Oilers CHL prospects update

By Guy Flaming





The Edmonton Oilers have a total of ten players listed across the three<br />Canadian Major Leagues and for the most part

The
Edmonton Oilers have a total of ten players listed across the three Canadian
Major Leagues and for the most part, they are all having seasons the
organization was hoping they would.  Through
the early stages of the schedule, several of the players were leading their teams
in scoring and even now two months later, three continue to do so.

 

The Very, Very Good

Rob
Schremp, C

– London Knights (OHL)

size=”1″ face=”Arial”>TeamGPGAPts+/-PIMs
London18243660920

After
almost cracking Edmonton’s NHL roster in September, Schremp was reassigned to
the London Knights.  The decision to
cut Schremp was a tough one, but by the end of training camp the talented sniper
had not produced on the scoreboard as much as hoped for.  Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe said that a lot of things made their
way into the decision-making process including the scenario of burning a year
off of Schremp’s contract at a time when his contribution in the NHL appeared
as though it would be limited to special teams.

It
factors in, no question,” admitted Lowe. 
“It’s not big enough in itself, but it’s one of a number of
things.” 

“With Schremp, and
I’ll be frank, the risk and the reward is how much will he develop here and
how much would he develop in junior,” Lowe continued. 
“Once you get in the season if it turns out he’s in a little bit too
much over his head, does it hurt his confidence to send him back to junior
again?  We’ve been analyzing this
all along.  He’s here knocking on
the door; he’s come a long way from the guy teams passed on. 
He’s got to get bigger and stronger and does that happen better in
junior or here?” 
 

Privately
the Oilers were very concerned with how their future star would respond to the
demotion; would he go down and work his butt off to address the concerns the
club had or would he head to London and pout?

Clearly,
Schremp is doing everything but moping.

With
60 points in just 18 games, the 2004 first round pick has been tearing up the
OHL.  His scoring pace of 3.33
points per game would be the third highest every recorded in the CHL alongside
Pat LaFontaine who ended 1982-83 with 234 points for Verdun. 
That torrid pace is only behind Mario Lemieux (4.03) and Pierre Larouche
(3.75).  Bobby Smith’s mark of 192
points (2.82 per game) set an OHL standard back in 1977-78 that has not been
equaled since.

By
comparison, 2004-05 scoring champ Corey Perry (ANH) had recorded 41
points after his first 18 games.  Schremp
was named the OHL’s Player of the Month for October. 


In
terms of what is happening offensively, I don’t think he’s even being
challenged this year to be honest with you,” said Geoff Ward, Edmonton’s
Developmental Coach.  “He scores
at will against a lot of the goaltenders because they don’t have a chance to
react to what he’s doing.”

With the bulk of his
point production coming with the man advantage, some critics have expressed
concern over his even strength play. 

“That’s a bit
misleading,” countered Ward, “It’s easy to take a look at all the numbers
he puts up on the power play and think that he needs to step up five-on-five, but
right now until the junior guys adapt to the new rules, and the refs, we’re
going to continue to see it.”

Still, there are
certainly issues for Schremp to focus on including his conditioning and his
defensive play.

“He’s got to get
stronger and quicker, he has to get better defensively with his reads like all
young players do in terms of getting back in his zone, not turning off checks,
all those things,” continued Ward.  “If
he doesn’t do that, what you’re going to find is that he doesn’t have the
opportunity to play with the puck that much because in the pro game you create
offense with your defense by turning the puck over and going the other way.  If he’s not capable of playing defensively, he’s not
going to get the puck and the opportunities to do those things with it. 
He’s going to have to stay motivated in a daily basis to try and work
on those things.”

 

Slava Trukhno, LW
– P.E.I. Rocket (QMJHL)

TeamGPGAPts+/-PIMs
P.E.I.21112738037

There were those in
the Edmonton organization who quietly held the opinion that recently drafted
Russian Viatcheslav Trukhno was headed for great things this year in PEI. 
The Rocket made offseason changes to their coaching staff and incoming
bench boss Yanick Jean had voiced his intentions to lean heavily on Trukhno.

The proof is in the
pudding, or on the score sheet, and obviously Trukhno has risen to the challenge
to become a force for his QMJHL squad.

“He’s the main
catalyst on that team,” said one area scout. 
“How he goes, so does the team.”

“He’s a bit of an
enigma like a lot of Russians, but he’s spent enough time away from Russia in
Denmark that now, after a year and a half over here, he’s learning what it
takes to be a team guy and a player,” said another scout.

One instance that
seems to confirm the scouting report came during a game where a line brawl broke
out between his team and a squad that took advantage of the smaller, weaker
Rocket line on the ice.  Trukhno had
to watch the fisticuffs from the bench, but decided to address the situation a
short time later.

“A couple minutes
later, the guy who starts the line brawl comes out of the penalty box and
Trukhno lines up right next to him and smacks him on the shin pads and says
‘OK, let’s go’ and fought the kid and beat him,” a scout recounted. 
“A guy I was there with said ‘That’s Trukhno!?’ and I
laughed because it surprised the heck out of me too!”

“He just came out
and decided ‘OK, nobody’s going to push my guys around,’” the scout
summed up.  “It was very good to see.”

Trukhno has battled
through a pair of injuries he sustained right at the start of the season. 
Having hurt his shoulder and pulled a groin, the 18-year-old has managed
to miss very little time and his production obviously has not been affected
much.  Through 21 games had
accounted for 38 points, just under two per game.

“He has to show a
little more urgency in his game, but when he has the puck he can dominate.  His skating has improved and his emotion has improved,”
commented one Oiler scout.  “We
didn’t draft him because of his physical play but he’s certainly showing up
and taking care of his own battles.”

 

Stephane Goulet,
RW
– Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

TeamGPGAPts+/-PIMs
Moncton25211435736

Nineteen-year-old
Stephane Goulet has picked up where he left off last season and more.  In his first year with Moncton after a tumultuous campaign
with Quebec in 2003-04, Goulet more than doubled his offensive output to a
decent 47 points.  Already in
2005-06, Goulet is within spitting distance of a personal best.

“He’s on the top
line, the top power play, so he’s getting a lot of ice time,” said one QMJHL
scout.  “He’s one of the leading
scorers on the team and even after (Adam) Pineault (CLB) and some other guys
came back from NHL camps he’s still playing a prominent role.”

Goulet was scoring
goals at a point per game clip until very recently. 
Fourteen of his 21 markers have come while on the power play, third
highest in the QMJHL.

“I saw such a
difference with him at our training camp in regards to his work ethic and it
looks like he’s carried that right back with him to junior,” complimented
one Oiler scout.

Considered a NHL/AHL
‘tweener’ by most, there are now some who feel that Goulet is proving he
deserves much loftier expectations.

“He’s taken the
steps that he needs to take to turn himself into a NHL player,” insisted an
Eastern scout.  “Last year I would
have said he was a borderline guy who could come in and contribute on a fourth
line.  He still needs to work on his
skating and his lateral mobility, but he’s doing a lot more with the puck and
he’s doing everything he needs to do to be a guy who can challenge for a top 3
line spot.”

There are still
concerns about Goulet’s mobility because in some situations it’s just not up
to par.

“Straight away in
open ice he’s fine but it’s the quick little lateral changes where he reacts
to the puck moving that he struggles,” the scout continued. 
“If he works on that and gets his feet quicker, does some power
skating, he’ll have a good shot as a late round pick that can turn out.”

 

The Good

Bryan Young, D
– Peterborough Petes (OHL)

TeamGPGAPts+/-PIMs
Peterborough21033857

“He’s a horse.”

That’s one
scout’s opinion given to Hockey’s Future recently to describe Peterborough
blueliner Bryan Young.  After an
impressive training camp in Edmonton where he clearly opened some eyes of
coaching staff and upper management, Young returned to the OHL and has continued
to develop along a sharp upward curve.

“You know what
you’re going to get from Bryan night in and night out,” said Geoff Ward.  “He’s a guy that plays a very aggressive style but it’s
a controlled style so he’s not taking a lot of stupid penalties. 
He plays hard, he’s great in front of the net, he does an outstanding
job on the penalty kill.  He’s a real leader for the Petes in that
department.” 

“He makes smart
simple plays to move the puck out of his zone and he’s capable of stepping up
and making the big hit and he likes to do it.”

Young is one of the
OHL’s best-kept secrets in that he rarely gets any media attention and yet
he’s one of the most respected rearguards in the league.

“Defensively, he’s very strong and he’s probably one of the best one-on-one
defensemen in the OHL,” suggested Ward.  “At
our camp we saw that it was difficult for the NHL guys to beat him
one-on-one.” 

With the December
camp for the World Juniors quickly approaching, don’t be shocked if Young gets
an invite to strut his wares for Brent Sutter and his coaching staff.  Team Canada head scout Blair Mackasey had Young’s name
brought up to him recently and stopped in Peterborough in part to check out the
blueliner.  Admittedly biased, the
Oilers feel Young could be someone the national team would benefit from adding
to the mix.

“They’re
comfortable with what they have, but they still have holes there, especially
with how they’re going to gear up in a gold medal game against the
Americans,” said Prendergast.  “The
Americans are loaded, they’re like Canada was last year.” 

“If you’re not
paying attention you don’t know that he’s out there, but he just keeps
getting better all the time,” Prendergast said of Young. 
“He’s got a professional mentality, he knows what his limits are and
he just plays within them.  He’s a
good team player.  We feel he’s
got a really big upside.”

Troy Bodie, RW
– Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

TeamGPGAPts+/-PIMs
Kelowna25131124740

Considering the
regrettable AHL situation Edmonton has, there could be far worse places for Troy
Bodie to spend the 2005-06 season than Kelowna. 
Having to return to the WHL as an overager wasn’t Bodie’s preference
obviously, but the fact that the Rockets are again one of the powers in the WHL
makes things a lot easier to accept.

Bodie broke out of
the starting gate and had an exceptional first two months of the WHL season
compiling 18 points in 17 games.  For
the better part of that time period he was the leading scorer on the club.

After 24 games, Bodie
has only been on the negative side of the plus/minus ledger in five contests, an
indication that the 20-year-old’s dedication to his two-way game is continuing
to progress, at least at the junior level.

The upside of the
placement is that with Kelowna, the possibility of reaching the Memorial Cup for
an incredible fourth time is a good one.  The
obvious downside is that his growth as a player will not be as fast compared
to the development he would have had playing in the American League.

 

Devan Dubnyk, G
– Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

TeamGPWLOTLGAASPCT
Kamloops23131002.52.910

 

After another slow
start to his WHL campaign, goaltender Devan Dubnyk is once again saving the day
for the Kamloops Blazers.  Kamloops
is not nearly as poor a team as they were a year ago, but they’re still far
from being a good team and that fact means that on any given night, Dubnyk is
going to have a tremendous workload.

Perhaps the worst
stretch of the season thus far for Dubnyk came at the end of October when he and
the Blazers dropped three consecutive games in disastrous fashion. 
In games against Medicine Hat, Calgary and Vancouver, Dubnyk allowed a
total of 16 goals, seven to the Tigers alone. 

To his credit, Dubnyk
rebounded and in his next three consecutive starts he allowed just one goal in
each game.

Asked why he felt he
struggled at the start of the year after a strong performance at the Oilers main
camp Dubnyk explained, “It’s an adjustment you have to make and I just tried
as hard as I could in practice to get used to the lines and the markings and
stuff and the fact that guys shoot a lot more in the NHL whereas guys hold onto
the puck a bit more down here.”

“He’s an impact
goaltender at that level,” said Geoff Ward. 
“He has tremendous athletic ability and right now he’s a guy that has
an opportunity to take Kamloops a long way. 
He has the mental make up to be a strong goaltender; his concentration
skills are good, his anticipation and reaction time is good. 

“Surprisingly
he’s not really flexible and that’s one thing he can improve on.”

Dubnyk is in the WHL
top ten for keepers in regards to goals against average and his save percentage
as well as having the third highest total of wins.

That alone won’t
solidify Dubnyk as the starter for Team Canada at the 2006 World Junior
Championships though.  Dubnyk is
still going to have to go through the December camp and earn the job himself
while battling off a wide-open field of other challengers.

“The thing about
Canada is that there’s so many goalies so you’re never going to think your
way onto a team and you’re rarely going to get onto a team because another
goalie plays badly,” Dubnyk told HF recently, 
“You have to make it on the team yourself by the way you play.”

“I think Devan
right now is probably rated as the No. 1 guy, but he’s going to have to prove
it at the camp that he can do the job,” echoed Prendergast. 
“There might be a concern that his puck handling ability is a bit of a
problem, but it’s simple, just don’t let him handle the puck.” 

“They’re going to
need a goalie that can win games for them and I think he’s a goalie that can
do that,” Prendergast continued.  “He’s
a mature kid, he’s big, mobile and I don’t think playing in Canada will
bother him, I think he’ll welcome that opportunity. 
It’s up to him, he’s got to go into their camp in December and do the
job.”

One thing that might
be on his side compared to netminders from the OHL or the QMJHL is that with
head coach Brent Sutter operating out of Red Deer, Canada’s bench boss is
already very familiar with what the 6’6 Kamloops goalie can do.

“I think it helps
that Brent is in the WHL and so he continually hears about him and sees him head
to head so he’ll have a pretty good feel for what he can do,” added Ward.

Dubnyk will try to
take advantage of the ADT Challenge when he plays against the touring Russian
team.  The two-game series is a tune
up for the World Juniors and having a strong performance there could
make Sutter’s decision easier.

 

The Average

Liam Reddox, LW
– Peterborough Petes (OHL)

TeamGPGAPts+/-PIMs
Peterborough2172027424

Another habitual slow
starter is Peterborough forward Liam Reddox. 
After leading his team in scoring the past two seasons, Reddox by
comparison is struggling back in fifth spot on the list this year.  However, November has been a rebound month for Whitby,
Ontario product.

“When I was in
Peterborough, (coach) Dick Todd said he usually doesn’t get going until about
November 1st,” recounted Prendergast. 
“The next day he was the first star and got three points and that was
Halloween.” 

The problem for
Reddox is that he is too inconsistent. 

“He can have one
great shift and then you don’t see him for three,” said one area scout. 
“There’s no lack of skill but you can’t just rely on your skill set
either.  It’s his third year in
the league so I expect he’ll step it up a bit more.  He’s still playing in all the key times and getting double
shifted though.”

After the same amount
of games last year Reddox is slightly ahead of his scoring but the Petes are a
far better team this year now that the surrounding cast is a year older and also
because they just added forward Steve Downie (PHI) to the mix.

“At the junior
level he is an impact player,” Ward described. 
“The one thing he seems to be able to do is slow the game down which
enables him to make plays and he does that through his smarts. 
I think some of the (slow start) has to do with his conditioning level. 
As a lot of junior players find out, they aren’t in the best of
condition like they think they are.  Many
of them tend to spend a lot of time on the weights trying to increase their
strength as opposed to looking after their cardio and as a result, for a guy
like Liam who is counted on to play a lot of minutes you need to sort of play
yourself into shape and I think that contributes to the slow start.”

“What he has to do
to make it as a pro is work on his consistency and learn how to play the game
with a little bit more patience,” Ward advised. 
“When you give him time and space he usually makes dynamic things
happen on the ice.”

Like Dubnyk and
Goulet, Reddox will line up against the Russians and hope to have a standout
performance in order to earn an invite to the December camp for team Canada.  Most consider Reddox to be a very long shot at best but as
Christmastime nears Reddox is just getting into his groove.

 

Fredrik Pettersson,
LW
– Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

TeamGPGAPts+/-PIMs
Calgary2613922812

The Calgary Hitmen
are being called an early surprise this year. 
After several graduating players moved onwards and upwards it was
expected that the Hitmen would be average at best, but instead the Southern
Alberta squad is second in the Eastern Conference and trail behind the Medicine
Hat Tigers by only two points.

Leading the way for
Calgary is Oiler prospect Fredrik Pettersson. 
Pettersson was a standout at Oiler camp partly because of his lack of
size but moreso for his gutsy play.

“What you see is
what you get,” Prendergast simplified.  “He
plays hard every shift and plays bigger than he is. 
He’s got good hands and he’s fearless and we really like that about
him.”

During training camp
he caught many larger players by surprise by taking the physical game to them as
opposed to trying to dance around or play the perimeter. 

“The thing that
impresses me about him is that he wants to take guys on one-on-one, beat them in
the corners, take them wide on the rush and for a little guy he’s willing to
pay the price,” added Ward.  “Defensively
he has things to work at but he moves so well and he’s gritty enough to go to
the areas he needs to, to find ways to score.”

Pettersson was on
fire to start the year but his production has tailed off a bit through November.
That might have something to do with the change in schedule after coming to
North America from Sweden. 

“He was really
highly motivated early to come over and get a great start. 
He didn’t have any language barrier to get over because he can perform
so well in English and that’s huge,” said Ward. 
“I don’t think we as Canadians think about that until the shoe is on
the other foot.  I know from when I
was in Europe and needed to learn another language to communicate with players,
I learned what kind of a barrier it really could be. 

“In junior he’s
an impact player.”   

 

Roman Tesliuk, D
– Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

TeamGPGAPts+/-PIMs
Kamloops277310332

 

Training camp was not
a good time for Roman Tesliuk.  Out
of shape and not playing with much desire, Tesliuk quickly found himself in the
organization’s doghouse and was sent back to Kamloops, reminded of what is
expected of him.

Although it’s only
been an average year thus far, one positive for Tesliuk is that he is finding
the back of the net with that big powerful shot he possesses from the blue line. 

“When I saw him, he
scored in three straight games, he played in all situations,” said Ward.  “He had a slow start and we understand why, but we can’t
write him off yet.”

The biggest hurdle in
front of Tesliuk is with his fitness level and according to onlookers, that is
slowly coming along now that the season has begun and the Russian has been
playing for a while.

“Roman has to start
focusing on his conditioning level, he’s had to start the season and get
himself into shape while he plays and that’s a difficult thing to do,” Ward
said.   

“He has a ways to
go before becoming a pro, but I think he’s starting to learn,” Prendergast
said.  “He’s going to be a
project, but there are a lot of positives with Roman. 
He’s tough for a Russian, he can shoot the puck and he plays well
enough in his own end; he’s just got to be more consistent.”

Ward has a theory as
to why Tesliuk seems to struggle with making plays.

“When I watch him
play, I think his stick is too long,” Ward offered. 
“It seems to jam in his hands an awful lot and that prevents him from
making plays with the puck when he has to reach across his body. 
It’s a small thing but it leads to a lot of things in the game. 
At the next level, if he takes a couple of inches off that stick I think
he’ll find that he can maneuver better and his puck handling will get
better.”

Perhaps shaving an
inch or two off his stick will help, but clearly Tesliuk has much farther to
come in his development yet before he is ready for the next level.

 

Tyler Spurgeon, C
– Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

No Games Played

After having
offseason shoulder surgery, Tyler Spurgeon has been forced to sit out the first
third of the WHL season.  Spurgeon
has been back and forth between Kelowna and his home in Edmonton where he’s
been a regular on the catwalk in Rexall Place during Oiler games. 

Originally slated to
return to the Rockets around Christmas, Spurgeon is ahead of schedule and told
Hockey’s Future a week ago that he would be immediately rejoining the team for
practices and is expecting to play in very early December. 

“I just want to
start taking some hits and test it out already,” said an eager Spurgeon. 
“If it feels fine I’ll be ready to go.”

Spurgeon has rejoined
the club and has been skating with the team, so playing for real isn’t far
off.

The emotional leader
of the Rockets, Spurgeon has been chomping at the bit to get back into action
and once he does, Kelowna will be all the stronger, which is bad news for
the rest of the BC Division.  Having
spent the last three months soaking up the NHL and practicing with big league
coaches and players, Spurgeon could very well be primed to make an immediate
impact upon his return.  However, a
period of adjustment is to be expected so don’t be surprised if the Rockets
work him back in slowly.

 

CHL Quotes

“Ninety-five
percent of junior and college players can’t play in the AHL and 90 percent of
AHL players can’t play in the NHL so you do the math.”

         
GM Kevin Lowe making a point about how hard it is to make it to the top.

“Very good camp.  He’s gotten bigger and stronger. He’s got to improve his
skating and quickness but he’s got great hockey sense and work ethic. 
We’re very happy with the direction he’s going in.”

         
Kevin Prendergast’s camp review of Stephane Goulet.

“It’s
hard not to like him.  He’s
an enthusiastic young man, he’s fearless and he’s got hockey sense. 
He likes being around people and he’s going to be a fan favorite. He’s already done that in Calgary.”

         
Prendergast talking about Fredrik Pettersson.

“He’s
invisible but then when he gets the opportunity he’s going to hurt you. 
He gets himself into positions to score; he thinks the game really well. 
It’s not that he’s lazy or anything, but he just seems to blend into
the game. We sit there after practices or scrimmages and go ‘well, what did
Reddox do?’ and then we look and he’s got a goal and an assist. 
That’s him.”

         
Liam Reddox as
described by Prendergast during training camp.

“He’s
very physical and is able to step up and stop the play at the red line. 
He wants to learn the game more and he came a long ways from the first
camp.”

         
Prendergast on defenseman Bryan Young.

“It’s
funny, I saw him in Moncton and he’ll do some things with the puck and then
he’ll sleep through a couple of shifts and then he’ll get an assist or score
a goal.”

         
An Eastern scout’s description of Slava Trukhno.

“He’s
pitching in on about 90 percent on the points that team gets.  On the power play he dominates because he passes the puck so
well.”

         
A different scout’s take on Trukhno.

“He
needs to start making plays with the puck instead of trying to move it all the
time.  He’s getting opportunities
where he can step back and allow the forwards to get their speed up and maybe
use his defense partner a bit more.“

         
Geoff Ward’s critique of Bryan Young.

“Offensively
there is no question that he has the package and has what it takes to be an
offensive player.”

         
Ward on Rob Schremp.

“Looking
at how he’s playing and comparing him to all the other goalies in junior I
have had the opportunity to see this year, he’s got a very strong chance.”

         
Ward in regards to Devan Dubnyk and the World Junior
Championships.

“He’s
going to find a way to play.  He’s
not going to carry the puck and run your power play, but his defensive play has
improved so much, his gap control, and boy does he make people pay. 
Even with the new rules, he’s not getting called because he’s
catching guys in open ice.  I
wouldn’t want to play against him.”

         
A scout commenting on Bryan Young.

“What
can I say?  I saw him one game and
he had six points and never broke a sweat.”

         
Scout on Rob Schremp. 

 

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