A single spot outside of the Top 10, the elite of the Top 25 Under 25, we find another ex-Oil King turned Oklahoma City Baron now hoping to one day stick with the Oilers (there are a lot of these guys in the Oilers' system), Martin Gernat. You're a smart person so I won't be giving too much away when I say that Gernat ranks behind four other defensive prospects: Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, Darnell Nurse, and Justin Schultz. Just like he did in the previous version of the Top 25, and the one before that as well.
Overall Gernat has slipped one spot in our rankings this time, but his position within the team's defensive depth chart remains unchanged. The four players that we've ranked ahead of him are either in the NHL already or will be in the next season or two. All of which is going to make it quite difficult for him to force his way onto the Oilers roster in the near future, and that's a good thing because he's just not ready yet.
Previously in the Top 25 Under 25
As an AHL rookie last season, Gernat scored four goals and 17 assists in 57 games with the Barons, he had a short three game stint with the Condors of the ECHL as well. By the end of the season he was consistently being used in a top four role by the Barons. Very respectable results for a player who didn't turn 21 until the season was nearly over. But as Baron's head coach Todd Nelson told Jonathan Willis in Februrary, there is still room to grow.
Gernat has to learn intensity consistently. He’s able to make plays; everybody knows that. He has to learn intensity consistently and playing strong in the corners and in front of the net. That’s all it comes down to for him. He can develop skills – everybody can be a better skater – but progression for him, I think he needs a good couple of years at this level.
In that same interview Nelson talks about Gernat needing to get stronger, something that wouldn't be surprising to anyone who saw him play with the Oil Kings. At 6'5" skinny doesn't really begin to describe him. That message of strength seems to be a something that Gernat has taken to heart, he's now listed on the Oilers website as weighing 202lbs up from 191lbs last season. It's a good start, but even carrying a few extra pounds Gernat is still at least a season away from making an appearance with the Oilers.
And to make that jump Gernat is going to have to have another strong season with the Barons this year. Initially I expect that he'll be competing for ice time with Klefbom until he makes his way to Edmonton, and will have a couple other prospects in David Musil and Dillon Simpson pushing for ice time as well. Throw Nurse's name into the mix and there are a lot of players in the system looking to grab just a couple spots with the big club. Gernat can't afford to slip at all or he might lose his spot.