The Bakersfield Condors signed center Josh Currie and winger Zach O’Brien to AHL deals today, giving the minor league team even more depth up front. The Oilers spent a lot of time in the early days of NHL free agency stocking up on players who may spend time in both Edmonton and Bakersfield, and now the Condors are adding to make sure the team will be competitive.
Interesting note: Edmonton and Bakersfield are not spending much time procuring defensemen in this procurement run. The Oilers added Ryan Stanton and Keegan Lowe to the group of players who may spend time in both cities. That’s good news for new pro defensive prospects like Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Ziyat Paigin and Ryan Mantha, and young prospects who have been in pro for awhile like Ben Betker and Dillon Simpson. Mark Fayne may also be involved but the Oilers as of now may well keep the veteran in the NHL.
Edmonton did sign veteran AHL goalie Eddie Pasquale, meaning Nick Ellis and graduating college man Shane Starrett will battle for playing time. The odd man out may spend time with the ECHL Wichita Thunder, Edmonton and Bakersfield’s new affiliate.
The signing of Josh Currie today puts Kyle Platzer so far down the depth chart he can’t see daylight. Here is my count for AHL centers currently:
- Brad Malone
- Grayson Downing
- Joe Gambardella
- Josh Currie
- Kyle Platzer
I don’t think Currie will play 4C, he was a very valuable player for the Condors last season and earned a two-way AHL deal today. My guess is that Brad Malone makes the Oilers opening night roster, due to his penalty killing and faceoff abilities. Gambardella is a promising college prospect and should get plenty of playing time. Platzer? He’s in tough for top 9F playing time.
- Ryan Hamilton
- Joey Laleggia
- Braden Christoffer
- Evan Polei
- Ty Rattie
- Mitch Callahan
- Brian Ferlin
- Patrick Russell
- Greg Chase
- Zach O’Brien
- Chad Butcher
- Dave Gust
My goodness the Oilers lack prospects at the forward positions, and have just three (Platzer, Laleggia, Chase) drafted players headed for Bakersfield. Those three could be joined by Jesse Puljujarvi, but the expectation is he’ll be pushing for top 6F time in Edmonton.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
In one way, Oilers fans should be pleased with all of these signings at each forward position. With so many young defensemen entering the system, having a strong and veteran set of forwards will be important.
On the other hand, how did it get this way?
- The 2013 draft saw the Oilers draft a large number of forwards, including Marco Roy, Bogdan Yakimov, Anton Slepyshev, Jackson Houck, Platzer and Chase. Good for Slepyshev for emerging, but you’d hope to have more of this group pushing from the AHL level toward NHL time.
- The 2014 draft saw the team choose Leon Draisaitl in the first round, and then just two more forwards. Liam Coughlin (BCHL) and Tyler Vesel (USHL) were from tier two and were going to take a long route to pro hockey, making them unlikely candidates to turn pro.
- The 2015 draft saw Edmonton take Connor McDavid in the first round, and then trade a large number of picks for Griffin Reinhart, Cam Talbot, Todd McLellan and Eric Gryba. In later rounds, the club added several impressive defensive prospects (including Jones, Bear and Paigin) but no forwards.
Peter Chiarelli added Drake Caggiula but he spent the entire 2016-17 season in the NHL. The Condors graduate Jujhar Khaira to Edmonton this fall, and probably Anton Slepyshev too. The next crop of forwards from Bakersfield amount to possibly Laleggia and or Gambardella, and then a long pause.
If you want to know why Mitch Callahan, Brad Malone, Ty Rattie, Grayson Downing, Brian Ferlin, Josh Currie and Zach O’Brien were added, there’s your answer. Expect the same a year from now and light a candle while wishing for Tyler Benson’s good health.