A year ago, I wrote “I don’t think we’ll see an Oiler rookie pass 30 games this season” which should have been your cue to bet the house it would happen. There were three rookies who passed 30 games in an Oiler uniform a year ago, making me look foolish! Never fear, I’ve got it covered this time!
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
- Martin Marincin (13-14) 843
- Linus Omark (10-11) 783
- Jeff Petry (10-11) 713
- Nail Yakupov (12-13) 699
- Mark Arcobello (13-14) 618
- Anton Lander (11-12) 594
- Lennart Petrell (11-12) 578
- Luke Gazdic (13-14) 389
- Colten Teubert (11-12) 303
- Oscar Klefbom (13-14) 268
- Ryan O’Marra (10-11) 231
- Teemu Hartikainen (11-12) 221
- Chris VandeVelde (10-11) 207
- Tyler Pitlick (13-14) 90
- Shawn Belle (10-11) 82
- Taylor Fedun (13-14) 29
- Alex Plante (10-11) 45
- Brad Hunt (13-14) 38
- Phil Cornet (11-12) 21
This year’s additions include two quality defensive prospects, a college center who refuses to lose roster battles with draft picks, and an enforcer purchased via the waiver wire. I would guess one of Klefbom or Marincin end up having the strongest NHL careers, but that’s a guess and you never know.
The top talent in this four year cluster—Hall, Nuge, Yakupov, Eberle, Schultz, Klefbom, Marincin, Petry—is stunning in its quality and depth. This is an outstanding cluster.
2014-15 ROOKIE CANDIDATES
C Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers. This is going to be fun. Jason Gregor
has him at 215 pounds now. That’s one monster teenager. The depth chart at center should have him thinking there’s an opportunity waiting in TC.
D Oscar Klefbom, Oklahoma City Barons AHL. It’s only a matter of time, and Dallas Eakins
used him in a tough zone start role out of the box. He’s an outstanding
R Tyler Pitlick, Edmonton Oilers. Injuries and lack of
offense had him scuffling through his entry-level deal, but he impressed
enough people last season to get a real shot at the NHL this season. I
think he’ll score enough to stay in the lineup if he’s healthy.
Darnell Nurse, Sault Ste. Marie OHL. The Oilers put up
roadblocks for all of their top-end defensive prospects, but I think
Nurse has a chance at the 9-game look. If you look at the NHL Oilers
today, this young man has a spot waiting for him in the ‘complete
defenseman’ portion of the roster. Probably doesn’t play 200 NHL minutes in 2014-15, though.
D Brad Hunt, Oklahoma City Barons AHL. It’s easy to
forget about him, but the Oilers like these scatbacks and he could
replace Phil Larsen on the big club next season. It’s more likely he
spends the year in the minors.
R Iiro Pakarinen, Oklahoma City Barons AHL. Gritty winger with some skill. I
think he’ll be in contention for an NHL job in the fall along with
Pitlick and Pinizzotto, but he is unlikely to get it if Pitlick
D Brandon Davidson, Oklahoma City Barons AHL. Jason Gregor quoted new Oiler coach
Rocky Thompson as saying that (after Marincin and Klefbom) this fellow
is the one to watch out of the AHL stable moving forward. High praise.
R Steve Pinizzotto, Oklahoma City Barons AHL. In a late-season audition a year
ago, you could see why Edmonton dealt for him. Tough, physical and can
skate plus play a little. There’s not 5% difference between this guy and
a dozen end of the roster physical wingers, and that 5% is luck. We’ll
see, but he has a chance.
C Bogdan Yakimov, Oklahoma City Barons AHL. I’m excited
to see the big man play in North America this winter. Yakimov could be a
big part of this team’s future and he’s one of the forwards who can
help turn the center position around in relatively short order.
R Andrew Miller, Oklahoma City Barons AHL. Struggled
for a long period last season, but came on late. I don’t know that he’s
unique in any way—Arco is a much better offensive player and they are
the same age—but he’s got a chance.
- C Jujhar Khaira, Oklahoma City Barons AHL. Early days, but the Oilers are fishing for solutions at the position. Khaira is well down the prospect list but a strong performance in OKC might get him a look later in the season.
L Curtis Hamilton, Oklahoma City Barons AHL. Scored a
playoff goal and went 5-1-6 in a four-game run around the new year that
must have caught someone’s eye.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
- Draisaitl plays the whole year
- Klefbom gets 50 games
- Pitlick gets a big chunk of the year
- Pinizzotto, Parkarinen, Hunt and Davidson play for extended periods due to injury.
- Darnell Nurse gets 9 games and then we see.
The trend for Edmonton rookies is up markedly in 2014-15.