Top 20 Edmonton Oilers prospects usher in a new era

By Kady Hobbins

Jordan Oesterle - Edmonton Oilers

Photo: Signing former Western Michigan Bronco Jordan Oesterle was a smart move that added some needed depth to the defensive prospects (courtesy of Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire)

 

10. (12) Kyle Platzer, C, 6.5C
Drafted 4th round, 96th overall 2013

21-year-old Kyle Platzer is closing out his first professional season as a member of the Bakersfield Condors, where he has logged five goals and 10 assists for 15 points through 40 appearances thus far. While a far cry from his 81-point effort in his last junior season, Platzer appears to be adjusting well to the change of pace at the AHL level. Platzer has great hockey sense, moves the puck well, and seems to have a knack for finding the back of the net. He has been playing mostly sheltered minutes in his AHL career thus far but earned more ice time in the latter half of the season. It’s likely that his offensive production will increase as he is relied upon more heavily, especially with more time on the power play unit. Platzer will likely remain with the AHL club for the majority of 2016-17 as well, where he can continue to hone his skills and gain valuable experience.

9. (10) Anton Slepyshev, LW, 6.5C
Drafted 3rd round, 88th overall 2013

Anton Slepyshev has been making quiet progress at the AHL level in 2015-16, following an 11-game appearance with the Oilers at the start of the season. The decision to move him down to the minor league level was likely a good one, giving the winger who is new to the North American game a chance to build his confidence and get some wins under his belt before the Oilers re-evaluate the scope of the player they have in Slepyshev. He certainly has all the right tools and undoubtedly is an elite-level talent, but if the Oilers can afford to continue to take things slowly with the Russian forward’s development process, it will likely have a much better payout in the long run.

8. (20) Jordan Oesterle, D, 6.5C
Signed as free agent, March 2014

Jordan Oesterle is another name on a list of Oilers prospects who have had a taste of the NHL this season, mostly due to the bevy of injuries in the Oilers’ lineup. Slightly undersized and undrafted, Oesterle does not have the typical resume of an NHL defenseman who can eat up big minutes against playoff teams, but that’s exactly what Oesterle has done in the NHL this year, playing ten games total with the Edmonton Oilers. Logging four assists during his tenure thus far, Oesterle looks not a bit out of place at the NHL level, which speaks volumes about his progress since being signed by the Oilers out of college.

7. (NR) Adam Clendening, D, 6.0B
Claimed via waivers, January 2016

The Edmonton Oilers acquired defenseman Adam Clendening off the waiver wire from the Anaheim Ducks on January 27, adding another layer of much-needed depth to the team’s sparse blue line. While Clendening certainly won’t solve the Oilers’ need for a true top-pairing defenseman, the young rearguard certainly shows promise as a budding offensive-defenseman with a knack for quarterbacking the play. In fact, many scouting reports on Adam Clendening read similar to a description of Justin Schultz, who was recently dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Schultz experiment most definitely did not turn out the way the Oilers had hoped, but perhaps Clendening can fill that newly established void on the backend and carve out a niche role within the organization as they continue to build up their blueline.

6. (NR) Ethan Bear, D, 7.0C
Drafted 5th round, 124th overall, 2015

Although he was selected in the fifth round, Ethan Bear has become a standout among his peers from the 2015 NHL entry draft. Bear is a right shot defenseman with strong skating ability and an edge to his game. He’s slightly undersized, but plays heavy and possesses strong on-ice vision. He boasts 65 points in 69 games for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL – strong numbers for any player, let alone an 18-year-old defenseman. He recorded his first career hat trick in November, and is third among his teammates in scoring for the Thunderbirds. Bear logs top minutes every night, and is quickly becoming a leader on his team as he looks forward to a deep playoff run with his WHL squad.

5. (6) Jujhar Khaira, LW, 7.0C
Drafted 3rd round, 63rd overall, 2012

While the Edmonton Oilers have been plagued by injury throughout the 2015-16 season, Jujhar Khaira has benefited at an individual level from the team’s misfortune. He made his NHL debut in late November, holding his own against the increased level of competition. He was eventually returned to the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL in early January, where he looked to have refined his skills and found a way to put the puck in the net on a more regular basis since his major league stint. Subsequently, his performance earned him a second call-up to the Oilers in late February, before returning to the AHL to ensure his post-season eligibility. Khaira is the perfect mix of size and skill, and plays a smart, heavy game. His offensive production is trending in the right direction, and he seems to have left a good impression with the Oilers brass in his appearances thus far.

4. (5) Laurent Brossoit, G, 7.0C
Acquired via trade with Calgary Flames, November 2013

Brossoit continues to pull away from the pack as the Oilers’ most promising goaltending prospect, racking up consistent performances and a respectable .919 save percentage in his AHL appearances in 2015-16. When Oilers goaltender Anders Nilsson suffered a bout of inconsistency and was assigned to the Oilers’ minor league squad in February (and was subsequently traded to St. Louis shortly after), it left an opening for Brossoit to audition at the NHL level. He looked extremely impressive in his first few appearances, before coming down to Earth and chalking up a few losses. Certainly nothing to sound the alarm about and very typical of a young goaltender’s learning curve, Brossoit will continue to see some time between the pipes as the Oilers’ 2015-16 season comes to a close.

3. (4) Griffin Reinhart, D, 8.0C
Acquired via trade with New York Islanders, June 2015

After spending the first half of 2015-16 with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL, Reinhart looks to be developing nicely and is extremely dominant at the minor-league level. Whether or not he can make the jump and continue to make meaningful contributions at the NHL level will be his next test, especially as the Oilers suffer from injuries on the back end, most recently with Brandon Davidson. Reinhart’s strength and sheer size on the ice set him up well for success, and he appears to be working on improving his speed, an aspect of his game that he’s most often dinged for. He has been playing relatively sheltered minutes in his NHL stints this season, so it’s tough to judge how he’ll fare against the toughest NHL competition, but it’s evident that the Oilers have a player in Reinhart. It’s just a matter of harnessing the right tools and finding a way to carve out a consistent role on a blueline that’s virtually wide open for the taking.

2. (2) Darnell Nurse, D, 8.0C
Drafted 1st round, 7th overall, 2013

Darnell Nurse is in his first full season as an Oiler, after a two-game preview in 2014-15. At this point, the young rearguard is on his way to a top-pairing role with the club. While still inexperienced and carrying a fair amount of weight on a team that lacks blueline depth, Nurse has received mostly positive reviews thus far – save for a few bouts of inconsistency that can be expected as part of the development curve. Nurse is hard on the puck, extremely mobile, and finishes his checks, every time. His decision to drop the gloves in a one-sided tilt against Roman Polak on March 8 led to a three-game suspension. While it may have cost the team, and it did cost Nurse, there is a real need for team toughness and Nurse has realized early on that his role is to provide it. That said, playing smart in all areas will be key to unlocking his ultimate upside.

1. (1) Connor McDavid, C, 10.0C
Drafted 1st round, 1st overall, 2015

After suffering and subsequently recovering from a broken clavicle which occurred in November, McDavid made his long-awaited return to the NHL in February. The 19-year-old centerman didn’t miss a beat, picking up where he left off and performing at better than a point-per-game pace. He currently sits at 40 points in only 38 games played, keeping him in the conversation for the Calder Trophy race, despite playing less than half as many games as some of his peers. McDavid remains far and away the top prospect in not only the Oilers’ pipeline, but arguably possesses the most raw talent of any player in the league.

 

 

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