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?
MCLELLAN’S SAN JOSE ROOKIES
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).
Iiro Pakarinen played in 63 games with the Oilers in 2016-17
MCLELLAN IN EDMONTON
- 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
LD David Musil. A reasonable
option for 7D, Musil is a shutdown defender and could probably help on
- 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.
HOW MANY PLAY 60?
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.