Edmonton Oilers: Can Anton Slepyshev Earn a Full-Time Gig

EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 30: Anton Slepyshev. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 30: Anton Slepyshev. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Since being taken in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Anton Slepyshev has been readying himself and competing for a gig in the NHL.

The 23-year-old played two seasons in the KHL prior to coming to North America, where he would finish with 18 goals and 33 points in 94 games with Salavat Yulaea Ufa. In addition to his ice time in the KHL, he would suit up for 19 international games with Russia, racking up four goals and 10 points. Slepyshev also earned the captaincy on Russia’s U20 squad for the 2014 World Junior Championship.

So, with an impressive resume and decent scoring totals, the Russian winger came to the Oilers organization for the 2015-16 campaign. He mainly played at the AHL level with Bakersfield, impressing with 13 goals and 21 points through 49 games. Slepyshev also got the chance to play 11 games in the NHL but didn’t carry over his star power, registering just a lone assist and a minus-5 rating.

Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers /

Edmonton Oilers

This past season marked a different milestone for Slepyshev when he cracked the opening night roster as an extra forward. Due to injuries to start the year, as well as Kris Versteeg’s choice to sign with Calgary, Slepyshev earned the promotion to the NHL level. He suited up for 41 regular season games with the Oilers, recording four goals and 10 points. He did play nine games with the Condors and shined with three goals and 10 points.

When it comes to considering this past season, however, Slepyshev truly shined in the postseason. Though he had just three goals to show for 12 playoff games, he made himself a force to be reckoned with. When on the ice, he utilized his speed and shot, making himself an absolute force on the forecheck. In addition, Slepyshev played a better two-way game, racking up 12 hits and six takeaways for just four giveaways.

Slepyshev’s Road to a Full-Time Gig

When it comes to analyzing his full impact on the ice, Slepyshev is working toward becoming a necessary player to have in the lineup. He is a fast winger with scoring prowess and a great shot. In addition, the 6-foot-2, 218-pound winger plays a physical game and isn’t afraid to engage in battles for the puck or throw his weight around.

EDMONTON, AB – APRIL 20: Anton Slepyshev
EDMONTON, AB – APRIL 20: Anton Slepyshev /

There are some instances of his play that are worrying. First off, his production at the NHL level is somewhat lacklustre – in fact, he appears to show more lethal ability at the lower levels. This not only makes him more of an asset at the AHL level but also indicates that he could benefit from more development in the minors. Not only that, he needs to work on his two-way play, and do more on the backcheck. His possession metrics are not impressive, either, and at times, he will find himself losing control of the puck.

Coming into this season, the Oilers have a number of promising forwards looking to make an impact. Not only are players Jussi Jokinen and Ryan Strome coming in and looking to make an impact at their respective positions, but a number of younger prospects are also looking for NHL ice time.

Kailer Yamamoto is making a case for a spot on the opening night roster, and Jesse Puljujarvi and Jujhar Khaira are just two wingers who will be seeking an NHL promotion. Looking at these young talents, they all have the ability that Slepyshev possesses but seem more adept to produce at the NHL level.

Bottom Line

If Slepyshev wants to remain with the team, he will have to step up and add more edge to his game.

First off, while he is able to make smart offensive plays, he needs to have results to show for it. He is a winger that takes a lot of shots and shows a lot of speed on offence, so if he continues to make a push and get pucks on goal and make more passes, good things will happen.

Also, Slepyshev must work on his two-way play; he already brings a lot of physicality to the table but could do more to block shots and win battles for the puck, as well as increase his overall offensive awareness.

Next: Edmonton Oilers Prospect Profiles: Vincent Desharnais

Overall, he is on his way to a promising NHL career and has the upside to become a top-six winger, but Slepyshev needs to have more to show for it.