The Edmonton Oilers’ NCAA and European prospect pool is not a large one, made even smaller by Finnish goaltender Eetu Laurikainen joining the Bakersfield Condors in 2015-16 and Bogdan Yakimov making his return to North American hockey after a brief hiatus in Europe. The team also added former Minnesota Wild prospect Jere Sallinen out of the Finnish Liiga to its pro ranks. The remaining crop of players consists of mid- to late-round picks, many of whom are longshots for NHL success. Nevertheless, there are some intriguing standouts, such as in the case of Russian defender Ziyat Paygin who has pleasantly surprised many with his 2015-16 season numbers. Tyler Vesel continues to lead the way as the de facto leader of the NCAA prospect group. See the full breakdown below.
As the 2015-16 season commences, one cannot help but notice the top-heaviness of the Edmonton Oilers’ prospect talent at the professional level. The team’s new farm club in Bakersfield, California is stacked with noteworthy names like Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl, Tyler Pitlick and more, and the number of legitimate prospects fighting for an opportunity to earn a look at the NHL level is much higher than it has been in recent memory. The fact that the Oilers are now deep enough at the top level to afford to let prospects like the ones mentioned earlier spend some time in the minors developing is a sign of systemic improvement, which bodes well for a club that is trying to establish itself as a legitimate playoff contender after years of poor performance.
Despite a year that didn’t see the Czech Republic get much done internationally at the junior level, the 2015 NHL Draft saw a total of 11 Czech players taken by NHL teams, albeit the top three of Pavel Zacha (6th overall), Jakub Zboril (13th), and Filip Chlapik (48th) having spent this past season strutting their stuff in North America. Read more»
The Czech Republic has failed to medal since being promoted to the elite division in 2008. In the last two years at the U18, they had to fight to avoid relegation both times, but now it finally looks as if they have a real chance to get past the preliminary round and compete against the strongest of the participants.