khaira ferguson2

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.

klefbom ferguson2

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. 



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…..

  • OilersDynasty

    God, that Rieder/Kessy trade just gives me nightmares. That was such a HORRIBLE trade. I’ve said it a few times before on other blogs, but, my god. Tambellini will forever, in my mind, be tarnished for making that trade, especially it being his last trade. Rieder puts up close to 30 goals in his PRO debut in the AHL. Kessy puts up a measly 2 goals. Just a pathetic trade to begin with. MacT better get Rieder back, especially if we end up with Draisaitl.

    • Do what Weight did?

      48 pts in 64 games for Rieder this year as an AHL rookie.

      Much better than Kessy, but only slightly better than Hartsky. Well short of LT’s 1/1 rule. I’ve heard some talk about this ‘horrible’ trade recently, but unless I’m missing something, he’s probably not going to make the show, and wouldn’t have here either.

      Not an especially good trade for Tambo, but it’s no ‘Cole for O’Sullivan’

  • WeridAl

    Kessy is a fan favorite down in OKC, and Nelson has been turning him into a solid 3/4 winger. Doesn’t back down, and always a has a grin on his face, even when he’s getting punched. Not sure if he’ll will make though, still needs a lot of work. Rieder wasn’t going to play with the Oilers, plain and simple. Dreaming about Miller, doubt that he is resigned. There was over 150+ transactions with the Barons last season, and the team was constantly changing, not the best year to judge players by stats alone.

  • WeridAl

    I didn’t see JUJHAR KHAIRA mentioned anywhere? When i watched OKC play in Abbotsford this season he really stood out to me. I personally see this player as a real potential 2nd line talent. Musil not so much.. don’t think he’s gonna make from what little i saw of him.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      Khaira doesn’t count as a pro rookie yet. He only played in OKC after the Silvertips got eliminated.

      It was just a brief cup of coffee.

      His proper rookie debut will be next Fall.

  • bwar

    Khaira, Yakimov, Moroz and Nurse as rookies this coming season? I think we are finally seeing some improvement in the scouting department. Its a hard area to make changes in because you can’t see if you made the right changes until 4-5 years down the road. All in all I think we might actually have a farm system finally. (You know one that might actually produce NHL players).

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Arcobello spent half a season in the ECHL at the same age as Lander was this season where Lander scored at over a point per game.

    Arcobello spent 3 more full seasons in the minors, finally cracking a point per game in the last one.

    Yet, you still don’t consider Anton Lander a prospect.

    Lander should have a career as a journeymen 4th line centre, at worst, if he wants it. He might ultimately choose Europe over that.

    Gordon is signed for two more years. Two years to develop Lander into the next Gordon.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I’m not sure which article you are reading to come to these conclusions.

      The only thing I might argue is that LT probably ought to consider 2012-13 Lander’s rookie AHL season…. just pretend the entire 2011-12 season didn’t happen for him.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        “11-12 rookies with an NHL career/tracking: None.” — LT, in above article.

        Lander, arguably, is certainly tracking to be a 4th line NHL journeymen centre, at worst.

        Two years left on Gordon’s contract. And you have essentially a player that one can try to groom for his replacement. There is still the potential for Lander to be a 3rd line centre.

        But he is certainly tracking to be a 4th line NHL journeymen. That still counts as an NHL career and role.

        McClement, Campbell, Fiddler, Goc, Malhotra, Lapierre, etc etc .

        • Romulus' Apotheosis

          Read the article in context.

          In that year, Lander wasn’t tracking as an NHL player. The fact that he’s greatly improved his stock is a different question.

          Your issue is with the structure of the exercise, not with the assessment.

          And, for Lander, I agree with you. He shouldn’t be considered a rookie for 11-12, or at least he should have a caveat next to his name (which LT puts up)

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            He had 56 games in the NHL that year as a 4th line centre, as a rookie. Playing with Petrell, Eager, and Hordichuk mostly. With a horrible defense behind him.

            Drowning yes.

            But even then, arguably, that means he was fully tracking to an NHL career as a 4th line centre.

            Arguably, Lander doesn’t fit into the Oilers’ groupthink of what they want in a 4th line centre, or in a 4th line. MacT and Eakins demonstrate real confusion on this point, what they want in a 4th line.

            It will probably doom Arcobello too.

          • 1979

            The article is not clear that when LT is suggesting players that are tracking to have nhl careers that it is in context to their rookie seasons. It is suggestive of it but definitely not clear. It could easily be interpreted that LT is suggesting which rookies from each season are “currently” tracking to have nhl careers. Godot10’s question/thought is certainly legitimate considering this. I think LT should clarify what he is meaning here.

    • Lowetide

      I consider him a prospect, but don’t believe he’s on track for an NHL career. The man can’t score in the NHL, godot. It’s not my fault Arcobello ate his lunch.

  • Lowetide

    Boy nurse looked good when I watched him in Okc.

    Khaira is huge and can skate. Plays mean. If we can get a solid two way third liner out of him I’ll be happy.

    Hated the moroz pick last year. Proving me wrong ths year.

    Hated the musil pick when it happened. Still do.

    I’m most intrigued with slepyshev. First round talent by some scouts. Issues with Russian contract. If yakimov is coming over maybe he does soon after.

    We should’ve waited a bit longer for rieder if we wanted to trAde him. Dumb move. We are lacking top 6 skill in our prospect ranks.

  • OilersDynasty


    Do you think moroz can carry his offense into Okc next year? I’m a bit frightened because our North American prospects seem to lose the scoring touch. Pitlick, Hamilton, kessy for instance.

    I mean pitlick scored more points in his draft + 2 year than moroz I believe. Could be because pitlick is not creative. I don’t think moroz is unless he continues to get some dirty goals.

    I almost hope he can do what Jenner did and make the nhl squad. Hope his skating improves because we could use that big body on the wing.

    • Lowetide

      Moroz won’t get PP time, and I expect Nelson will bring him along at a reasonable pace. I’d guess that 15 goals is the outer marker for his season, with Ewanyk’s year being the low end.

    • Sorensenator

      Moroz’ draft +2 year is this year. Hamilton had 82 points in his draft +2 WHL season (not Pitlick). Jenner came to the NHL in his draft +3 season after 2 more years in the OHL.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    The “Rieder wouldn’t play for the Oilers” idea seems entirely built around the premise that the Oilers are a horribly run organization that can’t correctly identify value and is always trading skill it assumes is duplicated elsewhere for some strange cake-mix fantasy about how to build a hockey team.

    It’s circular, lazy thinking.

    A smart team wouldn’t put itself in a situation where it valued a useless plugger over a smaller, scoring player.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    The players seem to play better after being called up to parent club as fillins . Not that they are ready just yet for NHL , but out of necessity for parent club that quite frankly is not very good . Nelson does a good job with what he has , and that is better than one can say for parent club . They may be ready for Oilers , but how close are they to being a decent NHL’ER is the question ?

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I hope Dallas Eakins is actually watching the playoffs. If he adopts the feeling as though he has his team playing the seventh and final elimination game of a seven game conference final series everytime the oilers play would he dress players like Gazdic? In a series like that you dress players who can score on the 4th line just as the habs did. Their 4th line scored the final goals to win the series.

    We need a 3A line and 3B line instead of a fourth line. Keep Gaszdic as the extra forward but dress him rarely. Lets fix that gross Corsi.
    Having 4 lines that can play and score from the bottom six would be great..let Hendricks..a player who knows how to play and change momentum with the big hit in the offensive zone, handle the tough role.

  • Lyxdeslic

    Although I’m not a huge fan of the Reider/Kessy trade, I do believe that the Oilers management is starting to understand the needs of this team. With players like Khaira, Moroz, Kessy, Ewanyk, Pitlick, Yakimov and even Chase within the system, the Oilers have prospects with size and grit that compete hard. We’re missing sandpaper in our line up and with any luck 2 or 3 of these guys can find enough offence to become full time hard nosed NHLers. Although almost all of these prospects project to be bottom 6 forwards at best, I still believe that the Oilers management finally understand our need for functional toughness in our line up.

  • OilersDynasty

    I don’t understand the “Rieder was never going to be an Oiler” statement. Why? Because he was another smaller forward? So? He’s a 2-way, leadership, penalty-killing type player. Why wouldn’t that help a team like our’s? Kessy is just a MacIntyre type player. Not useful at all. Tambi only made the trade cause he was looking for a “coke machine”. It was a ridiculous trade at the time, and it still is now. I would’ve kept Rieder, and then traded him down the line for something of more value or keep him and put him in the group with Hall, Eberle, RNH, Yak. Don’t you guys think the Barons could’ve used those 30 goals on our team this year? Especially with the way Lander and Horak were playing and producing, the guy could’ve probably put up 40. I said it on another blog, in which I’d take a smaller guy like Rieder and his skill set (2-way, PK, Leadership) over a bigger guy who doesn’t seem to bring much. Bigger isn’t necessarily better if the bigger guys don’t use their size to an advantage.

  • Agree on Lander. I haven’t completely given up on him (still young enough to get it together, although my hopes are low), but if AHL dominance meant anything, Alex Giroux would be having a wonderful NHL career right now.

    Right now, Lander is lumped in the “non-factor at best” pile, for me.

    By that, I just mean treat him like he isn’t part of the NHL plan for 2014-15. Find someone who can play the centre role the Oilers need. If Lander picks his game up, great, all the better, but if not, then he can go down to the AHL and play well there for a bit longer.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Should never have traded Tobias Rieder..had 48 pts in 64 games (28 goals) for the Portland Pirates but apparently Tambellini thought Oilers had too many skilled forwards in the System.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      Tambo thought we needed toughness, so he traded some skill to get it. but he traded that skill for a goon and didn’t appear to do his homework well enough and get a tough, gritty, two way player who can actually play and not just fight. that’s the mistake he made.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Isn’t this a byproduct of drafting by parent club need? Emphasis on drafting Dmen…hey now we have a bunch of Dmen bubbling under the surface. Forwards, there’s nobody coming soon. There’s been a focus on drafting bigger forwards, but we’re a little ways away from seeing these guys get a shot, if ever.

    I think that if you draft based upon the holes in your prospect pool, then let these kids work their way up to the parent club, it should be a little easier to avoid these gaps.

  • Sorensenator

    There was some small signs of improvement under Ralph Kruger with the exception of their 9 or 10 game losing streak near the end. This year they started off without their two best centres and had the worst goaltending seen in Oil country in years.

  • Sorensenator

    I think that the Oilers are now doing a better job of drafting, and I still think they should sign a few stop-gap vets in place. This would enable them to bring along our picks more carefully.

    Signing or trading for top notch players at this point, at both the skill level and age the Oilers require is difficult because they rarely become available. Signing or trading for these players once the team becomes more competitive will more realistic and possible at a later point.

    In order to field a competitive team, the Oilers should continue to draft and develop defensemen and centerman. Most importantly, they can’t rush them into NHL action until they are ready. Win or lose They have to go with the best they have at this time.

  • Sorensenator

    Posters are continually questioning whether a player can ‘carry over scoring from Junior to the AHL or from the AHL to the NHL.

    As I see it, young players play well in Junior, usually play with very good players, rack up some numbers and then are drafted and play in the NHL if outstanding or the AHL if simply very good.

    Now that most players are playing in Junior, the outstanding players are no longer there to help the very good players show well. These players must now change or adapt their game. Those that succeed go on to the NHL, those that fail disappear.

    Now that a prospect arrives in the NHL, he must adapt his style of play to the expectations of his coach and to the role he is placed in. Only if he is successful in doing this is he successful.

    To me it is not a case of ‘carrying over’ scoring ability. It is a question of adapting or re-inventing yourself at every level of development. Anybody who has attempted to bring about such a change can appreciate how difficult this is.

    It is for this reason that I respect the balanced position adopted by Lowetide. Well done.

  • Sorensenator

    We can all look insightful in hindsight. Just prior to the Rieder trade, some big kid named Kessy was scoring close to a goal per game in the WHL play-offs for Kamloops. Although one play-off year does not make a career (just ask Kontos), it does allow for speculation. The Oilers were in dire need of “size with scoring potential”. It didn’t turn out but this is far from the worst deal that Oilers have made. I was far more concerned about Tambellini’s lack of involvement when talented players became available a the NHL level. He was too often a spectator when other GM’s were making deals. Who hired that guy in the first place?