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July 28, 2013
Top 10 Prospects 2013
Edmonton Oliers

by Corey Pronman

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Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

Edmonton Oilers Top 10 Prospects

1. Oscar Klefbom, Defense
2. Darnell Nurse, Defense
3. Martin Marincin, Defense
4. Toni Rajala, Left Wing
5. Anton Slepyshev, Left Wing
6. Martin Gernat, Defense
7. Jujhar Khaira, Left Wing
8. Marc-Olivier Roy, Right Wing
9. Bogdan Yakimov, Center
10. David Musil, Defense

Organizational Ranking: 15th

System Overview

Edmonton earns praise for their great offensive core at the NHL level, but in the pipeline, defense is their strength. Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse are top-tier prospects, and Martin Marincin is a good one. The quality depth in Edmonton's pipeline is just average, although the overall depth is good, as decent prospects like Erik Gustafsson, Jackson Houck, and Travis Ewanyk were left off of Edmonton's top 15.

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1. Oscar Klefbom, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 3rd
Date of birth: 07/20/1993
Age: 20
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 201
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 11 GP, 0 G, 3 P (Farjestad, SEL)
Acquired: First round, 19th overall in 2011 by Edmonton

Year in Review: Klefbom had flashes of dominance as a U20 in the top Swedish league, although he played a sheltered role in some games. A midseason shoulder injury ended his year.

The Good: Klefbom is a gifted athlete with high-end physical tools. He is a plus skater with great acceleration and he moves exceptionally well for a player his size. Aside from having good size, Klefbom is very physically advanced for his age, and he uses his frame to win battles and lay quality hits on opposing forwards. Klefbom has solid puck skills and he flashes slightly above-average vision as well.

The Bad: Klefbom's issue has traditionally been his decision making, and he needs repetitions to smoothen out the raw aspects of his game. He was really starting to come along this season, but a shoulder injury ended his year early. He does have offensive skill, but he will never produce more than an average amount of offense.

Projection: He could be a #2 defenseman.

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2. Darnell Nurse, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 02/04/1995
Age: 18
Height: 6'4''
Weight: 185
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 68 GP, 12 G, 41 P (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL)
Acquired: First round, seventh overall in 2013 by Edmonton

Year in Review: Nurse had a great second OHL season, as he was among the top 20 in scoring by league defensemen. He logged the toughest minutes for the Greyhounds as a true top-end shutdown defender. He also won the OHL's Scholastic Player of the Year.

The Good: Nurse is a great athlete with all the physical tools necessary, and he has impressive hockey sense. He is a big, tough defenseman with a high amount of physicality. Nurse skates at an above-average level, if not better, and he can close his gaps very well for a big defenseman. He makes all the right reads defensively, be it when to hit, try to stick check, block a lane, or position his body in a certain way. Nurse also outlets the puck well, and he projects as a second power play type of player.

The Bad: His offensive upside is not an issue, but at the same time, it is not a strength. Nurse's shot could use some work, and he needs to continue to gain strength.

Projection: He could be a top pairing defenseman.

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3. Martin Marincin, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 4th
Date of birth: 02/18/1992
Age: 21
Height: 6'5''
Weight: 196
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 69 GP, 7 G, 30 P (Oklahoma City, AHL)
Acquired: Second round, 46th overall in 2010 by Edmonton

Year in Review: Marincin was up-and-down in his rookie AHL season, but he looked very good towards the end of the season.

The Good: Marincin is a toolsy, big defenseman who can skate, puck handle, and move the puck at notably above-average levels, particularly for a player his size. He moves in every direction well, can flash significant offensive playmaking skills, and looks very good on the man advantage. When he is on, he has the instincts and puck skills to consistently create chances while keeping play flowing in the right direction.

The Bad: Marincin struggled with play in his own end, as well as decision making, although he improved as the season went along. He looked inconsistent with decisions early in his WHL days, and some of the same problems surfaced as Marincin tried to adjust to the pace of the pro game.

Projection: He could be a good second pairing defenseman.

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4. Toni Rajala, Left Wing
2011-12 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 03/29/1991
Age: 22
Height: 5'10''
Weight: 163
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 46 GP, 17 G, 45 P (Oklahoma City, AHL)
Acquired: Fourth round, 101st overall in 2009 by Edmonton

Year in Review: Rajala increased his stock as much as almost any other prospect this season. He started the year in the ECHL after being a slightly above-average player in Finland, and he ended up as one of the top offensive players in the AHL.

The Good: Rajala is a dynamic and exciting forward. He has great puck skills, displaying the ability to make defensemen miss with consistency while generating a lot from his individual skill. He is also an above-average distributor who is not selfish, despite his great hands. He makes all the right reads and his decisions are quick. Rajala skates at a good level, with quality speed and agility.

The Bad: His physical game is a major question mark. Rajala is small and very slight, with a major need to bulk up as much as he can. His defense also needs work.

Projection: He could be a second line winger.

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5. Anton Slepyshev, Left Wing
2011-12 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 05/13/1994
Age: 19
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 194
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 26 GP, 7 G, 9 P (Metallurg Novokuznetsk/Salavat Yulaev Ufa, KHL)
Acquired: Third round, 88th overall in 2013 by Edmonton

Year in Review: Slepyshev was just average to start the year, and he also suffered a nasty collarbone injury. He returned to play on the second line for Russia at the World Juniors, and he was better in the KHL when he was traded to Ufa. He was one of the only U19 players to be a KHL regular all year.

The Good: Slepyshev is a gifted all-around offensive forward. He is a good skater, as he displays great agility, edge work, and first few steps. He is a skilled puck handler, with the coordination to make above-average to plus plays with the puck. He also has a great shot and can score from mid-distance.

The Bad: Slepyshev's defensive game is below average, and he needs to continue to gain strength. His playmaking can be solid at times, but other times, he can be a little selfish.

Projection: He could be a second line winger.

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6. Martin Gernat, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 5th
Date of birth: 04/11/1993
Age: 20
Height: 6'5''
Weight: 191
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 23 GP, 3 G, 13 P (Edmonton, WHL)
Acquired: Fifth round, 122nd overall in 2011 by Edmonton

Year in Review: He missed most of the season due to a shoulder injury, but he looked mostly like the 2011-12 Gernat when he came back.

The Good: Gernat is an offensively-skilled big defenseman. He is a good skater, especially for his size, with impressive mobility and speed. He also moves the puck at an above-average level, and like with his skating, he is unusually skilled in that area for a big man. Gernat is creative, with good offensive instincts.

The Bad: Gernat is still a work in progress with his all-around game. His decision making can be suspect (usually without the puck). His defensive reads and positioning need to be addressed. He also is not the most physical player.

Projection: He could be a decent second pairing defender, but with risk. He may have to be a third pairing, sheltered defenseman.

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7. Jujhar Khaira, Left Wing
2011-12 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 05/19/1992
Age: 18
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 195
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 37 GP, 6 G, 25 P (Michigan Tech, NCAA)
Acquired: Third round, 63rd overall in 2012 by Edmonton

Year in Review: Khaira had a decent year, placing third on Michigan Tech in scoring, and he was among the top 25 freshman in the nation.

The Good: Khaira is a hard-working, physical forward. When he fills out, he will be a physical weapon for his team, as Michigan Tech used him in front of the net on the power play. He has above-average hands, and while he is not a dynamic offensive player, he can make plays with the puck, and he has some creativity. Khaira has fine vision, with more of a pass-first mentality. He can play center or wing, but he projects as a winger.

The Bad: His skating is average, and while he does not lag, he could use an extra gear to elevate his value. He needs to bulk up a lot and work on his defensive game, although the latter showed improvements towards the end of the season.

Projection: He could be an average second line forward.

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8.Marc-Olivier Roy, Right Wing
2011-12 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 11/05/1994
Age: 18
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 175
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 65 GP, 29 G, 67 P (Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL)
Acquired: Second round, 56th overall in 2013 by Edmonton

Year in Review: Roy took significant steps in his development this season, as he was one of his team's top offensive players, and he displayed two-way value.

The Good: Roy is a very good skater who plays the game at a high tempo. His speed is high end, and he is agile, with good edge work. On most nights, he looks like an all-around forward, as he will combine his great speed with hits, backchecking, and some solid offensive instincts.

The Bad: Scouts have mentioned that consistency has been an issue for Roy, be it with his offensive creation or his physical play. He also needs to bulk up.

Projection: He could be an average NHL forward.

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9.Bogdan Yakimov, Center
2011-12 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 10/04/1994
Age: 18
Height: 6'5''
Weight: 202
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 37 GP, 8 G, 22 P (Dizek/Izhstal, VHL)
Acquired: Third round, 83rd overall in 2013 by Edmonton

Year in Review: Yakimov was an above-average player in the KHL's minor league, but he was a last cut from the Russian World Junior team.

The Good: Yakimov is a huge, skilled center. He is a legit 6'5'', and he can protect the puck well with his frame. He will not blow anyone away with flash, but Yakimov has solid puck skills, and above-average hockey sense. He can make a lot of plays, he sees the ice well, and his decisions are quick. He is effective in the cycle game, and he wins battles.

The Bad: Yakimov's skating is his most notable concern. He is a sluggish, big man who needs work on his first few steps. He also needs to continue to gain strength.

Projection: He has top-six potential, albeit with above-average risk.

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10.David Musil, Defense
2011-12 Ranking: 7th
Date of birth: 04/09/1993
Age: 20
Height: 6'4''
Weight: 203
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 62 GP, 9 G, 31 P (Vancouver/Edmonton, WHL)
Acquired: Second round, 31st overall in 2011 by Edmonton

Year in Review: Musil had a solid last WHL season, although his production dipped after the trade to a deeper Oil Kings team. He struggled in international play.

The Good: Musil is a quality defensive defenseman who makes a lot of stops. He has great defensive hockey sense, a big, sturdy frame that he does not shy away from using, and a risk-averse style of play, as he keeps the play in front of him. His decision making is usually correct, he does not panic with the puck, and he is strong on his checks.

The Bad: Musil's offensive upside has never been a strong point of his game, but it also has not been an area that has really developed since the draft. He has the sense to make plays, but he does not impress during games in that area, aside from some good reads. His skating is below average as well. He still has a little room to fill out.

Projection: He could be a great third pairing defenseman.

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The Next Five

11. Daniil Zharkov, Left Wing: Zharkov is a big, skilled winger, but his production simply has not come. Whether it is his hockey sense or his consistency, Zharkov has not been able to produce like his talent says he should.

12. Joey LaLegga, Defense: LaLegga has been a top-10 scoring defenseman in the NCAA over the last two seasons. He skates and moves the puck really well, but he is 5'9''.

13. Dillon Simpson, Defense: Simpson is a good offensive defender, with flash in his game. His skating has gotten better, but it remains just average, and his defense is also roughly average.

14. Taylor Fedun, Defense: His skating is not the best, but Fedun can move the puck well, and he can make some stops. He could be a third pairing defenseman in the NHL as soon as next season.

15. Andrew Miller, Center: Miller is really small, but he is quick, has good skill, and sets up his teammates well. He may not be dynamic enough to make it at his size, but he has potential.

The Sleeper: Kyle Platzer, Center

It is possible Platzer would be a more-touted prospect if he played on a worse OHL team than London, where he was buried on the depth chart. His skill level is high, and he has the potential to score.

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Edmonton Oilers Organizational Top 10

Players 22 or under as of 09/15/2013 or still considered a prospect as defined here.

1. Taylor Hall, Left Wing
2. Nail Yakupov, Right Wing
3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Center
4. Oscar Klefbom, Defense
5. Darnell Nurse, Defense
6. Martin Marincin, Defense
7. Toni Rajala, Left Wing
8. Anton Slepyshev, Left Wing
9. Martin Gernat, Defense
10. Anton Lander, Center

Taylor Hall is one of the best wingers in the NHL, and with the Oilers steadily improving, he should be set to put up huge numbers for the next few seasons. Yakupov was up-and-down in his rookie season, but he flashed his elite potential. His great speed, skill, and shot should have him amassing points in bunches in no time. Nugent-Hopkins was a part of Edmonton's great top line this past season. His skill level is tremendous, but his upside may be a tier below the other two top picks. Lander continued to be average as a North American pro, and while he still has potential as an above-average NHLer, if he becomes a good checking third line center it may be considered a win at this point.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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Top 10 Prospects 2013 (07/26)
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Top 10 Prospects 2013 (07/26)
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Top 10 Prospects 2013 (07/31)
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Top 10 Prospects 2013 (07/31)

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