The Hockey News Future Watch issue dropped some time ago and I’m just getting around to checking out how the Oilers did. Now, this is one of my favorite issues of The Hockey News, my other being the draft preview issue, and in this year’s version, the Oilers were ranked 4th in the team rankings and given a grade of A-. Meaning they have the 4th best set of top-10 prospects and 21-and-under NHLers overall. Last season they were 7th overall with a grade of B+.
OILERS IN THE TOP 100 PROSPECTS
- Jesse Puljujarvi (no.2)
- Laurent Brossoit (no.78)
If not for Connor and Leon, I’m not sure how the Oilers would’ve made the top 15 in the team rankings and it doesn’t bode well that they’ve only got two players in the top 100. That being said, we don’t have to agree with writers over at THN.
THN’s OILERS TOP TEN PROSPECTS
- Jesse Puljujarvi
- Laurent Brossoit
- Tyler Benson
- Griffin Reinhart
- Caleb Jones
- Jujhar Khaira
- Markus Niemelainen
- Ethan Bear
- Aapeli Rasanen
- Dylan Wells
THN has a cut-off of 50 games where they’ve decided that after 50 games, a player isn’t a prospect but an NHLer at that point. But they also say that some players are too established to be prospects. Players like Sebastien Aho and Matt Tkachuk fall in the later category. Lastly, THN adds that some players revert to prospect status because they’ve spent the year in a development league or abroad. Those players would be guys like Valeri Nichushkin or Jake Virtanen.
BLH’s TOP TEN OILERS PROSPECTS
- Jesse Puljujarvi (RW)
- Drake Caggiula (LW)
- Anton Slepyshev (RW)
- Matt Benning (RD)
- Ethan Bear (RD)
- Laurent Brossoit (G)
- Caleb Jones (LD)
- Jujhar Khaira (LW)
- Nick Ellis (G)
- Griffin Reinhart (LD)
See, for my list, I define a prospect as a player that isn’t yet a regular for the Oilers or is playing in a development league. A regular is someone who gets in the line-up at least 75% of the time. I’d also like to add first year pros to this list.
Right away I imagine you’re asking yourself where Tyler Benson is and I’ll be honest with you, I can’t put a player on my list who isn’t playing games. 63 games over the past two years isn’t satisfactory in my books. When he did play he did perform though (42pts in 33 games) but it just worries me that a player this young is running into some major injury problems before playing a single game against men. What happens when (or IF) he makes the jump? All those stats he racked up in midget won’t mean a thing if he can’t stay healthy.
Pulju is no.1 and that’s to nobody’s surprise. I’ve watched 4 or 5 Bakersfield games this year and he most definitely stands out. His skating and puck control shines brightly but you’d like to see him shoot more. A problem with most young players is they tend to defer the shot to a linemate unless their name is Ovechkin or Laine, right? He’s putting up very respectable numbers down in the AHL for being most likely the youngest player in the league too. Do I see him as no.1 RW in 2017? I hope so. If he’s taking the Leon Draisaitl path to NHL stardom, I’ll be stoked.
I’ve got Anton Slepyshev up there because I feel he’s right on the cusp of being a full-timer in the NHL. He’s got all the physical tools and when I watch him he looks like a player who if given the right linemates and TOI could become a solid second/third-line sniper. All he wants to do is shoot but he needs to be more consistent and earn the coach’s trust, something that’s been a stumbling block this season.
Drake Caggiula and Matthew Benning are coming in right out of college and have displayed an adequate level of proficiency at the NHL level. Benning more so at the beginning of the season and Caggiula more so in the latter bit of the year. I believe both would’ve benefitted greatly with some AHL seasoning and a call-up after the trade deadline but it is what it is. I love both players’ willingness to compete and get their noses dirty and I see them as fixtures in the Oilers lineup for some time to come.
Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones are looking to be fantastic players and we’ll get to witness their development in Bakersfield starting next season. I’m not too sure what that knock is on Jones but Bear’s is his wheels, lucky for him that he’s producing some mad stats in Seattle though and I’m hoping he can improve his skating at the next level. I don’t expect to see these boys in a regular season game for Edmonton for at least two seasons but at that point, they should be more than ready to go.
We’ve been waiting for Laurent Brossoit for the better of two seasons and now we’ve got Nick Ellis coming. Personally, I like Ellis a bit better because his first go at pro hockey has had fewer ups and downs but with the chances Brossoit has been given this year, he’s shown that he’s got a bit of the organized chaos to his game and that entertains me. That could partly be why Todd McLellan has gone with Talbot more often than not too though.
Griffin Reinhart sounds like a hill that Peter Chiarelli is willing to die on and I’m willing to bet he’ll be the no.7 defender in Edmonton next season but I’m not sure he goes any higher at the NHL level. Is anybody else hoping that Chiarelli convinces Vegas to take Reinhart? Because he surely won’t get anything of value for him on the trade market.
Khaira, to me, will need more TOI to adapt to the pro game. He’s looks like he’s built out of bricks and he skates and handles the puck well enough. I think he lines up LW to Mark Letestu in 2017/18 and replaces Matt Hendricks if not lost in the expansion draft.
A final note on the Oilers prospects, where are the centers? It looks like the wings are in good hands, the defense is projecting well, and goaltending at the prospect level should be good to go for the next 4 years but the center position is lacking…
Here’s to the Oilers adding a Robert Thomas or a Nick Suzuki at the draft this summer!
I’m happy that the NHL has decided not to go to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. I think it’s time to give some other players a chance to show the world that Canada and the USA can send a competitive team made up of non-NHLers. I mean how curious would you be to see those rosters? Would they be filled with CHLers, CIS/NCAA players, European pros, or even recently retired NHLers (Hello Ryan Smyth)?
I’ve heard the question asked,
“Would you feel less pride if Team Canada didn’t send their best players to the Olympics?”
I wouldn’t and I think that Canadians would cheer even harder because it’d be that much more challenging (I’d hope at least) for Team Canada to get the gold. I mean what is the point of the World Cup of Hockey? Isn’t that a best-on-best tournament? What do the Olympics add to the ice hockey that makes it better than the World Cup?
Everyone is crying,
“I want to see Connor and Sid on the same line!”
Give me a break! It’s not even fun to watch Canada in international play anymore with Babcock at the wheel. All they do us park the bus and choke their opponents out. I wanna see Connor raise the Stanley Cup over his head before throwing that Olympic gold around his neck. I’ll say that first and foremost.
I wouldn’t like to see anybody injured during a World Cup or the Olympics but with the Olympics being in the middle of the season and on the other side of the world where I live, that’s a helluva change for the players to take on for a couple of weeks mid-season.
As for allowing certain NHLers to play who say they don’t care if the NHL is going or not. Well, maybe we could see some big names hit with some huge punishments if that happens. Perhaps the KHL will gain a few more notable names in their league. Like, did NHL hockey players NOT want to go play in the Olympics before 1998?
Anyways, what do you think about my prospects list for the Oilers and do you have an opinion to share regarding the NHL’s decision on its participation at the Winter Olympics? Let us know in the comments below!