We are in the dog days of summer, not much shaking and several more miles until the World Cup of Hockey (which should be fun). In these relaxed days, it is a good time to look at the Oilers prospects and rank them heading into fall. I do a summer and winter list at Lowetide, but this one (done each August) for ON uses different criteria: On the ON list, I value being NHL-ready, odds of being a productive NHL player (as opposed to a top 6F or top 4D) and current opportunities on the NHL roster. Here goes!
- No. 20—(NR) R Patrick Russell, St. Cloud State (41, 20-21-41). College winger via Denmark (??!?!?!), he displays scoring skills and some power forward tendencies. Speed is the issue, and as with all players we haven’t seen this is a guess (but he can score).
- No. 19—(18) R Tyler Pitlick, Bakersfield Condors (37, 7-14-21). He has entered the period of his career where we can begin to use some phrases like ‘now or never’ and ‘journeyman’—these are not good phrases for a prospect. Still, the club signed him for another year and he will have a chance. Suspect he needs some luck, and a player like Iiro Pakarinen to fall out of favor.
No. 18—(5) C Bogdan Yakimov, Bakersfield Condors (36, 5-10-15) and Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik (11, 3-1-4). He will play in the KHL this coming season (on loan) and I am tempted to write him off (NHL teams rarely forgive a prospect for bolting, as BY did a year ago). That said, he does have potential, so he makes the list just in case this situation turns around.
No. 17—(NR) RD Filip Berglund, Skelleftea AIK (43, 19-22-41) (SuperElite). Berglund is a solid prospect with a range of skills. I have him higher on my LT list, but the young two-way defender is likely several years away from the NHL. He has size (6.03, 209) skill (41 points in 43 games in Swedish juniors) and a bright future.
- No. 16—(NR) LD William Lagesson, UMass-Amherst (27, 2-5-7). Lagesson is a very nice prospect, although much of his value comes from the defensive side of the game. He can skate, has size and a mean streak, and fans got a good look at his effectiveness during the World Juniors last Christmastime.
- No. 15—(NR) L Tyler Benson, Vancouver Giants (30, 9-19-28). Edmonton may have stolen a top 15 draft talent early in the second round. In a season where he was never healthy, Benson (like Berglund above) has a range of skills and could make the NHL as a checker or on a scoring line. Plenty of potential, and he would rank higher, but is probably at least two healthy seasons away from the NHL.
- No. 14—(17) D David Musil, Bakersfield Condors (67, 3-11-14). Big defender whose value is in his own end, he is NHL-ready and could make the big club this coming season. He is waiver eligible so the Oilers have to make a decision on him. Skills are duplicated by several younger players who are already ahead of him on the roster, so he may be blocked in Edmonton.
No. 13—(13) RD Ethan Bear, Seattle Thunderbirds (69, 19-46-65). He did everything right
in 2015-16, and another year like that one and Oilers fans will have a right to be genuinely excited. Unique among blue on this list in that he is both righthanded and one year away from his pro career.
- No. 12—(12) LD Dillon Simpson, Bakersfield Condors (57, 4-16-20). He is a fascinating prospect, because—despite playing in an organization with 4,000 lefthanded defensemen—keeps making small progress year over year. I don’t know how far he can go, but it is one of the really interesting stories in Edmonton’s prospect chain.
- No. 11—(11) LD Joey Laleggia, Bakersfield Condors (63, 8-19-27). Laleggia can move the puck effectively but is a chaos blue and undersized for the position. I ranked him higher on the ON list because Edmonton has a clear lead for a PP QB and he can deliver at the college and minor league level in this area.
No. 10—(NR) LD Ziyat Paigin, Kazan Ak Bars and Sochi HC (45, 9-19-28). What an incredible season. He saw his contract was purchased by Kazak Ak Bars—a place he
struggled early a year ago. That said, he blossomed in Sochi so should see feature minutes with Ak Bars. Among the things we might watch for? A
return to the KHL All-Star game, an honor he earned this past season.
No. 9—(NR) LD Caleb Jones, Portland Winterhawks (72, 10-45-55). Genuinely excited to see his progress, Jones true ability was obscured
by the scouting reports. His even-strength scoring in Portland, combined with impressive showings for the U.S. National team this summer in tournament play, mean he is a trending prospect in the organization.
No. 8—(15) LD Jordan Oesterle, Edmonton Oilers (17, 0-5-5) and Bakersfield Condors (44, 4-21-25). Oesterle has an excellent chance to make the NHL (for at least a time) at this point. Although he brings chaos defensively, his speed is extremely useful in today’s NHL. Already ahead of pretty much all fringe candidates, Oesterle has to beat out only David Musil (at this point) to win the final D job out of camp.
No. 7—(7) R Anton Slepyshev, Edmonton Oilers (11, 0-1-1) and Bakersfield Condors (49, 13-8-21).
I still like Slepyshev as a prospect, he has size and speed—but he was very poor offensively. Edmonton badly needs inexpensive complementary skill wingers, so he has a real chance to help this team during 2016-17.
No. 6—(NR) L Drake Cagguila, North Dakota (39, 25-26-51). The great thing about Caggiula is that his signing addressed a major
need. With all of the excitement over the Hall trade this summer, it is no wonder we overlooked it, but with the addition of Caggiula and other since the offseason began, Chiarelli has done a good job adding support in the skill wingers category.
No. 5—(10) G Laurent Brossoit, Edmonton Oilers (5, 3.61 .873) and Bakersfield Condors (31, 2.66 .920). His camp has to be encouraged by the UFA selection of Jonas Gustavsson,
and I think he will spend a lot of time in the NHL this year. The big question is can Brossoit beat out Gustavsson in training camp? I think he can.
No. 4—(20) C Jujhar Khaira, Edmonton Oilers (15, 0-2-2) and Bakersfield Condors (49, 10-17-27). He is now (imo) NHL-ready, and will probably be on the AHL/NHL shuttle all year long. You never know about prospects until they make the NHL, but he impressed me with his size, speed and ability to show up on the right side of the puck. Offense is a worry but he looks ready.
- No. 3—(4) LD Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton Oilers (29, 0-1-1) and Bakersfield Condors (30, 2-8-10). Reinhart played well by eye later in the season, and the underlying numbers are close to Nurse. What does that mean? I suspect he will not make the big club out of camp (there are cap bonus issues due to the presence of McDavid, Draisaitl and Puljujuarvi) but he may well be in the NHL before mid-season. Edmonton will want to get a good long look at him before the expansion draft.
- No. 2—(NR) R Jesse Puljujarvi, Karpat (50, 13-15-28). Dynamic player compared (by Red Line, no less) to Mats Sundin. I think the Oilers will try to resist throwing him into the deep end, but history going back to Sam Gagner suggests he will be on one of the top two lines on opening night.
No. 1—(1) C Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers (45, 16-32-48). Makes this list on a technicality (I use 50 NHL games as my graduation line in the sand), this young man is the real deal. Much to be
decided in training camp, although wingers likely to be Milan Lucic and
Jordan Eberle. Some of the early point predictions for McDavid are mind boggling, but he is so good it is to be expected.
Last year’s list is below, thanks for reading.