TOWERS

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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?

race car driver

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.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    This article is as much about a whole bunch of future Fireman, Policeman/Paramedics as it is a hockey article. Hard to get enthused about a bunch of prospects in an industry with a near 93% fail rate.

    Five years of this hope crap has grown old on me I guess.

    • Lowetide

      lol. It certainly HAS been difficult to watch these players develop/not develop. I’ve always felt drafting big forwards BECAUSE they are big is a bad idea, and for the most part Edmonton’s drafting shows that is true.

  • Jaxon

    I have big hope for Chase but one look at Curtis Hamilton’s career and I begin to worry. Both were physical forwards who played a responsible game in their draft years. In their draft +1, Hamilton scored at a 1.32 pts/gp Chase at 1.21 pts/gp. Hamilton is 6′-2″, Chase is 6′-0″. Hamilton played on the Canadian Junior team, Chase might make the team. Hamilton hasn’t been able to bring his offence with him, so I hope Chase can stop the parallels in their careers after making the World Junior team. In my books, Moroz and Khaira haven’t shown nearly enough offence to even garner consideration as possible future top 9 players and it’s doubtful they’ll even be future NHLers. Moros D+1: .49 pts/gp, D+2: .9 pts/gp. Circumstance can only explain away so much lack of production.

    • Lowetide

      Oilers have been getting ‘size from the farm’ for a decade. Brad Winchester, JF Jacques, Ryan Stone. What they need is men who can play, skate, take and make a pass, the hockey things.

      I have zero quarrel with size in the top six, hell I’m thrilled they drafted Leon. But, like Leon, the big guys have to be able to play. Remember Pat Quinn, who put Horcoff and Hemsky with J-F Jacques?

      Terrible. Just terrible. He had Ryan Stone on the second line, can’t remember the third line big guy and Ethan Moreau on the four line opening night.

      Lordy. Find good players, keep good players. And size WITH skill adds an element. Greg Chase may be only six feet but he plays bigger and he has enough skill imo. I like his chances.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Chase is certainly no “tower” so why is mentioned as one is odd. He is reported to be more of a Brad Marchand type and the Oil could use a dose of that as well.

  • LinkfromHyrule

    You would think it would be obvious that a gigantic player with no skill is useless. Not to Tambo! Some of that man’s decisions still boggle my mind.

    That Greg Chase sure is sounding like a hell of a steal though. Is there any indication where he is going to be playing this year?

  • The Soup Fascist

    And LT, sometimes size and skill is not even enough. I remember a guy like Chad Kilger who was big AND had all the tools.

    The kid could fire a puck, had wheels, soft hands and was is great shape. If hockey was a skills competition he would have been in the HHOF. But for whatever the reason – maybe you knew what it was – he couldn’t process the game. Or he didn’t play with passion. For whatever reason he was a bust. Same with Jason Bonsignore. But Bonsignore’s issues were more pronounced. I remember hearing the phrase “heart the size of a pea” from one of his ex-teammates shortly after the draft. That can never be good.

    So now you are looking for the big, skilled guy who can actually play the game and WANTS to play the game.

    A lot of boxes to check off.

    • Lowetide

      When MacT was coach, he spent hours and hours with Kilger, I remember well looking at CK’s resume and wondering why there wasn’t more there. I think a lot of it is development, a guy like Moroz can’t go to OKC and get buried on the 4line, but it’s also true the game is so GD tough at the highest levels.

  • Randaman

    Sometime these guys need heart transplant from and elephant. I think guys likie Galleger [Mtl] and Marchand {Bos.], already had those transplants. [Tell them they are too small ].

    PS. I wouldn’t want Curtis Hamilton driving my fire truck. It would never get to the fire.

  • Spydyr

    you know i love the oilers but .the power play would kill me every year .i would say stand over their .you are doing nothing their. if the play is on one side and 2 or three players are standing around doing nothing get in front of the net or something its no longer a power play with 4 on 2 is it 4 their side.man i wish i could run the power play for a wile it would be some changes.made to it. wishfull thinking .thats when i woke uppppppppppppp.