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31 in 31

Top prospects for Edmonton Oilers

Puljujarvi, No. 4 pick in 2016 Draft, expected to take next step this season

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Edmonton Oilers.

The Edmonton Oilers failed to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for 11 consecutive seasons, a drought directly tied to their draft and development weaknesses.

But after the Oilers clinched a berth last season, they are hoping an overhauled scouting and development system under general manager Peter Chiarelli will make them regular postseason participants.

 

[OILERS 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the numbers]

 

Here are the Oilers' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

 

1. Jesse Puljujarvi, RW

How acquired: Selected with No. 4 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Edmonton: 28 GP, 1-7-8; Bakersfield (AHL): 39 GP, 12-16-28

Puljujarvi stayed with the Oilers out of training camp, but as the pace of games increased, he struggled with effectiveness at both ends, hardly surprising for an 18-year-old. Puljujarvi was scratched 10 times in 18 games from Dec. 1 until he was assigned to Bakersfield of the American Hockey League on Jan. 9.

Speed is no trouble for Puljujarvi (6-foot-4, 203 pounds), but in the jump to the NHL there was so much that was new or foreign, including language, that it eventually caught up to him.

Once Puljujarvi, now 19, settled with Bakersfield, his offensive gifts and playmaking began to show, a sign the Oilers hope bodes well for training camp.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: CGY@EDM: Puljujarvi scores first career goal

 

2. Kailer Yamamoto, RW

How acquired: Selected with No. 22 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: Spokane (WHL): 65 GP, 42-57-99

Yamamoto's high hockey IQ and compete level convinced the Oilers he was worth a first-round selection.

The 18-year-old from Spokane, Washington was the smallest player (5-8, 153) chosen in the first round, but his pure scoring touch and strong skating will enhance his chances for a future in the NHL.

Yamamoto will have another year of junior eligibility to add some physical maturity to his exceptional skills. The Oilers don't need bulk from Yamamoto, they have plenty of that on their NHL roster. They will foster his development as an offensive player who has a knack of finding a way to use his skills.

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

Video: Oilers draft F Kailer Yamamoto No. 22

 

3. Tyler Benson, LW

How acquired: Selected with No. 32 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Vancouver (WHL): 33 GP, 11-31-42

The Edmonton native, 19, heads into his final season of junior eligibility hoping it will be a full season.

Benson has had extensive setbacks with injuries, including groin, back and the accompanying compensations that lead to more problems. He had surgery to repair a sports hernia last season.

All of that has limited him to 63 games the past two seasons. A sturdy forward (6-0, 201) with soft hands and offensive upside, Benson can play a heavier game when required.

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

 

4. Caleb Jones, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 117 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Portland (WHL): 63 GP, 9-53-62

The younger brother of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones will turn pro this season, another big jump on the development path.

Caleb, 20, had an impressive showing for the United States at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he played an effective two-way game to help the U.S. win the gold medal. With his junior team in Portland last season, Jones (6-1, 192) was a driver of pace and offense with 53 assists and nearly a point per game (0.98).

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

 

5. Ethan Bear, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 124 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Seattle (WHL): 67 GP, 28-42-70

The WHL defenseman of the year last season, Bear, 20, turns pro this season. His offensive gifts helped him score nine game-winning goals last season, most among WHL defensemen, and 14 power-play goals, second among defensemen to David Quenneville of Medicine Hat (16).

Bear (5-11, 198) has a big shot, the ability to generate offense and to run a power play. Like Jones, the Oilers see a defenseman with a quality foundation who will benefit from developing in the AHL this season.

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

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