On Tuesday we glanced backward at the forwards of the 2008-09 Springfield Falcons, looking to identify how much future value the Oilers had stashed away on a largely inept team. The stars of the forward group were Gilbert Brule and Colin McDonald. Did the team fare any better in net or on defence?
As with the last post, were looking only at players who appeared in a minimum of 25 games, and we’re ignoring anybody older than 25 as of February 1 of the season in question.
- Taylor Chorney (21 y.o., 65 GP, 21 points). Like a lot of the forwards, Chorney got al ong stint with the 2009-10 Oilers! He played the heart of his NHL career under Pat Quinn before settling in as a solid AHL defender. Between the AHL and NHL in 2008-09 and 2009-10 he went an amazing minus-74 in just 144 games.
- Theo Peckham (21 y.o., 47GP, 19 points). For a brief period of time, Peckham was an appealing player in Edmonton because he was big and mean and he could play a little bit. The 2012-13 lockout wasn’t kind to him, as he fell out of favour amid concerns about conditioning and his NHL career has yet to recover. He played 45 games for Chicago’s AHL team in 2013-14.
- Cody Wild (21 y.o., 59GP, 18 points). He was a minor darling of the stats crowd (myself included) for playing tough minutes in 2008-09. His Quality of Competition number turned out not to be a good indicator of the quality of player he was; these days he’s mostly an ECHL’er.
- Mathieu Roy (25 y.o., 59GP, 17 points). Roy was getting long in the tooth for a prospect by 2008-09; he’d been a fairly decent defenceman for the Oilers over parts of three seasons but injuries were a constant problem. He didn’t get a recall in this season but he would leave as a free agent in the summer and spend most of the next year with Columbus.
- Sebastien Bisaillon (22 y.o., 31 GP, 12 points). Bisaillon had been an emergency recall out of junior for the Oilers back in 2006-07, getting into two games, but at this point his hockey career was winding down. The offensive defender split time between the AHL and ECHL and by the end of the campaign had definitively proven himself not to be an NHL prospect.
- Bryan Young (22 y.o., 63GP, 10 points). Another defender who had a cup of coffee in 2006-07 during a terrible run of blue line injuries, Young’s star was also fading. 2008-09 would be his last full AHL season and the second last at any high level.
- Jake Taylor (25 y.o., 28GP, four points). Taylor, along with Roy, was supposed to provide some veteran backbone for the Falcons. Instead, injury cut sharply into his season and he didn’t end up delivering much of anything as a result.
- Devan Dubnyk (22 y.o., 62GP, 0.906 SV%). Dubnyk saw a lot of rubber for a terrible team, going 18-41-2 on the season. It paid off for the Oilers, though, as Dubnyk would go on to play 171 games for the parent team, posting a 0.910 save percentage over that span. The Oilers are still getting value from that development in a sense, as forward Matt Hendricks came back in trade for Dubnyk.
The table below shows how many NHL games played each guy would go on to play after the 2008-09 season; players with an asterisk have a reasonable chance of adding to their totals. We’ve added in the forwards from yesterday to give a representation of the entire accomplishments of this group of players:
This is a better group than the Falcon’s record (24-44-12, worst in the AHL) might suggest at first glance. Six guys would end up playing between 20-100 NHL games in the seasons to come; useful injury filler if nothing else.
Dubnyk is pretty clearly the best player to come out of this group. He’s still being paid to play NHL hockey, and nearly 200 games with a 0.910 save percentage shows that he supplied some useful minutes to the Oilers, however his career in Edmonton may have ended. Uniquely among these players, he was traded for someone (Hendricks) who is still contributing.
Three of the others – Brule, Peckham and McDonald – all had decent NHL stints, with Brule at times playing up the lineup. None of them look especially likely to hit 200 games as role players, though McDonald has a reasonable shot at it. As for Schremp, the problems that kept him out of the Oilers’ lineup for so long never really went away.
Is that a reasonable haul from an AHL team – one significant NHL player, three short-term role players, and seven guys who were more-or-less warm bodies when needed?
For the sake of contrast, Detroit’s affiliate in Grand Rapids had Justin Abdelkader, Ville Leino, Darren Helm, Cory Emmerton, Jakub Kindl, Jonathan Ericsson and Jim Howard, along with a bunch of players who made it to the majors but couldn’t stick. To be sure, the Red Wings are the gold standard, but the disparity is massive.
It doesn’t seem a stretch to suggest that the lack of quality players on the Oilers’ AHL team in 2008-09 was a significant contributing factor to the years in the wilderness that have followed.