We talked yesterday about the Condors forwards and the pipeline to the NHL. Since bringing all of the players into one designated farm team (the Oilers loaned out their players and had no team of their own for a couple of seasons, last decade) the club has had some success in graduating defenders. Based on the gigantic number of defenders turning pro this fall, there may soon be more names to add to the previous success stories (Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, Brandon Davidson).
THE 2015-16 BAKERSFIELD CONDORS
- Eric Rodgers does amazing work on estimating time on ice and NHL equivalencies, his website is here.
- The points-per-60 estimate here shows several prospects carrying substantial skill at the AHL level. Brad Hunt, Nikita Nikitin (veteran), Jordan Oesterle and Joey Laleggia could all be described as offensive defensemen at this level.
THE 2016-17 BAKERSFIELD CONDORS
- Rodgers’ TOI estimates are fascinating and suggest the club relied heavily on the top five men listed here. We may see all of Matt Benning, Jordan Oesterle, Mark Fayne and Griffin Reinhart in the NHL next season, but David Musil is still looking for work.
- Benning’s NHLE is an extremely small sample size and should be mostly disregarded. That said, he showed offensive prowess at the NHL level, so little doubt he would have posted an impressive number in the AHL.
- As of now, the only players under Oilers control who will return are Mark Fayne, Dillon Simpson and Ben Betker.
WHO MOVED ON?
- Jordan Oesterle. Signed a two-year, one-way deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, a major get for this player (and agent). He’s an older prospect, not yet established in the NHL, but his speed is going to get him a real chance.
- Griffin Reinhart. After two tumultuous seasons in the Oilers system, Griffin Reinhart was chosen in the expansion draft by the Vegas Golden Knights. Is he going to make the VGK? If you look at the team depth chart, there’s more story to come.
- David Musil. Still no word on an NHL deal, as the summer rolls along we may see a commitment to Europe. He can defend, it was always about the wheels.
- Frankie Simonelli. Has signed with the South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL) for the coming year.
- Bryce Aneloski. No word yet on his new destination.
- Mark Fraser. Still shopping, no 2017-18 team yet.
- Ryan Stanton and Yohann Auvitu. Both men could see AHL time but I’ll cover them as part of the NHL projection in August.
- Ziyat Paigin. He actually played some games at the end of last year with the Condors, but I included him here. The Oilers always tip their hands a little on players they really like and verbal since draft day suggests Paigin has impressed. He has pro experience so could arrive quickly if he flourishes in the AHL.
- Keegan Lowe. He’s a good AHL defender and projects (imo) either just above or directly below Dillon Simpson among possible recalls. That probably puts him No. 11 or No. 12 on the depth chart entering camp.
- Ethan Bear. His junior career was impressive and Bear enters pro hockey as a highly-touted youngster. I think Edmonton will want to make sure he adjusts completely to the pro game so we may see EV time early and then special teams mixed in. Then again, that shot from the point is going to be a weapon.
- Caleb Jones. The big advantage for Jones is speed, something that can be used on offense and defense. He matured a lot in junior and his ETA is probably in the same range as Bear. I’m still uncertain about who the better prospect is, usually rank Bear first due to handedness.
- Ryan Mantha. He’s a year older and we haven’t been following Mantha like the other youngsters, but he blossomed in a big way after being drafted. If he adjusts quickly, we may see Mantha higher up the depth chart than many project.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The exciting stories for fans of the Condors and Oilers this year are extremely likely to come from the defenders. AHL-to-NHL progression is probably going to take more than a year for men like Bear, Jones, Mantha and Paigin, and it’ll be fun to see them battle for playing time.
Any thoughts on which of these new hires will emerge as the best in the group? How many (if any) will have NHL careers?
Up next: Goalies.