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30 in 30

Top prospects for Edmonton Oilers

Right wing Jesse Puljujarvi expected to make immediate impact

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Edmonton Oilers.

The Edmonton Oilers' inability to develop players selected after the first round of the NHL Draft in recent years has attributed to their struggles. Shortly after being hired as general manager in April 2015, Peter Chiarelli made major changes to the scouting staff in an effort to improve the development system.

So far, early returns have looked positive, with Edmonton having a number of talented prospects working their way through its system.

Here are the Oilers' top five prospects, according to NHL.com: 
 
1. Jesse Puljujarvi, RW 
 
How acquired:
Selected with No. 4 pick of 2016 NHL Draft 
 
Last season: Karpat (SM-Liiga Finland): 50 GP, 13-15-28 
 
The Oilers felt fortunate Puljujarvi, 18, was available at No. 4, after he was projected to go in the top three behind forwards Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. Puljujarvi became available to Edmonton after the Columbus Blue Jackets selected center Pierre-Luc Dubois at No. 3.

Oilers 30 in 30: Season outlook | Fantasy outlook | Burning questions, reasons for optimism

Video: CAMP RAW | Jesse Puljujarvi on Day 2
 
Coach Todd McLellan said Puljujarvi (6-foot-4, 203 pounds) can step into a top-six role immediately, a factor in trading left wing Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils.
 
"I think Jesse is going to dictate his entry into the League and the pace of it," McLellan said. "He's a very highly skilled player that's played with men. When you draft a player from a junior team over here or a U.S. college, they've been playing with young men. Jesse has played in the pro league over there (Finland) against men, and I think that gives him a little bit of a head start."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

2. Drake Caggiula, LW
 
How acquired:
Signed as free agent, May 7, 2016
 
Last season: University of North Dakota (NCAA): 39 GP, 25-26-51
 
Caggiula, 22, helped North Dakota win the 2016 NCAA championship and was named the tournament's most outstanding player. In four seasons at North Dakota, Caggiula had 127 points (62 goals, 65 assists) in 162 games. 

A skilled forward, Caggiula (5-9, 185) could push for a roster spot at training camp but is likely to start the season with Bakersfield of the American Hockey League. He had a number of suitors coming out of college but felt the lure of playing in a new arena with Connor McDavid.

"I think [professional hockey] is a little different than college hockey; everyone is bigger, faster, stronger, smarter," Caggiula said. "There is going to be an adjustment period, but at the same time, I think I'm a quick learner and I hope I can learn as quick as possible and get accustomed to the pro game, and hopefully it turns out well for myself."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

3. Laurent Brossoit, G 
 
How acquired:
In trade with Calgary Flames, Nov. 8, 2013 
 
Last season: Edmonton: 5 GP, 0-4-1, 3.61 GAA, .873 SV%; Bakersfield (AHL): 31 GP, 18-9-3, 2.66 GAA, .920 SV%
 
Brossoit, 23, is projected to be the Oilers goaltender of the future and was one of the principals in a trade with the Flames involving defenseman Ladislav Smid. Edmonton has been careful not to rush the prospect, allowing him ample time to develop in its system. 

The Oilers are familiar with Brossoit's capabilities. He helped Edmonton of the Western Hockey League win a championship and a berth into the Memorial Cup in 2013.

Video: 1-ON-1 | Brossoit at Oilers Hockey School

Brossoit (6-3, 202) finished last season with the Oilers as Cam Talbot's backup, but with the signing of goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, it's likely Brossoit will play in Bakersfield and get another full season of development.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

4. Anton Slepyshev, LW

How acquired: Selected with No. 88 pick of 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: Edmonton, 11 GP, 0-1-1; Bakersfield, AHL, 49 GP, 13-8-21

Slepyshev, 22, made the Oilers out of training camp last season but was sent to the AHL after 11 games. He struggled to keep up once opponents began to find their stride in the regular season. The Oilers are still high on Slepyshev (6-2, 187) and believe he could eventually fill a useful role on left wing. He is likely to spend another full season in the AHL, but could be recalled if the Oilers run into injury problems. 

Slepyshev spent four seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League before coming to North America, and the Oilers feel he's further along than many of their prospects as a result.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

5. Ethan Bear, D 
 
How acquired:
Selected with No. 124 pick of 2015 NHL Draft 
 
Last season: Seattle (WHL): 69 GP, 19-46-65
 
The Oilers are in search of an offensive, right-shot defenseman and may be developing a very good one. Bear, 19, had an outstanding season in Seattle and then had eight goals and 14 assists in 18 playoff games when the Thunderbirds made it to the Western Hockey League final, where they lost to Brandon. 

Bear (5-11, 198) signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Edmonton in the offseason. He'll return to the WHL this season and look to improve on his offensive totals.

Projected NHL arrival: 2018-19

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