After an exceptional three season run of impact rookies on their way to being impact NHLers, the cupboard is decidedly bare for Oiler rookies this season. Or is it?
THE ROOKIES 2010-2013
Since 2010 fall, Edmonton has played a lot of rookies, a lot! Here’s the damage (by TOI):
- Devan Dubnyk (10-11) 2061
- Magnus Paajarvi (10-11) 1231
- Jordan Eberle (10-11) 1220
- Taylor Hall (10-11) 1140
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (11-12) 1091
- Justin Schultz (12-13) 1029
- Linus Omark (10-11) 783
- Jeff Petry (10-11) 713
- Nail Yakupov (12-13) 699
- Anton Lander (11-12) 594
- Lennart Petrell (11-12) 578
- Colten Teubert (11-12) 303
- Ryan O’Marra (10-11) 231
- Teemu Hartikainen (11-12) 221
- Chris VandeVelde (10-11) 207
- Shawn Belle (10-11) 82
- Alex Plante (10-11) 45
- Phil Cornet (11-12) 21
- Mark Arcobello (12-13) 18
Holy hell. Holy holy hell! That’s a lot of rookie in three seasons. Three number one overalls, plus 1st rounders Devan Dubnyk, Magnus Paajarvi, Jordan Eberle, Colten Teubert, Ryan O’Marra, Shawn Belle, Alex Plante; and of course a few other gems like Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry, Linus Omark, Anton Lander and others.
It’s a helluva cluster. Can we agree? A three year rookie run this good has to result in some major league improvement. Right?
Rookies as rookies are interesting, but the important thing is that they turn into useful NHL players. Gordie Howe wore #17 as a rookie, but ended up with #9 and helped keep Motown Hockeytown.
- Oscar Klefbom: The strongest candidate because he solved the problem running around in Craig MacTavish’s brain as he arrived to scout Klefbom. MacT: “In the course of what I was doing this year early, I took a trip to Farjestad to watch Oscar. I went in there with one of our Swedish scouts, Pelle Eklund, and it was one of those games where I walked in, sat down, watched warm-up, Oscar came on the ice. The team that they were playing, Modo at the time, dumped the puck in the corner. Oscar pivoted and went back hard and fast for the puck. He fought off a pretty physical forecheck, turned to the back of the net, made a movement of the puck, a simple play, a direct pass up to the wall. That player subsequently turned the puck over. Oscar closed the gap in a hurry in the corner, used his stick, finished his check, knocked the guy off the puck, spun the other side of the net and moved the puck out. I turned to Pelle at the time and said, we can pretty much pack up our briefcase right now and get outta here, I’ve seen enough. I’m always a little bit skeptical when I hear very positive things without having seen them myself. I wanted to spend that trip, get over, take a look at Oscar and we have high hopes that he’ll be a part of our team very quickly. Whether he needs some time, we like to think that all players are benefited from some sort of time in the American Hockey League. Oscar, having played with men this year, might be an exception, but that will be determined at training camp for him.”
- Anton Belov: Fascinating signing by the Oilers. Dmitri Chesnokov: “I’d say that the past season, and considering it was a lockout season so there were a lot of NHL players in the KHL, he was probably, unofficially the best defenceman in the KHL. This is the best way to describe him. He was one of the brighter spots on the Russian national team at the World Championships. Everybody knows the … performance that team had, but he was one of the players who stood out. The amount of improvement he has shown the past few years along with his maturity, I think Edmonton has got a great, great player.“
- Martin Marincin: The day the drafted him, the Oilers were just short of panic (Oil Change documented the moment) in regard to their blueline depth. They considered taking him at #31 overall in 2010, but dealt Riley Nash to get the pick later in round 2 that ended up being Marincin. Tall, thin, mobile, and remains one of the best prospects in the system. He had a solid AHL debut at age 20, a tough item for an AHL player.
- Andrew Miller: A bit of a mystery (he’ll be a rookie pro this fall) but his college resume looks good. You never know, but if he displays some two-way ability he could pass these other centermen like a house on the side of the road.
- Taylor Fedun: Here’s a guy who has worked so hard to get back to where he was before the stupidity, and I’m cheering like hell for him. I think he’s been passed by too many, but you never know.
- Mark Arcobello: Another guy who probably gets passed but the window is open just a sliver. I’m not really sure if there’s much difference between Miller and Arcobello, but this fellow has played a lot of pro level games so that probably gives him the edge.
- Ryan Hamilton: Big guy, I talked to Noah Love about him yesterday and Mirtle about him a few weeks ago, both feel there’s a chance for this guy. His agent Tom Lynn was thrilled for the signing, feeling his client had a real chance to make an impact. I think he’s right.
- Will Acton: Another center, this guy can penalty kill (they need PK help after flushing Horcoff and Belanger) and he’s got some grit. You. never. know.
- Tyler Pitlick: I know there’s not much to recommend him, but there’s a role waiting for his player type. Energy, physical, 2-way player, it’s a long shot and this is a pivotal season.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The roster spots get fewer and fewer every year, and we won’t see three years like 2010-13 again during my lifetime (in terms of rookie appearances of this quality), but there’s still a spot or two on the blue and some question about the center position.
I don’t think we’ll see an Oiler rookie pass 30 games this season.
(Schultz photo by Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved).