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Top 25 Under 25 - The Near Misses

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Here we briefly profile players our staff ranked 26-30 to kick off our Top 25 Under 25 series.

Edmonton Oilers 2018-2019 Headshots
Cameron Hebig makes our list of honorable mentions.
Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

Near Misses

Good afternoon, folks! This article marks the (second) unofficial start to our annual Top 25 Under 25 series, as we take a brief look at the players we ranked 30-26.

#26 - C/LW Patrick Siikanen

Vote Breakdown

Player Corey Shona Matt Preston Jeff Fan Vote
Player Corey Shona Matt Preston Jeff Fan Vote
Patrik Siikanen 30 29 19 32 28 30

Siikanen, the Oilers’ 2018 7th-round pick (195th overall), is a 6’1”, 198-pound C/LW who played for the Blues U20 in the Junior-A SM-Liiga. Last season he managed career highs of 17-22-39 in 41 GP, adding another 5-3-8 in 11 GP in the postseason. It is these career highs that led me to rank him so highly, as they ultimately translated into one of the higher NHLe numbers (H/T to Manny at Corsica for all his prospect work) among forwards in Edmonton’s organization. Truth be told, it is pretty difficult to find even enough highlight packages on Siikanen to really form a well-rounded picture of the player, but it appears there may be one here. The knock on Siikanen, as with most forwards who present as talented but languish in the later rounds, is his skating.

What They Say

From a FinnProspects.com scouting report after a game in December 2018:

”Siikanen, who the Edmonton Oilers selected in the 7th round of the 2018 draft, scored a beautiful goal with a hard wrist shot off the rush and also got a primary assist in Blues’ 2-6 win over JYP. He was playing on Blues’ second line and was also featured on the second power play combination.

Siikanen is a big-bodied winger who utilizes his size and skill to create offense. He was able to dangle through defenders on quite a few occasions and displayed decent vision on his passing plays. He also showed very good release on the goal he scored. The big concern with Siikanen is his skating. His acceleration and foot speed seemed both very average for a U20 level, which is not a good sign. His production has also been rather underwhelming for an already-drafted prospect.”

What We Say

Matt - “His projected WAR/82 of 0.13 (I know, basically replacement-level) slotted him well within the top half of the 40-player group we were tasked with ranking. His Make% of 10.29% certainly gives me pause, but honestly, the Oilers’ forward depth is ass. The depth of this list isn’t one that inspires confidence, and this exercise has served to remind me that the Oilers probably should have taken a forward like Cole Caulfield or Trevor Zegras instead of Philip Broberg this June.”


#27 - C Aapeli Rasanen

Vote Breakdown

Player Corey Shona Matt Preston Jeff Fan Vote
Player Corey Shona Matt Preston Jeff Fan Vote
Aapeli Rasanen 29 27 28 30 25 34

Had Aapeli Rasanen -- the 6’0”, 196-pound, right-shooting C who came up through the ranks of the SM-Liiga’s junior leagues before coming to North America to start his NCAA career last season. His first year at Boston College was relatively successful, posting a respectable 4-12-16 in 32 GP. This year, however, Rasanen took a clear step backwards. His boxcars plummeted to a very pedestrian 5-2-7 in 33 GP, which likely kept him out of the Top 25 proper this year.

What They Say

From DobberProspects:

“You never want to see a forward prospect’s offensive production decline but that is exactly what has happened to Räsänen this season. In his first season with Boston College last year, the young Finn recorded 16 points in 32 games (0.5 points per game) but this season he has seen his production decease by more than half as he has recorded a disappointing seven points in 32 games (0.22 points per game) placing him 12th in team scoring. His team has lacked success this season winning just 11 of 34 games to date but still his season has to be seen as disappointing. Räsänen turned heads at the U18s in 2016 and has been pretty productive at the WJC (10 points in 11 total games) but has struggled to make a consistent impact in regular season play in North America the past three years. At this point he has to be seen as a project prospect.”

What We Say

Shona - “I like him because he has decent results. He’s a decent size at 6 foot, has no terrible results at the U-20 tournament for a good team in Finland. He’s got experience playing on North American ice and crucially for me, he didn’t cost the Oilers a lot. A 6th round pick has less impact if he bombs. Placing him in the middle of the pack is hedging my bets -- I don’t think he’s the worst bet, but I know he’s a long shot.”


#28 - C Cameron Hebig

Vote Breakdown

Player Corey Shona Matt Preston Jeff Fan Vote
Player Corey Shona Matt Preston Jeff Fan Vote
Cameron Hebig 27 30 20 27 35 26

Hebig -- a 6’0” 183-pounder -- projects as a bottom-six, hard-working forward at the highest level (if at all). He started off his AHL career on fire with 6-6-12 in his first 11 GP. He cooled off considerably and settled in with middling offensive numbers by season’s end, but there’s a lot to like here. Hebig gets up and down the ice well enough and has a good head for all three zones. His projected WAR/82 of 0.09 indicates little gamebreaking ability, but that there may well be an NHL player here at some point - especially given the league’s fetish for guys who can do everything at a base level, even if they do nothing at a high level.

What They Say

From DobberProspects:

“Hebig has (sic) a fantastic start to his pro career registering six goals and 12 points in his first 11 games with the Bakersfield Condors. Unfortunately, since his hot start, the young forward’s production has essentially evaporated. To date, Hebig has recorded 11 goals and 23 points in 54 games (11 points in his last 43 games). His 23 points places him 11th in team scoring and he would likely be lower than that if players like Caleb Jones and Kailer Yamamoto didn’t spend time in the NHL with the Oilers. Hebig plays a 200-foot game and does have some offensive tools but he isn’t a consistent threat at the AHL level yet. He should be considered a project at this point.”

What We Say

Jeff - “Cam Hebig is a right shot centre, which is something that could fit nicely on the third line in Edmonton this year. Though the Oilers could use a 3C with a right handed shot, Hebig is still a ways away from the dance. Hebig finished with 29 points in 64 games with the Condors this year. If Hebig has a year in 2019-20 like Joe Gambardella did in 2018-19, Hebig will jump up into my mid 20s.”


#29 - G Dylan Wells

Vote Breakdown

Player Corey Shona Matt Preston Jeff Fan Vote
Player Corey Shona Matt Preston Jeff Fan Vote
Dylan Wells 28 25 36 29 27 23

Goaltender Dylan Wells -- drafted 123rd overall in 2016 -- spent the bulk of 2018-19 playing with the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL. He started in the AHL, but after middling results, found himself back in Wichita, where he posted a 0.912 SV% and a 12-5-2 in 22GP, earning a recall for Bakersfield’s playoff run. He only saw action in one postseason contest, but he performed admirably, posting a 0.921 SV% as he turned away 35 of the 38 shots he faced.

Look for Wells to battle with Stuart Skinner for the AHL backup role behind the incumbent - and surprising - Shane Starrett, who came out of nowhere and backstopped the Bakersfield Condors during their historic win streak.

What They Say

From DobberProspects:

“Much like with fellow Oilers’ goalie prospect Stuart Skinner, Wells is in his first pro season and is still making adjustments at the pro level. Wells has had slightly better success statistically than Skinner this season by recording a 3.04 goals against average and a .912 save percentage in 22 games for the Wichita Thunder (compared to Skinner’s 3.20 and .906 in 30 games). In his brief time with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL Wells has recorded a 3.01 goals against average and .902 save percentage. The young netminder is still a couple seasons away from potentially challenging for a roster spot with the Oilers and as with most goaltender prospects, patience will be key in Wells’ development.”

What We Say

Matt - “The last Oilers-drafted goaltender to play any amount of time with the big club was Tyler Bunz, whose cameo lasted all of one period and resulted in three goals against. I ranked all of the goaltenders fairly low for this reason save for Konovalov, whose KHL numbers were more impressive than either Skinner or Wells were last year.”


#30 - D Philip Kemp

Vote Breakdown

Player Corey Shona Matt Preston Jeff Fan Vote
Player Corey Shona Matt Preston Jeff Fan Vote
Philip Kemp 25 28 38 25 37 25

Philip Kemp -- a 6’1”, 203-pounder -- is your typical stay-at-home defensive defenseman who isn’t flashy but whose scouting reports are brimming with those nebulous intangibles that have made hockey men wet for decades. Neither a prolific scorer or an adept puck-mover, Kemp’s strengths appear to lie in his ability to lead groups of teenagers in international tournaments. The former Team USA WJHC captain has plied his trade with Yale in the NCAA for the last two seasons, managing a paltry 6-10-16 combined in 56 GP.

Look for Kemp to finish his career in the NCAA, and don’t be surprised if his future mirrors that of recently dealt John Marino.

What They Say

From DobberProspects:

“Much like his play on the ice, Kemp’s season has been steady. He’ll never be a big point-producer but you know what you get from Kemp. He is a big-bodied defender who plays a sound defensive game and doesn’t hesitate to engage physically. His eight points in 28 games aren’t jaw-dropping by any means but they essentially match the eight points in 26 games that he produced last year at Yale. The highlight of the season for Kemp had to be making the US World Junior team. His stay-at-home style as well as his praised leadership abilities are what earned him a spot on that US team. He recorded one assist in seven games at the World Junior Championship. In a world where puck-moving defenders are all the rage, it is hard to say how Kemp will fit into the Oilers’ future plans as well as how effective he will be at the pro level in the future.”

What We Say

Corey - “Philip Kemp is big defenceman with an impeccable amateur pedigree. The Yale Bulldogs standout has represented the United States at the international level on several occasions. Most notably last season, when he brought home a silver medal in the IIHF world junior hockey championships.

If we were evaluating simply on a player’s floor, the steady 20-year-old would probably have made the list comfortably. However, a lack of point production at any level makes me wonder if Kemp has the offensive game to ever play in the top four of a quality AHL lineup, let alone the NHL.

As a former seventh round pick, even an honorable mention is a strong testament to Kemp’s value as a prospect. But, until I see some quality offensive results from Kemp, I have a hard time putting him in the top 25.”


In Conclusion

These five players all represent projects to various degrees. None of them are sure bets to play even a single game at the NHL level, but some of them might. It’s the same with every team this deep into any organization’s prospect pool, but it was interesting to see how our rankings were basically the inverse of the fan’s perspective. Outliers have a greater affect on the average when there are only five voters, mind.

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts? Feel free to discuss in the comments.

Don’t forget to check back next week as our first detailed article releases Monday afternoon, taking a look at our 25th ranked player!