Oilers Prospects – TheOilKnight.ca
 

Category: Oilers Prospects

Bios on prospects drafted by Edmonton

By the OilKnight 01/05/20

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Welcome to the 2020 edition of the Condor Report!

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I made a New year’s resolution this year to cover the Bakersfield Condors as much as I can in addition to the all draft eligible prospect stuff I do for a couple of reasons:

For one, there are no Edmonton Oilers prospects in the OHL currently and I miss them. Secondly, you the fans demand more content and I’m all about supply and demand.

So, what I’ll be doing now that I officially have the AHL TV pass is provide you as much content as I can regarding our Edmonton Oilers prospects. In particular, I will be focusing on 5 players specifically: Evan Bouchard, Tyler Benson, Ryan McLeod, Dmitri Samorukov & Kirill Maksimov. The best part too tracking all these guys is they all kind of offer something different in terms of skill-sets. For the 2nd night in a row, Samorukov did not play after taking a puck in the face 2 games ago. 

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Bakersfield vs. San Diego 01/04/20 – Condors win 2-1 in SO

Lines:

Benson-Marody-Currie

Esposito-Cave-Maksimov

Gambardella-Malone-Miles Koules

Stukel-McLeod-Hebig

 

PP#1

Benson-Marody-Currie-Cave-Day

PP#2

Malone-Cave-McLeod-Bouchard-Persson/Manning

 

PK units:

Esposito-Cave-Kulevich-Day

McLeod-Maksimov-Bouchard-Lowe

 

Game recap: The Condors didn’t necessarily deserve to win this game but G Stuart Skinner was terrific again and kept them in it until Luke Esposito tied it in the 3rd. Skinner, finished with 39 saves and many were of the difficult variety especially in the 2nd period where he & the Condors killed off 4 consecutive penalties in 7 minutes, including a 5 on 3 man advantage. Meanwhile, the Maksimov-Cave-Esposito line was the best line for Bakersfield. They created several chances, scored the tying goal in the 3rd, and Maksimov secured the 2 points with the shootout winner. 

My analysis: Pretty lackadaisical effort & sloppy execution but their goalie bailed them out. PP was absolutely awful again and badly needs an infusion of new personnel. Not having Maksimov on the PP is an absolute disgrace at this point, and the coaching staff continues to start Logan Day ahead of Evan Bouchard which is a mistake. But remember, coach Jay Woodcroft was the PP coach in Edmonton in 2017-18 when they finished LAST in the NHL on the PP despite having McDavid, Draisaitl, Hopkins & Klefbom. That quartet is currently the #1 PP unit in the league as of today. 

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The Big 5

 

If you missed my article from earlier today, I am focusing on 5 major prospects. Tyler Benson and the 4 OHL prospects from last year. You can find scouting reports on those 4 here:

Bouchard scouting report

McLeod scouting report

Maksimov scouting report

Samorukov scouting report

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Individual Performances

Evan Bouchard

Bouch was a little more quiet tonight but was still solid in all facets. Showed a bit more aggression tonight including one sequence near the boards where I though he was actually going to drop the gloves. Excellent at zone entries again by my eye. Pushed the pace late 2nd period and into 3rd as Bakersfield tried to tie it. Had a chance to end it late but drew a penalty. 4 shots on goal. Was on ice for first goal as attacker got behind he and Benson for a breakaway after Bakersfield nearly scored on a rebound seconds before. Overall, played with poise, made mostly good decisions, looked confident – again. 

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Tyler Benson

Benson was just ok tonight. Looked a bit tired at times. Only had one shot in the game until with 15 seconds left he took a big shot that was saved by Anthony Stolarz. His line with Marody and Currie was a bit off tonight. Forced too much and created too many turnovers. I’d have to go over the tape again but not a whole lot else to report. 

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Ryan McLeod

Skated well but he always does that. Questionable shot selection as he continues to tease with speed but doesn’t use it effectively enough to go hard to the net. In back to back nights, I’ve seen several examples of him going wide with speed and not getting a shot off, or he cuts into the middle of double coverage and attempts a screened shot from far out. Doesn’t appear to want it bad enough still. It was a re-occurring theme in OHL viewings and still an issue here. His line was benched for last 9 minutes or so of the game though he made a terrific defensive play as last man back in 3 on 3 OT. 

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Kirill Maksimov

Maksimov was very good once again tonight and as mentioned, I thought his line was the most productive. He did take one of his patented bad penalties – a retaliatory slash which was the 4th of 4 consecutive penalties. But other than that, I thought he was engaged, aggressive as usual on the forecheck, and forcing turnovers. Had a great chance in close early that Stolarz just got a piece of. Didn’t see the ice in OT but got a chance to win the game in the shootout and did exactly that. Still blows my mind how he is not on the PP. The pressure is on to make changes. He’s too good not to keep off any longer. 

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Conclusion

As mentioned Dmitri Samorukov was injured and did not play this game. Overall, the Condors got lucky thanks to some great goaltending. But the big take away is once again, their PP is AWFUL and needs some major adjustments. They went 0 for 10 in these 2 games yet somehow managed to win both. That needs to change fast! Also of note, Shane Starrett who has been out for most of the season, was the backup tonight. That’s great news for this team.

Next game is on Wednesday vs. Stockton.

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To comment, please do so via Twitter @TheOilKnight



By the OilKnight 01/03/20

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Welcome to the 2020 edition of the Condor Report!

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I made a New year’s resolution this year to cover the Bakersfield Condors as much as I can in addition to the all draft eligible prospect stuff I do for a couple of reasons:

For one, there are no Edmonton Oilers prospects in the OHL currently and I miss them. Secondly, you the fans demand more content and I’m all about supply and demand.

So, what I’ll be doing now that I officially have the AHL TV pass is provide you as much content as I can regarding our Edmonton Oilers prospects. In particular, I will be focusing on 5 players specifically: Evan Bouchard, Tyler Benson, Ryan McLeod, Dmitri Samorukov & Kirill Maksimov. The best part too tracking all these guys is they all kind of offer something different in terms of skill-sets. This game though, Samorukov did not play after taking a puck in the face last game apparently. 

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Bakersfield vs. San Diego 01/03/20 – Condors win 3-2

Lines:

Benson-Marody-Currie

Gambardella-Malone-Miles Koules

Esposito-Cave-Maksimov

Stukel-McLeod-Hebig

PP#1

Benson-Marody-Currie-Gambardella-Day

PP#2

Malone-Cave-McLeod-Bouchard-Persson/Manning

PK units:

Esposito-Cave-Kulevich-Day

McLeod-Maksimov-Bouchard-Lowe

Game recap: The Condors came out flying scoring 2 goals in just over 2 minutes. The Gulls fought back to tie it 2-2 after controlling the majority of the 2nd period. But, the Condors got a goal in the 3rd and hung on as Stuart Skinner was excellent in this one. 

My analysis: I gotta be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with the line combinations (big surprise I know). My BIGGEST issue though is on the Powerplay where it is pretty much a gongshow right now. See, this team is a lot like their parent club in Edmonton. They’re not a great 5 on 5 team. If, they are going to win games they need to be good on special teams. Call-ups have killed their depth especially on D (Jones, Bear, Lagesson & Yamamato up front). But, it appears they still have the pieces to be good on both units but are not utilizing them properly to take advantage of their abilities. 

By now you’re probably saying “what does this guy know, he watched one game“. Now, I may not have seen a lot of Condor games this season but I watched all these OHL kids for 4 years before they even got there. I’ve written numerous articles on their strengths & weaknesses over those 4 years for different outlets, and have been around the game my whole life.

In case anyone is not familiar with what Kirill Maksimov is good at (and that includes Jay Woodcroft), take a look at this:

Why is that guy not on your Powerplay? Either the left half wall or playing the bumper position in the middle? My friend Rich on Twitter tells me “they pass way too much on the PP”. Well, that’s because they are all PASS FIRST players on the PP.

Benson – passing playmaker, 7 goals in 30 games. Marody – not a shooter, 5 goals in 26 games. Gambardella, Currie, Logan Day? 

If you want to score on the PP you need shooting threats to score on the PP it’s simple. Maksimov is a shooter and has a helluva shot. It is NHL caliber. Why are you not taking advantage of that? And why is Logan Day quarterbacking your powerplay when Evan Bouchard is EASILY the better option and has been doing it for years at a very successful rate? 

I hate to be the guy that always questions the coaching staff but come on – it’s common sense. What is he waiting for? The team is 18th in the league and has two LEGIT PP threats that he is choosing NOT to use on the Top unit – in favor of ineffective veterans. That’s my only real beef so far. Maksimov shoots like Ovechkin from the left circle and your PP is struggling….so put him on the PK? Put both Maksimov & Bouchard out there and let them shoot the lights out. It’s 30 games into the season now stop fooling around by creating some imaginary pecking order. Play the best options regardless of age……..period. But Woodcroft is a McLellan disciple and loves his vets….

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The Big 5

So, now I’ll give you my breakdown of the 5 main prospects I talked about. I always strive to give un-bias analysis and give you good and bad not sugar-coated. That will vary from game to game depending on their performances obviously. FYI, I wrote articles on the (4 now former) OHL prospects for the Edmonton Journal in the summer, and highlighted the things they needed to work on as they turned to minor pro. You can find those here:

Bouchard scouting report

McLeod scouting report

Maksimov scouting report

Samorukov scouting report

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Individual Performances

Evan Bouchard

Bouch was terrific all night. He moved the puck extremely well. Was good on retrievals. Showed off his tremendous poise with the puck. Made plenty of good decisions. Led several successful breakouts and defended well. I thought he was the best player on the ice last night. Looked in compete control all game. Helped preserve a one goal lead late with a blocked shot & penalty drawn to ice the clock. Wasn’t overly aggressive, did get beat once trying to stick check but recovered well. Overall, excellent game.

#2 Evan Bouchard

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Tyler Benson

I haven’t watched Benson consistently for a long time admittedly. I didn’t see him much in his draft year as he was hurt for more than half of it & my viewings of him have been sporadic at best since then. What I do know is he isn’t the fastest or toughest player but makes up for it with his hockey IQ, passing & good positioning. That’s pretty much what I saw last night.

Benson is a natural playmaker and exhibits excellent vision and passing ability. That was obvious last night. There were times though, I thought his lack of speed did allow defenders to close the gap quickly. Unable to beat defenders wide, he coughed up the puck a few times along the boards. Board play in general was rather poor. But overall, I thought he had a good game and at this point I’m still not sure how well his game will translate to the NHL. He’s still a wildcard for me. Has he earned a promotion? Absolutely. Will his production translate into a Top 6 role in Edmonton? Still not sure but it’s time to find out me thinks. 

#16 Tyler Benson

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Ryan McLeod

To the untrained eye, McLeod is often seen as  “had a good game” because he was “flying out there”. I know because I’ve seen and heard it for 4 years. The reality is, the biggest knock on his game is he has speed for miles but doesn’t go hard enough to the net & is viewed as a perimeter player. We saw a few examples of that again last night. Even the scramble at the side of the net he didn’t move his feet just reached from the outside to try and bank it in (though he then passed to Bouch for a goal). Puck died on his stick a few times along the boards when he was checked. Poor decision to skate into middle with two defenders there and shoot from far out when could have fought harder for a better scoring chance. “Settled” for low percentage shots. Still a great skater, defensively responsible but work still needs to be done to get greasier chances. Did show some jam in a couple board battles. Need to see more of that.

#29 Ryan McLeod

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Kirill Maksimov

The challenges for Maksimov as he turned pro were to constantly be moving his feet and not take dumb penalties. No PIMs last night and I thought he was moving his feet all game. Was aggressive on forecheck & on the backcheck creating several turnovers. Great in puck protection along the boards & keeping pucks alive. Didn’t get many Grade A chances but was around the puck a lot. It appears he is relegated to 2nd PK unit and little to no PP time which is extremely disappointing right now considering how well he is playing at both ends of ice & the natural PP weapon he is. Patience I guess but the skating was a positive for sure. Remember, he was basically out for 5 months from March-August with a knee injury. Seems to back to form now. 

#11 Kirill Maksimov

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Conclusion

As mentioned Dmitri Samorukov was injured and did not play this game. Overall, I thought Bouchard looks to take over as the Top Dman in Bakersfield. Benson appears ready for his NHL call-up. McLeod still has work to do to get greasier, and Maksimov seems to be doing everything right to get more opportunity in an offensive role. Again, it was just one game but now that I have the AHL TV pass, I will continue to provide you the fans updates on all our favourite prospects. Stay tuned!

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To comment, please do so via Twitter @TheOilKnight

By the OilKnight 03/30/19

Guelph Storm 40-18-6-4 vs. London Knights 46-15-6-1

Round 2 of the OHL playoffs kick off this week. There might not be a more anticipated series in recent memory than this, as the 4th place Guelph Storm take on the 1st place London Knights. Regular season standings aside, both teams are absolutely loaded and primed for a Memorial Cup run. Problem is, only one team gets to advance. So a very good team is going home after this Round which is a shame but harsh reality. It should be a heckuva series that might take the full seven games to ultimately determine a winner.

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Guelph Storm

Guelph is a veteran team loaded with experience. Of their Top 9 scoring forwards, 8 of them are already 20 yrs old or will be 20 yrs old this year. On defence, 5 of their Top 6 defencemen are or will be 20 yrs old this year. Their goalie Anthony Popovich, also turns 20 this summer. Which means, they’re all in on this season.

courtesy of guelphstorm.com

The Storm are led by their captain Isaac Ratcliffe (2nd rd, PHI) up front who had 50 goals this year, along with midseason additions and Team Canada alum Nick Suzuki (1st rd, MTL) and Mackenzie Entwhistle (3rd rd, ARZ). Both Suzuki & Entwhistle had 30+ goals, as did veterans Nate Schnarr (3rd rd, ARZ) & Liam Hawel (4th rd, DAL) making them a dangerous team up front. Schnarr in fact, was their leading point getter with 102 points. They are not an overlay fast group but they are physical & aggressive forecheckers, who tend to create havoc in the opponent’s zone and cause a lot of turnovers.

Sean Durzi (2nd rd, LA) heads a much improved defensive unit that really came into their own in the 2nd of the season especially with the addition of another Team Canada alum Markus Phillips (4th rd, LA). Dmitri Samorukov (3rd rd, EDM) might be the most improved player in the league since the World Juniors. In total, 11 players have been drafted by NHL clubs. They’re big, they’re experienced, and they have 4 lines that come at you hard, along with a talented and aggressive defence.

G Anthony Popovich struggled a bit this year, but always seem to give the Knights fits. 18 yr old Nico Daws is a very capable backup if Popovich falters.

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London Knights

Unlike Guelph, London has a nice mix of veterans, 2019 draft eligibles & 16 yr olds who helped lead them to a 1st place finish in the OHL. The Knights only have 8 players drafted by an NHL team, though two of them are Top 10 NHL picks, while another was taken 18th overall (Liam Foudy).

Evan Bouchard of London Knights (Claus Anderson/Getty Images)

London’s strength is on the backend, where they are led by captain Evan Bouchard (1st rd, EDM) and Adam Boqvist (1st rd, CHI). Both put tremendous pressure on opposing dmen with their terrific puck rushing ability & offensive pedigree. Bouchard is easily the best Powerplay quarterback in the OHL, and Boqvist might be the best pinching in from the point. Boqvist scored 4 goals in one game vs. Windsor, and Bouchard already has 10 points in 4 games. Much of London’s success depends on those two not only on the offensive end, but also the defensive end where they both really struggled at times during the regular season. Against Guelph, they will be tested by the Storm’s relentless forecheck and need to be up to the challenge. Otherwise, London will have a tough time keeping up with Guelph’s potent offence.

Up front, London is led by Alex Formenton (2nd rd, OTT), Liam Foudy (1st rd, CLB), and undrafted overager and team leading scorer in the regular season – Kevin Hancock. Formenton is a possession monster who can beat you with his dynamic speed if you’re not careful. He’s always looking for that stretch pass behind the defence. Foudy is almost as fast and dynamic as him. Both need to do a much better job of finishing though. The key in this series will be secondary scoring from guys like Connor McMichael, Nathan Dunkley & Cole Tymkin. All of whom had excellent starts to the season but faded down the stretch. If they can chip in a few goals in this series, and the defence holds up defensively, London can win this series. Jordan Kooy (6th rd, VGK) will likely be in net after a solid Round 1.

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How they matchup

London went 7 for 13 (53.8%) on the PP in the 1st round against Windsor after finishing 9th in the OHL in the regular season. Don’t expect that to happen again against Guelph who had the 8th best PK this season.

Guelph went 5 for 12 (41.7%) in the opening round after finishing the season with the 3rd best PP in the OHL. London had the #1 PK unit in the league this year.

It should be an incredible series as these teams are evenly matched on paper. London really struggled defensively down the stretch, including two big losses to Guelph where the Knights were outscored by a total of 12-4. This series will come down to London‘s defence vs. Guelph‘s offence and it will probably take the full 7 games to decide a winner. Should be a doozy.

Guelph won the series 4-2 this season.

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To comment, please do so via Twitter @TheOilKnight

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