A CHANGE IS GONNA DO YOU GOOD 2014

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A year from now, Tyler Bunz (in photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved) will have completed his entry-level deal. Edmonton will make a decision on Bunz and several other free agents—restricted and unrestricted—as they clean house and get ready to add another group of entry level players. Here’s a quick look ahead at what might happen with Edmonton’s ‘bubbling under’ prospects in 2015.

bunz ferguson

  • Tyler Bunz, contract expires at end of the 2014-15 season (RFA). Bunz has played 50 ECHL and six AHL games during the entry level portion of his contract (two seasons gone). Bunz recently made news by starring in an Australian (yes, Australian) hockey tournament. (Source)
  • Bunz has struggled during his pro career, but goalies are funny in that development can sway wildly during the formative years. A strong 2013-14 is vital to his future, and he’ll need to perform very well in training camp (Oilers have miles too many goalies ).

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  • Frans Tuohimaa, contract expires at end of the 2014-15 season (RFA). Finnish goaltender performed well at lower levels in his home country a year ago, but struggled in the SM-Liiga. Played one AHL game and impressed, but he’s a complete wildcard. Edmonton will need an answer before making a decision on him next summer.  

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  • Brandon Davidson, contract expires at end of the 2014-15 season (RFA). The hardest thing for fans to do is project defensive defensemen moving forward. Anecdotal information is the best we can do, with Jason Gregor’s recent conversation with Rocky Thompson an idea opportunity.
  • Jason Gregor: Last week, Rocky Thompson said that of the other D-men who played in OKC
    last year, Davidson is the next in line for a promotion. He liked his
    defensive game and expected Davidson to get some PP time this year to
    show off his offensive talents.
    Source

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  • Brad Hunt, contract expires at end of the 2014-15 season (RFA). Hunt is a really interesting prospect, kind of under the radar but with a helluva story. After scoring 50 points in 66 AHL games (fifth among defensemen in the league), Hunt certainly showed enough to get an NHL look (and he did play in three Oiler games). Another season like 2013-14 and Edmonton will have to take a long look at Hunt as a legit NHL puck-moving option. 

Other minor league RFA’s on the 50-man list who may be vulnerable a year from now include:

  • RW Andrew Miller
  • LW Curtis Hamilton
  • RW Tyler Pitlick

Roman Horak would be on that list, but his jump to Europe means Edmonton retains his rights without sweating his presence on the 50-man list. It’s anyone’s guess about Horak as an NHL option, Edmonton traded Teemu Hartikainen this spring when he was in a similar position.

That’s six minor league rfa’s for 2015 offseason.

NHL/AHL UFA’S NEXT SUMMER

  1. L Jesse Joensuu
  2. D Jeff Petry
  3. G Viktor Fasth
  4. C Will Acton
  5. R Steve Pinizzotto
  6. G Richard Bachman
  7. L Ryan Hamilton

Added to the six minor league rfa’s that’s 13 slots that could be available (if Edmonton flushes all players, which is extremely unlikely).

POSSIBLE 2015 PRO GRADS

    1. D Darnell Nurse. 2013 first-round selection will turn 20 and Oilers will need to make room. He’s already signed—his contract will slide if he doesn’t make the team this fall—and he’ll be in the NHL or AHL in 2015-16.
    2. C Leon Draisaitl. 2014 first-round selection is unsigned, but that could change at any minute. Draisaitl has a great chance of making the Oilers this fall.
    3. L Marco Roy. 2013 second-round pick will turn 20 in November and will be ready to turn pro in the spring. This time next season, we’ll likely be discussing his AHL future.
    4. L Anton Slepyshev. 2013 third-round selection is 20 and may be ready to come over a year from now. Will there be room?
    5. R Jackson Houck. 2013 fourth-round pick turns 20 in February. He scored 34 goals in the WHL this past season and looks on track as a prospect.
    6. C Kyle Platzer. 2013 fourth-round selection turns 20 in March. Platzer is a lesser offensive player, but does have a strong reputation as a two-way center. A strong season in the OHL may mean Edmonton signs him.
    7. D Ben Betker. 2013 sixth-round pick took a step forward based on reports and boxcars. Interesting prospects, I bet they sign him.
    8. R Greg Chase. 2013 seventh-round pick looks rock solid as an NHL prospect. Hard to imagine Edmonton passing on signing him.
    9. R John McCarron. 2012 sixth-round pick turns 23 next spring. What’s more, he’ll graduate from Cornell and be eligible to turn pro with the Oilers. Will they sign him?
    10. D Joey Laleggia. 2012 fifth-round selection turns 23 in June 2015. He’s entering his season year in college at U. Denver this fall, and will be ready to turn pro next year.

    WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

    kittens

      For Bunz, Tuohimaa, Davidson and Hunt, there’s one more year to show enough to get another contract. If they do—and there are signs that Davidson and Hunt are already accomplishing some of these goals—the Oilers will be forced to cull the herd in a different manner.

      Perhaps they’ll trade some players for picks, or maybe let Bachman go if Bunz or Tuohimaa perform. When I looked at things one year ago, it was fairly certain Ales Hemsky, Ryan Smyth, Nick Schultz and Cameron Abney would be gone from the roster by now.

      I also stated Devan Dubnyk and Toni Rajala needed to ‘keep doing what they’re doing’ which is, perhaps, the kiss of death. Last year’s story

      (all photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved).

        • Lowetide

          Yakimov is freshly signed to his entry-level deal. This post is for those players Edmonton will have to make a decision on, one way or another, in the coming year.

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          Do you get joy from ripping apart 18 and 19 year old boys? Make you happy?

          Where do you work? I would love to come down to heckle and chirp you about the job you do. I don’t care if you are a chimney sweep or the mayor of New York city.

          Have you ever watched any of the kids mentioned in the article? If so be very detailed and tell me when and where. Tell me exactly why 90% won’t make it. Don’t fall back on the old ” That is what the stats say about draft picks.” Be original and send me your scouting repots on all of them so I can get a clear understanding of your position.

          I think you are the kind of guy that just follows the herd, repeats other peoples conclusions. For once prove me wrong and put all your scouting reports on the players mentioned in the article on the comments here.

          I will be waiting for your insightful reports!

      • justDOit

        “Roman Horak would be on that list, but his jump to Europe means Edmonton retains his rights without sweating his presence on the 50-man list.”

        Interesting wording. You figure management gives him a wink and a nudge and he goes to the KHL knowing the Oil are giving him every chance to impress as if he were in OKC, LT? How much is this exploited already? And how long until the NHL squashes it?

        • justDOit

          Why would the NHL care if players like Horak go overseas to figure out the game? If you can’t crack the lineup of the 28th place team, well don’t call us…

            • justDOit

              Horak is 23, and is going to need at least another year or two in the minors. He chose to learn in the KHL and get paid better to do it.

              Big difference. Again – who cares if he goes to Europe to do this?

              • RyanCoke

                The Oilers care. As the article points out, they don’t have to worry about his contract now and they still retain his rights. Win.

                You say big difference. Between what? The KHL and AHL? No, I don’t think there really is. Except that Horak gets paid now. Win.

                Just because the MSM makes it seem like these guys are defecting doesn’t mean they are. As LT confirmed, the Oilers probably told Horak to go to Europe to play.

                The NHL definitely cares too. You know why? Because they aren’t getting a cut of the action and they lose star players once in a while so it pisses off ownership (re: Nashville v. Radulov). It was a slap in the face what happened with Kovalchuk too. The NHL definitely cares.

                Everyone cares about this. Except you.

        • Lowetide

          I think it’s exploited heavily, to be honest. Edmonton needs the room, allowed Hartikainen to do the same a year ago. Hell, they dropped Rajala straight away!

          Horak is a player of note. I’m sorry he left for the money, but he’s good enough imo we may see him again.

          • The Last Big Bear

            If using the KHL as a development league is heavily exploited, then I’m sure we can come up with maybe 5 or 6 examples where players have returned to play for the NHL team that holds their rights, which were not publicly and explicitly about the player holding out during a contract dispute?

            I’m not sure I can think of a single example.

            And being a place where players can make money while holding out is kind of the opposite of exploiting the KHL as a development league.

            Don’t get me wrong, it seems like a good idea on the surface. I have often myself wondered why teams don’t send their 18 and 19 year old top prospects (who are AHL ineligible) to leagues like the Allsvenskan.

            But they don’t.

            And I can’t think of any basis for claiming that the KHL is being ‘heavily exploited’ in this way.

      • Aussie Oiler

        “I also stated Devan Dubnyk and Toni Rajala needed to ‘keep doing what they’re doing’ which is, perhaps, the kiss of death. Last year’s story”

        Wow. From last year’s list only 8 of 26 made it through MacT’s purge. And three of those are the nuge, petry and jultz. Fedun should have made it though. The org is heavy with LHD and Fedun plays the right side well enough that he could have filled in on the big club when injuries hit. Or they trade Petry. The Sharks gain.

        It’s probably safe to say that MacT won’t waffle when deciding on next summer’s crop of contracts.

      • Spydyr

        I’m hoping for a Subban traded to Edmonton for Eberle and some high end prospects article soon.The three for one deal coming this way for once in a very long time.

        Hey, one can dream.

          • Spydyr

            I think that would be a over pay.

            IMO Eberle or Yak, Klefbom, maybe another prospect and next years second would get it done.It appears Montreal does not have that high opinion of him.

          • camdog

            Seriously. This is the antithesis of Omark for Webber. Slite hyperbole.

            Mtl just showed what they thought of him and that they were not committing. I think something like Eberle, Klefbom, and a pick is fair compensation. Subban is not Webber.

            • camdog

              I agree its all speculation but its completely valid as its shown complete idiots are running MTL. Subban doesn’t get along with Thierren, now clearly isn’t the happiest man with him GM.

              Obviously he is not a weber. But weber is not on the market. No other potential number 1 dman is on the market. Which drives the cost through the roof.

        • camdog

          A nightmare would be more like it, PK isn’t my cup of tea, he is not a team player and was exposed for that in the playoffs when he was focussed upon. Lots of talent but a head case imho.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            we could certainly use PK’s talent here, but some just need to **STOP** with the Eberle ++++++ garbage!! if that’s what they want from the Oilers, then i support our team if they just say no!,

      • camdog

        I’m not sure its beneficial for the Oilers to acquire Subban. I agree he’s a number1 defence man we’re missing, but is it worth giving up so much for him?

        You will be getting the best player in the deal but is it worth it creating a hole in all the others?
        Getting the best player in the deal by no means you win the trade. Look at our past trades. visnovsky for example.

      • camdog

        Re: Subban

        Subban for Yak and Eberle AND a pick? Is that where we’re at?

        Yak shouldn’t be anywhere NEAR that conversation. His value right now is so volatile right now, we’re much better to wait a couple years before that discussion happens.

        I can also say that Subban has huge value to Montreal and it’d cost more than we are willing to give up to get him. I bet they’d be looking more like a Taylor Hall and good prospect deal, I don’t think Eberle + + + + gets Subban from Montreal. Hall for Subban would be bold, but we aren’t doing it and I’m guessing Montreal isn’t shopping him, so can we get our heads out of the clouds and develop the heck out of our young D men?

        • camdog

          You do realize it was one commenter above who brought Subban up and added a ‘one can dream’ clause to his comment

          Calm down fella. We all know he isn’t coming here. You can get off the ledge now.

      • Spydyr

        One of Tyler Bunz/Frans Tuohimaa will stick around (not both, and most likely Bunz – they were very high on him a couple years ago)

        In a thick crop of emerging Defensemen, Brandon Davidson is super interesting. Will get a call-up at some point at that will determine his future. He either becomes trade-bait or he sticks around. I highly doubt we let him go for nothing.

        Brad Hunt is super interesting. Hes very valuable to a successful OKC team on the backend this season, but could be a call up option if one of Nikitin or Schultz get injured. As for next season, if he doesn’t get a chance to make the Oilers, my spidy-senses tell me he will likely look for employment elsewhere.

        •RW Andrew Miller – GONE
        •LW Curtis Hamilton – GONE
        •RW Tyler Pitlick – If he so much as gets an ingrown toenail this season, that will be it for him. His potential is there, but his injuries are of massive concern. Im really pushing for him to make the team and stick around, but knowing the Oilers, theres going to be some sort of Shoulder injury this season and he will be shipped out in the off-season. This is one that I hope I am dead wrong. Really like the size, skating and determination of Pitlick. He just needs to stay healthy.

        As for the UFA’s:

        1.L Jesse Joensuu – I don’t even want him around this season. Good riddance.
        2.D Jeff Petry – the 1 year deal still shocks me. It must be in the plans to ship him out so I don’t think he will be around, even though I think we can use him for a couple more seasons. In a proper second-pairing role, Petry is a great fit.
        3.G Viktor Fasth – His NHL experience is so limited, its hard to judge. He will get 30-40 games this season as a 1a/1b goalie, so we will know how this season pans out. If I had to guess, he would stick around at a similar cap hit for 2yrs, and would still be part of a 1a/1b goaltending tandem. With or without Scrivens.
        4.C Will Acton – If he will sign a 2-way contract, then certainly keep him for depth
        5.R Steve Pinizzotto – really pushing for this guy, but imo, its a coin flip between him and Pitlick. Only one will get a spot, and right now, it is Pitlicks to lose to injuries.
        6.G Richard Bachman – his small sample size in the NHL was quite good. I like this goalie, and personally, would keep him over the other two RFA goalies. He should be resigned for depth reasons, but if Broissot wins the starting role in the ALH, I cant see Bachman taking a backup role. It would be a digression at this stage.
        7.L Ryan Hamilton – Hes done as a member of the Oilers organization.

        These are just my opinions. Some are safe bets and others are toss ups.

      • justDOit

        Hunt was kind of a disaster at the nhl level, wasn’t he?

        He is to small and isn’t so supremely talented to make up for it at the NHL level. Looks to me like one of those guys you do a minor league swap with.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        P.k for eberle, klefbom and a pick? Are you people delirious? In what world is a #1 defencemen worth that? Edmonton fans are starting to get as bad as leaf fans.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        Why would Montreal trade there star for ebeberle? But hall even hall for subban is a bad trade for Montreal. Its a lot harder to get a star d then a foward

      • RyanCoke

        So its almost 9pm and not a single article for today. I dont remember the last time that happened. One time wanye noticed at 5pm so he wrote a quick article so we had something to read. What is going on?

      • Aussie Oiler

        Bunz – saw him good in Sydney for the last game of the Aussie series. He was average for the first two periods then stunk it up in the third to let the US back into the game. Let in soft OT goal after he got stuck to the left post (again) while the shooter snapped in an easy shot to the right. I can’t see him turning things around in the short term.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        ^Bunz was a good gamble for a 5th rounder, but I don’t think the Oilers are going to re-sign this guy after this year….he hasn’t given an indication so far that he’s going to get any better than he is now.