Hall when he gets down to OKC, do they play him at LW or Centre? And who gets sent down to make room, Hamilton? Would luv to see MPS get more at bats with ebs and Rnh, he’s actually the playing the body more this year which is good to see. Would like see him just crash the net with the puck more when he drives the puck wide. Wouldn’t mind him taking a couple penalties running the goalie if it means giving him the confidence to do so. Thanks.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    Could bad contracts derail your utopia? That’s what I’m scared of.

    Q: based on what you’ve seen/heard/read, do you really think Yak’s start is better than Schultz?

    To me, d in the A is pretty tough, his points are there and his coach/teammates are raving. Don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked about Yak.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    I am not sold on Marincin yet. He is still a fire drill in his own end. I watched the game last night and he kept giving the puck away in his own end. I thought his play really dragged down the top line and kept them in their own zone. You are right he shouldn’t be paired with Shultz.

  • Lowetide

    lol. I was talking to a buddy the other day about the Oilers and their prospect depth. I asked “is there any way to screw this up?” and we both agreed there is only one (injury).

    There’s just too much. I’m not saying the Oilers are going to win a Stanley in the next decade–they could–but there’s too much talent here to keep them from the playoffs and several deep runs.

    Too. much. talent.

    • DSF

      Suggesting prospect depth like the Oilers possess is all but a guarantee of “several deep runs” is folly because it ignores the prospect depth of the teams they would have to leap frog to accomplish that.

      It also assumes that most every prospect on your list will realize his full potential when we both know that is highly unlikely.

      Nonetheless, looking at your list I would draw a line at after #4 as those players above the line all would likely project to be a top 6 forward or top pairing defensemen while those below the line are at best questionable to project that high.

      That leaves you with 7 potential bottom 6 forwards and 7 bottom 4 defensemen.

      Not only will there be no room at the inn for that group but it is hardly spectacular when compared with the prospect depth of several other organizations.

      For every Yakupov there is a Tarasenko (6GP 6G 5A 11P KHL), For every Schultz there is a Gardiner, for every Klefbom there is a Brodin.

      Thing is, young teams like STL, Minny and LA also have a foundation of solid veteran players while the Oilers absolutely NEED their prospects to over achieve just to be competitive.

      That’s hardly a recipe for “several deep runs”.

      • 24% body fat

        Your right, for every yakupov there is a tarasenko, etc. But how often do they all end up on the same team and have a chance of playing together in their prime.

        Also isn’t it over at cancuks army that they are writing what if scenarios and claiming the canucks would win the cup if this “said trade or signing” would have happened. How would any canucks fan know what it takes to win a cup.

        • DSF

          Well see, that’s the thing.

          The Blues already have David Backes (2 time 30+ goal scorer), TJ Oshie (1st round pick), David Perron (1st round pick), Patrick Berglund (1st round pick) to go along with Tarasenko in their top 6.

          In their bottom 6, they have Chris Stewart (1st round pick) and Alex Steen (1st round pick).

          Then you have Ty Rattie (a 32nd overall pick who put up 57 goals and 121 points with the Portland Winterhawks last season) and Jaden Swartz (1st round pick) both knocking on the door.

          (I wonder how the Mitch Moroz draft will look in a couple of years when we recall Rattie was also selected at #32?)

          Now, on defense they have Pietrangelo, (1st round pick) and Shattenkirk (1st round pick).

          Would anyone want to make a wager than Klefbom and Shultz will be better than those two?

          How about if we add Ian Cole (1st round pick) and Jordan Shmaltz (1st round pick) to the Blues prospects parade?

          Now how ’bout those arrows?

          • 24% body fat

            not one of these players with maybe backes as the exception for his all around game is as good as eberle, all other prospects is not any where near the class hall, nuge and yakupov are in. They trump whatever other late round picks like schmultz add to the blues collection. Anyone (except the flames) can make a list of first round picks as they all get one every year.

            The oilers actually have on of the teams with the most first round picks in the starting line up

            Hemsky, Dubnyk, Whitney, Smid, Gagner, Eberle, Hall, Paajarvi, Nuge, Yakupov, Eager, Smythe

            Also, Schultz, Schultz and Petry were all taken in the first half of the second round.

            Listing off first round picks does not make a winning team.

            Hockeys future has the oilers ranked 4th in organizational future rankings. St. louis is 8th. This list does not include graduated players (Hall, Nuge, Eberle) that would put them at number 1

            TSN had ranking for teams based on their players under 25. And Edmonton not St Louis, was first.
            This is the most accurate measure as it takes in to account all players involved in a teams future.

          • DSF

            Hall, Hopkins and Eberle are no longer prospects as LT’s list rightly points out.

            You can certainly argue they are better players than the Blues top line and that the Oilers are awash in first round picks.

            But then you’ll have to explain why the Blues finished with 109 points and the Oilers with 74.

            Perhaps it’s because they aren’t better?

            And, you’re right, having a ton of high draft choices on your team certainly doesn’t guarantee success.

            That was my point.

          • 24% body fat

            If you can comprehend what I wrote I clearly said those players weren’t prospects but better than the players on your blues list. I than stated a list of first rounders does not equal a winning team (ie the oilers).

            The kids were included in the future equation because they will be a part of it. The prospects list for St. Louis may not be a part of theirs, as will the oilers may not be a part of the oilers future.

            That being said, I would take the oilers top 6 over the blues.

            The original point was the young players the oilers have are lined up to play together and not one after the other. That is what separates the oilers under 25 from the rest of the league is the amount of Elite talent.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    For the FIST time in years, it looks like the depth chart is pretty good.

    EDIT: Damn, took time to READ the blog before posting 🙁

  • book¡e

    The Oilers future looks amazingly bright. As an Oilers fan conditioned for two decades to disappointment, I can only assume that this means that the NHL is going to collapse as a result of this lockout.