Back to the future. How apt as we think about the Oilers. After years and years of marketing based on the glory years of Greztky, Messier, Kurri and others, the Oilers are finally selling the future. As Bruce and other have said, the Oilers haven't had this kind of rookie class since the early 80s. We actually had a great glimpse of the future in the Oilers' recent three-game road trip - I don't think we'll forget that Chicago game for a while. This trip has given a ton of hope to many of us fans. We are finally seeing a glimpse of the reward for sticking with the this team (and it's slow-to-learn management) through the tough times. Well, the job is not yet done, and the next draft will likely be a very important one for the organization, which brings me to the point of this post. After the jump, I've attached two tables. They contain some basic stats of some of the highly touted prospects for the upcoming draft and a few prospects still playing in the CHL who have been drafted in the last couple of seasons.
ZPG- Zero Point Games
GPA- Assists with Goalie Pulled. There haven't yet been any goals scored by any of the players with their goalie pulled
Players in black font are Draft Eligible, those in red font have been drafted by other teams in the 2010 draft, those in blue font are players who were drafted in 2009, and those in brown are players drafted by the Oilers.
*Click to Enlarge
- After a slowish start to the season, Sean Couturier has had quite a productive second half of October. As of right now, I give him an edge against Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the race for the first overall. RNH has been solid all along, but the guy needs to score some goals. His stat line reads 3 goals and 18 assists for the season!
- Jonathan Huberdeau is playing very well in the Q. His teammate, Thomas Jurco, made the ISS top 30 list this season, but Huberdeau did not. I expect that to change when the next set of rankings are released. Brandon Gormley keeps producing. It appears as though he's playing the role of trigger-man on their PP and is getting very good results. With Ekman-Larsson in the NHL and Gormley soon to join him, not to mention others like Goncharov, I envy Pheonix's young defensive depth.
- After a blazing start to the OHL season, the Kitchner duo of Landeskog and Murphy have slowed down, but I expect them to get back to their explosive ways soon enough. Before the start of the season Brandon Saad was an afterthought when it came to the top players for this season's draft. He has literally bulldozed his way into a possible top-10 selection.
- As many of you know, Ryan Martindale is having a good season in the OHL. However, his stats are boosted by a seven-point weekend. He has been a player who has always hovered a bit above a point per game, so right now I'm inclined to take the recent outburst as a hot streak rather than a new level of play. Any talk of a third-round steal should be kept on the back-burner until we see this superior offensive production with more consistency.
- Alexander Khokhlachev continues to impress with his speed, hands and consistency. With Jack Campbell and Tom Kuhnhackl finally getting adjusted to the OHL, he's helped to make Windsor an above-average club.
- As you all can see, I've added Ryan Strome and Doug Hamilton to my list. Strome has finally started to get noticed by fans and media and is playing good hockey. Doug Hamilton may be the first defenseman from NA to get selected in the NHL draft. He is 6'4'' and a very good two-way defenseman. As of now, it's a three-way race between Musil, Hamilton and Murphy. I believe Hamilton just might take it. Of course it is early in the season.
- The Edmonton duo of Cameron Abney and Kristians Pelss are not contributing offensively at all. If the Oil Kings are going to win more games, I think they need at least Pelss to start contributing offensively.
- It looks like Portland is the cream of the WHL crop. This season they have Ty Rattie and Sven Bartschi who have lit the league on fire. Ryan Johansen and El-Nino (Nino Neiderreiter) are back as well. This team has balanced scoring and some very good defensemen. I will be very surprised if they don't go far in the WHL playoffs.
- Last time, I whined about the lack of offense from Glennie and McIlrath. Well, it looks like I criticized them a little too soon. Though I would like to see some more offense from Glennie, McIlrath was money when it came to producing from the blue line.
- Speaking of the blueline, how good has Martin Marincin been? He is leading the WHL in points and goals by defensemen. He and Brett Connolly have been a consistent offensive threat for the Cougars and I have yet to read or hear anything negative about them
- Let me sign off by talking a little bit about a couple of rookies in the NHL, both of whom got additional time in the CHL, despite many thinking that they were ready for prime-time. One of them is Alex Pietrangelo. He has been solid for the Blues and leads the team in TOI for the last three or four games. Just last season, he was kept on the Blues' roster and scratched game after game because they didn't want to make a decision on whether to keep him in the NHL or send him back. It looks like sending him back turned out to be a very good choice. Another guy is our favorite, Jordan Eberle. This guy is so good. His decision making with and without the puck is splendid. His ridiculously soft hands and his ability to find the net are amazing. His goals against Calgary and Chicago were just tremendous. Whenever teams are unsure about what to do with a prospect, sending him back to the minors seems never to be a bad idea. So kudos to Islanders for sending El-Nino back! I hope Anahiem does the same with Cam Fowler.