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Photo Credit: Brian Liesse/T-Birds

You Make the Call

We are through the summer acquisition period and the Edmonton Oilers and Bakersfield Condors have collected names for the winter. Among the things I’ll be watching closely: New AHL defensemen Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, Ziyat Paigin and Ryan Mantha as they adjust to pro hockey.

  • LD Ziyat Paigin, 22. The most experienced of the new blue, he has played in 95 KHL and 5 AHL games in the past several seasons. A giant Russian (6.06, 209), the Oilers like him plenty. AGM Keith Gretzky was quoted recently in a Chris Westcott article talking about his skill and willingness to play in Bakersfield. That’s a big deal for Russian players and it can go either way. Bogdan Yakimov looked very close to making the NHL full time before getting sent down to the AHL. He didn’t stay long and is now back in the KHL, his North American career at least somewhat in doubt. Perhaps Paigin will be more like Anton Slepyshev, who has invested a lot of time in California working on the things required to become an NHL regular. If Paigin is in for the long haul, that’s a big deal. Scouting report: Paigin is a big man, who can play defense and use his giant wingspan effectively. He does post offense, but most of it comes from a mammoth shot from the point. Don’t expect end to end rushes or Erik Karlsson passes, but he does appear to have an NHL skill set. Speed and closing gaps are going to be the things that delay progress. Expectation: Among the four new hires, I have a feeling Paigin gets the first NHL call. Why? He’s a little older, has KHL experience and the quotes from Gretzky are glowing. Now, the Oilers say nice things about all of their prospects but based on the organization’s own established tendencies I can see the club rewarding Paigin for being a good soldier and taking the trip to California with a smile. Just a feeling based on verbal about smiles and fitness.
  • RD Ethan Bear, 20. If you make a list of things a player chosen in the fourth round should accomplish in the two years after draft day, surely Ethan Bear checked off all those boxes, and kept on going. On his draft day, the scouting reports talked about steady play, good passing, an excellent shot and the ability to play defense. Bear has continued progress, culminating in being named the WHL Defenseman of the Year. The award is aptly named the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy. Scouting Report: At this point in his career, Bear has the entire range of skills, it’s just a matter of honing them and figuring out where he lands on the depth chart. His shot may mea he gets power-play time and his passing ability will help there, too. I think he may take some time adjusting to the speed of the game (defending it) in Bakersfield, but the scouting reports from the WHL indicate he was effective in all areas. Expectation: He could emerge as a key player in Bakersfield this fall, and the fact he is a righty helps a lot. I don’t expect we’ll see him in Edmonton beyond a quick cup of coffee, but it is reasonable to expect substantial playing time in the AHL.
  • LD Caleb Jones, 20. I’m all about draft day scouting reports but most of those for Jones missed the mark. There were phrases like “lacks creativity” that implied he might be limited offensively. Wrong! He has been splendid in the WHL, competing with Bear in terms of points and clearly adding offense to his resume. Scouting Report: Mobile, good passer, Jones is like every other defenseman on the planet in that reading and reacting to plays is an ongoing item. His speed helps on both offense and defense, so his ability to recover is very good. Expectation: I expect he’ll (like Bear) work on the things remaining in his game while with Bakersfield. We may see him for a game or two this winter, and then have a much better idea about his NHL readiness this time next summer.
  • RD Ryan Mantha, 21. Mantha blossomed as a 20-year old in the OHL. Players often post massive boxcars in their overage year, that’s expected. Sometimes (Orest Kindrachuk is the first one I recall, mid-70’s) it’s something more than just being a year older than everyone else. Either way, the Rangers passed on signing him and Mantha posted some rocket totals (65gp, 17-41-58 with Niagara IceDogs) in his final OHL season. Scouting report: He is a big man with a big shot, plus he can play defense. The big change between the day the NY Rangers decided not to sign him and the day Edmonton signed Mantha? Foot speed, as described by Brock Otten of OHL Prospects. Expectation: He is probably the least likely to play in the NHL this coming season. I think he’ll spend the entire year in the AHL, maybe even get some time in the ECHL. Mantha is a fascinating prospect, is his late development real or merely an older player dominating young competition? We’ll know more in a year.

Two questions:

  • Among the four men, who do you think plays in the NHL first?
  • Among the four men, who do you think has the most impressive NHL career?

Let me know!

  • OilersDynasty

    Keep all 4 of them in the minors for the ENTIRE year. We have plenty of the D depth now where we don’t need to see them this year.

    The way I see it?

    Simpson – Stanton
    Jones – Bear
    Paigin – Lowe / Betker / Mantha

    Have Auvitu as the 7th D on the main roster.

  • Rusty Patenaude

    That is some impressive talent acquisition by the Oilers. Round 4 and later, yet every one of them has NHL potential. It is good to see that the days of MacTavish and Stu Mcgregor are over. Instead of zero talent Coke machines after the first round the Oilers are acquiring kids with real potential. I think either Paigin or Bear will find themselves called up for a quick cup of coffee sometime after Christmas.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Given Simpson and Stanton (and even Fayne), I would think/hope none of them see any NHL games this years.

    Paigan aside, you have 3 rookie pro d-men without draft pedigree – its the rare exception for that player to be NHL ready

    Paigan has pro experience and Jones has the skating – those two are the closest i would think.

  • Petrolero

    on mantha: “he’s probably the easiest to project, ……projecting him is difficult at this time”.
    that’s Lowe tide articles in a nutshell. They’re terrible.

    • Natejax97

      “Quote quote, blah blah blah”

      That’s your posts in a nutshell. They’re terrible.

      Thanks for the post lowetide and thanks for your awesome program everyday. Some people have no idea the work and time it takes to put forward articles like this every day. Real fans do. Appreciate what you do, thanks for what you do, please never stop doing what you do.

    • crabman

      Poorly worded paragraph for sure but you’re a dink if you didn’t get what Lowtide was saying.
      Easy to project what Mantha’s season will look like. Ahl, Echl duty. But hard to project what kind of future he has based on being a late bloomer in the OHL. Was he better because hecwas older or was he actually a late bloomer just starting to come on.
      I for one look forward to Lowtide articles.

  • toprightcorner

    First to play in NHL – Paigin, has more expirience playing against men.

    Best NHL career – Jones, you can’t overlook exceptional skaters on the back end.

  • Anton CP

    Bear is the most likely case that he will get some trail minutes in NHL. He should be a good option if he gets limited minutes and only for offensive zone/2nd unit pp.

  • Oil9744

    I think a righty defencmen is still definetly needed, Larsson is the only real solid righty Dman on the team, no offence to Benning who’s good in his own right but he’s still developing, I’d like to see Bear possibly make the team on the 3rd pairing with Nurse, I think Bear could be able to be more offensive if Nurse is back there as a shut down dman, sort of like how Lars and Klef play, he could also be a possible be a power play and points defencmen, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Mantha there as well being a big body, right shot defencmen who put up really good points in the O as well, hopefully he has the foot speed and he will be a good option

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    see how easy it is to acquire NHL/AHL talent on defence, MacT? it really isn’t rocket science if you work hard enough and don’t get blinded by trying to show every other team up by taking so gawd damned many long shot picks!!

    • Keepyourstickontheice

      This would be a pretty optimistic estimate for a group comprised of 3 late round draftees and a player another team declined to re-sign. I hope you’re right.

  • Cecil

    Great read, nice to hear the successes of these young oil drops!!!

    Not sure who will play first in the bigs or have the impressive career…..

    I’m pulling for Bear!!!

    I say

  • Mit167

    Of the three even if they all have great camps, only Paigin due to his KHL experience might stick for a few games, the same way Slepyshev did in his first year. If Paigin connects with some blasts from the point he might even stay and take some of Sekera’s time on the PP. As far as careers go… I think both Jones and Bear might become top 4 Dmen

  • Kepler62c

    I think Bear is the real deal. See him as a top 4 option who QB’s the power play.

    As for the others, I think Jones could have a career. I don’t expect Paigan to stay long, and Mantha I’m just playing the odds now that he can’t also make it. Hope I’m wrong and all of them have long careers in the top 4 for any NHL team.

  • madliberation93

    If I was a betting man i’d put my chips on Caleb Jones. Can’t teach mobility and Jones has that in spades. Plus his numbers this year look like more like an over agers statline. Don’t think he has much left to learn at the junior level.