Top 5 Edmonton Oilers in the System
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The injuries are starting to become aplenty as the Oilers will now be without the services of Tom Gilbert, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and Jordan Eberle for an extended period of time. That's a big chunk of minutes that will be not be easy to replace.
After a hot start, the Oilers have dwindled all the way down to 13th in the Western Conference. That's about the whereabouts many hockey pundits were expecting the team to be performing. It's the halfway point of the season and it doesn't look like playoffs are in the cards this season.
The rebuilding process continues, this season has been considered somewhat of a success despite free falling out of the playoff picture. The Oilers are loaded with talent that hasn't even dawned an Oiler jersey in the regular season yet. Here are the top five Edmonton Oilers in the system:
5.) Tobias Rieder
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Tobias was taken in the fourth round of the 2011 entry draft and hasn't disappointed since. In 31 games for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL, he has 37 points and is leading the team in goals (22) and points. The 18-year-old from Landshut, Germany is a smallish forward but that doesn't stop him from getting his nose dirty.
A high energy player, he competes every night making him a fan favorite in Kitchener, combined with exceptional offensive talent, Tobias could be a future top six forward in the NHL. He recently helped Germany get back to the top division at the World Junior Championships, potting 13 points in five games.
4.) Curtis Hamilton
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The 20-year-old Curtis Hamilton is a similar player to Tobias Rieder. Curtis has more size however, 6'2" and 205 lbs is an NHL-ready build. He's not too far from getting the call, he's currently playing for the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL, Edmonton's farm team affiliate.
He combines his offensive instincts, defensive awareness plus grit to create the ultimate energy player. Currently he has eight points in 28 games in the AHL. Look for him to seriously compete for a spot next season, but he could still be a ways away.
3.) Martin Gernat
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A lanky defenceman (6'5" and 187 lbs) that needs to fill up in order to take the next step in his hockey career. The Oilers keep close tabs on him because he plays right in front of them, at Rexall Place, because he's a member of the Edmonton Oil Kings WHL club.
In his first North American season he's put up an impressive 25 points in 31 games on a stacked Oil Kings team. The Oilers fifth round pick in 2011 is looking like an early steal. He shows great offensive instincts, needs to work on his defence but carries himself with a lot of confidence.
2.) Martin Marincin
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The Oilers have two Martin's who both play for Slovakia's national team, who are both expected to be big pieces on the Oilers blue line for many years to come. Martin Marincin had an impressive first season in North America with the Prince George Cougars of the WHL, collecting 56 points in 67 games. This season he's got 17 points in 30 games, as I'm writing this Martin has been traded to the Regina Pats.
A very comparable player to Martin Gernat, but the 19-year-old Marincin is a bit closer to NHL than 18-year-old Gernat. He's a confident player that has nice offensive tools that needs to work on his defensive game. He should get a good long look to crack the Oilers big team next season.
1.) Oscar Klefbom
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The 18-year-old is playing against 30-year-old men in his native Sweden playing for his hometown team, Farjestads BK Karlstad of the SEL. Don't let his zero points in 17 games with Farjestads discourage you from thinking he's a good player.
He was an important piece of Sweden's gold medal winning team recently at the World Junior Championships recording two points, a team leading plus-eight plus/minus and leading Sweden's defencemen in shots on goal by a substantial margin (23 shots in six games).
He has a nice combination of size and strength (6'2" and 200 lbs) with offensive and defensive tools that have the Oilers brass thinking he could be a top two defenceman in the NHL for many years to come. He's expected to make the move to North America as soon as next season.