The Oilers have some good up and coming prospects, so let me get on with it, and show you how each is doing in camp, and there chances of sticking with the Oilers this year:
Kelly looks like he’s earned a spot for sure. He’s been displaying the same great combination of speed, skill, and grittiness that got him into some playoff action last season with the big club.
It looks as though Mike Watt may start the season in Hamilton. He could stick, but will probably be one of the last players to be sent down to the AHL. He could be a call-up this season, however.
Boyd has been improving each day of camp and looks like he may win a spot. Devereaux really bulked up since being drafted 6th overall in the ’96 draft. He is now listed at 6’2″, 200 lbs. Look for him to be battling with Kelly between the 3rd and 4th line center positions.
Descoteax has been suprising a lot of people so far. He has really filled out (6’3, 220 lbs) and is steady both offensively and defensively. Although almost every defenseman can benefit from a season in the AHL first, Descoteaux could make the team right out of junior.
Sean Brown has made huge strides in his development and is challenging for a spot, and should make it. He’s got a nasty temper and, dispite his young age, is a huge physical presence out on the ice. In a game against Ottawa, he scored a goal on a blast from the point, got an assist, and really layed a beating on an Ottawa rookie who hacked at Bob Essensa. While he probably won’t be getting many points at any time during his future NHL career, he’ll prove to be a good replacement for Luke Richardson, with a much bigger mean streak.
Many have been dissapointed by Millar’s performance thus far. He’s been quite and not gotten into many preseason games, and could use some seasoning in Hamilton.
Joe Hulbig has had a quiet camp, dispite getting a long look on Doug Weight’s left wing. He skates well for a big man, and is a fierce bodychecker – perhaps the best bodychecking forward in the organization. He’ll probably play a lot of games, with somewhat limited ice time on the fourth line.
It’s obvious that Georges Laraque has worked on his conditioning and skating since last season’s training camp, but he may still be a year a away yet. He lost a fight to Vancouver’s Donald Brashear, but fared quite a bit better than fellow tough guy Brantt Myhers did against the French-Canadian goon. With the signing of Bill Huard, there’s no need to force along Laraque to the NHL. As tough as he is, he’s still only 20 years old with just one year of Pro hockey under his belt. Look for big George to have a breakout season in Hamilton.
Chris Hajt (pronounced “height”) will probably be sent back to junior shortly. He just doesn’t have it this year, but then again nobody expects him to just yet. He has shown at times what great things are to come from him perhaps as early as next season if there’s room on the roster.
Many feel that Michel Riesen could have made the Oilers this season. He could be the REAL DEAL. Michel was passed on by other teams for a few reasons, mostly being the fact that he was the first highly-regarded Swiss born and trained hockey player, and also the fact that many thought he wouldn’t even want to come over to the NHL. It turns out that Riesen just wants to spend one more year in his homeland and get his diploma, and next season will come over and fight for a spot. Riesen is a sniper who could prove to be the steal of the ’97 draft.