Craig MacTavish was asked at his post-deadline press availability which prospects in the system he wanted to see in the NHL before the end of this season, and his answer says something about the quality and quantity of NHL-ready players in Oklahoma City.
We’re a little bit limited on what we can do there with the four recall rule. We’ve sent three guys down today and we’re going to bring them back up and we’re only allowed four, so we only have one left, one other player that we can draw up from Oklahoma City unless it’s on an emergency basis. The guys I’d like to give a chance to, I hope that we can, I mean we don’t want injuries but we hope we get an opportunity to see Brandon Davidson again. He played very well the last time he was up here in San Jose so he’s got lots of promise. I’d like to see Andrew Miller come up here and see what he can do; he’s been a good player down there. Curtis Hamilton I’d like to give an opportunity to, Bogdan Yakimov, all those guys. The goalie, Laurent Brossoit, has played very well, we’d like to see him come up and hopefully can give him a game pretty soon. As disappointing as it is to be selling at this time of year I’m looking forward to the end of the year where I couldn’t say that last year.
The four-recall thing gets cleared up pretty quickly if we look at the official AHL transactions page. Edmonton sent down four guys and recalled them immediately in a paper transaction:
Why were those players sent down? A few years back, the AHL had Clear Day roster restrictions, which meant that to participate in the playoffs skaters had to be on the AHL roster by a certain date. Those rules have since been eliminated, but the NHL stipulates that only those players recalled from the AHL after the trade deadline may be returned to the AHL for the remainder of the season. So, to make sure that Hamilton, Bachman, Marincin and Oesterle could play in the Barons’ playoff run the Oilers shipped them down pre-deadline and brought them back up post-deadline.
Bachman doesn’t count against the rules because he was an emergency recall and teams are still permitted to make those.
#Oilers recall forward Ryan Hamilton and goalie Richard Bachman (emergency), place forwards Taylor Hall and Benoit Pouliot on IR.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) February 10, 2015
Bottom line: The Oilers have one and only one non-emergency recall left to make between now and the end of the season.
The List of Five
MacTavish narrowed the candidates for recall down to a list of five.
Brandon Davidson wins the honour on defence, and has clearly managed to make himself more of a prospect-of-interest to the organization at this point in time than players like David Musil and Martin Gernat. Some of that’s due to age and waiver realities; Davidson is almost two years older than Musil and will need to clear waivers to be demoted next season. He’s a candidate for the No. 7 job out of camp next season, but (with the caveat that there is still lots of road ahead and he does have a legitimate shot) my guess is that the Oilers will risk waivers on him next year and he’ll be a first-callup candidate instead.
Laurent Brossoit gets the mention in net, which is extremely unsurprising, both because he’s played very well and because he’s the only goalie prospect in the system who can fog a mirror. This is his first season playing significant minutes; unless I miss my guess he’ll be the No. 1 goalie for Bakersfield next year.
The forwards are where things get interesting.
Andrew Miller turns 27 in September, even though he’s in only his second professional season. His situation is a little like coming home from the grocery store, handing a jug of milk to your significant other, and being told that it’s going to go bad in four days (note: this is a completely hypothetical scenario, and not a depressingly regular part of my everyday life). He is scoring at almost a point-per-game clip in the AHL, and he does have NHL speed and the Oilers need to make a decision on signing him sometime this summer (and then a waivers decisions next fall). The question is whether the undersized forward scores enough, and given his age he’s more suspect than prospect.
Curtis Hamilton is another player who will be going on waivers if he’s sent down next year. He’s a solid two-way player, but the problem (outside of injuries) is that he’s always been a bit vanilla – he hasn’t been consistently physical over his AHL career despite his size and he doesn’t score very much despite some talent. At best, he’ll probably be a bottom-six guy who can penalty kill in the NHL, which isn’t nothing, but given his injuries and the lack of one defining feature he’s another guy I expect to see clearing waivers next year (and that’s if the Oilers sign him as an RFA this summer).
Bogdan Yakimov is the best prospect of the three, a 20-year-old rookie AHL’er who combines massive size with a two-way game. His scoring has picked up slightly of late in the AHL (he has seven goals and 12 points in 24 games since January 1) but given his age and scoring totals he’s probably a guy who could benefit from more time developing. The Oilers have every reason to leave him in the minors to develop his offensive game rather than plugging him in immediately as a big-bodied fourth line pivot, and the presence of Boyd Gordon on the roster for another year suggests they just might do that.
The unifying mark for all these players is that they’re all decided longshots for next year’s roster. In the case of three of them, it’s because they are lower-end prospects (with Davidson probably the most promising of that trio) and in the case of the other two it’s because they could almost certainly benefit from more time in the minors. There’s benefit to seeing all five in the majors, but it’s more a matter of satisfying curiosity (it’s the category Taylor Fedun would have fallen into last year) than necessity.
The legitimate NHL-ready (or close to it) prospects from OKC are already in Edmonton. Anton Lander, Iiro Pakarinen, Tyler Pitlick, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin and Jordan Oesterle all started the year in the minors and have since spent significant time on the NHL team. That’s a reasonably long list and now the cupboards down on the farm are pretty nearly bare of players who should make a big push for a roster spot in 2015-16.
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