Despite their late arrival into the NHL Edmonton has as many Stanley Cups as original 6 franchise Boston, one more then the rangers and their 5 titles are 2 more than Chicago. However their last cup win was 20 years ago and only once since then have they advanced to the cup final. The current scouting staff gets lambasted for bad picks like Jesse Niinimaki and Marc Pouliot while passing on players like Cam Ward and take your pick from 2003. However there have been some very good non first round picks and the cupboard is as stocked as well as it’s ever been right now.
Here’s a look as the Oilers prospect snap shot.
Top Forward:Jordan Eberle
5.10, 184, 52 GP, 46-51-97
While some might want or expect to see Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson in this spot, I go with Eberle because of his penchant for filling the net at clutch times. His ability to save a gold medal chance for Canada at the 2009 World Junior Championship, and almost doing it at the 2010 tournament might make him the greatest World Junior player Canada has ever seen at the event. He needs 4 goals in 5 games this year to reach 50 in just 57 games and if it happens he’ll push past the 100 point plateau as well. Eberle wouldn’t be considered the greatest skater, but he’s a little greasy in that he always gets to where the puck is and usually avoids big hits. With the Pats officially eliminated from the playoffs the question is do the Oilers send him to Springfield or bring him to the big club? I’d vote for Springfield and if he performs like he did last year with the Falcons (9 points in 9 games) then he earns a late call up to the Oilers. I just worry if he does come straight here, he might score some game winning goals and move the Oilers out of last place.
As for MPS I like his speed and ability to drive to the net. I wasn’t overwhelmingly impressed in Saskatoon but he showed me enough to think he’ll be a good pro. His immediate future with the Oilers will depend on a contract offer and the proposed make up of next year’s team.
Top Defenceman:Jeff Petry
6.03, 200, 36 GP 4-22-26
One example of how the Oilers have drafted very well outside of round one is Petry, who after a 45 point season in the USHL was named the U.S.A Hockey junior player of the year in the summer of 2007. After that season he joined the Michigan State Spartans and had a respectable 24 points in 42 games. Nothing went right for Petry or anyone at Michigan State 2 years ago, but he’s bounced back this year with 4 goals and 22 assists so far in 36 games. He’s big, skates very well and has great vision when passing the puck. He also has a heavy shot which earns him a lot of power play time, but he’s smart enough to know when to load up and when to send a smart wrister towards the net. The Spartan captain started the year with 7 points during a 5 game point streak and has 4 multi point games. I expect this to be his last college season as he’s proven he’s ready for atleast the AHL, and he’s 23 years old.
Top Goalie:Olivier Roy
6.00, 174 50 GP 29-20, 2.60, .910
If Devan Dubnyk hadn’t spent so much time with the Oilers this year then he would be the guy I’m typing about right now, but he’s been with the big club quite a bit so for me he’s no longer a prospect. Also after talking with a few NHL scouts I feel the Oilers are likely going to lose one of Dubnyk or Deslauriers next year to waivers so that means Roy will for sure be their top goaltending prospect. Roy struggled out of the gate with consistency and almost played his way out of a World Junior December camp invite. The good news did come his way, and while he didn’t make the team he has turned his season around since then. Roy is 16-7 since December 18th with a pair of 5 game win streaks in the mix. He’s a typical butterfly goaltender who relies on reflexes…some say a little to much, but usually gets the job done. Consistency will be his biggest challenge at the next level, but for the Oilers final pick of 2009 Roy is showing some promise.
Most Underrated:Chris Vande Velde
6.02, 207, 43 GP 18-17-35
A 4th round pick in 2005 Vande Velde has show improvement every season at each level. He scored 36 points in his final season with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. After a 9 point freshman campaign with North Dakota he put up 32 and 35 point seasons. Now in his senior season VV leads the team in scoring with 31 points n 33 games. An assistant captain, VV is terrific on face offs and uses his size well to protect the puck down low. Two years with NCAA stars like TJ Oshie, Ryan Duncan and Taylor Chorney, Vande Velde played a key roll on the Fighting Sioux power play. He’s not projected to be a big point producer at the next level, but a big strong centerman who can win draws, something the current Oilers team sorely lacks.
Buzz Worthy: Several players.
Firstly, as TPS first told you, Troy Hesketh has been listed by the Oil Kings, however as Guy and I have both stated we expect him to honour his Wisconsin commitment, at least for one year. If he does end up with the Oil Kings he would join fellow 2010 draft pick Cameron Abney on the team.
Robby Dee might put up as many points this year with Maine as he did in his previous 2 college seasons. He has 21 in 26 games and need 7 more to equal his first two years. Dee recently told Guy that he wasn’t invited to prospect camp last year, so It’ll be interesting to see if he gets a call this summer.
If Linus Omark is to come to North America next year it’ll have to be a one way deal, and the Oilers know it. I’ve been told Omark is as good if not better than any current small forward the Oilers have so to me it’s worth the risk.
Contract talks will also determine whether or not Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson leaves the Swedish Elite League for the Oilers next season. The contracts of him and teammate Anton Lander, a fellow Oiler draft pick from 2010 expire in Sweden at the end of the year. Lander isn’t expected in Edmonton, but if the Oilers make a sweet offer to MPS it might lure him across the pond.
Expect Riley Nash to leave Cornell after his junior season this year, while Johan Motin played his first NHL game this past Wednesday in Chicago.