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 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.


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.

  • Bang on the money LT. The D corps is going to be the heartbreaker moment of the rebuild. Our forwards had 2 categories, really….the elites and the callups. We have a lot of players getting bumped from T6 minutes in the big show, and will never be brought up, or kept on board for the long haul. This we all know and can accept. The D has a whole different story altogether. The long future of the men on the blue will be determoned by the health of Whitney and Fedun, as well as the transition of Shultz. Our depth on D is as deep as up frony IMO, but only 6 spots to fill instead of 12. Tough decisions for Mr Tambo.

  • Eulers

    Seems to me that to manage these assets soundly we ought to trade some for future picks to spread the wealth over time and keep the cupboard stocked for a future date when the Oilers (presumably) don’t suck.

  • OilLeak

    Mark Arcobello will be an NHL player one day, you heard it here first. He may not do it with the Oilers, but I think he has what it takes. Arcobello has shown constant improvement year over year and is a great 2 way player with some offense. If he can provide some offense and good defensive ability on the third line that has value. Size doesn’t matter.

  • RexLibris

    Hi LT,

    On Paajarvi, I agree completely. When he struggled last season I began to wonder if perhaps this might be a blessing in disguise as an undervalued winger with his potential and tools could fit in really well with all the other thoroughbreds on the forward lines.

    About Arcobello, is it just me or does he remind you of the kind of player that Sather used to trade to a desperate Leafs GM, for example, in exchange for a passed-over defenceman who slotted in perfectly with a young core? Just saying. The kid probably has a future, if it isn’t here, is there a value to be maximized and can Tambellini accomplish it?

    From where I sit, Petrell, Byers, Jones, Hordichuk, Sutton and perhaps Potter aren’t Oilers next season. I think they can manage the 50-man reserve list fairly well, all things considered, although they are going to have to deal with a crowded blue line soon.

    Then again, at the beginning of last season Bieksa-watch was on because everybody declared that there was no way the Canucks could retain him and stay under the cap. I’ll wait to see how it all plays out, but I don’t think we’ll necessarily have to flush a tonne of prospects anytime soon. Gernat, for example, is going to need significant time in the AHL, from what I have seen thus far.

  • Lowetide

    Arcobello is an interesting player. He seems to be a perfect AHL regular but not an impact player at that level. That suggests he won’t make the next level. BUT he keeps ending up on a scoring line, even if that line starts out as a 3line or 4line.

    So, despite size issues and an unusual trip up the depth chart, he just keeps passing people. I wouldn’t bet on him making the Oilers, but he’s gotten this far.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    The CBA may change the 50 man roster. I could see the players and the teams both agreeing on increasing the 50 man roster by 2-4 spots. It would seem logical that if the owners want to retain players rights longer that part in part of that would be having the ability to retain them on the roster. It would mean that teams could keep players longer (Arcobello,Cornet) while they continue to develop. I would see that as a logical extension of what the owners goals appear to be in this CBA negotiation. The owners goals appear to want less Free Agency to drive costs down.

    The boon to the players would be more security and jobs. Less movement. But as we have seen in the past long term contracts are not that big a deal to move if its the right player.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Interesting article. I’m not sure if Arcobello gets a contract but I really think he should. I think Tyrvainen is an interesting player and I think he has a window here to show what he is but if he doesn’t show it fast he won’t be in the mix. I think at this point Cornet should be traded for a mid-round pick if he can garner that much…he was an AHL allstar after all, and there’s obviously no place in Edmonton for him right now with his skill range. But he’s not an ECHL player and him, as an asset, is being depreciated right now.

    VandeVelde and House are also RFA next year. I think they might sign one but not both, and actually I think they’d need to have a really good year to be signed. A guy like Arcobello, actually, is younger and much more versatile. The only knock? Size. Oilers want size, and I’m worried that this obsession is going to cause them to pass on a better player to sign a worse one.

    For the forwards, the depth on wing is much better than on centre, and if they can’t make a good trade or a sign a good UFA, they’ll have to turn in-house. I am skeptical on VandeVelde being a good 4C and Lander being a good 3C, and I’m even more skeptical that Martindale will turn out. Really, in my mind, Arcobello could get some consideration for a 3C position if he’s retained.