With the Oilers all but eliminated from playoff contention before December, fans and management will be looking to see how well certain prospects are coming along.
Unlike previous seasons the Oilers have a solid cache of young defensive prospects that could help shore up a struggling defensive group in the next few years
However the Oilers farm system is quite low on top-tier forward prospects thanks in large part to high draft selections already playing in the NHL.
This is a look at ultimate potential and the ceiling for each player and projected roles should each player meet or surpass expectations.
Here’s a look at the top-end potential for the Oilers’ best prospects.
Projection: second-pairing defenseman
A lot can be said by the lack of verbal commitment to Martin Marincin from new Oilers GM Craig MacTavish, but Marincin is almost certainly still the third best defensive prospect in the Oilers system at the moment.
What makes Marincin so intriguing is that he is a large defender who possesses legitimate NHL skating and puck-handling ability.
If Marincin can increase his defensive prowess he could be a valuable piece to the Oilers long term plans.
Marco Roy could develop into a very useful NHL player in the next couple of years.
Projection: Depth forward
The Oilers have graduated a lot of young talented forwards out of the juniors in the last few seasons so it’s interesting to actually have a kid who is still developing at the junior level.
In Roy, the Oilers have a player who plays a responsible two-way game with decent skating ability and an above-average hockey intelligence.
Roy is a very responsible player with a surprising amount of offensive upside who could be a great penalty killer at the NHL level.
Oscar Klefbom could make his debut for the Oilers this season.
Projection: Top-Pairing defenseman
Oscar Klefbom is widely viewed as the Oilers most NHL-ready prospect and may very well see some time for the Oilers this season.
Klefbom has had a bit of a slow transition to the North American professional game, likely hindered by recovery from shoulder surgery last season, but Klefbom possesses all of the skill to be a top-pairing defender for years to come.
Klefbom is an excellent two-way defender who possess size, speed and a willingness to engage physically that the Oilers have lacked on the blueline for the past few seasons.
He is a great passer, but may not produce a lot of points for the Oilers once he makes it to the NHL.
His defensive contributions however will make a huge impact for the club.
Projection: Platoon goaltender
Laurent Brossoit is an interesting prospect for the Edmonton Oilers. Acquired in a trade with the Calgary Flames that saw seven-year Oiler Ladislav Smid head to Calgary, Brossoit certainly has the skill to be a solid goaltender in the NHL should he develop and realize his potential.
The Oilers are quite familiar with Brossoit, after the netminder was a workhorse for the Edmonton Oil Kings for the past three seasons. And though the trade may have been to clear up salary cap space for Ilya Bryzgalov, Brossoit could emerge as an excellent addition.
The knock on Brossoit is that he sometimes lacks concentration and is prone to give up soft goals so it will be interesting to see if his time in the ECHL this year helps him progress towards making the NHL in the next couple of seasons.
Brossoit may never develop into an elite NHL goaltender but if he can overcome some of the mental hurdles during his development, he could be a very serviceable goaltender at some point in his career.
Nurse should anchor the Oilers blueline for many years to come.
Projection: Top-pairing defenseman
Darnell Nurse was one of the last cuts by the Oilers out of training camp and it was apparent by his emotional response, the Nurse felt that he had a great showing as well.
It may have been difficult for the Oilers to send him back to the OHL but in the end it is almost certainly the best move for the young defender, as he continues to develop his game and mature physically.
At 6’5” and 185 lbs. Nurse has room to grow into his tall frame and will provide the Oilers with strength and size for years to come.
The selection of Nurse signified a shift from the selecting skilled forwards in the NHL entry draft and Nurse may just have a larger impact on the Oilers club than any of the forwards selected by the team before him.