When our Top 25 Under 25 last checked in with Anton Slepyshev, the Russian forward drafted by the Oilers in the third round of the 2013 Entry Draft, we found him right on the bubble, in the number 25 spot. It's a year later and now we've ranked him at number 15. No player ranked inside the Top 25 in the Summer 2014 edition of rankings saw a bigger increase in his ranking this time around than Slepyshev.
|15||Anton Slepyshev||1994-05-13||2013 - 88th||12||12||18||18||17||16||14||12||15||12|
The rankings above show that we're basically in agreement about Slepyshev (as much as ten Oilers fans can ever agree on anything), with all the votes placing him within three spots of his final rank. Interestingly, the same was true in the last Top 25 Under 25 when all but one voter put Slepyshev within three spots the 25th spot. Be it good or bad, we're all seeing the same thing when it comes to Slepyshev.
And what is it that we see? To answer that it helps if we take a look back to the summer of 2013. This is what Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus had to say about Slepyshev following the 2013 draft:
The Good: Slepyshev is a gifted all-around offensive forward. He is a good skater, as he displays great agility, edge work, and first few steps. He is a skilled puck handler, with the coordination to make above-average to plus plays with the puck. He also has a great shot and can score from mid-distance.
The Bad: Slepyshev's defensive game is below average, and he needs to continue to gain strength. His playmaking can be solid at times, but other times, he can be a little selfish.
Projection: He could be a second line winger.
In the year following the draft though, the supposedly "gifted all-around offensive forward" was nowhere to be found. An eight point campaign in 36 games in the KHL did little to instil confidence that Slepyshev was much of anything, let alone a potential second line forward. Part of the problem was ice time, he just wasn't getting much, but when an offensive prospect doesn't put up much in the way of offence that's a concern. Add in the uncertainty that comes with Russian prospects in general, and you can understand how he dropped in our rankings from 18 following the draft, to 20, and then to 25th overall last summer.
This year though, things were different for Slepyshev. Eventually at least. As noted on by Jonathan Willis at the Cult of Hockey Slepyshev's ice time continued to be an area of concern early in the season. But eventually Slepyshev managed to find his scoring touch and as Bruce McCurdy (also from the Cult of Hockey) shows, the minutes followed as well. In 58 games this season Slepyshev record 15 goals - good for a third place tie on Ufa Salavat with Teemu Hartikainen - and added another 10 assists. Those scoring totals were good enough to get the Oilers attention and to convince them that he's worth an entry level contract.
So what lies ahead for Slepyshev in the 2015/16 season?
Right now all signs point to his spending most of the season in the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors, where he'll have to adjust to life in North America. Playing with the Condors the Oilers should be able to get Slepyshev all the ice time that they feel he needs and/or can handle; something I would guess that he'll enjoy after finding himself spending a lot of time sitting on the bench over the last two seasons. And if he can use that ice time to build on his 2014/15 season, showing us all why he was considered a "gifted all-around offensive forward," then he might be a name you hear tossed around later in the season as a possible call up for the Oilers.