The Bakersfield Condors completed the regular-season schedule last night, closing the books on a year that landed just shy of the playoffs. There were major surges in fortune for many prospects in the AHL in 2016-17, and those stories headline this edition of the weekend update.
BAKERSFIELD CONDORS 16-17
- LC Anton Lander 42gp, 25-30-55. A monster AHL season, looks like he is headed for the KHL.
- R Taylor Beck 40gp, 13-37-50. Effective before being sent away on March 1 for Justin Fontaine.
- L Joey Laleggia 67gp, 20-18-38. He was a scoring machine after moving to left wing, going 39gp, 17-11-28 after January 1. That’s an NHLE of 17-11-28, making him a legit NHL scoring prospect.
- LC Josh Currie 67gp, 22-14-36. AHL-only contract, but he delivered a quality season.
- L Ryan Hamilton 47gp, 17-19-36.
- LD Jordan Oesterle 44gp, 7-25-32. He had another strong year, will be UFA this summer. Edmonton’s increased depth at LHD suggests he might be better off looking elsewhere for NHL employment.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi 39gp, 12-16-28. Significant offense from the 18-year old, his shot total (109) is perhaps his most impressive total. Easily the top prospect in the organization.
- LD Griffin Reinhart 54gp, 7-21-28. Struggled in training camp, had some back issues, but recovered to post a strong AHL season. Recalled yesterday.
- LC Jujhar Khaira 27gp, 8-12-20. Delivered a strong performance in the AHL, and earned a recall. Battled injuries afterward, should be regarded as a part of the Oilers’ future.
- L Scott Allen 57gp, 8-11-19.
- R Patrick Russell 68gp, 8-9-17. College signing delivered 150 shots but was snakebit with a 5.3 shooting percentage. I’ll be interested to see his boxcars next season.
- RD Mark Fayne 39gp, 3-14-17.
- R Jaedon Descheneau 38gp, 6-9-15. AHL-only contract showed well, he has enough skill to play for years at this level. Along with Currie, a candidate for an NHL contract.
- LD David Musil 47gp, 4-10-14. Played solid defense before being loaned to Tucson and the Phoenix organization.
- R Greg Chase 48gp, 3-11-14. Closed well, but will need a strong final year of his entry-level deal to earn a second contract.
- LD Dillon Simpson 53gp, 3-8-11. Earned his first NHL call-up and played well, he is likely to be one of the young veterans on Bakersfield’s backline in 2017-18.
- R Justin Fontaine 15gp, 2-9-11. I think there’s a chance he’ll be back.
- LC Jere Sallinen 53gp, 4-6-10. He delivered solid offense in the Sm-Liiga and KHL, disappointing boxcars in the AHL.
- L Anton Slepyshev 9gp, 3-7-10. Along with Puljujarvi and Khaira, one of the most promising forward prospects among Condors this year.
- L Braden Christoffer 49gp, 5-3-8. Transitioned from the ECHL this season.
- C Brodie Dupont 21gp, 2-6-8.
- RC Kyle Platzer 51gp, 1-7-8. A disappointing season from two-way centre. Has one more year on his entry-level deal.
- LD Mark Fraser 65gp, 3-3-6.
- LD Ben Betker 30gp, 1-5-6. Often forgotten, he is matriculating toward becoming an AHL regular and remains an intriguing combination of size and mobility.
- L Joey Benik 21gp, 4-1-5. College grad signed an AHL deal, had a strong ECHL season.
- RC Kris Newbury 14gp, 3-2-5.
- RD Bryce Aneloski 35gp, 1-4-5.
- LC Mark Olver 9gp, 0-3-3.
- LC Joe Gambardella 6gp, 1-2-3. Just enough time for a cup of coffee, he is very skilled and aggressive forechecking provides him offense from turnovers.
- L Mitch Moroz 17gp, 1-2-3. Injuries and depth role before he was traded.
- RD Matt Benning 2gp, 1-1-2. A fantastic college signing, he stopped for a quick cup of coffee before pushing his way up the NHL depth chart.
- RC Zach Pochiro 4gp, 0-2-2.
- R Iiro Pakarinen 5gp, 0-1-1. Spent most of the season on IR, but has been in the NHL for an extended period.
- RD Frankie Simonelli 6gp, 0-1-1.
- LC Evan Campbell 1gp, 0-0-0. Former draft pick remains unsigned to an NHL deal.
- L Evan Polei 1gp, 0-0-0. Has AHL deal for next year.
- LC Kellen Lain 2gp, 0-0-0.
- RD Ryan Mantha 2gp, 0-0-0. The first arrival of a promising CHL trio (Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones) we’ll see in the fall.
- LD Mikael Tam 2gp, 0-0-0.
- LD Ziyat Paigin 5gp, 0-0-0. He has signed his entry-level deal and will be in Edmonton this fall. It will be fascinating to see where he slots in on the depth chart.
- LC Henrik Samuelsson 5gp, 0-0-0. Played five games, didn’t impress.
- R Joel Rechlicz 15gp, 0-0-0.
- G Nick Ellis 34gp, 2.69 .918. Lost in all of the other fanfare about college successes (Benning, Caggiula), young Ellis delivered a terrific rookie year. He matched Laurent Brossoit’s first full season as an AHL starter.
- G Laurent Brossoit 21gp, 2.67 .908. NHL numbers (small sample size) superior to AHL totals.
- G Jonas Gustavsson 20gp, 2.42 .917. He played well after demotion, showing some strength of character.
2016-17 CONDORS’ NHLE (PROSPECTS)
I use Rob Vollman’s NHL equivalencies, including his accelerator on young players. AHL prospects are extremely unlikely to emerge as top flight offensive drivers in the NHL, but all prospects at this level have to project at least some offense to be considered a prospect. Joey Laleggia’s progress is encouraging this season, not because it guarantees an NHL career, but because it means there could be a player there. I’ve included Laleggia’s complete season, and then his season after January 1 (when he was used mostly as a forward.
I think it’s reasonable to conclude the brightest futures (among forwards) belong to Jesse Puljujarvi and Jujhar Khaira, along with Anton Slepyshev (not seen here, he played in just nine games). The only defenseman who delivered enough offense to be projected into that role as an NHLer is Jordan Oesterle. All other defenders on this list will have to make the grade as two-way or shutdown types.