Remember that list of free agent hopefuls the Edmonton Oilers brought in to take part at their rookie camp? I told you that there was a small but exclusive window of opportunity for the NHL club to sign any of those players to prevent their rights from reverting back to free agent status. Well, today is the day.
I've already gone on record with my opinion that Edmonton should make use of the chance to sign Kelowna's Stepan Novotny. For the sake of interest I thought I'd check in with how the rest of that list of invitees has been performing thus far in the junior season.
Kris Lazaruk - As far as I know he has yet to find a team to play for this season but he's too old to play junior any longer so it's probably a ECHL gig at best now for him.
Kurtis Mucha - Returned to a much-improved Portland squad, he'll either be a hotly sought after commodity for a WHL contender or a key piece in the Winterhawks return to respectability. Either way, as an overager I think he can be singed at any time by any other team now... but I could be wrong (I'll check but if you know, leave it in the comments section.)
Torrie Jung - In the same boat as Mucha, Jung is back with the Edmonton Oil Kings and is already off to a flying start after 4 games. He has a 2.21 GAA and a fantastic .937 save percentage. He's faced an average of 33 shots a night so it's not like he's been sleep walking his way through so far.
R.J. Anderson & Jesse Dudas - Both players moved on to AHL training camp with Springfield but failed to crack the roster. I have not heard if they have hooked up with anyone else.
Dmitri Kostromitin - He played with Montreal last year but is with Rouyn-Noranda this season (along with Oiler prospect Philippe Cornet). After 5 QMJHL games the 6'3 Russian has 6 points.
Dalton Prout - One of the guys who actually made it through to main camp, Prout has since returned to Barrie in the OHL. Not surprisingly, the defensive defenceman has yet to register a point after three games.
Adrian Van de Mosselaer - Back with the Oil Kings and has yet to record a point after 4 outings.
Oil Kings Michael Burns and Brett Breitkreuz are back with the WHL club. Burns is pointless but Breitkreuz has collected 3 assists in 4 games. Jeff Lee failed to earn a AHL contract in Springfield camp and has moved on to UNB to begin his CIS career.
Derek Hulak and Burke Gallimore got off to a terrific start in Saskatoon; After 4 games, captain Hulak has 5 points while local boy Gallimore has 6 points. Oiler prospect Milan Kytnar is pointless since his return to the WHL.
Stepan Novotny - He scored 5 points on opening night in a 6-5 shootout loss to Vancouver but then failed to hit the score sheet in Kelowna's next outing. He's back on track now though and has 9 points in 4 games, 1 point behind the league's scoring leader.
Jordan Skellett - Another guy off to a hot start is the Saginaw Spirit forward who has notched 8 points in 4 contests. The 5'11, 203 lbs winger has 7 assists.
So a few of the invitees are out of the gates very well. The Oilers made it clear to me that they probably wouldn't be signing any of these players though because of how many contracts they were carrying at the time. Of course since then, Rob Schremp has come off the books and freed up a spot. Liam Reddox is currently on waivers...
I still hold to my belief that the Edmonton Oilers would be wise to try and sign Stepan Novotny. Not doing so won't me they can't draft him next summer but it does mean that they won't be the only team in the running for him. Yes he went un-drafted this year but if he can continue on his current pace, he'll not only get selected but he'll be snapped up before the weekend is half over.
I ask you: what's better asset management... drafting Novotny in the 4th round of the 2010 Draft or signing him now and using that same pick on someone else?