Every month throughout the NHL season we’ll be updating you on the development of key Oilers prospects with up-to-date stats, videos and analysis.
Another season and another lottery pick on tap for the Edmonton Oilers.
In an attempt to put a positive spin on the Oilers’ 2015-16 season, it’s been fun to watch Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl tear it up offensively. A number of prospects got an opportunity test their skills with the Oilers this season, to varying degrees of success.
Here’s a look at who’s coming down the pipeline to join graduated prospects McDavid, Draisaitl, and Darnell Nurse on the professional circuit.
Jujhar Khaira: C, Bakersfield Condors, (AHL)
Drafted: Third round, 63rd overall, 2012
Season to date: 39 GP | 10 G | 16 A | 26 P | +7
The Oilers have a great young top-six forward group at the NHL, but much of the club’s struggle to ice a competitive team over the past decade can be traced to its inability to identify talent beyond the run of lottery picks its had.
Khaira is emerging as a decent depth player. A taste of NHL action served the 21-year-old well upon his return to Bakersfield. The native of Surrey, B.C. has six goals and 15 points in 16 games since the beginning of February.
He’s big, plays with a physical edge, and has flashed some ability to score recently. A candidate for regular NHL duty for 2016-17.
Griffin Reinhart: D, Edmonton Oilers
Drafted: First round, 4th overall, 2012
Season to date: 24 GP | 0 G | 1 A | 1 P | -5
He’s up, he’s down, he’s up again…Project Reinhart has not worked out as planned for GM Peter Chiarelli and Co. this season.
Reinhart’s role on the Oilers’ blue-line has been elevated in his latest run at the NHL level. The 22-year-old has played 20 minutes or more in six of the nine games he’s played since being recalled on March 7. The results have been mixed, but at this point it’s time for head coach Todd McLellan to give him some rope and see what happens.
You can’t unscramble eggs and the Oilers can’t have the 16th and 33rd overall picks they shipped to the New York Islanders for Reinhart back.
Anton Slepyshev: LW, Bakersfield Condors, (AHL)
Drafted: Third round, 88th overall, 2013
Season to date: 39 GP | 10 G | 7 A | 17 P | -13
Slepyshev earned a spot in the Oilers lineup out of the gate this season, but the club correctly sent him down to the AHL after he totalled a single assist in 11 games.
The native of Penza, Russia appears to be finding his footing in the North American game.
With three goals and seven points in eight games in the month of March, Slepyshev is showcasing some offensive ability that the Oilers desperately desire from its bottom-six group. It’s still his first season in North America, and there’s plenty of reason for optimism.
Bogdan Yakimov: C, Bakersfield Condors, (AHL)
Drafted: Third round, 83rd overall, 2013
Season to date: 26 GP | 4 G | 8 A | 12 P | -3
Yakimov left the AHL in December and returned to Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik of the Kontinental Hockey League for 11 games. He has one goal and five points in seven games with Bakersfield since bringing his talents back to North America earlier this month.
The Oilers love his 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame. He remains a fascinating prospect in the Oilers system but he’s struggled to find the scoring touch many believe he possesses.
The 21-year-old drew some praise for his play with Neftekhimik in the KHL playoffs.
Laurent Brossoit: G, Edmonton Oilers
Drafted: Sixth round (Calgary Flames), 164th overall, 2011
Season to date: 4 GP | 0-3-1 | 3.24 | .882
Brossoit was one of eight goaltenders to earn at least one start with the Oilers in either the 2013-14 or 2014-15 season. Edmonton appears to have solidified its goaltending situation with the arrival of Cam Talbot this season. Brossoit is a good bet to handle backup duties for the foreseeable future.
The 23-year-old was brilliant in 28 games with Bakersfield, sporting a 2.69 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage before the Anders Nilsson trade opened the door for him to claim the backup role behind Talbot.
Ethan Bear: D, Seattle Thunderbirds, (WHL)
Drafted: Fifth round, 124th overall, 2015
Season to date: 69 GP | 19 G | 46 A | 65 P | +14
What a season for 2015 fifth-round pick Ethan Bear. The 18-year-old was named to the WHL’s Western Conference First All-Star team this week.
Bear was excellent through the final two months of the Thunderbirds’ season, totalling seven goals and 20 points in 20 games. The 5-foot-11 blue-liner is a long way from finding work in the NHL, but he’s catapulted himself up the Oilers’ defensive prospect list.
Seattle won 13 of its final 14 games to take the U.S. Division title. They’ll see the Prince George Cougars in a first-round series in the WHL playoffs.
Caleb Jones: D, Portland Winterhawks, (WHL)
Drafted: Fourth round, 117th overall, 2015
Season to date: 75 GP | 10 G | 45 A | 55 P | +4
Jones, along with Bear, give the Oilers two steady defensive prospects at the junior level.
Jones’ Portland Winterhawks begin their first-round WHL playoff series Friday versus the Everett Silvertips.
Other players of note: Kyle Platzer, Daniil Zharkov, Greg Chase, Kale Kessy, David Musil, Joey LaLeggia, Dillon Simpson, Jordan Oesterle