Every new season brings us a fresh batch of surprises (good and bad) from the prospects bubbling under. This season, Edmonton, Calgary, Sault Ste. Marie and faraway Neftekhimik are sending good arrows, while the down arrows come from Quebec, Vancouver and Californa. How good are these kids? Let’s have a look.
Bogdan Yakimov is a KHL regular as a teenager, and is productive too! He leads the up arrows group along with Greg Chase and Mitchell Moroz.
- Greg Chase 16, 13-9-22 (WHL): 8th in league scoring, 4th in goals and he plays the game like Bobby Clarke. That’s a good set of arrows! Let’s not go crazy here, but Chase early on looks like an incredible draft steal.
- Darnell Nurse 13, 3-12-15 (OHL). Big, tough defender is enjoying a strong season, and his boxcars are improved due to added powerplay time. The news I’m reading is all good across the board.
- Mitchell Moroz 16, 12-6-18 (WHL). A very strong start for the 19-year old, who finally got that one month audition on a top scoring line and delivered in spades. A sign of progress? People lamenting his trips to the penalty box for fighting because it takes his goal scoring away for 5. That’s a terrific arrow.
- Bogdan Yakimov 19, 4-4-8 (KHL). This is a big man who is playing his first KHL season and posting numbers with 3line playing time. A very strong arrow.
- Tyler Pitlick 3, 1-0-1 (OILERS). Yesterday represented the highest high (goal!) and the lowest low (knee injury, Jeebus) for this player. On the positive end of things, he parlayed a strong pre-season and AHL early year into an NHL opportunity and took advantage of it. Many, many people who had been detractors for a long period began to soften their stance toward this player. Hopefully, he gets a chance to build on what he’s done.
- Oscar Klefbom 9, 0-1-1 (AHL). The boxcars are never going to tell the story, but everyone who has watched him in OKC suggest they wouldn’t be surprised if he gets recalled soon. Our own Jonathan Willis is quickly becoming the gold standard in terms of the Barons info, and he says " if he keeps playing the way he has, he’s going to earn a spot with the Oilers." Story is here.
- Anton Lander 8, 2-4-6 (AHL). Playing well, getting good reports, has been named captain and got a recall to the NHL. I don’t think there’s any way to call this a subpar start.
- Dillon Simpson 4, 0-1-1 (NCAA). As with other defensemen of his type, the crooked numbers are not reflective of ability. Reports have him stepping up in minutes and in difficulty of opponent, and he’s now the captain. His team has struggled a little at the start of the season.
- Taylor Fedun 10, 1-3-4 (AHL). I think he’s NHL ready, and probably better than one or two of the guys the Oilers are playing in the NHL. We’ll see, but when the shakeup comes I expect he’ll be in the NHL.
- Teemu Hartikainen 20, 6-9-15 (KHL). Enjoying a strong first season in the KHL, it cannot be lost on the Oilers that he’d come in damn handy if he were on their North American roster.
- Linus Omark 10, 7-4-11 (AHL). Did not impress in Edmonton and had a slow OKC start, but 4 goals in one game this weekend confirm this guy can shoot lights out in every league not named the NHL. Since the club has recalled about 5 wingers before him, Omark is extremely likely to be in another organization in the next months.
- Kellen Jones 7, 2-6-8 (NCAA). I have no idea if he remains in their plans (a new GM means reject all signals) but Jones is having a very nice start.
- Phil Larsen 7, 1-6-7 (AHL). Looks good, very good in the AHL and one wonders when he’ll get a recall to the NHL, or possibly dealt for forward depth. A good hockey player.
- Jujhar Khaira 8, 3-2-5 (WHL). Effective in a button down framework with Everett, he’d be higher on the list but a recent injury has him sitting.
- Martin Marincin 8, 0-1-1 (AHL). Has struggled a little and doesn’t appear to be getting the same level of offensive opportunities this year. Still, he’s a big, mobile defender knocking on the NHL door and has been healthy and working on consistency.
- John McCarron 2, 0-4-4 (NCAA). Easily forgotten, but the big man is enjoying a very nice start.
- Olivier Roy 2, 2.53 .921 (AHL). Early, not enough data, but that’s a nice start for a guy who has almost no competition in the system at his position. If Roy can play more–say 30 games–this season, and be effective, I think the Oilers may look at him as a legit starting option at the AHL level next year.
- Ryan Martindale 4, 1-2-3 (AHL). Had a terrific start to the year but injury has impacted his season. A healthy Martindale did some good things this fall.
- Kyle Platzer 13, 4-4-8 (OHL). Fast start and now things have slowed with the return of higher draft picks. Still, good to know he has that kind of ability and a player to watch this season.
- Ben Betker 14, 1-2-3 (WHL). Offense is never going to be his game, but the reports I’ve been reading are of a big defender with surprising foot work. A nice early season.
MIDDLE OF THE ROAD
- Erik Gustafsson 15, 0-3-3 (SHL). It’s difficult to grade defensemen playing in Europe (their boxcars tend to be unimpressive) but I’m reading about an inconsistent season so far. His team is having a good season.
- Martin Gernat 4, 0-1-1 (AHL). An imaginative player with a lot of raw materials, we’re probably looking at three years at the AHL level for Gernat. Still, he’s such an interesting player, with natural ability, that even through 4 games the chatter is there.
- Joey Laleggia 6, 3-1-4 (NCAA). This is a player who does rely on his offense for value, and it’s been about on par or a little below previous levels. This is his third season of college, more is expected.
- Frans Tuohimaa 7, 2.44 .915 (SM-Liiga). Running in place compared to last season, Oilers may want to see a little more before bringing him over next fall.
- Andrew Miller 9, 1-3-4 (AHL). He has some nice things, but needs to show more of them.
- David Musil 5, 0-0-0 (AHL). A tough mark because defensive defenseman only show up when the puck is in the back of the net. However, there have been positive and negative comments so far, and we should expect that from a rookie blue in the AHL. So, keeping him here for now is the right call.
- Daniil Zharkov 20, 2-0-2 (KHL) He’s playing 4line minutes in the KHL and not getting killed, but he’s not scoring much either. I’ll consider that a neutral result.
- Brad Hunt 6, 0-2-2 (AHL). Having a tough time establishing himself on a deep Barons team at his position.
- Aidain Muir 8, 2-2-4 (USHL) Playing a tough, physical style and posting decent scoring numbers. We’ll see how this season rolls out, but I’m counting him as a neutral season, I thought he’d post more offense.
- Brandon Davidson 8, 0-0-0 (AHL). He’s been recalled once and that’s a good thing. On the downside, he’s -7 and the people I’m reading all talk about others more than Davidson. I’m unsure about him at this point.
The down arrow list is led by injured forwards Curtis Hamilton and Marco Roy. Despite being 2nd round talents, neither player has been able to send their career north this season due to injury.
- Anton Slepyshev 13, 1-1-2 (KHL). More was expected from the offensive winger, his scoring slump from last year’s playoffs continues.
- Jackson Houck 14, 2-4-6 (WHL). The expectations were higher for Houck, whose team is off to a terrible start and him with them. Plenty of time to recover, but the -10 and boxcars have his arrows down.
- Evan Campbell 4, 0-0-0 (NCAA). Slow, slow start for UMass-Lowell, we don’t know TOI totals but he has 2 shots on goal. Not alot happening here.
- Travis Ewanyk 10, 0-0-0 (AHL). This may seem harsh, because the word we hear is he’s effective as a defensive center. However, you have to score–at least a little–and Ewanyk has been unable to get on the scoresheet. And we’re 10 games into the season.
- Kale Kessy 10, 0-0-0 (AHL). Like Ewanyk, it doesn’t really matter what else you bring to the game–when you’re a forward and have no points after 10 games at any level that’s a tell.
- Tyler Bunz 3, 3.39 .893 (ECHL). It doesn’t seem to matter what part of California he’s playing in, the results are not there for the young goaltender. He is being recalled to OKC to replace Richard Bachman today.
- Joey Leach 4, 0-0-0 (ECHL). He’s in tough, but can’t be happy with a California career detour.
- Cameron Abney 2, 0-0-0 (ECHL). He’s clearly on the lowest rung of the Oiler organization.
- Curtis Hamilton, injured. Not only injured, but unable to take advantage of the new opportunities made available to others in his draft class. No word on return date.
- Marco Roy, injured. This is an outstanding young forward unable to play. Frustrating.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
It’s been a solid to very good beginning to the season. Greg Chase is the big mover here, I don’t really have a recent Oiler forward comparable (not one so deep in the draft, anyway) for how much he’s doing at such a young age. Moroz is trending, the first rounder Nurse is looking like a very strong candidate for NHL employment a year from now and there’s enough in the AHL so far to be considered progress.
Early signs? Good to very.