AHL PIPELINE

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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.

The
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

  1. Nick
    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.
  2. Jordan
    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.
  3. Derek
    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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 
  7. Michael
    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.
  8. 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.
  9. J-F Berube, whose .913SP the last two seasons suggests he’s found the consistency that eluded him earlier in his career.
  10. Justin
    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

  1. Anton
    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.
  2. 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. 
  3. Iiro
    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.
  4. 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.
  5. Brandon
    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
    player. 
  6. 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.
  7. Laurent
    Brossoit is the best goalie prospect in the Oilers system since Devan
    Dubnyk, .918SP in lock step with Bartosak over more games.
  8. Jordan
    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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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
    4line.

SUMMARY

  • The Kings have
    more players who will push for immediate employment in 2015-16
  • Edmonton
    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.
  • pkam

    There’s another major difference:

    The Monarchs have skill lines made up of NHL prospects, and the Barons didn’t.

    Hopefully that changes in Bakersfield with Draisaitl, Slepyshev and Chase.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      you mean Slepyshev, Chase and Platzer? those 3 could indeed be true ‘NHL’ prospects down the road, and i’ll take all 3 over Shore, Weal and Colin Miller any day, as well as our top defensive prospect Nurse over Forbort by a mile!

      • Except Slep, Chase and Nurse weren’t part of the team last year (with small exception to playoffs). This article isn’t speaking to next year. So, hold your thoughts for about 12 months and we can try this again.

      • Oilcounty88

        The Oilers had better have the better prospects in their system than the LAK. Oil have drafted 1st overall 3 times in the last 5 years and LA has won the cup twice in that span and traded away their first rounders to make pushes for the playoffs on a number of occasions.

        • Joy S. Lee

          Which nicely summarizes the comparison of the two systems over the past five years.

          Except, even with that being said, the Oilers scouting has done a far superior job* the past two or three, where they have stocked the cupboards with some legit prospects, including a number of late picks that are showing some potential (Chase/Platzer, etc). Before that, they were virtually empty. So, the lines are a little grey on the performance metrics. Hopefully Chiarelli is figuring out who to keep and who to punt in those regards, too.

          * – To clarify: The Kings and Ducks (Hawks?) systems may be the best in the NHL, and far outrank the Oilers. The Oilers appear to have done a far superior job the last 2-3 years, but our SORRY drafting record has needed upgrading for about 30 years now. No comparison, Lombardi had a plan that included his ENTIRE prospect system (not just the big team) and has executed it to perfection. The Oilers plan? I’m not sure what it was, but it didn’t work, and in fact has kind of sucked. Bad. (But that’s all changing, right?)

  • pwrcord

    I don’t see Draisaitl lasting very long in Bakersfield. Same with Nurse unless PC pulls off something creative to allow Darnell time to grow down in the AHL.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I love what LA has down here….the Kings are filled with draft picks, trained from the ground floor up. The AHL in the Northeastern states is a powerhouse … I hope the new Cali division can replicate the American Northeast as a hockey hotbed.

    Lots of prospects in Bakersfield next year

    Slepyshev-Draisaitl-Pakarinen
    Morez-Yakimov-Miller
    Hamilton-Khahri-Platzer

    Nurse-Oestrele
    Simpson-Musil
    Hunt-Davidson

    LB

    Looks like the next crop is coming along

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I think when one wants to write blogs about AHL teams…one should actually watch the games and see what is going on.

    I also think that if one wants to write blogs and have ones “draft standings” with also write ups about why these players are good or bad….one should also watch junior hockey and watch how they play instead of using fancy stats to rate a player.

    Just a simple suggestion. Fancy stats in the CHL or AHL or any league for that matter does not prove your point if you actually do NOT watch them play the game.

    I digress…

    • Canadian Hockey Fan

      A comment like this says good things to me about Lowetide’s career. He’s got enough status in the hockey commentating world now to get indirect snark like he’s not even in the room.

      Btw AgainstLowetide, I’m pretty sure LT watched plenty of the Baron’s games this year. He commented on them all the time in the comments section over on his blog, in real time. So, not sure where this hate is coming from…

    • FTO

      I’m sorry for taking the troll bait everyone, but just have to say you have got to be the loneliest, saddest soul on the inter webs to make an account to just deliver the classic “watch the game nerd” to someone that devotes his time to understanding the game since before that woeful day your mother laid eyes on your father and came together to gift ‘AgainstLowetide’ to this world.

      And making fun of him for doing advanced AHL stats in this article? I must have missed it all as it was pretty much goals, assists and points… Unless those numbers are too complicated for you then I’m sorry for this whole post, your parents shouldn’t let you get onto the Internet so late though.

      Fantastic article LT, as light on ‘advanced stats’ as it is this is nice reading for before the draft. Keep on truckin.

      *Edit- lol maybe I come off as too much of a LT fanboy, ‘devotes his time’? Cringe-worthy…
      Maybe I should go to bed instead of getting worked up over shitposts this late.

  • Canadian Hockey Fan

    Funny how Manchester wins the Calder Cup in their last season as an AHL team. Seems the AHL is only focused on big cities these days. Hard to believe that back in 96 they had teams in Cape Breton, PEI, Fredericton, Cornwall, Saint John, and St. John’s. Glad to see Newfoundland got their team back. Now I know 3 have the QMJHL, but I think we have to return to the days when most Canadian NHL teams had their AHL clubs in Canada.

  • pkam

    “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! ”

    How about drafting players the coaches may actually want to play? Nurse, Chase and Platzer didn’t seem to have trouble cracking the line up. Why? Because they can actually play hockey.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      ^right. they have their ‘big, physical guys’ like Moroz, Chase, Yakimov, Ewanyk, Khaira. it’s time to take a little more Platzer, Slepyshev, LaLeggia, and this is the draft to do it ! there should still be plenty of potential mid to top end talent still around well into the 3rd round. this is where we’ll see if Stu and the boys can actually find them, or will we end up with more coke machines like Aiden Muir?

  • pkam

    Don’t forget Lander, Pitlick and Klefbom started the season in OKC but didn’t go back to help their playoff run for good reason. This is 3 big losses to the roster.

    Pakarinen and Yakimov were injured before the playoff and never played a game. Then Marincin was injured during the playoff. Who knows what the kids may do if we were a little healthier.