I had the cool opportunity yesterday to go out and see the Billy Moores cup. Our current crop of Edmonton Oilers prospects looks extremely promising. From goal-tending prospect Stuart Skinner to Kirill Maksimov and Graham McPhee to big names like Yamamoto and Bouchard. I have to give credit to Keith Gretzky and Bob Green for scouting and drafting as well as they have. Here are my notes on who impressed me and who did not.
Top Tier Prospects
Billy Moores Cup: The Edmonton Oilers, in my opinion, has three top-tier quality prospects, Evan Bouchard, Kailer Yamamoto, and Stuart Skinner. Here is how they fared last night in my opinion.
Stuart Skinner– Skinner, looked very impressive to my eye. He made a lot of good saves and was very calm in net. I don’t remember having any scrambling moments at all. There was one extremely good save he made when he went post to post and robbed a guy of an easy tap-in goal.
Evan Bouchard– Wow are we ever lucky he slipped down to 10, he is a fantastic prospect. He is incredibly calm under pressure making a ton of crisp tape to tape outlet passes to get out of trouble. Bouchard does not seem to play an overly aggressive game but is very good at using his stick to knock the puck off the opponent’s stick. He scored one goal of a ripper of a slapshot and had two assists on the night.
Kailer Yamamoto– Yamamoto is the most NHL ready prospect we have, period. He had the habit of making his opponents look like beer league players tonight, and it was very encouraging to see. Yamamoto had two goals tonight, one scored on an easy tap-in off a feed from Ryan McLeod. The other he scored was on a breakaway on an impressive through pass from Graham McPhee. He looks poised and ready to make the jump to the big club in 18-19.
Saw ‘Em Good
There were a couple of other prospects that showed an impressive amount of skill and talent. I saw a lot of talent at forward, and they stood out.
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Kirill Maksimov– I like this guy, has an unusual last name. Regarding his performance the first half he was a little invisible and didn’t stand out. The second half, however, he turned it up in a big way scoring two very impressive goals. The kid has a wicked release and does not take long to get it off. He seems to know where the scoring areas are on the ice and don’t make a lot of mistakes when he gets the chance to get his shot off.
Ryan McLeod– This guy is going to be good. He was so fast out there; I would say the second fastest player next to Yamamoto. He seems to have eyes in the back of his head, making some slick passes including a beautiful cross-crease pass to Yamamoto for the tap in. He’s a very hard-working guy on the ice and reminds me of Tyler Pitlick or Andrew Cogliano.
Graham McPhee– My dark horse candidate for training camp is this guy. I am very pleasantly surprised by McPhee; he’s a very aggressive player, a lot of sandpaper in his game. He was terrific along the boards winning the majority of his battles. He also scored a slick backhander off of a nice pass from Bouchard.
Saw ‘Em Okay
These players were just okay. They all had some good moments but in total were not overly impressive.
Tyler Benson– Outside of one nice assist, the 2016 2nd round pick did not impress me. He looked disengaged at times. It may have something to do with the unbalanced teams they put together (Yamamoto, Bouchard, and Skinner were all on team Messier). It seemed like he struggled to stand out in any significant way. He does look more comfortable on the ice through which is a hopeful sign that he’s on his way back on track. I sincerely hope he can stay healthy from now on.
Shane Starrett– Starrett is not going to be an NHL goalie. I don’t think he has the top end skill, and at 23, how much better can he get. He has a problem with rebound control to my eye like a lot of pucks pop out of him into the slot. Only had one goal against on an excellent move by Yamamoto.
Caleb Jones– His skating is exceptionally slick, he’s excellent on his edges. He went up and down the ice a lot and had a couple of nice pinches. He did, however, get caught deep on a two on 1 and will need to work on picking his spots better.
Saw ‘Em Rough
Only a handful of players didn’t wow me out there. Albeit one game is a super small sample size, in a game as loose and non-competitive as this was, It’s worrying these players didn’t impress.
Dylan Wells– Unfortunately for him he got the shortest straw in the goalie draw. Having to start against a fresh Bouchard, Yamamoto, and McLeod is a daunting task. He did have some good moments but got burned for three goals against off Yamamoto, Bouchard, and McPhee. That backhander by McPhee while a nice shot, should not have gone in between the arm and shoulder like that. The other two you can’t really fault Wells for but three goals against is an ugly showing no matter how you slice it.
Michael Kesselring– He’s an extremely raw talent. His skating is his biggest shortcomings he was noticeably a step behind a lot of the other prospects. He did have a particularly terrible shift where he got caught deep and was totally lost in his own zone when he got back. Has a good shot and some good instincts. Made some good passes but at this point is a long-term project.
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This was a fun way to spend a Thursday night. Edmonton is quietly creating a good pipeline of prospects and I’m excited to see which players end up as NHL regulars. Unfortunately, now that this is over we have to wait till September to see Oilers hockey again which makes me very sad.
Well in the meantime it’s time to gear up for free agency.