Below is the inaugural edition of Hockey's Future's prospect awards. There is a particularly diverse group of recipients, a reflection on an Edmonton prospect pool that is amidst a full rebuild.
Team Depth Chart of NHL Prospects
- Size and depth on the blueline
- Wingers with a wide range of skills
- Lack of size, depth down the middle
- No bonafide power play QB on the blueline
- Lack of elite goaltending prospect
Legend of Players' Leagues
- Playing in N.A. Pro (NHL, AHL, ECHL, etc.)
- Playing in CHL (OHL, QMJHL, WHL)
- Playing in NCAA
- Playing in Europe
- Playing in Junior 'A' (USHL, BCHL, AJHL, etc.)
- Not Categorized Yet
Outside of 2011 first round pick Oscar Klefbom, the picture in Europe and in the NCAA for the Oilers is one of depth prospects and long shots. This is in part due to a preference for CHL players in the Stu McGregor draft era, and in part due to some of the higher quality Europeans and college picks (like Tyler Pitlick, Martin Marincin, and Martin Gernat) making the move to the CHL after they were drafted. Beyond Klefbom, for whom the organization has high hopes, any of these players who become even a quality depth NHL player would be considered a bonus for the team.
With a trio of picks in the first round, including the sixth pick overall, expectations were high for the Oilers to be able to pluck some key pieces in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Five years out, the results are disappointing to say the least.
Despite picking sixth, 15th, and 21st (after trading up from 30th and adding the 36th to make the move), the Oilers have emerged with only one quality NHL player from that bunch, Sam Gagner. The other two selections, Alex Plante and Riley Nash respectively, have been disappointments and may not ever become NHL regulars. It was also the last draft ran by former Oilers Head Scout Kevin Prendergast.
Photo: After a period of adjustment, Curtis Hamilton has looked solid in his first year of AHL play. Hamilton projects into a talented, multi-tool forward who could possibly complement star forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
The Oklahoma City Barons are the AHL's top team with a 22-8-1-3 record. The days of the Edmonton Oilers' farm teams being bottom feeders is long gone as the club has made a point both this season and last to put a winning team on the ice, committing to older players and AHL veterans rather than rely exclusively on young prospects. This season, led by players like Ryan Keller, Josh Green, Bryan Helmer, and Yann Danis, the Barons are the team to beat.
The Edmonton Oilers have looked to the North American junior ranks (specifically the CHL) early and often in the four years since Stu MacGregor took over as Head Scout. As a result, there has been a tremendous amount of quality and quantity at the junior level for the exciting young club, players who will be pushing for roster spots at the pro level sooner than later. Many have graduated in recent years and are either pushing for a spot with the big club, or are established as NHL regulars already. There are still 10 junior level players in the Oilers system, many of whom are having very nice starts to their 2011-12 campaigns.