The Coke Machine Prospect Group

Yakimov, Bogdan

Rookie games are dicey things to take impressions away from. The usual problem of sample size is there, plus the fact that the talent level of the tournament is pretty low relative even to exhibition games. The players are coming in after long and varied summers and often have very limited knowledge of their teammates. Coaches haven’t had time to get system buy-in. The format tends to favour prospects who are older and from what I’ve seen smaller guys have an easier time of the tourney than they do in the pro game.

With all that said, it’s a time where some individuals stand out, and where general trends can be seen. On Friday night in Penticton, the general trend with the Oilers was that the forward group was the one the team has been looking for forever: big, reasonably talented and aggressive.

I’m not going to get into the individual profiles here. Kevin McCartney attended the game and will have a post a little later today and based on his work last year that should be excellent. Instead I wanted to key in on the overall composition of the prospects who really matter up front and who played last night.

Outside Reviews

Bruce McCurdy, Edmonton Journal, September 4:

While the [summer prospects] series necessarily focuses on each player in his turn, at this point it’s instructive to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. And my oh my, what a BIG picture it is, as the system is chockablock with plus-sized players. This has long been identified as an organizational area of need / weakness, in fact it’s a subject that I pounded away at a couple of times in recent months. Not that I dislike small players… [m]y concern is about a small team, a documented shortcoming at all positions for the Oilers in 2013-14 which cost them dearly in the Brobdingnagian Pacific Division. GM Craig MacTavish started to address the imbalance during the summer transaction window by acquiring some experienced support players with decent size, and there’s plenty more where that came from lurking in the system.

Allan Mitchell, Lowetide, this morning:

Early in last night’s game against the Canucks, it occurred to me that the Edmonton Oilers (as constructed at the young stars camp) no longer resemble the team we’ve been watching so far this century. They were big, very big, while also managing to be terribly skilled. Now, I’ve watched J-F Jacques (big and speedy) and Linus Omark (small and skilled) plus everything in between, but big and skilled? Unicorns in Oilers colors! Pish posh old man, and yet there it was under the Penticton lights.

The Magnificent Seven

It’s helpful here to isolate the forward prospects of real organizational importance playing last night from the long shots (all due respect to Vladimir Tkachev, who played brilliantly, and guys like Kale Kessy who still have a shot):

Left Wing   Centre   Right Wing
Mitch Moroz   Leon Draisaitl   Greg Chase  
Marco Roy Bogdan Yakimov   Jackson Houck  
Jujhar Khaira

Those seven guys were the most important prospects playing last night.

And, with the exception of Marco Roy (listed at 6’, 172 pounds) they’re all big guys. Leon Draisaitl was listed at 6’2”, 204 pounds at the draft combine, but there have been suggestions that he’s playing closer to 210 or 215 right now. He’s 18 years old. On his wing, Mitch Moroz is listed at 6’2”, 211 pounds and is not just tough but also aggressive; he got a sneaky shot in at Vancouver’s goalie last night and if there was an altercation he was at the centre of it. Greg Chase is listed at 6’, 205 pounds. That was the top line last night; for the sake of contrast Taylor Hall (6’1”, 201 pounds) is presently the biggest player on the Oilers’ existing top line.

The second line was centered by a real monstrosity – 6’5”, 232 pound Bogdan Yakimov. He’s taller than any forward the Oilers dressed last season and heavier than all but 240-pound Luke Gazdic. Jackson Houck was one of his linemates; the Oilers website has him at 6’, 192 pounds but he plays a physical game. Centering the third line was 6’3”, 210 pound Jujhar Khaira.

Some of the above will never find their way to the NHL. Of the guys who do, some won’t have enough offence to climb above the bottom-six. But all of them are actual players with skills that go well beyond ‘big and strong’. Even a guy like Mitch Moroz, whose offence was a long time coming, doesn’t treat the puck like a grenade – he can take and make a pass.

The defencemen are big, too, but I’m focusing here on the forwards because this is the kind of prospect group the Oilers have aimed at for years. Edmonton – a team that used all five of its top-100 picks in the extremely deep 2003 draft on big forwards and didn’t land a single significant NHL’er – doesn’t actually draft all that small; it’s just that disproportionately the forward prospects with positive arrows after the first year or two tended to be the little guys.

That’s not the case right now.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

  • Young Oil

    Possibly the best thing about that group of seven is that only one of them was drafted in the first round. The Oilers’ scouting staff is still far from perfect, but they need to be commended for finding these players.

    Yakimov at 6’5”, 232lbs blows me away. That is practically Hanzal sized as 19 year old.

    Just signed Greg Chase too! Great news!

  • Young Oil

    Based on age, size and experience playing against men, it will be interesting to see the pace at which he adopts to the pro game compared to LD (appreciating that LD has more skill). If he turns into Hanzal north, watch out. Nuge, LD and Yak2 would be a stunning 1-2-3

  • Young Oil

    The size down the middle should really help to make OKC a very competitive squad this year. Todd Nelson should be elated to see the likes of Moroz,JK and Yakimov in his lineup this season.

    The key to for me is continued progression of LB in net. Can he make that next step to the AHL and play as brilliantly as e did with Bakersfield last season. That is the eal question. If he can then the Barons will have a real shot at an AHL title this season.

    Is Tchacevs size an issue when he lines up with Yakimov? Could be one of those deals that see both players thrive by playing off of each others strengths. Would not hurt OKC to have a guy with his talent in their lineup.

  • It was totlally awesome to finally watch an Oilers game again….even if only of the rookies in a tournament.

    Was also awesome to beat them Canucks.

    I totally enjoyed this game even with some calamity that came here and there…but that Boland hit was superb (sorry he took a beating for that), Yakimov is definitely a top player prospect (projected 3rd line center IMO) as he can skate/shoot/pass and he scored an excellent goal via Tkachev who showed excellent compete and skills for a waif.

    He may deserve to be prospect protected by the Oilers if he puts up a couple more pts and makes plays like last night on two goals (Yak2 and Gernat)… Yep he needs at least 20 more lbs or more at least.

    Moroz is exactly what I have hoped for and expected him to be and/or project to be…a big agitator with grit who can skate/hit/pass/score enough. Chase did very well too and deserved an assist. Marco Roy could have had three pts last night (including two of them goals.

    Khaira is showing me (as a prospect) that he may be a good 4th line center with PK duties included. If he had better offence skills then what a player he could turn into for the bottom six. Houck was definitely involved and played well though he never was of any great impact.

    Brossoit certainly had rust but got much better when he became more busy.

    FRinally…I hope to see a hard battle of Alberta (like that very old bitter type style we love) tonight with the Oilers winning 4 or 5 to 2.

    Go Oil!!!!!

  • Young Oil

    Tonites game against Flames should be a much better/intensive match to watch , as emotions should run wild . Flames have the biggest squad and we should get a fair idea of how our boys handle it .

  • Spydyr

    If a few of these prospect make it to the NHL great but most of them outside the first round picks have a long ways to go.With a long and winding road ahead of them.

    I know it is tough when the team gives it’s fans a steady diet of hope and wait till next year before Christmas.

    It is time to start producing some results but it appears there will be one more year of suck.Look at the glaring weakness at centre.A hole the team appears to not be willing to fill.Expecting an eighteen year old to preform as a second line centre will end like most of the other instances when young players are expected to preform over their heads.

    What happens when not if a centre gets injured.That is right, another high first round pick.

    • Spydyr

      Same old same old Can’t you come up with something else to say. How many times in the last 4 months have you commented on the center depth. Go back to the flames nation, we’re sick of reading your stupid comments.

  • YakCity1039

    Yakimov was very good defensively and read the plays well. Nice 200 foot game package with reasonable speed . Had a nice goal , and only flaw seemed to be in faceoff circle . He was better than anticipated for first game . Wonder how he might fare with Yakupov and Perron , seeing as he did so well with Tkachev . Might he be pressing Draisaitl ?

  • YakCity1039

    Tkachev was the best player on the ice last night followed by Moroz and Yakimov. Hate to.say it but Draisaitl was invisible.

    Nurse looked way more calm and poised. The chaos from last years rookie camp seems to be gone from his game.

    • I found Draisatl to be active in the offensive zone, decent board play, almost set up a goal almost scored a goal. His play without the puck was not great, but I thought he was noticable.

      Nurse was chaotic. Passes to no one, mediocre gap control at times. Sometimes he was good. Decent jumping into the play, almost set up zee Deutch Dangler.

      I think Yakimov needs a year in the AHL. Moroz impressed me, made me think if this continues maybe we see him in NHL before the end of the year.

  • O.C.

    One game doesn’t mean a damn thing, but there is one door open that wasn’t before. People see Yakimov as more than some big Russian that was drafted.

    There is a room now to discuss an all Russian line. Those three could be sick in two years. Personally, I see Tkachev as too small for NA rinks, but with head hunting all but gone, maybe this opens the path to the NHL for the smaller guy, in the right role, with the right line mix.

    If Yak2 has a great camp, that takes the pressure off of an early development path for big Leon.

  • Flames lineup tonight appears to be as much size and grit as they have/can muster , other than Gaudreau and Bennett playing with Ferland . Get the feeling power plays could be plentiful . Final note : Khaira last night was defensively sound and is making strides to bottom 6 . J. Winquist probably draws in for Oilers tonight and is no stranger to fisticuffs as well .

  • Some really excellent reports both from oilersnation and oilersnation readers here.I was lucky enough to enjoy the game in Pen last night and i will put my 2 cents in.
    I found Kessy to be the most physical Oiler on the ice and i found Tkachev to be the most skilled. That being said i am going going to take JWills list and make it even smaller:
    1.Leon Draisaitl (LD)
    2.Bogdan Yakimov (Yak2)
    3.Jujhar Khaira (Khaira)
    At the same last night i found Yakimov to be the difference in the game giving the Oilers the win. He is about the size of a tank. (Thats a good thing people!)
    I believe LD needs to be thrown into the fire this year playing in the NHL. I can understand the Anze Kopitar reference as he certainly does not waste any energy.
    Khaira was very solid on the Defence. I agree with WHATTAMIKE that he looks like a 4th line Center option.
    MADJAM nailed it with the line he mentioned. This year is going to be a blast!

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    “The second line was centered by a real monstrosity – 6’5″ 232 pound Bogdan Yakimov.” Had a good laugh at that one. I love saying Bogdan, for some reason. Big Damn Bogdan.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    DISSAPPOINTMENT : Oilers pull Draisaitl , Nurse and Khaira from lineup for tonights game by the sounds of it . So much for the excitement level for Oiler fans if that be the case.

  • That stream wasn’t the greatest and I did have 1 eye on the Eskies last night. Just one game but not that encouraging for Leon. He looked good on face-offs and was strong on the puck. His skating looked brutal – I’d say it needs work before he’s NHL ready.

    I’ve heard lots of comparisons (Thornton, Kopitar, Getzlaf)to Leon. What I see is a young Phil Esposito. Not a bad thing but it took Phil a while to develop -just sayin.