WWYDW: Development Curves

Peter Chiarelli3

It’s September now, which means that we’re in for a month of relentless focus on training camp battles and the opening night lineup, with occasional breaks to just sit and enjoy the fact that hockey is being played again (even if it is in rookie tournament/preseason form).

So instead of focusing at the start of this season, let’s use WWYDW to take a few minutes and look ahead. If you were the general manager, what would your development plan look like for the prospects with an honest shot at NHL minutes as the year goes on?


Obviously, individual performances are going to matter a lot, and we won’t know how these players perform until they are actually on the ice. With that caveat noted, what should the development plan be for the NHL-ready and nearly-NHL-ready prospects?

  • Connor McDavid: In the NHL, at centre, from Game 1. Easy.
  • Griffin Reinhart: He’s had a year in the AHL, and I think he’s ready to take the next step, even if it means carrying eight defencemen.
  • Leon Draisaitl: This one is tough. He could make the team out of training camp on the wing, and I lean towards him doing so. It’s not a bad thing if he starts the year in the minors, but I don’t expect he’ll be there very long if at all.
  • Tyler Pitlick: I expect that he cracks the opening night roster, but I’m not sure he stays in the majors all season.
  • Darnell Nurse: I would plan to follow Oscar Klefbom’s arc from a year ago. Start him in the AHL to show what he can do and get used to the size and speed of pro hockey, then graduate him once he’s clearly dominant at that level and room can be cleared on the major-league roster, probably at some point in November.
  • Iiro Pakarinen: Waiver exemption may mean that he starts the year in the minors, but he’d be at the top of the list of possible recalls and I imagine he’s a fixture on Edmonton’s roster by the new year.
  • David Musil: He’s entering his third pro season, which means his waiver exemption is getting close to its end. He’ll probably spend most of the year in the AHL but if all goes well will join the team late in the year and establish himself as an NHL’er at that point.
  • Andrew Miller, Brandon Davidson, Anders Nilsson: I don’t expect these players to make the roster, but if they clear waivers, they’ll be recall candidates all season and could work their way into the plans.
  • Jordan Oesterle: I’d be surprised if he hasn’t pushed his way into a significant NHL cameo by the end of the season.
  • Laurent Brossoit: If all goes well, he should contend for the backup job next season, which suggests that he might get a shot this season.
  • Bogdan Yakimov, Anton Slepyshev, Jujhar Khaira, Dillon Simpson: Possible recalls, but these players are probably going to spend most of the year in the minors.
  • The rest of the prospects: Not likely to see NHL action

That’s my list. Where am I wrong, and who do you think deserves an earlier NHL graduation or won’t make the cut at all?

  • bradleypi

    Nurse is looking even more like a beast this summer. I wouldn’t bet against him if he’s given a fighting chance at a roster spot this year.

    The preseason games should be fun to watch this year.

  • Train#97

    NIKITA NIKITIN STATS : He seems to be on decine ever since 2011-12 , especially in his offense .

    2011-12 in 54 games he was 7G,25A = 32 pts.
    2012-12 in 38 games he was 3 G-6A =9 points.
    2013-14 in 66 games he was 2G-13A =15points.
    2014-15 in 42 games with Oilers he was 2G,6A = 10 points . Are these the marks of an offensive defenseman I wonder ?

    The trend with Nikitin does not indicate him going upward over last 3 years .

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    JW is right on the money.

    This pre season will be like having chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream and whipped cream for an appetizer. Then we can settle down to a serious main course of NHL.

    The proof of the pudding will be who gets bit by the injury bug in Oct/Nov.

  • mcjesus take the wheel

    Good morning contraversy : The state of the Oiler defence ! We need a better balance of personnel thatcan better help the offence , and by same token forwards doing more better on the defensive side of things .

    Oilers require offensively minded defenseman to help our transition and join in the rush to aid forwards more than we have been providing . Right now only Schultz has basically been providing that despite all the warts . Sekara , Klefbom , Nikitin , Ference . Fayne , Gryba simply do not provide much if any of that creating quite an imbalance . Just check out their stats and you’ll see they are all on the weak side . So who is more offensively better that we have now ? B.Hunt and J.Laleggia , both small and several warts unless Laleggia turns out to be a Torey Krug type .

    D.Nurse and G.Reinhart despite lack of experience and maybe some warts like rest of veterans , might be exactly what we require this season to form that required balance , because all the others can not . They are a step above Laleggia and B.Hunt . That would really compliment our emerging offense this season . Reinhart has enough offence to be better and trending better than even Sekara . Due to team requirements to go forward , I have both Nurse and Reinhart on the team to start season .

  • mcjesus take the wheel

    Anyone know of any local bus companies offering transportation , tickets and accommodations for Penticton Young Stars Tourney , seeing as most games are already sold out ?

  • Been there

    Personally I would have both Nurse and Drasaitl start in the minors, and I know most will disagree with me but I would have McDavis start as third line centre when 5 on 5. Play him with Hendricks and Klinghammer or Korpiskopsky until he gets a feel for the league as well as a deterrent for those wishing to take liberties. Landers could be second line centre for the first few weeks.