The Manchester Monarchs won the AHL championship this weekend and are
the Calder Cup champions—different than the Calder Trophy, awarded
annually to the NHL’s rookie of the year—save for being named after league builder Frank Calder.
Monarchs victory gives us a chance to view the league’s best minor
league team and compare it to the Oilers’ farm system. How many legit
NHL prospects played in Manchester this season? How many graduated? How
does that compare to the Oilers? Let’s have a look. Lists based on how
close prospect is to NHL-ready.
TOP 10 NHL PROSPECTS IN MANCHESTER
Shore, a two-way center graduated from the minors after 106 AHL games.
He looks bona fide and should have an NHL future, especially considering
NHL centers Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll may be heading out of LA.
Weal, a skill center who seems to improve ever season. Undersized but
he has wheels, has enjoyed seasons of 70 and 69 points. He’ll be waiver
eligible in the fall and has done everything he can in the minors.
Forbert, 23-year old defender with size (6.04, 218) has two AHL seasons
under his belt now and should be able to make the move to LAK. He
skates well and should be able to play a shutdown defensive game in the
NHL once he matures.
- Colin Miller, 22-year old blue who took
one giant leap forward this season. Righty defender saw his point total
spike from 17 to 52 year over year and he’ll get every chance to make
the grade this fall.
- Brian O’Neill,
skill RW from Yale. 26 years old, enjoyed a breakout season (80 points)
and performed well in all areas. Probably needs an expansion draft but
you never know.
- Patrik Bartosak is an
unusual and effective goalie WHL fans will remember. He posted at .919
SP with Manchester this season in a backup role.
Mersch, a big (6.01, 225) winger who scored 45 points in his first full
AHL season and then posted 13 goals in the playoffs. It’s absolutely
possible he’ll be patrolling the RW for LAK and hammering opponents in
the next two seasons.
- Nic Dowd is a
center, 25 years old and 6.02, 195. He’s a skill player who flourished
in the playoffs (13 points in 19 games). I’m not sure where he played on
the depth chart but it had to be below Weal and Shore so his
opportunities early in the year may not have been strong.
- J-F Berube, whose .913SP the last two seasons suggests he’s found the consistency that eluded him earlier in his career.
Auger is a 6.07 229 pound winger who has raw skills and performed
better than expected this season (29 points in 70 games). He’s some time
away but is an actual giant on skates.
TOP 10 NHL PROSPECTS IN OKC
Lander took most of four years to make the step to the NHL but his
final 38 games were quality. Oilers will want to see it again but he
looks like the real thing.
- Martin Marincin’s NHL audition
continued in 2014-15 and we’ll see WHERE he ends up but there’s enough
talent with this player to suggest he’s worthy of consideration.
Pakarinen is a 23-year old Finn with a nice range of skills. He’s good
enough for a scoring line in the AHL and rugged enough for an
checking/energy role in the NHL. Has a reasonable chance to grab a job
in the NHL.
- Andrew Miller, like O’Neill above enjoyed a breakout
season but not to the same level (60 points instead of 80). Led the team
in points, grabbed another pro contract and could have an NHL future.
Davidson is a capable two-way defender in the AHL and has been knocking
on the NHL door for most of the last year. His ceiling may not be high,
but an NHL audition during 2014-15 suggests he may make it as a role
- Brad Hunt is a 26-year old offensive defender who is an
impact AHL player. Significant issues as an NHL defender but there’s a
chance Todd McLellan grabs lightning in a bottle.
Brossoit is the best goalie prospect in the Oilers system since Devan
Dubnyk, .918SP in lock step with Bartosak over more games.
Oesterle is a puck-moving college defender is a little older (22) than
some of these other kids and has some chaos in his game. He did get a
recall to the NHL as a rookie pro.
- David Musil’s skills imply
third pairing and he’s matriculating toward that goal in the AHL. A
quick cup of coffee late in the season showed he has the chops, and that
he needs a little more time.
- Bogdan Yakimov is a 20-year
old center with size (6.05, 232) and enough skill as an AHL rookie (28
points in 57 games) to suggest he could be an NHL player above the
- The Kings have
more players who will push for immediate employment in 2015-16
has more kids on the farm who aren’t playing key roles but could emerge
in the next few seasons.
- Edmonton has high draft picks like Mitchell Moroz they didn’t trust with any real role in their first season. That’s a tell about organizational decision-making and it’s not a good tell. Put another way, play the damn kids!
- Edmonton had five men 29 or over playing
significant roles during portions of the year, Manchester three. There’s
a lesson there, too.