Another season of hockey has come and gone and Liam Reddox still hasn't established himself in the NHL. With three new wunderkinds and a few more prospects besides being added to the professional depth chart this year, I can't help but think that things are only going to get harder for the man who turns twenty-five in January. Especially if this past season is a fair indication of his ability, because Reddox had an awful 2009-10 season: his offense regressed at the AHL level, his play at the NHL level was poor, and he took a very ugly fall head-first into the boards with a bit of "help" from Clarke MacArthur. But the worst part? He only played nine games in the NHL. Despite playing for an organization that was crying out in distress for decent players, his ratio of NHL to AHL games played fell from rougly 3:1 in 2008-09 to 1:7 in 2009-10. All of Gilbert Brule, Ryan Potulny, Jean-Francois Jacques and Ryan Stone passed him on the depth chart and even though two of those guys are now gone, that's a lot of bodies to have motoring past you on their way to the NHL. So you count me surprised that Liam Reddox is on this list at all.
Derek and I were both quite a distance from the group on this one with Derek liking the player and me burying him. I think that both rankings make sense. I like to that my ranking of Liam Reddox is the one that's more optimistic, not so much for Reddox, I suppose, but for the Oilers' prospect depth as a whole. If the Oilers don't even have twenty guys who you'd rather have than Liam Reddox, well then the Oilers prospect pool isn't very deep.
Let's look at some numbers to illustrate. Over the last two seasons, the Oilers have been pretty terrible at outchancing the opposition with Reddox on the ice. Last season the Oilers were +19 -41 with Reddox on the ice at even strength; the year before that, they were +100 -138. 2008-09 also saw Reddox earn wonderful accolades like "worst goal differential," "worst Corsi rate" and "least effective penalty killing forward." Now, these are all rate stats, so it's possible that Reddox was just a victim of bad teammates and bad luck. And in fact, Reddox had the best error/EVTOI rate on the entire team (tied with Dustin Penner) that season. It's an interesting contrast, if nothing else, though if I were to compare my "by-eye" recollection with the numbers, the rate statistics are doing a better job of telling us about how good Reddox was that year.
And last year in the AHL? Still bad. 35 points in 70 AHL games and a -14 rating to go along with it. Even if Reddox was taking on tough competition (we don't have the data), that's a pretty poor year for a 24-year-old NHL hopeful, especially when you consider this particular NHL hopeful is only 5'10'' and plays in an organization who have stated "getting bigger" as a team goal. In our last Top 25, Derek compared Reddox to a couple of players. One of those guys was Richard Park and that comparison seems apt because the most likely thing to save Reddox from a career in the minors is league expansion.