The Edmonton Oilers are committed to getting younger.
Last night, the Edmonton Oilers announced the list of players that will be at the Young Stars tournament. It's an interesting mix of the signed players, unsigned draft picks, and free agents. After the jump, I'll take a brief look a the roster and make a few notes.
Cameron Abney; Philippe Cornet; Drew Czerwonka; Travis Ewanyk; Brett Ferguson; Curtis Hamilton; Milan Kytnar; Anton Lander; Ryan Martindale; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins; Kristians Pelss; Tyler Pitlick; Toni Rajala; Tobias Rieder; Chase Schaber; Colin Smith; Antti Tyrvainen
- Both Curtis Hamilton and Tyler Pitlick recently signed entry-level contracts, and while both players are eligible to return to the WHL, neither player is at his team's training camp, which strongly suggests that the players have been told that they won't be returning to junior.
- Chase Schaber has been invited to the Young Stars tournament for the second year in a row despite his being a free agent. Last season, Schaber scored 45 points in 46 games with the Kamloops Blazers and led the team with a +3 rating (the next closest forward who played at least forty games was -5). His teammate in Kamloops, Colin Smith, was a ghastly -21, but did score 50 points in 72 games in what his first season of draft eligibility.
- Toni Rajala may end up back in Finland for the season, but it's good to see that he's coming to North America for at least a brief look. I'm pretty sure that his contract will count against the 50-man limit even if he is loaned to a Finnish team, so having him in camp to compete for a spot only makes sense.
- Philippe Cornet and Milan Kytnar are back for another year, probably because they were AHL rookies, which makes Teemu Hartikainen's absence a notable one. The other players who you might expect to see (Lennart Petrell, Tanner House, Hunter Tremblay, Chris Vande Velde) seem to be missing because of their age.
- I talked about Brett Ferguson earlier this month, and I'm still cheering for him. He was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' teammate in Red Deer, but the two played on different lines. Ferguson ended up getting plenty of tough competition and led the Rebels in scoring at even strength.
- Taylor Fedun is the oldest player at the tournament at 23 years old, and comparing him at this level will likely be very helpful since he'll be competing for ice time at the AHL level with several players here (Colten Teubert for sure, probably Martin Marincin, and I suppose it's technically possible that one of the free agents or Matin Gernat gets in the mix too).
- Like Pitlick and Hamilton, Martin Marincin recently signed an entry-level contract, but unlike Pitlick and Hamilton, Marincin is currently at his junior team's training camp, which suggests to me that of those three, Marincin is the most likely to see more time in the CHL.
- Wes Vannieuwenhuizen has another year of draft eligibility to go, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Oilers sign him to a contract and send him back to Vancouver of the WHL. He's got no offense at all, but he's got good size at 6'3'' and 205 lbs., led the Giants defense in +/- at +11, and led the team in fighting majors with 18.
- Tyler Schmidt has some similar pluses to Vannieuwenhuizen (second among Tri-City defenders with a +28, tied for the team lead in fighting majors with 7, and has reasonable size at 6'1'' and 211 lbs.), but having now turned 21, he's significantly older and not eligible to return to the WHL. His offense is significantly better (he had 53 points in 70 games as an overager), but I don't think he's as likely to get an entry-level deal. May well end up with Stockton though.
- The new kid on the block is Brown, and like Vannieuwenhuizen, the Oilers can sign him and send him back to the WHL if they think he has potential but don't want to use up a spot on their 50-man list. He's been Kelowna's starter for two years now and has outperformed his backups in both of them. Last season, he finished third in the WHL with a .916 save percentage behind Darcy Kuemper and (note his name above) Tyler Bunz.