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RFA Prospects

The player pictured is Jean-Francois Jacques, in one of his 53 NHL games. Standing behind him, you can see the hope in Marty Reasoner's eyes, and Dwayne Roloson peering from the other end of the ice; the two veterans united in the thought that maybe, just maybe, tonight Jacques gets a point. It was not to be.

More seriously, Jacques is one of 10 RFA's who fit into the 4th-line/prospect mode, and I'm going to take a closer look at that group now. Here's the list:

Jonas Almtorp
Troy Bodie
Jeff Deslauriers
Glenn Fisher
Jean-Francois Jacques
Fredrik Johansson
T.J. Kemp
Ryan Potulny
Marc Pouliot
Zack Stortini

The first thing I see, looking at this list, is that the Oilers need to draft more three-name Frenchmen. With the loss of both Drouin and Antoine, we're down to only J-F Jacques.

I think we can make some definite assumptions:

*Stortini, Pouliot, Potulny and Deslauriers will be resigned. Stortini and Deslauriers are in the plans for next year based on comments coming out of the organization, Pouliot has good upside and value, and Ryan Potulny was just acquired in trade. So let's knock them off the list.

*Almtorp (AHL- 4 pts in 37 games) and Johansson (AHL- 5 pts in 25 games) will not be resigned, but will liekly return to Europe.

This leaves us with four players who may or may not return: Bodie, Fisher, Jacques, and Kemp.

*Glenn Fisher seems slotted for the backup role in Springfield, so it seems likely that he will be resigned. His numbers (14-19-2, 3.36GAA, .903SV% for Stockton) were OK but not spectacular, and his NCAA career was pretty ugly until his final season (13-9-2, 2.32GAA, .919SV%). I'd like to see him on an AHL/ECHL contract, but what I want and what actually happens don't generally coincide.

*T.J. Kemp is unlikely to return. I'm not basing this on comments from within the organization, but with Chorney, Hrabal, Wild and Bisaillon all slated for AHL duty this coming season, I can't see where a smallish, 27-yr old defenseman with a -20 rating fits in. He did post nice offensive numbers (73GP-8G-38A-46PTS) and will land somewhere, but he doesn't have an NHL future, his skill-set, unlike Rourke, isn't suited to playing safe 6th defenseman minutes, so he isn't a good option as a callup, and his skills are replicated by the incoming prospects.

*Troy Bodie's future is rather hard to determine. He's getting long in the tooth for a prospect (24 next season) but he brings size and willingness to the AHL lineup, so it doesn't seem like a stretch that he'll be resigned. He was Springfield's Specialty/AHL Man of the Year (I'm not making that up), an award given for community service. Long term he seems like a nice minor-league checker type, with the possibility of an NHL cup of coffee. I think he'll be resigned, although if Machievelli were running the team he probably wouldn't be. Springfield, short on grit all year, should be happy to have him back.

*Jean-Francois Jacques probably doesn't deserve to be resigned. He's likely going to have surgery and if so won't return until Christmas. Aside from his injury history (the only time he's ever topped the 70GP mark was in 2005-06), his points production at the NHL level has been non-existent and declining in the AHL. He is not a good bet as a prospect. On the other hand, he's 6'4", 217lbs, and has better offensive upside than he's shown to date, and he hits with abandon. Jacques is the lottery ticket in the group- you almost certainly won't win, but if you do the payoff is really, really, nice. I expect to see him back, especially given this organization's tendency to overvalue prospects.