The Edmonton Oilers drafted Joey Laleggia out of the University of Denver in 2012. He finished his college career, signed and then turned pro last fall. A combination of things—drafting older players, trading draft picks for immediate help—has the Oilers facing an offseason with very little coming down the pipe. What does it mean? If my math is correct, expect to see several college, graduating junior and pro signings to replace the graduating amateurs from the draft.
WHO IS LEAVING?
NHL Numbers gives us the current list of UFA and RFA players, and there could be a major cull ahead this year. Peter Chiarelli will continue to makeover the pro roster (NHL and AHL) in his own image and men from the previous regime, and here are the players who are reaching the end of their current deals:
- UFA (7): RW Teddy Purcell, LW Rob Klinkhammer, D Eric Gryba, D Nikita Nikitin, D Brad Hunt, C Andrew Miller, LW Ryan Hamilton.
- RFA (11): RW Iiro Pakarinen, RW Zack Kassian, LW Luke Gazdic (who was waived today), D Justin Schultz, D Brandon Davidson, D Adam Clendening, G Laurent Brossoit, D Martin Gernat, D Jordan Oesterle, D David Musil, LW Kale Kessy.
The Oilers are at 49 contracts currently, and with 18 of those deals needing to be addressed, there is a lot of potential turn over. I would guess we see Gryba, Pakarinen, Kassian, Davidson, Brossoit and Oesterle at a minimum return, meaning between 37 and 49 contracts for 2016-17 from the current group.
In a normal year, I would list all of the possible signings who are going to be graduating from college or junior hockey and have been drafted in previous seasons. Problem? The list is not fabulous.
D William Lagesson—A solid freshman year at UMass-Amherst has him
going in a good direction, as we saw at the WJs. He turns 20 this month, so could sign. Would the Oilers consider turning another lefty
blue pro at this time? Seems unlikely.
F Tyler Vesel—Good two-way player, Oilers may have a
solid pro here (not necessarily an NHL pro).
L Evan Campbell—A member of the famed ‘BCJHL mob’ that has netted
Edmonton Jujhar Khaira and little else in the last seven drafts. He does not appear to be a future NHL player.
G Zach Nagelvoort—Not only he is failing to make progress, he hasn’t
played much this year
F Aidan Muir—Big forward is not making progress offensively in year
two at Western Michigan.
- G Miroslav Svoboda—having a good season since the trade but no sound reason to bring him over yet.
- G Keven Bouchard—QMJHL goalie has not distanced himself from the pack.
- D Ziyat Paigin—Enjoying a brilliant KHL season, he is signed to one more year in Russia. He could buy himself out of the deal (based on the past), but would he be guaranteed NHL employment in the fall?
Three young men who have made progress after being drafted—Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear and John Marino—could be signed but don’t turn 20 until 2017 and won’t be playing pro hockey in the fall. The cupboard is bare.
WHERE WILL THE PLAYERS COME FROM?
The Oilers have been signing graduating junior players to AHL-only contracts in recent seasons, examples include Mitch Holmberg (since dealt) and Josh Winquist (who has been building a successful AHL career). I think we could see men like Winquist, Josh Currie and Marco Roy (AHL deals) be rewarded with full NHL contracts as Edmonton fills in their pro list for 2016-17.
We might also see the Oilers be more aggressive in college recruitment and sign more graduating juniors. I spoke to Guy Flaming of TSN1260’s The Pipeline Show recently and he passed along some interesting names as ‘possible’ future Oilers and Condors.
- LW Dryden Hunt, Moose Jaw Warriors. A strong skater having a terrific year (52GP, 32-44-76) and he can score goals (good shot).
- C Reid Gardiner, Prince Albert Raiders. This is a pretty good player, surprised he wasn’t drafted last summer. Great release, 50GP, 31-38-69 and will soon score his 100th goal in the WHL.
- F Drake Caggiula, University of North Dakota. Another terrific scorer (23GP, 15-15-30), he has good speed and a range of skills. At 5.10, 180, he has to play bigger than his size, and the scouting reports suggest that is true.
- D Troy Stecher, University of North Dakota. Righthanded blue with all kinds of offense (28GP, 5-14-19) and he is an excellent skater. He sounds a little like Joey Laleggia, with a little more defensive acument to go with the offense (that is my read based on scouting reports).
- R Nick Betz, Erie Otters. This player comes via Brock Otten and his excellent OHL Prospects site, and Betz is a big power winger with average speed. What makes him interesting is size (6.04, 220) and offense (47GP, 15-24-39) that appears to be attached to net-front presence. Source
Starting this week, I will once again do a series of posts about AHL players who may be close to NHL-ready. Last year’s posts are here:
- Atlantic Division (mentions Colin Miller and Jordan Weal)
- East Division (many interesting players a year ago)
- North Division (Grigorenko and a couple others moved)
- West Division (Marincin)
- Northeast Division (Reinhart, Dano)
Edmonton grabbed Griffin Reinhart from this group last summer, and I do think they can help themselves at the pro level by dealing for these players at the deadline. Stay tuned.
Laleggia photo by Mark Williams.