How many players should we expect Todd Nelson to graduate to the NHL next season? What would the number be in a typical year? How many prospects a season does Edmonton produce via their minor league system?


From 1979 through 1989, the Edmonton Oilers didn’t have a massive need to AHL grads, and that is reflected in the numbers below. This is "grads" who had less than 20 NHL games played entering the season, spent over 30 games in the minors in that specific season and established themselves as NHL players.  I’ve listed only those enjoying a career of 150 or more in the world’s best league:

  • 1979-80 Houston Apollos: None
  • 1980-81 Wichita Wind: None
  • 1981-82 Wichita Wind: G Andy Moog, D Charlie Huddy, L Walt Poddubny, C Tom Roulston
  • 1982-83 Moncton Alpines: None
  • 1983-84 Moncton Alpines: D John Blum, C Marc Habscheid
  • 1984-85 Nova Scotia Oilers: D Steve Smith, L Raimo Summanen
  • 1985-86 Nova Scotia Oilers: D Jeff Beukeboom
  • 1986-87 Nova Scotia Oilers: 
  • 1987-88 Nova Scotia Oilers: R Kelly Buchberger, D Chris Joseph
  • 1988-89 Nove Scotia Oilers: None

The Oilers minor league system had one outstanding cluster (81-82, Wichita Wind) and then three quality NHL players from their time as the Nova Scotia Oilers (Smith, Beukeboom and Bucky). There are 11 names who qualify based on the initial restrictions and I’d suggest that of those 11 the Oilers produced 6 average of above average NHL players. Moog, Huddy, Steve Smith, Beukeboom, plus forwards Poddubny and Buchberger would go on to solid to quality careers. 

In a nutshell, the Oilers produced 1 player of 150+ NHL GP career quality per season, and a quality player every two seasons. The big league club was winning four Stanley’s during those seasons, so one can imagine a center drafted onto the roster took one look at 99, Mess and the rest and requested a move to wing. However, it certainly shows the value of procurement and a minor league club that can serve as a feeder to the NHL roster. 


Poor drafting takes awhile to impact an organization’s minor league system, and for the Oilers the brilliant drafts 1979-83 had been replaced by a maddening tendency to miss badly in the first round and then score relatively well late (Buchberger, Ewen, Van Allen). It had an impact on the system in the late 1980s and early in the 1990s, but in later years things began to build. 

  • 1989-90 Nova Scotia Oilers: None
  • 1990-91 Nova Scotia Oilers: None 
  • 1991-92 Nova Scotia Oilers: L Martin Rucinsky, D Brad Werenka, L Louis DeBrusk
  • 1992-93 Cape Breton Oilers: C Shaun Van Allen, L Shjon Podein, L Kirk Maltby, D Francois Leroux, R Steve Rice
  • 1993-94 Cape Breton Oilers: L Dean McAmmond, C Peter White
  • 1994-95 Cape Breton Oilers: L Miro Satan, C Todd Marchant, R David Oliver, R Roman Oksiuta
  • 1995-96 Cape Breton Oilers: C Tyler Wright, C Rem Murray, C Mats Lindgren
  • 1996-97 Hamilton Bulldogs: D Greg DeVries
  • 1997-98 Hamilton Bulldogs: R Georges Laraque, D Sean Brown, C Boyd Devereaux, L Mike Watt
  • 1998-99 Hamilton Bulldogs: D Todd Reirden

A much stronger decade, you can see clearly when the procurement department started to matter again. The 10-year period 89-99 gave the Oilers 23 players who were in the NHL for 150 or more games, and of those I’d rank 10 as being average or above average (one per season) in their careers. Some of these men–Satan, Marchant, Rucinsky–were outstanding hockey players for a long time.

We have to make allowances for things like expansion (more spots available league wide) and the fact Edmonton needed to add in the 1990’s (the 80s roster was pretty set each fall). Still, I think we can see that the minor league system during the 1990’s was sending a helluva lot of talent north west.


The final full decade we can look at should be familiar to most Oiler fans of today. This was the period when Kevin Prendergast’s draft day decisions held way and is reflected below:

  • 1999-00 Hamilton Bulldogs: L Dan Lacouture
  • 2000-01 Hamilton Bulldogs: C Shawn Horcoff, D Scott Ferguson
  • 2001-02 Hamilton Bulldogs: L Jason Chimera, D Alex Henry
  • 2002-03 Hamilton Bulldgos: C Jarret Stoll, R Fernando Pisani, D Marc-Andre Bergeron, G Ty Conklin, D Alexei Semenov
  • 2003-04 Toronto Roadrunners: D Jeff Woywitka
  • 2004-05 Edmonton Roadrunners: None
  • 2005-06 Hamilton Bulldogs: R Brad Winchester
  • 2005-06 Iowa Stars: D Matt Greene
  • 2006-07 SWB Penguins: D Tom Gilbert, C Kyle Brodziak, C Marc Pouliot, L JF Jacques
  • 2006-07 Hamilton Bulldogs: R Zack Stortini
  • 2007-08 Springfield Falcons: None
  • 2008-09 Springfield Falcons: D Theo Peckham

Now this decade is over but more and more players will fill in the gaps as they reach 150 NHL games played. Having said that, we can assume this is fairly close to the end for the final 2 seasons (Schremp, Thoresen, Syvret, Deslauriers and a few others are still out there trying to get NHL time). 

Here are the numbers: 19 players in the decade played 150 or more games–that’s pretty close to the 90s and should be closer when all is said and done. I would say that 9 of these players were average or above average for their careers, which is one shy of the last decade and certainly in the range for luck and bias. 


In a normal decade (one where the Oilers aren’t winning 5 Stanley’s), we should expect 2 graduates per year via the minor league system who will play more than 150 games in their careers. One of those players would be considered as having an average to above average career–it could range from Jeff Beukeboom to Martin Rucinsky to Miro Satan–but they would have played as a regular for a significant number of years. 

If Stu MacGregor and his group are going to be superior to that number, they’re going to be providing players to other teams in the league. With Taylor Hall, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz and Jeff Petry already there, the number of long term job openings in Edmonton has been dwindling since 2010 spring. 

  • DSF

    Between 2001 and 2010, the Oilers have graduated ZERO players who are still on the roster.

    Considering they were a dreadful team all those years, that would seem to indicate their drafting and development system is broken.

    That they are able to graduate top ten draft picks hardly compensates for that failure especially since players like Gagner and Pajaarvi are looking pretty sketchy.

  • Lowetide

    DSF: The procurement department can’t tell the Oilers to keep Kyle Brodziak, Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Jason Chimera and Tom Gilbert.

    THAT is not the fault of the amateur drafting department.

    • DSF

      You seem to have missed the “development” part of my post.

      Being able to discern when a player is able to fulfill a role on a winning team is likely a more important skill than drafting.

      There is no evidence that the Oilers have changed in that regard.

      They hang on to players based on draft pedigree for far too long and send away players who could help.

      Then they bring in the Eagers, Hordichuks and assorted flotsam and jetsam to replace what they already had.

      Every player you listed would be an upgrade on the players that replaced them.

      Brodziak or Belanger?

      Stoll or Belanger?

      Greene or Peckham?

      Chimera or Jones?

      Gilbert or Schultz.

      Not even close.

    • RexLibris


      I was just working on something about the reasonable numbers of potential NHLers we could expect to get from the current development pool.

      Darn you, LT and your “always leading the pack ways”.

      I guess I’ll just have to finish it up and provide generous links to ANOTHER one of your articles.


      I agree with your math, 2 per season, as an average when all is said and done with some variance from year to year. Those bottom six spots are going to fill up fast, but what is important is if the bottom six can be promoted to spot duty in the event of injury (nah, that never happens around here). Having a solid lineup is terrific on opening night, but having a deep lineup is crucial in May and June.

  • Oilertown

    @ DSF give it up buddy Gagner is a 50+ point a year player right now far from sketchy. Magnus will be just fine in a couple years time I have never in my life seen someone reach like you do all the time to try and make the Oilers organization look bad. If you have nothing nice to say about the Oilers then leave our blogs and never come back please no one likes you.

    • DSF

      Gagner has never scored 50+ points and its debatable if he ever will.

      Pajaarvi can’t score in the AHL…on pace for a 10 goal season despite playing second line minutes.

      Sketchy doesn’t even begin to describe them.

      • longbottom/P.Biglow

        Please even your precious Sedins were comparable to Gagner in their first 5 years.
        And they started at the young of 20
        H Sedin: GP400 G62 A159 P221
        D Sedin: GP397 G74 A139 P222
        S Gagner:GP366 G77 A143 P220

        Funny when you compare him to the likes of Kyle Wellwood when in reality he is at the same pace as both Sedins with less GP.
        It just shows that you actually might be secretly cheering Gagner on. HE DOTH PROTEST TO MUCH.

        • DSF

          You may want to dig a little deeper if you want to present a credible argument for your claim that Gagner is every bit the equal of the Sedins.

          For example, in his rookie season, Daniel Sedin was 11th among Canucks forwards in TOI/G at 12:59 but managed to score 20 goals (something Gagner has never done).

          In his rookie season, Gagner played almost 3 minutes more per game since the team was weaker than the comparable Canuck team.

          The Sedins didn’t start playing top 6 minutes until 2005/06, at which point Daniel produced 71 points and Henrik produced 75 points.

          The 2006/07 season was the first season (post West Coast Express) that the Sedins led the Canucks in TOI/G.

          Henrik scored 81 points while Daniel scored 84 points including 36 goals.

          Worth noting also is that the Sedins’ early years were played in the clutch and grab dead puck era and, as soon as the rule changes on obstruction changed, they exploded with those 70+ point seasons.

          Gagner has always played under the new rules.

          I think we can agree it’s extremely unlikely Gagner will ever lead the Oilers in TOI/G (he was 4th last season) barring an injury to Hopkins, so suggesting his trajectory is ahead of the Sedins might bear a closer look.

          • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

            Kudos on your ability to cherry pick stats and points. It still remains that every single point you made doesn’t even come close to having the same bearing as GP, G, A, P.

            You could cherry pick stats to make Gretzky look comparable to Zack Stortini.

            You really are the Wayne Gretzky of justifying your opinion.

            Have you ever conceded a point at all? Ever? Have you ever admitted you were wrong? Even once?

            Damn it DSF, you trolled me once again!

          • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

            No, he’s saying your inability to acknowledge a flawed argument (don’t worry, it happens to everyone!) is what ultimately destroys your credibility.

            Just because someone plays for the Canucks doesn’t mean they are inviolable. Likewise, not every Oilers player is a cautionary tale of overhype/overpay/underdeliver.

          • DSF

            If it’s my argument that’s flawed, not his, you should expect Gagner, in his 5th NHL season, should have scored at the same rate or better than Henrik did in his 5th NHL season.

            In fact, Gagner scored 47 points while Henrik Sedin scored 75 points.

            How do you account for the difference?

            We should also expect Gagner to score 81 points in his next full NHL season if he wants to keep pace.

            Want to place a wager on that?

          • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

            You appear to have fired back a response without digesting my comment. Try and grasp the spirit of what I’m saying.

            I did not say that his argument was reasonable and yours was not. While I think it is interesting that the Sedins can be raised as comps to Gagner, I never said I agree with it in its entirety, and I wouldn’t claim that it is a perfect argument either. My original post was addressing what seems to be your inability to ever admit you are wrong. That’s it.

            Carry on with Gagner vs Sedin at your pleasure, folks!

          • DSF

            I believe you prefaced your remarks with reference to my “flawed argument” when that is clearly not the case.

            Some guy named longbottom trotted out the Gagner/Sedin comp as proof that the Oilers development system is working.

            When I’m wrong about that, I’ll be the first to let you know.

          • Max Powers - Team HME Evans


            Read it. Re-read it. You should probably re-re-read it.

            I’ve led you to the water. Drink, son. I cannot go any further now, and frankly, I don’t want to.

          • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

            after he continued to argue after schultz signed in edmonton, even when people responded with quotes FROM HIM that said the opposite, anything is possible.

            it literally came down to him saying even though he was saying not edmonton he actually was thinking the opposite or some BS like that.

            spin spin spin…wash, rinse, repeat

    • RyanCoke

      But DSF is everyone’s favorite troll. I can’t help but read everything he says and occasionally agree. He also opens a lot of debates and gets ppl fired up. It’s like watching jersey shore, it’s so stupid but the drama keeps me from changing the channel.

  • Aitch

    Sorry LT, can’t give the draft team credit for Gilbert.

    It will be interesting to see how the non fab five pan out from MacGregor’s esrly years when it all shakes out. There are a few tracking in the right direction but you’d expect a higher number coming out of the lean years just because more opportunities should present themselves.

  • Oilertown

    Gagner WILL put up 50+ points I don’t care what you think or say. Why don’t you hop over to Canuck Nation and debate the Hodgkins for Kassion trade with the rest of your homer buddies.

  • Oilertown

    Not counting RNH [ No. 1 pick a blind monkey would have picked] how many Oiler prospects on this years Jr. team?For a bottom dweller , not much happening . I am not a big fan of MacGregor, again dont count the Lotto Kids. Give him much credit for Eberle thus far.. thats it.He came from the Pedergast “not much happening” school.

  • Oilertown

    I think Gagner needs at least one season of 50+ points before we call him a 50+ point player. However, he is hardly a bust since he seems to be around a 45 point guy. If you actually look at the numbers instead of just cherry pick guys that out scored him you find that is pretty average for a second line centre.

  • Oilertown

    logging in away from home, so as a guest…

    That first picture, the one of the ice, is incredible. I’m gobsmacked, and want to wrap myself in sealskin and go explore.

    You guys always find great images for the articles. Cheers to whoever does the work. Hell of a job!

    …the lady pics aren’t too shabby either!

  • DSF

    After 30 plus years of a farm system,

    Best Goalie – Moog ….nice
    Best Fwd – Horcoff …2nd/3rd liner
    Best D – Smith …good 4/5/6 defender

    Given how average to bad the Oilers had been for 20 years…i would have expected more

  • Quicksilver ballet

    There’s a whole lotta nothin special again brewin in the AHL’s Oklahoma City Thunder. Nothing but a couple support players if the Oilers hang onto them long enough.

    Outside of the 3 first overalls, Ebs and Schultz, the well continues to run dry from my vantage point. Too many teams and not enough talent to go around. A few good players are scattered around the league, but there are no great players so to speak of in the NHL now. Long gone are the days of Gretzkys,Bures,Lemieuxs and Messiers etc. Most here will probably admit, the face of the NHL Sidney Crosby is a good player but far from a great player.

    • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

      Not sure why you included Bure in there… I’d say, even compensating for eras, that Crosby is as good/dominant as Bure, if not more. He’s not a Gretzky or a Lemieux, but he sure as hell is a Bure.

      He ranks up there with Bossy, esposito, Hasek etc. as the best of their eras but not generational talents like Orr, Gretz, Lemieux or even Messier (who i would say is generous to include in that list).

  • Oilertown

    I would put great players as Crosby Ovechkin Stamkos and possibly Karlsson on D. I would say that there will be a few more coming too like Makinnon (sp)? and others. I can kind of understand what he means though not sure if there will ever be players of the Gretz and Mario ilk. Think they were once in forever players also a different time though those day IMO.

    • DSF

      it’s obviously impossible to compare, though I wonder how the oilers would’ve done if Crosby played in the 80’s for the oil lol. anyhow I agree with QB that the league is watered down, but to say Crosby is far from a great player is tough to swallow. a lot of ppl may not like him, but no rational hockey fan can deny his talent.

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    DSF is up to his usual antics of deflecting the original point to try and make himself right.

    My original point was that in the gagner vs sedin comparison, the original author of the argument, Mr. Longbottom, backed up his side with some relevant stats. DSF retorted with comparatively weak counter points.

    Longbottom 1
    DSF 0

    DSF then proceeds to derail the conversation by making it seem as if I said that TOI had no bearing on those stats. Which I didn’t. I just stated that DSF was wrong that’s it. It was obvious so he tried to goad me into another argument which he can manipulate. He then tried to derail Gazmort repeatedly, because Gazmort was pointing out the truth.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    DSF makes good arguement the current Oiler management is horsefeathers. 3 first overall draft selections and they still refuse to look themselves in the mirror and admit, even they, need to be better. If half the stuff DSF makes note of is correct, the Oilers would be a better off hockey club.

    Management has landed the Oilers where they are now as much as the players have. Keep on truckin DSF. Blind faith isn’t everyones cup of tea.

      • Cheap Shot Charlie

        It seems like the less I’m on here the more you are. I guess I should appologize to you for ignoring your need for your daily *HUG*. I will try my best to remind you that you are a quality individual how you just need some good loving. Maybe we could go for a drink, you could tell me how great you are at your job but you work with idiots and you just can’t get anywhere because of it. Maybe I could slide a consoling hand across the table and let you know I care. I CARE MAN!!!
        If you’re open minded and willing to try some new things out maybe we could have a real nice *HUG*. I’m sure you’d like it if you let your deeper hinden feelings out. 😉

        Hands up, who thinks DSF needs some deep sweet love?