After a season of development and growth for Oilers prospects, EdmontonOilers.com sat down with Oilers Senior Director of Player Development Rick Carriere to get an update on the state of the prospect pool.
D Ethan Bear
2016-17 Seattle Thunderbirds: 67 GP, 28-42-70
"A very promising defence prospect. He had a strong year and helped lead his team to the Western Hockey League championship. They won that then went to the Memorial Cup. He broke a bone in his finger and he ended up playing through all that in the last round of the playoffs. It was a pretty gritty effort on his part. A lot of the same things with Ethan and Caleb (Jones) in that their game with the puck wasn't so much to be concerned with. Ethan moves the puck really well, he's got a cannon for a shot from the blueline - it's lethal - and he creates a lot of other things with that shot. He's able to dish the puck off a little bit because everybody keys on him so much. He's learned with his awareness, now in the offensive zone, to dish the puck off a little bit more and move it to other people. His defensive game has improved, his work in the corners and uses his stick better in his end of the rink now. He maintains the defensive side really well. I think Ethan's made a lot of progress over the last season."
F Jujhar Khaira
2016-17 Edmonton Oilers: 10 GP, 1-0-1
2016-17 Bakersfield Condors: 27 GP, 8-12-20
"He spent some time up and down this season. Looks like he's really progressed well. His game has improved, his development curve has been good. He's been offset by some injuries that I think have maybe slowed things a little bit but his skating and his playmaking seem to be a lot better. When he gets up here in the NHL, there are still things he's working on."
Video: ARI@EDM: Khaira deflects puck in for first NHL goal
G Nick Ellis
2016-17 Bakersfield Condors: 34 GP, 16-12-2-1
"Nick Ellis had a good year for a first-year pro making the transition from college. He had LB (Laurent Brossoit) with him at the start. He was competing for starts and he was getting some. He studies the game so well and he's good positionally. A lot of those guys (goalies in the AHL) need to work on their rebound control, dealing with traffic and tracking the puck. To not let a screen be an excuse to do everything they can to find the puck. And then at that level, too, is to be able to work with the puck outside the crease. To get behind the net, stop it, make a play or set the puck up - little things like that go a long way."
F Joey Laleggia
2016-17 Bakersfield Condors: 67 GP, 20-18-38
"We drafted him as a defenceman and he played defence in college. He started out as a defenceman in Bakersfield and then to try to get him more ice time, they moved him up front two seasons ago. Then last year they had some injuries and got banged up early. They were a little bit short at forward so they took Joey and made him a full-time forward. I thought he flourished. He was playing in the top six and most often he was on the first line. He was a guy that can make contributions offensively, too. He's got a great shot, good offensive instincts and he's quick. He can make some plays, so he was an asset as a forward there. I think it's always good to have some versatility, it opens more doors to you down the road if he can play both positions."
D Jordan Oesterle
2016-17 Bakersfield Condors: 44 GP, 7-25-32
2016-17 Edmonton Oilers: 2 GP, 0-0-0
"The key to his game is pace. When he plays at a high tempo, a high pace game, everything flows from that. When he gets back for the puck quick, makes plays and gets up the ice he can join the attack and be productive that way. He's still working on his defensive game. It's not so much his positioning but it's actually in the contact situations: getting a stick on the puck, finishing checks and strength in the corners and front of the net."
D Ben Betker
2016-17 Norfolk Admirals: 5 GP, 3-2-5
2016-17 Bakersfield Condors: 30 GP, 1-5-6
"Ben had kind of an up-and-down year with injuries as well. He had a concussion and picked up Valley Fever so he lost some weight and was out of the lineup for a while. He got back into the lineup towards the end of the year. The big thing with Ben that we've always seen is his assets. He's a big guy, he's mobile, he's got a pretty good shot and he can work along the offensive blueline pretty well. Defensively he's in good position, we would just like him to be more physical more consistently."
D Matthew Cairns
2016-17 Powell River Kings: 18 GP, 2-14-16
2016-17 Fargo Force: 17 GP, 0-4-4
"Good size. Skating is the area he needs to do some more work with. More mobility and foot speed but he's a big guy and he plays physical. He's moved from one situation in the USHL to a team in the B.C. Junior League and he was able to play a bit more. He got the coach's confidence there. He earned some good ice time and found a little bit of offence. He's off to school next year at Cornell so we'll see how he manages that."
F Tyler Vesel
2016-17 University of Nebraska-Omaha: 39 GP, 14-21-35
"Tyler had a good year according to all reports. He was the go-to guy this year. They were able to generate some offence with him. His skating is good. He's a fearless shot blocker and a solid penalty killer. He improved on his faceoffs, so a lot of positive reports with him. He's developing into a good two-way centreman."