ANTON SLEPYSHEV AND THE 2016-17 OILERS

slepy williams 1

The Edmonton Oilers are set at center (if Leon Draisaitl plays there) and left wing for the coming year, but the right side up front has some question marks. There is plenty of potential behind Jordan Eberle, but who gets the 2R job? The 3R role? Anton Slepsyshev broke camp with the big club a year ago, can he do it again?

THE POSITIVE

Last September, Slepyshev impressed Todd McLellan and the Oilers coaching staff to the point where making the team seemed possible:

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  • Todd McLellan: “He has the ability to play a
    heavy game and use his shot. He’s played with speed guys and with
    grinders … he’s getting better night after night and he’s really opening
    the coaches’ eyes.”
    Source

As a matter of fact, Slepyshev did make the Oilers opening night roster and hit the ice 31 seconds into his first game with linemates Anton Lander and Taylor Hall!

THE NEGATIVE

Of course Jordan Eberle wasn’t in that game and that was the opportunity that allowed Slepyshev an extended look in the NHL. Alas, the offense didn’t come, so he was sent to the AHL—where the offense also didn’t come.

bakersfield rw

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NHLE represents NHL equivalency, and that number is shy by at least a mile. If we are discussing a strong NHL prospect, Slepyshev should be far beyond the number posted here.

THE REALITY

There is a path to the NHL this year for Anton Slepyshev—in fact, there are several:

  • Injury
  • Struggles by Nail Yakupov
  • Jesse Puljujarvi not being ready
  • Zack Kassian being unable to fill a top 9F role.

That is a lot of ifs, but I think it also comes down to the player and his ability to adjust. It is pretty clear what needs to be improved:

  • Slepyshev on what he needs to do in order to get back to the NHL:
    “When the Oilers management sent me down to the AHL to play in
    Bakersfield they clearly let me know what I did well and what I needed
    to work on. I took what I needed to work on and have been developing
    those skills in the AHL. In my time in the AHL, I have learned to think
    faster on the ice and make quicker decisions. I also learned how to play
    stronger and win battles against the boards. I now understand what a
    smart decision in this kind of hockey is and I understand what an unwise
    decision is. I am trying to find the keys to success in this league. I
    have been working on things that will translate into points. Points are
    what I really lack.”
  • Source
  • Condors coach Gerry Fleming on what he needs to work on: “He’s got good skill assets. He just has to bring it
    on a consistent basis. There’s times when he was caught just standing
    around but I think that was just getting used to the league and the way
    the North American game is compared to the KHL where a lot of guys
    showcase their talents individually. Here it’s a smaller area to work
    with so you’ve got to use your teammates and you’ve got to always come
    to the puck and play on the inside. It just took him a little while to
    understand but he’s starting to grasp the concept and as a result his
    play has been better.”
  • Source

That is very specific information from both player and coach, and I think gives us tremendous insight into the player at this time.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

I think it all comes down to what Todd McLellan thinks about Slepyshev this fall. He liked his size, speed and skill a year ago, and there is going to be an opening at some point this season. This is still early days for the Oilers of Chiarelli and McLellan and there are spots on the roster to be won. Each season that passes will see fewer clear openings.

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A year ago, Slepyshev and others were chasing an opportunity that came about due to Jordan Eberle’s injury. We should not forget that fact this fall: Anton Slepyshev impressed some important people a year ago, and he could do it again.

Photo by Mark Williams. All rights reserved.


  • Spydyr

    I’m pretty sure the Oilers will have another centre in camp. If there is a chance to pick up a young centre that just failed to make another(better) team I hope the Oilers pick him up on waivers before the start of the season.

    The team is one injury away from having Letestu as their third line centre and last year proved how well that worked out.

    Depth is key at centre,defence and goal and the Oilers are weak depth-wise in all three areas.

      • Spydyr

        Well the one thing Oiler fans are accustomed too is a disaster season.

        The thing that scares me the most is Goal. Talbot struggled badly for a entire month last season.

      • RJ

        Not sure why this got so many thumbs down.

        The top four centres are fine, good even. But if one or more go down during the season, then the 3/4 C positions are going to be weak and/or untested.

        There is depth at LHD, but not on the right side. If Larsson or Fayne go down, is there any defenceman that can step in? Maybe Sekera or Davidson, but then you weaken the LHD to strengthen the RHD.

        Talbot started off poorly, but rebounded to post average numbers for the season. He’s not going to win the Vezina, but the goaltending was better than it was under Eakins. But if Talbot goes through a brutal stretch like last season, who is there to replace him? Last season he was out-performed by Nilsson, but we can’t expect the Monster to do likewise.

        If the Cs, D, and G all remain healthy, then we will see what PC has put together. But that’s a big if since Klefbom is made of glass.

        • daryl

          Not sure about your point we have an AHL team with some depth we have good quality players coming to camp that will add to it. Your can only dress 23 players so every team in the NHL is vulnerable to injuries it is a fact of the new NHL. Your comment on Klefbom is totally out to lunch last year had nothing to do with his injuries but for the fact he had a staph infection you or I could have had one.

          • Serious Gord

            Staph infections are far more common among athletes than the general population.

            And enough damage was done to the ankle that apparently he now wears a custom-made skate to avoid irritating the area.

            He could be brittle, or he could be Gordie Howe – a player who had several severe injuries early in his career. I lean toward the former.

          • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

            As much as I’ve disagreed with Gord, this is the reality of that injury to the point of being scary!!

            We know he got a custom skate done, we know he’s skated on it, yet we don’t have any information of how his injury or the skate held up?

            the silence from the Oilers on the player doesn’t help.

          • RJ

            Lets use a comparable.

            For an ELC, there are 246 regular season games.

            Seth Jones has played 240 out of 246 games. That’s 97.5%.

            Klefbom has played 107 out of 246 games. That’s 43.5%.

            If I was looking at the blueline for CBJ and Edmonton, it’s probably safer to project Seth Jones playing close to a full season, since he always comes pretty close. Klefbom has never played a full season, so I don’t know you would project he suddenly becomes healthy.

            It would be nice if Klef could ever play a full season, but at this rate, Nurse is going to pass him in GP.

            They should have traded him when they had the chance.

          • TruthHurts98

            They still can trade him. Probably package a forward and/or LHD prospect and get a good RHD. Rolling the dice that Oscar stays healthy this year. We have plenty of LHD men.

          • Moe Sizzlack

            Due to his injuries I’d rather trade him instead of Nurse for the RHD we need ..(anyone who loves Davidson, JUST WAIT til Nurse is Davidsons age)

            But at the same time id like to keep Oscar and see how him and his fellow swede Larsson do playing together .,

    • Rock11

      Show me please the depth chart of the team who would not have a significant downgrade if one of their top 3 centres got hurt.

      Name the team. Show me the depth chart. If not then for the love of Gord quit using that Letestu line. Seen it 72 times at least.

  • OilCan2

    Slep may have another great camp. The addition of Kassian and Puljujarvi will see him starting in the AHL most likely. No matter where he skates to start the season I think we have a good player here.

  • WhoreableGuy

    It was refreshing to see the new GM Chiarelli send Slepyshev down to the minors instead of trying to play him with the Oilers until he’s NHL ready like the Old Boys would have done.

  • baxwar_580

    Cheering for Sleps and Pittlick to grab a spot this fall but I’m also happy with the other RW options as well. There is going to be lots of competition at camp for those RW spots. It’s gonna be good.

  • Glass

    Feels like a lot of people have given up on Slepyshev as a substantial RW prospect. I still think he can make it.

    With Eberle as our #1 and Puljujarvi projected as our #2 RW in the not so distant future, (before the end of the season possibly) one of our many RW prospects need to step up and grab the middle six role.

      • hockey1099

        Nope I’m a Tier one fan. Just realize this guy missed his window last year when we still needed size. With the addition of maroon kassian and Lucic we no longer have a need for guy that can play a heavy game with no scoring potential.

        • Moe Sizzlack

          Settle ther Rock’em Sock’em!

          He hardly knew English and was adjusting to the smaller ice ..

          I have more faith in him long term then Pitlick and Pakarainen that’s forsure..

          75% of the guys we have in Bakersfield would not be the Russian Captain at the world Jr’s let alone make the team (had they been Russian of course).. Which slep was.

          🙂

  • FISTO Siltanen

    This season will be like 96/97.

    Back in the playoffs with an imperfect team followed by a 1st round upset.

    20 years later and the magic of the Oilers returning with be relived. Buckle up kids.

  • Moe Sizzlack

    Not related to the post but since u guys changed the stupid wall paper / background pictures (which we can’t see anyway) this site takes longer to load and makes it less intriguing to look at …

    Just saying ..

  • camdog

    The problem with Talbot last season was that when the games really mattered he struggled. Scrivens came in here and did much the same thing. The difference between Talbot and Scrivens is that when they went to the World Championships, when there was pressure to win, Talbot played quite well, while Scrivens struggled. I don’t like the Oilers back up goalie, they could and should have did better, but I like Talbot going into the season.

  • camdog

    I would love to go through an entire season where the Oilers didn’t have to flip a winger into the C spot for multiple games. Other teams for some reason tend to have extra centres kicking around.