This is Curtis Hamilton. He’s always been a personal favorite, owing to a scouting report that suggested he could bring a range of skills to the pro game. Injuries have impacted Hamilton’s career with the Oilers, and four years in, he’s at a crossroads. Hamilton’s future with the team is in the hands of Peter Chiarelli and dependent on the organization’s evaluation of a number of prospects. It’s going to be an interesting summer.
Josh Winquist (in photo) doesn’t have an NHL contract, nor does Kellen Jones. Those players, along with RFA’s like Hamilton, are no doubt in limbo at this time as they wait for the Oilers to make decisions on them and graduating juniors, college men and European players.
Loaded for broke and headed for home! ?? https://t.co/oAVknKAvJf
— Mitch Moroz (@MitchMoroz) May 23, 2015
If you’re Peter Chiarelli, what do you value more? Among LW’s (Hamilton’s position) the club already has three players under contract for next year:
- Ryan Hamilton, who will serve as veteran leader and cover for the younger players.
- Kale Kessy, who looked very good in TC and early in OKC before losing the season to injury.
- Mitch Moroz, who didn’t play as much as one would think, suspect Edmonton will want to see him as a regular in 2015-16.
Josh Winquist back in town for a day. He stopped by practice to say hello to the men. http://t.co/QIR3pcn58J
— Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) January 22, 2015
Add to that two productive players signed to AHL deals last year:
- Josh Winquist, a young man who had two impressive hot streaks during the year.
- Kellen Jones, highly productive, including valuable PK minutes.
— AHL (@TheAHL) May 8, 2015
And the RFA’s:
- Curtis Hamilton, who finished 63GP, 12-20-32, good for No. 6 in team scoring.
Anton Slepyshev 88th overall in ’13 is at Russian camp for Worlds. Decent season in KHL, reasonable chance he comes over next season.
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) April 13, 2015
And the graduating group:
- Anton Slepyshev, rumored to be signed soon and a skill winger.
Add to the group above one Marco Roy (currently playing in the Memorial Cup), who is a natural center but may also play on the wing in his first pro season.
Edmonton’s big league roster boasts some very nice LW options (Taylor Hall, Benoit Pouliot, Matt Hendricks) and some decisions that will come in summer (Matt Fraser).
Where does Hamilton fit? Does he fit? It’s very difficult to say. At the AHL level, the Bakersfield Condors will probably run Ryan Hamilton on one of the two skill lines and Moroz plus Kessy on the third and fourth lines. That would mean a skill line LW job may be available.
Is Hamilton the best option? No. I’d list Anton Slepyshev as best available and would further suggest that Josh Winquist may in fact be a better option for the skill job. What if the Oilers decide to move Kessy? That might make some room on LW for a two-way type, and in that case it would seem to me Hamilton would be the best option (followed by Kellen Jones).
POSSIBLE LW DEPTH CHART THIS FALL
- Taylor Hall
- Benoit Pouliot
- Matt Fraser (or replacement)
- Matt Hendricks
- Luke Gazdic (all five NHL)
- Ryan Hamilton
- Anton Slepyshev
- Josh Winquist or Curtis Hamilton
- Mitch Moroz
- Kale Kessy
- Kellen Jones (AHL only)
That would be my guess, with Jones being the AHL/ECHL swing man and the others receiving NHL (two-way for the AHL folks) deals.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The bubble men for next season’s LW jobs are all the guys without contracts. Edmonton could walk them all, and we should probably anticipate it. Peter Chiarelli finds himself committed to Ryan Hamilton, Kale Kessy and Mitch Moroz and may dole out only one more contract (likely to Slepyshev). That would mean both Curtis Hamilton and Josh Winquist on the outside looking in, and Marco Roy unsigned (one would hope they trade him for a pick before Roy re-enters the draft).
These are NHLE’s using Rob Vollman’s numbers and offer interesting insight into the conversation.
- Anton Slepyshev 82GP, 17-11-28
- Ryan Hamilton 82GP, 11-12-23 (committed)
- Marco Roy 82GP, 11-10-21
- Josh Winquist 82GP, 8-11-19
- Curtis Hamilton 82GP, 7-12-19
- Kale Kessy 82GP, 8-8-16 (committed)
- Kellen Jones 82GP, 4-7-11
- Mitch Moroz 82GP, 3-3-6 (committed)
Based on the names Edmonton has under contract, I’d say the AHL team needs a skill winger and a two-way type. I’d choose Slepyshev and Hamilton and would find a way to cheat and retain Winquist.
Who would you choose?
(All OKC photos via Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved).