A year ago, Laurent Brossoit was an easy choice for top Oilers rookie in the AHL. This season? It is a far more difficult decision. With 10 games to go in the season, here are your candidates.
LAST YEAR’S TOP FIVE
G Laurent Brossoit 49GP, .916 2.65.
Easily the class of the group, Brossoit is the best goalie prospect in
the Oilers system since Devan Dubnyk (who was a quality prospect).
C Bogdan Yakimov, 57GP, 12-16-28.
The giant Russian showed well in TC then headed to Oklahoma. It took
some time, and his season was interrupted by injury, but he led rookie scorers. His .491 point-per-game total wasn’t a strong number for a
rookie in the AHL.
D Jordan Oesterle, 61GP, 7-16-23.
Puck-moving college defender, a little older (22) than some of the
other kids and had some chaos in his game. He did get a recall to the
NHL as a rookie pro.
D Dillon Simpson, 66GP, 2-14-16.
Simpson was a rookie pro (despite being just two months younger than
David Musil) but improved as the season wore along.
C Jujhar Khaira 51GP, 4-6-10.
Along with Yakimov, Khaira impressed everyone with size, speed and
skill in training camp. Unlike Bogdan, the offense didn’t come in the
AHL in year one.
THIS YEAR’S CANDIDATES
G Eetu Laurikainen 13gp, 3.32 .904. The Finn took his
time to adjust, but a late run got him over .900 and I imagine in
position to fill the backup role next season in Bakersfield. He had some injury issues this year. If Edmonton uses Laurent Brossoit as the NHL backup—which is possible—Laurikainen could find himself in the starting role in 2016-17.
C Marco Roy, 34gp, 6-5-11. He is a new pro and a former
second-round pick, but the scoring didn’t come in year one. The TOI issue is always a problem when we evaluate, but he didn’t score a lot in the ECHL either (10gp, 1-5-6). I think Roy probably has more to give, but it may not be as an Oiler: He is without an NHL contract.
C Kyle Platzer 40gp, 5-10-15. Injuries and lack of
usage (no idea why the Oilers do this, drafting and signing players and then having them sit) but he tracked better than
Khaira last year (and about even with Josh Winquist of a year ago). His
two-way acumen should get him more work next season. Only 40, 2-8-10 at
D-F Joey Laleggia 53gp, 7-17-24. On defense, he has coverage issues (as reported by Scott Zerr and others) plus some of
those points came as a forward. Still, he is an intriguing prospect, and
his 5×5 numbers (53, 7-10-17 .321 points-per-game) show he is a solid
offensive option. Interested to see if Edmonton tries him at forward
again at some point down the line. His offense is comparable to Jordan
Oesterle as a rookie, as is his chaos. Fun player to watch.
W Anton Slepyshev 39gp, 10-7-17. Has slightly superior 5×5 stats
(39, 7-7-14 .359 points-per-game) to Laleggia, who of course is a defenseman. At 6.02, 187 he appears to have some
of the things Todd McLellan wants and he did win a job out of TC. 90
shots in those 39 games. His offense is in the range with Yakimov’s a
year ago. That is not the kind of number that suggests an offensive NHL future.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
I think it is a close race this season between Slepyshev and Laleggia. I also think last season gave Edmonton a far stronger group of rookie pro’s. Is there a Jordan Oesterle among this year’s rookies? If there is, I can’t see him from here. Then again, Oesterle himself wasn’t a clear choice last spring either.
(All photos by Mark Williams)