There hasn't been much to like about the Oilers this year. Sure, there have been worse seasons, but this was supposed to be the year they started to turn things around. This hasn't happened in spectacular fashion, but there is one exception that stands out.
Martin Marincin has always ranked fairly well in the top 25. He started off at 19 in the summer rankings following his draft and over the past few editions he usually falls in place behind the recent first round picks and a couple of the more established NHLers that still qualify for this list.
Despite the optimism, I'm not sure many expected him to do what he's done since he joined the Oilers for good in late December. He's just one of 2 players who has managed to post a positive Corsi on the Oilers this year (Denis Grebeshkov is the other in limited action). This is no small feat for a rookie defenseman playing on a team that routinely manages to only get about 45% of the Corsi events in a game. The fact that he's managed to do it while facing top pairing opposition with a 43.7% Ozone starting is nothing short of amazing.
He was a noted offensive contributor in junior, racking up 65 points in 67 games in his draft + 1 year. His draft + 2 year saw his offensive numbers drop, picking up 40 points in 58 games. The biggest fall off was in his assist production as he still managed 11 goals after scoring 14 the previous year. He had a fine rookie AHL season in Oklahoma, picking up 30 points in 69 games while posting a team leading +20. He was paired a fair amount with Justin Schultz (before the latter joined the Oilers after the lockout), so that certainly helped his numbers. He was scratched a couple of times last year as well, but that's par for the course for a rookie pro. His offense this year is down, but he hasn't seen a lot of power play time either in OKC or Edmonton.
From his stint in the NHL, you can't help but be impressed by Marincin. He's had a few notable mistakes that led to goals but again, that's the pro learning curve. You maybe start to wonder if his progress means the Oilers only need to look at adding a couple of top 4 defensemen instead of 3. If Marincin can keep this sort of play up, the Oilers have a gem on their hands and one that can contribute far sooner than many had thought.