Oilers AHL/ECHL prospects 2009-10 review

By Jason Flammia

For the second year in a row, the Springfield Falcons finished last in the 29-team AHL after injuries and some sub-par performances by both Oilers prospects and AHL veterans. The Oilers had six forwards, one goalie and five defensemen playing for the Falcons, plus one defenseman and a goalie playing for Stockton Thunder of the ECHL.

Colin McDonald, RW
6’3, 205 lbs
2nd round, 51st overall, 2003

McDonald’s third AHL season with the Falcons saw him set a career high for games played (76), while matching his rookie scoring totals of 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points. In his final year of his entry-level contract, McDonald was unable to establish himself as a legitimate scoring threat at the AHL level. While he does bring many intangibles and can be used as a utility forward, his lack of progression over the last three years casts his Oilers future in doubt.

Ryan O’Marra, C
6’1, 193 lbs
1st round, 15th overall, 2005

O’Marra posted career highs in goals (12), points (18) and games played (74) in his second full AHL season. O’Marra has the size, strength and skating ability to play a third or fourth-line role in the NHL, but has been a bit of a disappointment at the AHL level. His strong defensive play and good faceoff skills will likely keep him in the organization in the short term, but O’Marra will have to improve his scoring touch in order to extend his professional career.

Slava Trukhno, LW
6’1, 197 lbs
4th round, 120th overall, 2005

In his third year with the Falcons, Trukhno scored 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points in 73 games, placing him sixth in team scoring. Trukhno is a physical player capable of contributing offensively, but he has not been able to match his rookie season’s success. It is unlikely he’ll challenge for a roster spot with the Oilers next season. With his entry-level contract expiring at the end of this season, his future within the organization is yet to be determined.

Bryan Lerg, LW
5’10, 175 lbs
Free agent signing, 2008

The 2009-10 season was Lerg’s second year in the AHL. In 36 games, he scored four goals and three assists for seven points, failing to match or improve on all categories from his rookie campaign. While he showed scoring ability during his NCAA career and some scouts thought he could develop into an effective role player in the pros, it is unlikely he will make the jump to the NHL ranks anytime soon.

Liam Reddox, LW
5’11, 190 lbs
4th round, 112th overall, 2004

While Reddox saw action with the Oilers in 42 games during the 2008–09 season, he spent the entire 2009–10 campaign with the Falcons. In 70 games, he scored 18 goals and 17 assists for 35 points, good for fifth in team scoring but a regression compared to his previous pro seasons. Reddox is a hard-working player who reads the game well and can chip in offensively. However, with an expiring contract at season’s end, it is yet to be seen where Reddox fits into the Oilers future plans.

Geoff Paukovich, C
6’4, 215 lbs
2nd round, 57th overall, 2004

Paukovich played a career-high 63 games with the Falcons in his second full AHL season, while scoring five goals, three assists and adding 75 penalty minutes. Paukovich is a strong and tough player who excels at battling for pucks along the boards. He is unlikely to be making the jump to the NHL next season, but could still develop into an effective fourth-line NHLer.

Matt Marquardt, LW
6’3, 229 lbs
7th round, 194th overall, 2006 (Columbus Blue Jackets)

Marquardt, a power forward with a decent scoring touch, was traded towards the end of the season and spent time with four different teams. In 42 games with the AHL Providence Bruins, he scored one goal and nine assists while adding 21 penalty minutes. Before his trade, he also played nine games for the ECHL’s Reading Royals where he scored one goal and two assists. Marquardt played four games for the Falcons and failed to register any points. He also played seven games for the Stockton Thunder, scoring one goal and one assist. Things picked up for Marquardt during the Thunder’s playoff run, as he scored four goals and three assists in 12 games. Statistically, his second AHL season was a disappointing year for the big winger, as he was unable to find the scoring touch he had displayed during his QMJHL career and his rookie AHL season. 

Devan Dubnyk, G
6’5, 194 lbs
1st round, 14th overall, 2004

Dubnyk started the season with the Falcons before a season ending injury to Nikolai Khabibulin forced the Oilers to bring in Dubnyk in December. In 33 games with the Falcons, Dubnyk posted a 3.02 GAA and a career high .915 save percentage. In 19 games with the Oilers, he posted a 3.57 GAA and a .889 save percentage. One of Dubnyk or Jeff Deslauriers, who is at a similar development level, will likely be traded in the offseason, leaving the other goalie to become the future starter.   

Taylor Chorney, D
5’11, 182 lbs
2nd round, 36th overall, 2005

Chorney split time with the Oilers and the Falcons before injuries cut his season short. In 32 games with the Falcons, Chorney scored four goals and nine assists for 13 points and a -20 rating, while scoring three assists and a -21 rating with the Oilers. Chorney has the skating ability and hockey sense to challenge for a spot on the Oilers roster next season, but he’ll need to improve his defensive game in order to have a legitimate professional career.

Alex Plante, D
6’3, 225 lbs
1st round, 15th overall, 2007

Plante battled injuries throughout the season, but managed to play 49 games with the Falcons where he scored two goals and seven assists for nine points, while his 122 penalty minutes placed him third on the Falcons. Plante also played four games with the Oilers, netting an assist and a respectable +1 rating. Plante is a tough and physical defenseman with a good slap shot who is definitely a part of the Oilers rebuilding plans. He could challenge for a roster spot with the Oilers next season, but it’s likely he’ll start the season in the AHL and be one of the first defensive call-ups.

Theo Peckham, D
6’2, 223 lbs
3rd round, 75th overall, 2006

An injury during offseason training prevented Peckham from challenging for a roster spot with the Oilers to start the season. He played 37 games for the Falcons where he registered six assists, and his 106 penalty minutes placed him fourth on the Falcons. In 15 games with the Oilers, he accumulated 43 penalty minutes and scored one assist before a shoulder injury ended his season. Peckham brings a certain edge and toughness to his game that Oilers management and coaching felt was lacking throughout their line-up. With his improved skating ability, Peckham will most likely earn a roster spot with the Oilers next season as a fifth to seventh defenseman.

Jeff Petry, D
6’3, 200 lbs
2nd round, 45th overall, 2006

After a successful three-year NCAA career with Michigan State University, Petry finished off the season by playing eight games with the Falcons where he scored three assists. Petry is a skilled, puck-moving defenseman with offensive ability. He has good size, strength and skating ability to play in the NHL. Depending on his development, he could make Chorney expendable, as both players have a similar game.

Johan Motin, D
6’2, 202 lbs
4th round, 103rd overall, 2008

The 2009–10 season marked the first year that the big, stay-at-home Swedish defenseman played in North America. In 55 games with the Falcons, Motin scored one goal and five assists for six points, and his -5 rating was very respectable for the last-placed Falcons. Motin has the size, strength and skating ability to play as a shut-down defenseman in the NHL, but will probably spend another year improving his game in the AHL.

Jordan Bendfeld, D
6’2, 216 lbs
7th round, 193 overall, 2008

In his third season in the ECHL, Bendfeld played 52 games for the Stockton Thunder where he scored 10 assists and added 91 penalty minutes. In 11 playoff games, he scored one goal and four assists. He was called up to play 10 games with the Falcons where he scored one assist and earned a respectable +2 rating. Bendfeld is a strong shut-down defenseman, but needs to improve on all areas of his game in order to move up the minor-league ranks.

Bryan Pitton, G
6’2, 176 lbs
5th round, 133rd overall, 2006

Pitton had a descent second year with the Thunder, as he was able to build off of his rookie year’s numbers. In 22 games, he posted a 2.85 GAA, .921 save percentage and earned one shutout, career highs in all categories except for games played. Pitton also played eight games for the Falcons, where he registered a 4.71 GAA and a .857 save percentage. Pitton will enter his final year of his entry-level contract and will need to play well in order to secure a future within the Oilers organization.