nurse williams 4

During Todd McLellan’s seven seasons in San Jose, exactly five players
classified as rookies dressed for 60 or more games—all of them forwards. In year one as Oilers coach, injuries forced him to dress two freshman over 60 games—including defenseman Darnell Nurse (all photos by Mark Williams). How many rookies this season?


  • 2008-09:
    Tomas Plihal (64 games);Jamie McGinn (35); Brad
    Staubitz (35); Lukas Kaspar (13); Derek Joslin (12); Riley Armstrong (2
  • 2009-10: Jason Demers (51 games); Logan Couture (25);
    Derek Joslin (24); Benn Ferriero (24); Frazer McLaren (23); John
    McCarthy (4); Steven Zalewski (3).
  • 2010-11: Logan Couture (79 games); John McCarthy (37); Benn
    Ferriero (33); Justin Braun (28); Andrew Desjardins (17); Brandon
    Mishinter (13); Frazer McLaren (9); Mike Moore (6); Tommy Wingels (5).
  • 2011-12: Andrew Desjardins (76 games); Tommy Wingels (33); Thomas Greiss (19)
  • 2012-13: Matt Irwin (38 games)
  • 2013-14: Matt Nieto (66 games); Tomas Hertl (37); Eriah Hayes (15); Freddie Hamilton (11)
  • 2014-15: Barclay Goodrow (60 games); Melker Karlsson (53); Chris Tierney (53); Mirco Mueller (39); Matt Tennyson (27).

pakarinen williams

Iiro Pakarinen played in 63 games with the Oilers in 2016-17


    • 2015-16: Connor McDavid (45, 16-32-48); Iiro Pakarinen (63, 5-8-13); Brandon Davidson (51, 4-7-11); Darnell Nurse (69, 3-7-10); Adam Clendening (20, 1-5-6); Jordan Oesterle (17, 0-5-5); Jujhar Khaira (15, 0-2-2); Griffin Reinhart (29, 0-1-1); Anton Slepyshev (11, 0-1-1).
    • Anders Nilsson (26, 3.14 .901); Laurent Brossoit (5, 3.61 .873)

    That is an enormous number of games devoted to rookies (351 games, the equivalent of 4.28 roster spots). I doubt Todd McLellan runs as many rookies in a season again, although (as mentioned) injuries impacted the 2015-16 season in a big way.

    khaira capture 3

    2016-17 ROOKIES (POSSIBLE)

    The Calder Trophy rules are vague, but I believe men like Jordan Oesterle would not qualify (six games two years ago, 17 this past season) under this portion of the rules:

    • To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played more than 25
      games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of
      any two preceding seasons
      in any major professional league.
    • Source

    Assuming the NHL considers itself a major professional league, Oesterle is out. Here are my candidates for 2016-17 rookies—how many do you think will play 60 games or more in the coming year?

    1. R Jesse Puljujarvi. He
      isn’t skating at the Orientation camp and won’t see the ice for a little
      more of the summer. Unsure what impact it will have on him, he is a likely NHL rookie this season if healthy.
    2. L Drake Caggiula. Speedy skill
      winger, NHLE is 22 goals and over 40 points. Edmonton badly needs skill players carrying value contracts—he could be one. 
    3. C Jujhar Khaira. Khaira
      performed well a year ago in his NHL debut, and I think you can make a case the club may prefer him to a player like Anton Lander in the coming year. 
    4. G Laurent Brossoit. I don’t
      see free agent Jonas Gustavsson as being overwhelming competition, and Brossoit may have the backup job sometime this year. He did struggle in a small sample
      size late last year, but the Oilers believe in him and there is no
      reason to keep him on the farm if he is playing well.
    5. LD David Musil. A reasonable
      option for 7D, Musil is a shutdown defender and could probably help on
      the PK.
    6. R Anton Slepyshev.  Slepyshev has speed and size, the question is skill. He could help the organization in a big way by shooting lights out in Bakersfield and forcing his way onto the NHL roster.


    I think the answer is one: Jesse Puljujarvi. All six names above are likely to play—and more, including (possibly) Bogdan Yakimov, Dillon Simpson and Joey Laleggia. Miles to go, but betting on the Finn seems reasonable from here.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        amen!! i personally am so sick and tired of the whining about Hall being gone and how little it’s perceived we got back. similar to the Barzal/Reinhart trade at last years draft, it’s going to continue well into next season, especially if we don’t have immediate success at the beginning.

    • Explicit

      I’ll be happy when they finally go a season without dressing any rookies. Sounds like Pjarvi might be ready, we’ll see in camp. Hope they don’t rush him unless he truly is ready.

      • Spydyr

        A team should have one or two rookies every season. You have to keep advancing. The thing is the rookies should not be eighteen or nineteen. The should have some AHL seasoning first unless they are extraordinary players.

        The Oilers through the “decade of despair” have constantly forced players into NHL roles before their time. Nurse is the most recent and a great example of this.

        From what I have seen of Puljujarvi so far he may be one that may be able to step in this season.

    • Burns14

      Other than Puljujarvi, I’d like to see the rest of the rookies only in injury call up situations. Is it just me, or is moroz and chase falling lower and lower in the depth charts? Man I hope those two can turn it around

    • Naterator

      It’s time these prospects start pushing for spots and actually start making an impact in the lineup. We just haven’t had that in so long and Is just another reason for lack of Oilers success. When’s the last time we’ve had a rookie who took us by surprise, Davidson is a nice start.

    • madjam

      Rookies make it onto to rosters because they are the best option for club to win , unless they are just giving a 10 game trial before sending them back . Unfortunately our clubs have been so weak last 10 seasons or so , that the rookies made the team because how poor our depth was , and like it or not they were the best option at the time . If you got depth then you have time to delay the timeframe for putting them on squad , but we are not that far ahead as yet to be constantly doing that like other teams can/have done . With our depth on RWing it would seem Jesse stands an excellent chance of being on squad this year , perhaps even on McDavid’s line .

    • Total Points

      Start Puljujarvi in the AHL.

      If not here we go again with stupid management decisions thinking 18 yr olds can play with men.

      Only rookie in the last 10 years who should have started on the big club is McDavid (but then again he did get injured playing against men so maybe he should have stayed in junior another year or went to Europe).

      All the rest in junior or the AHL. Gagner, Neilson, Cogs, Hall, Ebs, RNH, Yak, Nurse, etc.

      • madjam

        You did realize Cogliano went back to Uof Michigan for another year after he was drafted and Eberle never made the Oilers till 3 years later after spending his next two years between Regina Pats and Springfield . You did realize Hall , Eberle and Hopkins spent a half season during split season in AHL . Even Yak went back to KHL for a stint same year . All of them did very well their first years . Draisaitl was finally set back , and Nurse as well . They have been up and down as needed . I’ll give you Gagner but not the others . Who is Neilson by the way , a candy bar ?

        We had a 22year old Nilsson back in the days , but he was 22 by the time we traded to get him .

        • Seanaconda

          … the only reason hall ebs and Hopkins went to the ahl is cuz of the lockout. Same with yak for the khl. Otherwise none of them would of played in the ahl/khl. For the guy you’re responding to tho saying McDavid got injured playing against men he got injured during juniors too fighting. Accidents happen playing hockey.

          • madjam

            Do not put Ebs in same category as he spent two seasons away before he made the club . Despite that , they still did some time outside Edmonton practicing their games . Injury time happens to most players regardless of age , and Oilers a good example of that just from last year alone , age has little to do with it . If your good your generally going to be a target of opposition despite your age .

          • madjam

            Rather than trying to blame them , consider the poor base they had to deal with as the main reason we still remain in basement of league today , even beyond coaching .

            Did you see McDavid take us to new heights – no, so what does that still tell you about our supporting staff .

          • JimmyV1965

            You’re joking right. This can’t be a serious question. Anyway, the answer is because we played all those frickin rookies. We’re still one of the youngest teams in the league. Young teams almost always lose a lot.

    • knee deep in it

      Cagiulla is a decent bet to make the team out of camp. There is always one rookie who stand out and performs well. After 20 games, the league gets a lot tougher and the shine comes off.

      I am cheering like crazy for this guy because mew need a true shift disturber

    • Suzycue123

      Pool party goes October to June.

      Book it. The Calder too. About time the oil rooks don’t get screwed over by the nhl!!!

      Like seriously watch his highlights. Jesse is gonna surprise a lot of us.

    • Cubro

      Its actually not even close. Here are the top 10 most overweight/obese cities by percentage.

      1. Burntwood/Churchill, Man. 73.4%
      2. Colchester East Hants/Cumberland, N.S. 71.3
      3. South Shore/South West Nova, N.S. (incl. Yarmouth) 70.2
      4. Prince Albert Parkland Regional Health Authority, Sask. 69.9
      5. Nor-Man Regional Health Authority, Man. (incl. Flin Flon) 68.6
      6. Prairie North Regional Health Authority, Sask. (incl. North Battleford) 68.5
      7. Interlake Regional Health Authority, Man. (incl. Gimli) 68.4
      8. Kelsey Trail Regional Health Authority, Sask. (incl. Melfort) 68.3
      9. Central Regional Integrated Health Authority, Nfld. (incl. Grand Falls-Windsor) 68.1
      10. Sunrise Regional Health Authority, Sask. (incl. Yorkton) 68.1

      Nice try tho. Must be from Cowgary

    • Jammin

      I don’t doubt JP will be on the Oilers next year, but I do wonder if he’ll get time in the AHL to start the year just to get up to speed after his knee injury that’s going to keep him off the ice for another month.

    • madjam

      THE TRADE that nearly changed the Oilers future ? Did the Oilers back out of a 3 way trade last minute to get Puljujarvi , when Jarmo accidentally spilt his hand they were going for Dubois over Puljujarvi ?

      Blue Jackets -Hopkins and our 4th

      Flames -3rd and Sonny Milano

      Oilers -6th and Dougie Hamilton

      Did we dodge a bullet , or should we have done it anyways is the question ? Puljujarvi obviously has a lot of value !

    • 916oiler

      “…in any major professional league.”

      Still not sure how the KHL doesn’t count as a professional league considering they get paid (roughly as much as NHL players) to play hockey, which by definition is a professional hockey league.

      But, ya know, what good is logic right?

    • Ron Burgundy

      Over 60? Hopefully the answer is zero. Pulj should go to AHL to get his feet wet in the North American game, and earn his spot on the team by dominating at that level first. You know, like real teams do…

      However, due to injuries and late-season trades I expect there will be at least 3 who play more than 25:


      • madjam

        In case you were not aware of it , we are a real team . Cagguila has spent much time elsewhere and many in his situation have made the transition their respective teams without much difficulty and having to go the AHL route . Khaira has still not made the main squad after what , 3 years . Many 18 year olds inundate the NHL landscape now and we are no different in that regard . If their level at 18 warrants it , and best option , they make their teams regardless of what fans think . There is and should be no conspiracy to hold them back if they are deemed ready . Getting their feet wet is part of process of getting them ready , and their is no better setting than giving them some time in the NHL , and also help adapt to NHL life and it’s nuances , even if it is press box time . Like most clubs do when they are about to venture into playoffs , bring them up for orientation and perhaps use depending on injuries , etc.. Leave the coaching up to the Gm’s and coaches to decipher how best to integrate them . Now we can still agree or disagree on how they do that , as that’s what we fans do .

    • Dreadguy

      I’m not sure about the other new players, but I would be less worried about Puljujarvi making the jump straight to the NHL if his knee is 100% and he wins his spot in camp/preseason. He is big, strong, fast, and has been playing pro hockey against men since he was 16 (he’s 18 and has played 90+ pro games). If he struggles, has difficulty adjusting, or starts to run out of gas, then send him down. Other than Puljujarvi, I would prefer not to see any rookies on opening night.

      Off topic: Does anyone else think the home opener against the Flames is going to be a rough (violent) game? Nothing says no one can push us around in our new rink like a few dozen hits and maybe a few fights. Oh and of course a 5pt night from McDavid…

      • madjam

        By the time our first game starts , an animosity will have taken part in exhibition season already , and a clear message or changed attitude from Oilers would seem/deem appropriate . Let’s hope our special teams are ready to go early this year . Battle of Alberta to become much more intense . Looch vs. Brouwer round one .

    • Oilerproud

      I think pool party could be ready to play 60+. That’s about it but I believe Simpson could bring a solid LHD presence if his development path continued this season. He is very underrated as a prospect but his path has been very sound developmentally. He is ahead of Musil on my list.