As a fan, there’s some degree of faith required when cheering for an organization. Your team drafts 5-10 kids every year, you follow their development in their junior towns, and then hope to see good signs when they turn pro. The Edmonton Oilers have been in Oklahoma territory since 2010. Is there progress?
The 2010-11 rookies
The best scoring rookie that season was Mark Arcobello (26GP, 11-11-22), who didn’t cost the Oilers a draft pick and prevailed over a long period to earn a one-way NHL contract in 2014 spring. Defenseman Jeff Petry (41GP, 7-17-24) would have been the best overall rookie that season, and he spent less than 10 games in the minors after Christmas.
We had hopes for Teemu Hartikainen (66GP, 17-25-42), but history tells us that 1/1 or thereabouts is a ‘line in the sand’ for skill forwards likely to have an NHL future. Milan Kytnar (78GP, 13-16-29) showed some promise but left for Europe, and Phil Cornet (60GP, 7-16-23) was an interesting player, but never resembled someone who had an NHL future. Chris VandeVelde (67GP, 12-4-16) and Jordan Bendfeld (16GP, 0-0-0) also counted as rookies that season.
10-11 rookies with an NHL career/tracking: Petry, Arcobello.
The 2011-12 rookies
Hunter Tremblay (68GP, 16-15-31) led all OKC rookies in scoring this season, but the guy who should have was Anton Lander (14GP, 1-5-6). The Oilers kept him in the NHL, and Lander’s rookie season saw him drowning (offensively) in the NHL instead of getting valuable minor league experience.
Tyler Pitlick (62GP, 7-16-23), Tanner House (68GP, 8-12-20), Antti Tyrvainen (55GP, 6-13-19) and Curtis Hamilton (41GP, 5-6-11) all had trouble with the curve. Cameron Abney (14GP, 0-0-0).
11-12 rookies with an NHL career/tracking: None.
The 2012-13 rookies
Justin Schultz (34GP, 18-30-48) wouldn’t have been in the minors without the lockout, and his AHL half-season was one for the ages. Toni Rajala (46GP, 17-28-45) ran quite close to that 1/1 point-per-game item we talked about re: Hartikainen, and I think we may hear from him again (although not as an Oiler).
Martin Marincin (69GP, 7-23-30) enjoyed a solid pro debut, playing a portion of the season with Schultz, then struggling, then returning to form. It was prep for his NHL debut in 2013-14. Taylor Fedun (70GP, 8-19-27) signed as a college pro painter, and he’s done everything asked but I think they don’t like him in that way. Ryan Martindale (41GP, 6-8-14) played enough to make this his rookie AHL season,
Kristians Pelss (20GP, 1-7-8) was just getting started. RIP.
Brandon Davidson (26GP, 2-3-5) would start his pro career buried under a pile of blue, and, as he’s done since turning pro, kept making himself useful. Goalie Olivier Roy showed fairly well (22GP, 2.77 .902).
12-13 rookies with an NHL career/tracking: Schultz, Marincin.
The 2013-14 rookies
Andrew Miller (52GP, 8-26-34) started slowly, but picked up the pace and young Willis likes his speed. This isn’t a great resume for a college man, but you never know. Austin Fyten (47GP, 7-13-20) had some nice things, I don’t think we should assume he’ll play in the NHL but that was a nice debut. Travis Ewanyk (68GP, 7-5-12) didn’t score well but had a nice checking debut. Kale Kessy (54GP, 2-4-6).
The good news for this season’s rookies was the blue. Martin Gernat (57GP, 4-17-21), David Musil (61GP, 2-10-12) and Oscar Klefbom (48GP, 1-9-10)/
13-14 rookies with an NHL career/tracking: Klefbom.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
In four seasons, Todd Nelson has graduated an impressive list of defensemen to the NHL. Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz, Martin Marincin and Oscar Klefbom are a pretty nice down payment on a bright future.
Now. About those forwards…..