The Edmonton Oilers have reassigned thirteen players, cut four, and given three others a chance to tryout for the Barons. Neither the reassignments nor the cuts come as a surprise, but the moves answered a few questions raised during Rookie Camp and the lead-up to Training Camp.
The Oilers returned the following players to their CHL teams: Jeremie Blain is headed back to the QMJHL; Ryan Martindale to the OHL; and Tyler Bunz, Drew Czerwonka, Brandon Davidson, Curtis Hamilton, Martin Marincin, Kristians Pelss are all going to the WHL. The cuts may come as something of a disappointment for players like Martindale, Hamilton, and Marincin who were all selected inside the top seventy picks in the 2010 draft. It also confirms that Marincin will be playing in junior, and not against men in the AHL.
Jordan Bendfeld, Philippe Cornet, Milan Kytnar, Matt Marquardt, and Bryan Pitton have all been assigned to Oklahoma City as the minor league rosters finally begin to take shape. Although these players have been assigned to OKC for now, there is some chance that they'll continue moving down the food chain. For a player like Kytnar, who played in a couple of exhibition games earlier in his last training camp, the early demotion must be particularly disappointing.
Of the camp invites, the Oilers gave Dallas Ehrardt, Chase Schaber, Dominik Schlumpf, and Nolan Toigo their outright release. Three players have been offered a tryout contract with the Barons: Jesse Gimblett, James Livingston, and Mike Thomas. It's strange to say after the players have been cut, but congratulations to Gimblett, Livingston (all those interviews were a tell after all), and Thomas!
After the jump, our writers weigh in on the news.
With all of the talk of Martin Marincin possibly spending the year in the AHL, is it surprising that he was sent to Prince George already?
Bruce: No, not at all. Marincin's a dandy prospect but there's no need to rush him. He a little more than a year younger than Ladi Smid was when he turned pro with the Portland Pirates in 2005-06. Smid of course was a very prized prospect, a #9 overall, and people complain that he was rushed to the NHL after just that one year of North American hockey.
If the Oilers are erring, it's on the side of caution. And of development. Marincin is virtually certain to get a major role and minutes with the Cougars, whereas in OKC he would be somewhere down the list. Ask Cody Wild what can happen in a musical chairs situation.
The one question I have is whether Marincin will still have the option of playing in the AHL in 2011-12, or if now that he is a junior, the Cougars now have priority and he'll have to either make the NHL or wait 'til he's 20 like other juniors. That's one crease in the rulebook I'm not familiar with.
Scott: I was surprised that he was cut so soon. Since Marincin was eligible to play in the AHL I thought he would be given a couple of exhibition games to help the coaches decide if he was ready to play against men, especially since Stu MacGregor mentioned that possibility just after Marincin was drafted. Unfortunately for everyone, Marincin didn't play well enough in the Young Stars tournament or training camp to make the decision difficult. That doesn't mean he isn't a good prospect, but it probably does mean that he's not as far along as the Oilers had hoped when they drafted the player in June.
Derek: No, I don't think so. He's a raw talent without professional experience. He may be highly skilled and have some skating abilities, but I don't think he's ready for the physical play of professional hockey. Defenesemen develop so slowly, there's no issues with allowing him to acclimatize to the North American game first.
Should we be disappointed that Cornet and Kytnar have been cut so quickly?
Bruce: I'm disappointed on the macro scale. Not surprised, but disappointed in that I had high hopes for these guys a couple of years ago, but they both seem to have plateaued. Kytnar in theory was the same sort of prospect Anton Lander is (also, in theory!) in terms of where he might fit if he turned out. But as often is the case, he's turning out very slowly if at all. There's a reason they're called "prospects" and not "sure things", and some fall by the wayside.
I would guess that one or both are on their way to Stockton. Many/most of this first round of "OKC" cuts are destined to be cut a second time when the OKC roster begins to fill out. There's still 46 bodies in main camp, so anybody assigned today is a long way down the depth chart.
Scott: I think it's fair to be disappointed, especially since both players made it further into camp in 2009 than they did in 2010. That said, there were signs that this was going to happen after the Young Stars tournament. When I looked at the full list of invites, I noted that both of these players may start their careers in the ECHL. I still think that might end up being the case.
Derek: Certainly not. Bubbling Under was dead-on when it comes to controlled expectations for these two:
- Play 40+ games in the AHL, scoring in the range of 20 points.
- Improve his two-way game, +/- within a reasonable range of -5
- Be a constant presence in Oklahoma’s lineup, contributing around 30 points
- Continue to excel in a shut-down role while improving faceoff percentages
Both of these players have work to do on their total games and will spend some extended time in Oklahoma City, so getting them there early to settle in and get comfortable might actually benefit them.
Do any of the survivors surprise you?
Scott: There are a couple of big surprises for me. The first is Cameron Abney. Almost all of the junior players were sent out today, but Abney survived. I've always thought of him as a pretty marginal prospect (and still do), but this is a very impressive showing for him. I was also surprised that the two guys on AHL contracts, Jake Taylor and Colin McDonald, both survived the first round of cuts. You'd think those two would be among the first ones sent to Oklahoma City, but it looks like they're staying in camp for at least a few more days.
Derek: Cameron Abney is a player I thought would find his way back to Major Junior as an over-ager very quickly. There isn't much nuance or subtlety to the kid's game and the evaluation period should be short. He's skating knuckles.
Jared Aulin is another player that seemed to be headed straight for Oklahoma City as a veteran. I'm not sure if they're keeping him around to challenge guys like Giroux and Ondrus, but he's likely headed to the Barons after the next round.
Removing the twenty players sent out today from the original Training Camp lineups leaves the Oilers with a lineup that looks like this:
The A Team
Dustin Penner / Sam Gagner / Ales Hemsky
Teemu Hartikainen / Liam Reddox / Zack Stortini
----- ------- / Tyler Pitlick / Ben Ondrus
-------- ------ / ----- ------ / Cameron Abney
Ryan Whitney / Jeff Petry
Jason Strudwick / ------- -----
------- -------- / ------ ---------
Devan Dubnyk / ----- ------
The B Team
Magnus Paajarvi / Andrew Cogliano / Gilbert Brule
Alexandre Giroux / Ryan O'Marra / Colin McDonald
------ -------- / Brad Moran / ---- ------
Steve MacIntyre / ---- ---------- / ----- ----------
Theo Peckham / Tom Gilbert
Richard Petiot / Alex Plante
------ -------- / Jake Taylor
Jeff Deslauriers / Nikolai Khabibulin / ----- ----
The C Team
Taylor Hall / Shawn Horcoff / Jordan Eberle
Ryan Jones / Colin Fraser / Linus Omark
Gregory Stewart / Chris Vande Velde / --------- -----
----- -------- / ---- --------- / ---- ---------
Ladislav Smid / Taylor Chorney
Jim Vandermeer / Kurtis Foster
Shawn Belle / Johan Motin
Martin Gerber / Olivier Roy
Compiled by Bruce McCurdy, Scott Reynolds, and Derek Zona.