The Edmonton Oilers are in a period of transition when it comes to the prospects currently in their system. For one of the first times in recent years, the club features more talented prospects at defense and is perhaps a bit thin when it comes to forward prospects.
All of the young Oilers hopefuls will take part in the annual Oilers Young Stars Classic beginning on Thursday, September 5 with a game against the Calgary Flames.
While the NHL club may not have many roster spots open for a young forward to break into the league, the Young Stars Classic is a good chance to begin establishing a reputation as a reliable player.
Here is a look at the Edmonton Oilers’ prospects at forward.
Should Roy have a breakout Young Stars showing he could be a first call up for the Oilers this season.
The Edmonton Oilers are thin when it comes to NHL ready center icemen, but the team does have a couple of interesting prospects waiting in the junior ranks that could eventually fill in some spots for the club going forward.
Headlining the group would be Marco Roy, who the Oilers selected in the second round (56th overall) of the 2013 entry draft. In Roy, the Oilers have a speedy center with a bit of size that has started to embrace the offensive aspect of his game.
The 6’0”, 175 pound center had 29 goals and 38 assists in 65 games for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and will look to continue his development this season.
After Roy, the Oilers second best center prospect would be former Edmonton Oil King, Travis Ewanyk.
Ewanyk developed a reputation as a very reliable faceoff man, something the Oilers are in desperate need of, and could see his efficient two-way play land himself a chance with the NHL club.
Fans should not expect much offensive contribution from Ewanyk, but he will be the type of player who should draw tough defensive assignments and shutdown minutes at the next level.
Jujhar Khaira could be a fan favorite if he makes it to Edmonton.
After registering 36 points in 50 games for the Belleville Bulls of the OHL, Daniil Zharkov decided to sign a two-year deal in the KHL, which should allow the talented Russian forward continue to develop his offensive skills against much stronger opponents.
It is always worrying when a young European player decides to sign with a KHL team, but the Oilers maintain his rights and could very well convince Zharkov to come back to North America.
After Zharkov, the Oilers' best left wing prospect would be Jujhar Khaira, a late third-round pick who has all of the makings of a power forward at the NHL level, something the Oilers desperately need.
Khaira could be a fan favorite in Edmonton, the Surrey B.C. native is a hard working forward who has decent speed and hands and is unafraid to mix it up when necessary. Khaira brings some "sandpaper" that the Oilers currently lack at all levels within their system.
Mitch Moroz is another exciting power forward prospect within the Oilers system. The former Edmonton Oil King standout plays the game with a very high tempo and an aggressive physical presence and should be an energetic role player for the Oilers once he makes that next step.
If Moroz can improve his offensive game a bit he should have no problem securing a place on one of the bottom six forward roles for the Oilers in the next year or two.
The Edmonton Oilers are very thin on organization depth at the right wing position, having graduated their only significant prospect, Nail Yakupov, last season.
After Yakupov the talent level drastically drops off and Cameron Abney may find himself as the best right wing prospect that the Oilers have in their system.
Abney is a decent skater but it is his physical play and willingness to drop the gloves and fight that help him stand out. At 6’4” and nearly 200 pounds, the Oilers are hoping that Abney can develop some offensive awareness and contribute beyond fighting.
Jackson Houck is another energy player who may not have top-end talent but has the motor and the drive to compete. Houck is another physical player who loves to throw the body around and battle in the rough areas which should earn him a look at the NHL level should he continue to develop.
Houck has limited offensive skills but his strong defensive game and leadership qualities will all help him progress from the WHL into the AHL, and hopefully play for the Oilers one day.