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Spree of promotions, offers and giveaways leaves Edmonton Oilers' stock of prospects in low provide

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2023 Edmonton Oilers prospects
Preview / depth hopefuls #21-27

There’s excellent news and dangerous information about Edmonton Oilers’ prospects.

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The excellent news: we’re far, far faraway from that stage of the cycle the place the #1 prospect is an important participant within the group or on the very, very quick record. As a now thirteen-year contributor to the Cult of Hockey‘s annual Oilers Prospects collection, I recall that lengthy stretch between 2010 and 2018 that the Edmonton’s high prospect was their most up-to-date #1 draft choose, and that in eight of these 9 years the newly-drafted hopeful began the next season within the NHL. As a rule, stated participant graduated from our prospects record whereas nonetheless a teen.

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The dangerous? Edmonton’s prospect pool is considerably depleted of each high-end prospects and in depth of numbers.

Now the Oilers are nearing the opposite aspect of the wheel, in annual competition and with short-term priorities which at instances can and should override longer-term concerns. Three impacts of this:

  • Their picks are typically decrease within the draft, so they’re extremely unlikely to make a untimely soar. Nonetheless, an excellent system ought to graduate a few of their very own choose from minor professional frequently.
  • GM Ken Holland has established a typical apply of buying and selling out draft picks for participant leases, wage retention and/or wage disposition.
  • In 2022-23, Holland traded a few already-drafted prospects along with future draft picks, additional depleting the pipeline.

Right here on the Cult of Hockey we outline “prospects” as these signed to NHL-class contracts (the 50-man record) or on the membership’s reserve record of drafted-but-unsigned gamers whereas excluding these signed to AHL-class contracts. The variety of gamers within the system has been persistently sloping downwards these previous few years.

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Number of prospects by year

2022 prospects revisited

Let’s check out what occurred to final 12 months’s prospect pool, already at its shallowest level within the McDavid period with simply 31 hopefuls. This 12 months that’s means all the way down to 27 due to a surfeit of exits and a deficit of additives, persevering with an current development.

Current status of Oilers' 2022 prospect list

No fewer than 5 gamers have “graduated” up to now season, a hit by one definition at the same time as questions linger over a number of of them:

  • Philip Broberg (46 GP in 2022-23) is now 4 years faraway from being a #8 total choose, and has but to ascertain himself as a full-time top-six defender, not to mention a high 4.
  • Dylan Holloway (51 GP) confirmed loads of promise but additionally discovered himself on the margins, and finally within the minors.
  • Stuart Skinner (50 GP) was a roaring success, making the All-Rookie Staff and ending runner-up within the Calder Trophy voting. Hardly an in a single day success in his Draft +6 12 months. His tremendous season did finish on a down notice with a troublesome collection in opposition to Vegas.
  • Markus Niemelainen (23 GP) performed his most up-to-date NHL sport the night time earlier than Vincent Desharnais‘ performed his first (of 36). Each of their Draft +7 season, the 2 giants performed 59 video games between them however not as soon as had been each dressed. Given Desharnais’ robust end to the season and presence in all twelve playoff video games, he appears nearer to a full-time NHLer than does Niemo, however for our functions each have graduated as prospects.

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Skinner was the one one of many 5 to spent your entire season in Edmonton, additional proof that transitioning from prospect to common on a crew as strong because the Oilers is a multi-year proposition. The 24-year-old netminder himself spent the prior two seasons on the merry-go-round between Bakersfield, Edmonton and the taxi squad earlier than the expiry of his waiver-exempt standing lastly pressured the difficulty.

Then there are all these trades. Final 12 months’s first-rounder and #5 prospect Reid Schaefer was included within the huge bundle that introduced Mattias Ekholm on board for the stretch drive and for the longer term. Defence undertaking Dmitri Samorukov was traded for ahead undertaking Klim Kostin, since departed however useful for a time. One other promising teen, huge rearguard Michael Kesselring, was dealt on the deadline in a bundle for rental Nick Bjugstad.

Backside line: the Oilers had no fewer than six starters on their playoff roster — Skinner, Broberg, Desharnais, Ekholm, Kostin, Bjugstad — who in a method or one other had been merchandise of final 12 months’s group of prospects.

Edmonton additionally suffered the disappointing lack of Noah Philp to retirement after what had been a really promising first skilled season within the AHL that had him pushing for a spot inside the highest 5 of my private prospects record. He had a really first rate likelihood of snaring a spot (presumably Bjugstad’s) within the backside six, however identical to that, he’s out of the working.

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And with 4 draft picks traded, the Oilers added a mere three newcomers to their depth chart through that route, with simply second-rounder Beau Akey within the combine within the foreseeable future. The squad did add a trio of entry-level free brokers, and added intriguing 20-year-old prospect in Jayden Grubbe through commerce. Add all of it up and final 12 months’s record has been closely culled, particularly close to the highest.

So let’s transfer on to this 12 months’s rankings, the cumulative output of a panel of voters which for years has included the Cult of Hockey’s homegrown trio of David Staples, Bruce McCurdy and Kurt Leavins, and our Edmonton Journal colleague and long-time Oilers scribe Jim Matheson. This 12 months we’ve invited pal of the weblog Ira “Authentic Pouzar” Cooper to take part, who along with being a tremendous emergency podcaster is an in depth follower of Edmonton’s prospects, particularly these within the AHL.

As per custom we’ll begin our countdown on the backside:

Prospects #21-27

#27 LW Jeremias Lindewall (last year #31), age 21, 6’2, 183 lbs, drafted #200 in 2020.
Lindewall has “jumped” four spots to #27, but that’s an illusion. He’s bottom of the list for the second straight year, and no wonder after a dismal campaign in HockeyAllsvenskan (Sweden’s second division) saw him post just 2-4-6, -16 in 35 GP. Edmonton’s four-year window to sign this player expires on 2024 Jun 01, and will surely do so without incident.

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#26 C Maxim Denezhkin (last year #28), age 22, 5’10, 165 lbs., drafted #193 in 2019.
A small, skilled centre, Denezhkin appears to be running in place over the past three years in the VHL (Russia’s second division), with points-per-game rates of 0.65, 0.75 and most recently just 0.57. The Oilers hold his rights indefinitely, and it may well be that long before they act on them.

#25 C Tomas Mazura (last year #30), age 22, 6’4, 205 lbs., drafted #162 in 2019.
The pivot is certainly tall, though by eye at the the recent development camp he looked a lot slimmer than his listed weight. He showed some nice skill with the puck on his stick but didn’t stand out as one might expect for a returnee to this camp. He had a decent sophomore year in the NCAA with 3-9-12 in 28 games, but he’s way behind the curve having played just 39 games total over the past THREE seasons combined. Oilers hold his rights until August of 2025.

#24 G Nathaniel Day (new to list), age 18, 6’2, 181 lbs., drafted #184 in 2023.
Posted a decent 17-10-0 record with middle-of-the-pack Flint in the OHL, but his percentages were decidedly mediocre at 3.91 goals-against average and .874 save percentage. Still just building his résumé as a draft-and-follow. Rights to 2025.

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#23 C Matt Copponi (new to list), age 20, 5’11, 174 lbs., drafted #216 in 2023.
Undersized pivot was already 20 when drafted, but is showing some nice arrows including a surge from 9 to 29 points in his sophomore year at Merrimack College. A right-shot centre, Copponi is considered a strong defensive centre and showed some nice flashes with the puck on his blade at Dev Camp. Rights until 2025.

#22 G Samuel Jonsson (last year #24), age 19, 6’5, 201 lbs., drafted #158 in 2022.
Johnsson showed real signs of improvement in his second full year in Swedish juniors, some of it due to playing on a different, better team. But a rise in save percentage from .883 to .902 and concurrent drop in goals-against average from 3.25 to 2.65 are definitely worth noting. So too are his fine playoffs: 6-0-0, 2.09, .927. He’ll turn pro this season in HockeyAllsvenskan. Oilers hold his rights until 2026.

#21 C Carl Berglund (new to list), age 23, 6’2, 207 lbs., signed as an undrafted free agent in 2023.
He hit the open market in March after his four-year career at U-Mass Lowell came to an end and soon came to terms with Edmonton on a two-year ELC. Berglund was immediately inserted into the line-up in Bakersfield but with little impact (0 points in 6 GP, then no playoff action). He is tabbed as a smart positional and defensive player with marginal offence.


Seven players covered today, of whom the first six were drafted after #150 overall and remain longshots at best, each likely two or more years away from signing a pro contract on this side of the pond.

Having an actual NHL-class contract is what sets Berglund apart from the rest of those covered in this post, even as he was the only one not to be drafted at all. He too is of course a long shot, but at least he’ll be playing pro games in North America and will get his chance to make an impression on the organization in real time.

Not impossible that one of these seven long shots might make it — heck, both Desharnais and Niemelainen ranked #33 on this list at different points and both have now graduated. But those are exceptions to the rule which holds fast for the large majority of depth prospects.


Oilers to invite veteran forward Brandon Sutter on PTO

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This one got here from left discipline, on condition that Brandon Sutter hasn’t performed for the final two seasons as he battled Lengthy COVID. He wasn’t recognized for his foot pace previous to that — he’s, in any case, a Sutter — and two years off the blades on the now superior age of 34 makes him a protracted shot. On the plus aspect he’s huge, skilled, a right-shot centre with confirmed aptitude on the penalty kill. Sutter has performed 770 NHL video games with simply three groups — Carolina, Pittsbugh Vancouver, with over 200 GP for every membership.

No hurt in giving him a glance (until he’s the following Kirill Tulupov). The Oilers do have a packed preseason slate with eight video games in 13 days, with a minimal variety of veterans required for every, so it’s seemingly they’ll add a few gamers by this route within the weeks to return.

Lately on the Cult of Hockey

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McCURDY: Edmonton beats Vegas handily right here

LEAVINS: The doubtless transformative hiring of Jeff Jackson — 9 Issues

STAPLES: The 14% solution to keeping the Edmonton Oilers core intact

McCURDY: Jeff Jackson makes strong first impression as Oilers CEO

McCURDY: Oilers hire McDavid’s agent as CEO

Follow me on X-Twitter @BruceMcCurdy

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