He's wearing an NHL uniform, so that's got to be progress.
Well, the first vote went to Philippe Cornet, and the second one went to Tobias "The New Philippe Cornet" Rieder, though I've got to say that with a new Arrested Development season in the works, I'm really pulling for Rieder to be as important to the organization as possible over the next few years. Kellen Jones also earned himself three votes this time around, a solid improvement on the zero (out of 415!) that he got in the summer (things do change quick though; Cornet was part of that same group in the summer, and got just two votes).
As for today, well, it's time for the last vote, and God's hand has provided us with eight new
rejects heroes. We'll take a closer look at each one after the jump.
Alexander Bumagin - By the great mercy of God, this is Bumagin's last appearance on the Top 25. The guy has been a regular in the KHL since before there was a KHL, but he has never demonstrated any interest in coming to North America. His best offensive season in the league is still his 17-year-old season. That year, he scored nine goals and fourteen assists in just forty games. There was so much promise! But yeah, that's still his best year and there have been seven more since then. He's almost certainly not the worst hockey player on this list (he probably wouldn't be the worst hockey player on the Oilers), but there's not much reason for hope here. Last Ranking: #48
Drew Czerwonka - Czerwonka is in his fourth season with the Kootenay Ice, and after a huge step forward offensively last season, he's taken another small one this year. 26 points in 32 games seems respectable. If he was doing that without power play time, I'd actually be pretty bullish on Czerwonka. Unfortunately, 11 of his 26 points have come with the man advantage. I know that his path to the NHL isn't likely to be as a scorer, but I look at the Oilers' roster, and then look at the young players trying to work into a spot on the wings, and I have a hard time seeing where Czerwonka might fit. To be frank, barring a huge second half, the Oilers probably shouldn't sign him. Last Ranking: #36
Taylor Fedun - He had an outstanding training camp right up to the point that he suffered a catastrophic injury that will cost him, at minimum, all of this season. Recovery from a broken leg is tough because it's a long hard road and there's no guarantee that you'll ever be able to get back to 100%. That makes it awfully difficult to compare Fedun to most of the other players involved in this exercise. Fedun had an excellent career in the NCAA (the full four years with Princeton, enough offense to get by, the team leader among defensemen in +/- in each of his last three seasons), and as mentioned, an excellent training camp, but we still haven't seen him play any real games as a pro, and training camps are filled with players who look wonderful only to fall back substantially once the games count. He was definitely underrated in our Top 25 this summer, but it's hard to know how much pumping his tires need. Last Ranking: #39
Milan Kytnar - He made his NHL debut and looked pretty decent doing it. With just that piece of information, this season sounds like a big-time success! Sadly, that is not all there is to Kytnar's season. He played all of last season with the Barons and ended the regular season on fire (6-4-10 with 23 shots and a +7 rating in his last 10 games), but when reinforcements arrived for the playoffs he was bounced from the lineup. He then came to training camp injured, which was particularly bad timing with a bevy of new forwards arriving in the organization. Once he was healthy enough to play, he was sent down to Stockton. He did quite well there, scoring five goals and three assists to go with a solid +4 rating in 14 games. And it was because he was there that he got the emergency call to come to Edmonton for his first NHL game. He's been in Oklahoma City ever since, and while Kytnar's offense (and likely ice time) isn't yet where it needs to be to earn another recall - 1-1-2 +3 and 4 shots in 6 games since coming down from Edmonton - the young Slovak hasn't yet been a healthy scratch since his trip to the big leagues. So at least there's some progress. Last Ranking: #31
Alex Plante - Plante barely held onto his spot on the top 25 last year, and there was some surprise that he was included on the list. This season has been mixed. Neal Livingston had Plante at the very bottom of the Barons' depth chart in terms of performance six games into the season, but there are certainly some encouraging statistical signs. Plante is having his best offensive season to date with 11 points in 28 games. He leads the Barons' defense in +/- with a +13 rating. He was named to the AHL All-Star Game. He earned a call to Edmonton on two different occasions. Of course, he was also concussed in his last one. That makes at least three concussions for his career (one in 2007 with the Hitmen, and one in 2010 with the Falcons), and even though the Oilers assigned him to Oklahoma City, he still hasn't returned to action. For a prospect that was already struggling to make the grade, another concussion was the last thing he needed. Last Ranking: #25
Frans Tuohimaa - It hasn't been a great season for the young Finnish netminder. On the bright side, he started the year in the SM-Liiga and was given an opportunity to start when Jokerit's starter went down with an injury. Unfortunately, he didn't exactly run with the opportunity. Tuohimaa's .900 save percentage in 17 games ranks him 21st out of 25 goalies who have played in at least ten games (though he's still ahead of Vesa Toskala!), and more than a stone's throw back of starter Eero Kilpelainen's .926. Tuohimaa also sustained a concussion in December, which is a tough setback. He has since returned to action with Kiekko-Vantaa in Finland's second division. His numbers there are better (.917 through ten games), and at the very least, it's good to see him getting plenty of action. Still, after one of the best seasons ever in Finland's U20 league last year, I was hoping for better. Last Ranking: #41
Antti Tyrvainen - After registering a league-leading 186 penalty minutes in just 52 games in the SM-Liiga, I was expecting some total shit-show stories from the AHL this year. It hasn't happened. Granted, Tyrvainen has had to deal with some injuries, but he also has just 19 penalty minutes in 23 games. As for his actual hockey skills, I think he's had a pretty successful rookie year. 7 points in 23 games certainly isn't impressive, but the points per game rate it is good enough for third among the OKC rookies, behind Lennart Petrell and Hunter Tremblay, but ahead of Tanner House, Curtis Hamilton, Tyler Pitlick, and Cameron Abney. Yeah, he's older than most of the guys that he's ahead of, but for a guy who's not going to be a scorer in the NHL, it's not a bad debut offensively, and his +5 rating suggests that, at the very least, he hasn't been a liability defensively. Last Ranking: #38
Chris VandeVelde - I had a modicum of grace for him poor performance last year (he finished last on the team in +/- with a -17 rating) since it was his first pro season. It's true that Todd Nelson uses VandeVelde in a lot of defensive situations, but he's once again near the bottom of the team's +/- standings, and 13 points in 42 games is just not enough offense at the AHL level for me to believe he can be productive at the NHL level. He's the same age as Ryan O'Marra; he's not as good at hockey. What more do you need to know? Last Ranking: #26
Which player do you think made it into the Top 25?
Chris VandeVelde (10 votes)
Antti Tyrvainen (12 votes)
Frans Tuohimaa (5 votes)
Alex Plante (78 votes)
Milan Kytnar (16 votes)
Taylor Fedun (149 votes)
Drew Czerwonka (7 votes)
Alexander Bumagin (2 votes)
279 total votes