Over the course of the past three seasons one of the few bright spots within the Edmonton Oilers organization has undoubtedly been the teams prospect pipeline. Having won the NHL draft lottery and selected first overall in every season since 2010 the Oilers have had marvelous opportunity in terms of stacking up their assets for the future.
Prior to the NHL lockout, there was an enormous amount of talk regarding the free agent status of a young player who hadn’t even played in an NHL game. A second-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2008, Justin Schultz became the most sought after off-season free agent when he was left unsigned following a stellar collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin. And where would you expect a young phenom to land these days? With the Edmonton Oilers, of course. The 22-year-old signed a two-year deal with the club that already features an embarrassment of under-23 future superstars.
Forward prospects Emerson Etem and Charlie Coyle settle into the middle section of the ranking, but not for lack of talent. Both players lit up the CHL last season, Etem breaking the 60-goal mark for Medicine Hat in the WHL and Coyle using his size and quick hands to fit right in with the high-octane Saint John offense in the QMJHL.
The expectations have been building for the Edmonton Oilers, and the time has come to deliver. After half a decade at or near the bottom of the NHL standings, the club now has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to young talent. This is true not only of graduated, full-time NHL players but also of the team’s prospects.
The Anaheim Ducks have a prospect mix that is high on talent and beginning to find some balance across the board. This past season was defined largely by the addition of three Swedes, William Karlsson, Rikard Rakell, and Max Friberg, who captured a pair of awards here. The campaign was also marked by steady improvements and fluid adjustments by players who moved advanced stages in their development whether by role, level, or both. It was also defined in part by a significant loss, that of defenseman Justin Schultz who spurned the Ducks for free agency.