If you had to bet on a longshot, who would you put your money on?
Just as we did after our summer installment of the Top 25 Under 25, we're searching through the "And everybody else..." group of prospects to find a dark horse, a longshot who will make an impact in the NHL. Remember, it's unlikely that anyone outside of the top 10 is going to become an impact player, let alone anyone else on the list. But we soldiered on anyway.
The fans chose Kristians Pelss, though we think there may have been ballot-stuffing coming in from Latvia.
"Out of the group of players including Brandon Davidson, Ryan Martindale, Joey Laleggia, Curtis Hamilton, Daniil Zharkov, Kristians Pelss, Alex Plante, John McCarron, Philippe Cornet, Frans Tuohimaa, Mitch Moroz, Niko Hovinen, Samu Perhonen, Travis Ewanyk, Antti Tyrvainen, Kellen Jones and Cameron Abney which player is most likely to play 200 games in the NHL?"
Jonathan Willis: Mitch Moroz. I really want to say Brandon Davidson, the sentimental favorite for obvious reasons, but I can't look away from Moroz. His offensive game has not developed as the Oilers would undoubtedly have liked, but he's big, he's tough, he's mean, and the fact that they blew a second round pick on him last season says everything about the organization's feelings for the player. This guy's unique skillset will earn him opportunities in the NHL other players will not get; because of that, he's the most likely to have a career.
dawgbone: Curtis Hamilton. He's a big forward from Western Canada and represented Canada at the WJHC. He's going to keep getting professional opportunities because of those features, even if he struggles. He reminds me of Brad Winchester (currently at 390 NHL games) in that he plays a similar kind of game, but struggled to produce early on. Brad Winchester didn't really break out professionally until he was 23 years old, and that might be the case with Hamilton.
Derek Zona: I really want to stand pat with Daniil Zharkov, but I can't. I'm going with Brandon Davidson instead. The guy is hockey Les Stroud - he always survives. Not enough resources to play high midget? No worries, he made the CHL a year late. Not drafted in his first year of eligibility? No worries, he was drafted anyway. Too slow for pro hockey? Snort Kristians Pelss' stem cells. (the previous statement may not be true) Cancer? Forget it - play without hair out of position and assist on a goal. Demoted after cancer? In the bag - go to Stockton and score three goals in two games. If there is any single person on this list from #1 - #42 I won't count out under any circumstances - it's Brandon Davidson.
Michael Parkatti: I'll take Travis Ewanyk. He's a locally-developed prospect with the Oil Kings and has a reputation for being a capable two-way player. Of course, that may not transition all that well into the professional leagues, but the bottom 6 is where the Oilers will try to slot guys in. If Ewanyk can establish himself quickly as a better option than Anton Lander, he could be the Oilers' regular 4th line centre in two years. I bet Moroz will get some NHL games, but once the results are apparent I can't see him having a shot at 200. Ewanyk has that shot.
Bruce McCurdy: I’m going with a sentimental choice and picking Brandon Davidson. While I’d like his chances a lot better if he were considered in a vacuum rather than in an organization that will likely be graduating fellow rearguards Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, Martin Gernat and Kyle Bigos to the pros next year in what is already a crowded group, BD has all the earmarks of a classic late bloomer. His chance to play junior came much later than most, he was drafted by the Oilers one year later than he was first eligible, and then played an overage year in Regina. This season he was just settling in with OKC when hit by the cancer scare that put his career on hold. Since returning to action he’s gotten regular minutes with Stockton and appears to be hitting it out of the park (7 GP, 4-3-7, +5 from the back end).
Brandon thinks the game well, has decent size, and has shown consistent improvement in his skating and skill development. He’s a long-term project who may take the entirety of his ELC to become NHL-ready, but should his development curve continue to ramp upward, he plays the sort of heady, steady, all-around game that might translate to a fairly lengthy career.