Oilers junior prospects 2009-10 review

By Jason Flammia

The Edmonton Oilers have six prospects playing juniors, of which four played in the WHL and two in the QMJHL. They consist of five forwards and one goaltender.

Jordan Eberle, C — Regina Pats (WHL)

5’11, 184 lbs
1st round, 22nd overall, 2008

Eberle had a dominant year in the WHL, leading the Pats in goals (50) and points (106). He finished tied for second in CHL scoring despite playing eight fewer games than CHL point leader Brandon Kozun (107 points) of the Calgary Hitmen. At the Under-20 World Junior Championships in Saskatoon, Eberle finished second in scoring with eight goals and five assists for 13 points in six games, while leading Canada to a silver-medal finish. His eight goals placed him in a tie for most goals scored during the tournament. Perhaps the most memorable moment for Eberle at the WJC came when he scored two goals in the final minutes of the gold-medal game versus USA to force overtime, similar to his last-second heroics in the 2009 WJC semi-final against Russia.

While Eberle’s Pats would miss the playoffs at the conclusion of the WHL season, he was assigned to the Oilers’ AHL affiliate Springfield Falcons for a second year in a row. While in Springfield, Eberle would score six goals and eight assists for 14 points in 11 games for team that finished in last place (29th) in the entire AHL.

Eberle possess NHL-level skill and, with his recent dominance at the junior level and AHL, should have the confidence to make the Oilers roster next season.

Milan Kytnar, C – Vancouver Giants (WHL)

6’1, 180 lbs
5th round, 127th overall, 2007

Three games into the 2009-10 season, Kytnar was traded from the Saskatoon Blades to the Vancouver Giants. In 45 games, Kytnar scored 14 goals and 26 assists for 40 points, ranking him eighth in Giants scoring. His production increased in the playoffs when he scored two goals and 12 assists for 14 points in 15 games, helping the Giants advance to the WHL Western Conference final.

As a smart, two-way center, Kytnar has some decent offensive upside with above-average defensive ability.

Toni Rajala, RW – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

5’10, 165 lbs
4th round, 101st overall, 2009

In his first season on North American soil, Toni Rajala scored 25 goals and 35 assists for 60 points in 58 games, placing seventh in Wheat Kings scoring. The Finnish-born forward scored four goals and three assists in 15 playoff games while helping the Wheat Kings advance to the WHL Eastern Conference final. Rajala also represented Finland at the WJC, scoring one goal and two assists in six games.

Prior to the season, many scouts wondered if Rajala’s dynamic offensive abilities would translate to the North American style of play, and his 60 points proved he is capable of performing on the smaller rink. While Rajala’s slick passing and accurate shot are world class, he doesn’t possess the size and strength typically needed to succeed at the NHL level. Time will tell if he can make it.

Cameron Abney, RW – Everett Silvertips/Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
6’4, 198 lbs
3rd round, 82nd overall, 2009

Abney played 34 games each with the Everett Silvertips and Edmonton Oil Kings, moved in a mid-season trade. Abney set career highs in every category, scoring six goals and seven assists for 13 points in 64 games, while adding 123 penalty minutes.

Abney is a big, tough enforcer who is a willing combatant and sticks up for his teammates. But like most enforcers, Abney needs to continue improving on all aspects of his game in order to have any sort of professional career beyond the WHL.

Philippe Cornet, LW — Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
5’11, 189 lbs
5th round, 133rd overall, 2008

Cornet had a solid regular season playing with Rouyn-Noranda where he scored 28 goals and 49 assists in 65 games, matching his career-high point total from the previous season. His 77 points ranked him second in Huskies scoring and 14th in the entire QMJHL. Cornet continued strongly into the playoffs where he collected five goals and six assists for 11 points in 11 games. His biggest playoff moment came in the fifth game of the second round where he scored the game-winning goal in the second overtime frame for the Huskies against Moncton. However, Moncton would later eliminate the Huskies in six games.

Cornet was invited to Canada’s WJC orientation camp in December, but failed to earn a roster spot. As a hard-nosed player who loves to battle for pucks along the boards and in the corners, Cornet has displayed good hockey sense and a decent skill level with the puck, while continuing to improve all aspects of his game.

Olivier Roy, G – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)

6’0, 179 lbs
5th round, 133rd overall, 2009

While Roy had a relatively slow start to the 2009-10 season, his play got stronger as the year progressed. He finished second in shutouts (5), sixth in goals-against average (2.62) and eighth in save percentage (.908) among QMJHL goaltenders who played 15 or more games. The Screaming Eagles would eventually get bounced in the first round of playoffs, where Roy posted a .877 save percentage and 3.66 GAA in five games.

Roy’s play earned him an invite to Canada’s WJC orientation camp in December, but he failed to earn a roster spot. Still, Roy is an athletic goalie who made some decent strides this season and should continue developing into next season.