In all the excitement over the #1 overall picks every summer, we may have lost sight of something: a few of the Oiler draft picks who turned pro in the last few years will be RFA next summer.
Draft day is always a happy time for prospects, but there are markers afterward that are more important; just because a team drafted said player doesn’t mean a contract is on the way. Recent examples of this include Jeremie Blain and Drew Czerwonka, two 2010 draftees the Oilers passed on signing this summer.
After getting a contract, junior and college kids continue their careers at that level and usually turn pro at 20. That kicks the entry level deal into place, and for juniors it is a three year gig. Lets take the 2010 draft as an example:
- Taylor Hall finishes up his entry level deal in 12-13 and then his long term deal begins
- Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton and Ryan Martindale are in year 2 of their deals.
- Martin Marincin, Tyler Bunz and Brandon Davidson just turned pro so their entry level deals start now and ends summer 2015.
That 2010 draft is spread out a lot, usually entry level deals come due 5 years after the player is drafted (exceptions being exceptional talents like Hall and college men).
THE CURRENT GROUP (FORWARDS)
The Edmonton Oilers have several kids coming up to the end of their entry level deals. Some of these men were designated ‘a part of the future’ on their draft day and the day they signed their entry level deals. Does this remain true?
- Magnus Paajarvi: Had a solid rookie year, got lost in the shuffle in year two and is being placed ona a feature line in OKC this fall. Has an assist in the first two Barons games and the coach felt he was using his speed effectively this weekend. I’d guess Paajarvi will get another contract, and his uneven performance during entry level years might mean a value deal is possible with this player. Oilers will need plenty of those.
- Teemu Hartikainen: Finn has played 119 AHL and 29 NHL games since arriving from his homeland, meaning roughly 20% of his time has been in the NHL. He’s a slow starter, but each spring when he arrives in the NHL the big man looks like a player. Coach Nelson and others have talked in the past about just how difficult a league the AHL is to play in, and maybe this fellow is better suited to the big league. Either way, I think he’s earned another contract.
- Mark Arcobello: He’s done everything at the AHL level during his entry level deal to show his value, but this organization has so many youngsters with true NHL potential on the way. Despite a strong resume during his time in Okla City, I’ll guess it is less than 50/50 he gets a two-way deal from the Oilers next fall.
- Phil Cornet: His being sent to Stockton is an indication of his value. No offense meant, this is a very deep organization with all the NHL level talent up front. Still, with more talent graduating in the fall (Tobias Rieder, Travis Ewanyk, a ton of defensemen) the organization will need to find room.
- Antti Tyrvainen: At this point he would be the most likely (imo) player to be passed over next summer. Things can change, and he delivers a lot of grit and is an agitator, but there would appear to be too much talent ahead of him.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Oilers can move things around to both meet the 50-man limit and keep all of the entry level men above. They might choose to pass on signing Travis Ewanyk and let some of those defensemen go free; they could also cull some of the UFA list (Lennart Petrell, Dane Byers, Ryan Jones, Darcy Hordichuk) and not replace them with other free agents. There are also RFA’s not in their entry level deals the Oilers could walk, and of course trades–although Steve Tambellini has been hesitant to solve things that way during his regime.
I think some of those things may happen. A guess would be that Hordichuk, Byers and Petrell do not get re-signed and the organization fills from within. I do think Travis Ewanyk earns a deal.
Next: we’ll do the same thing with the defense. And man, what a mess. There are so many kids on the way, I’m not sure they can keep all of them.