In the last five years, Edmonton’s recalls from the farm have been average or smaller. Anton Lander (in photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved), Mark Arcobello and others are finding their way but do not fit the ‘big body’ description many feel the Oilers need badly. There are bigger man on the way, but are they actual hockey players?
- “NHL guys love size—always have, always will. The Flyers are famously the most size-obsessed franchise. A Flyer exec once told me that his definition of a prospect was “a guy who could stand flat-footed and s— in a pickup truck.”
Gare Joyce, Future Greats and Heartbreaks
When Craig MacTavish took over the Edmonton Oilers, he acknowledged the lack of size on the roster. A team that drafted No. 1 overall three times in a row chose skill and range of skill over size on all three. I admire their scouting template—they made the right call all three times—but if you buy they need size then passing on the Landeskog’s had to hurt.
The Oilers hired some size via free agency this summer, and they’ve been drafting big men all down the line (save for the period right after the lockout when they picked Andrew Cogliano and Taylor Chorney about 10 picks apart). The “Coke Machines” have been an epic fail this century, but there are suggestions that some of the recent big men may have a chance to play in the NHL on a line that can make a difference.
IN THE SYSTEM
According to the Oilers website, the biggest forwards in pro hockey (outside the NHL) this winter will be:
- Ryan Hamilton 6.02, 219
- Mitchell Moroz 6.02, 211
- Jujhar Khaira 6.03, 210
- Kale Kessy 6.03, 208
- Curtis Hamilton 6.02, 208
- Iiro Pakarinen 6.01, 205
- Leon Draisaitl 6.02, 204
- Bogdan Yakimov 6.05, 202
- Steve Pinizzotto 6.01, 200
- Will Acton, 6.01, 199
Some of the big men have speed issues (Ryan Hamilton) others have skill issues (Kale Kessy) and still others lack experience (Mitchell Moroz, Jujhar Khaira). Leon Draisaitl (not guaranteed a pro roster spot but included for comparison) is the biggest skill player this team has drafted in forever, probably since Jason Arnott. He’s bigger at 18 than the Oilers list Taylor Hall (201) today.
THE NEW HIRES
Mitchell Moroz and Jujhar Khaira are (in my opinion) more in line with the player-type many Oiler fans want to see—rugged, tough—the kind of player the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks employ. Call it the Clifford-Maroon Model, with the understanding they also have to be able to play hockey. I do not believe they’re going to play in the top six F should they make the NHL—neither player has the offensive resume in junior to suggest they’ll be one of the six best options if and when the arrive in Edmonton.
TOP SIX FORWARD WITH SIZE!
For me, the best chance for any of these kids to emerge as a top 6F belongs to Leon Draisaitl. I know, thanks Sherlock. However, the hope was and is that Edmonton will find a big man who can play with skill and skewer the new Regehr’s before they injure the new Hemsky’s.
I can’t see him from here. Can you?
Moroz has the foot speed and skill set to supply the No. 4 line with a presence, but can he score enough to play with skill? He scored in his final junior season, but his draft +1 season was not stellar. Some say Jackson Houck is the answer, and hell boys he scored well last year. There are, however, skating issues.
Corey Pronman: He (Houck) has just average size, but he still displays notably above-average
physical value, delivering big hits and winning a lot of battles through
his effort. He has the heart and soul elements desirable in a good
penalty killer. His offensive upside, however, draws some divide among
scouts. One says he is very average, while another says his puck skills
enable him to have potential in that area. He protects the puck well,
drives the net, and has solid creativity. Skating will be his main
issue. He plays with good energy, but he struggles to get to where he
wants to go.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
If you’re looking for a candidate for that top 6F physical role in the system, I think Greg Chase is the best bet in the organization. He’s 6.0, and the Oilers website lists him at 205 but there’s word he’s lost some weight (with added speed) and we’ll see what the numbers say when the rookie roster is released.
I have no idea where Chase would rank in regard to the Flyers’ test, but he’s a hockey player. Size without skill doesn’t work. A look at the Oilers’ own draft past tells us that much.