In year’s past, the Condors Report has been able to give insight into the Edmonton Oilers’ affiliate in Bakersfield. However, not all of the prospects within the farm system play in the AHL. So in an effort to expand the coverage related to the Oilers system, this season we’ll be looking at more frequent updates throughout the pipeline with a new series called “Oilers Prospects Update”.
This first edition takes a look at three prospects that ranked among the Oilers Top 10 Prospects list this summer. Tyler Benson (fifth), Kirill Maksimov (ninth), and Ryan McLeod (seventh) are off and running out of the gate this season. While Benson scored his first career AHL goal this past weekend, Maksimov and McLeod are running over the competition in the OHL.
Edmonton Oilers – Top 10 Prospects
|1||Evan Bouchard (RD)||London (OHL)||67||25||62||87|
|2||Kailer Yamamoto (RW)||Spokane (WHL)||40||21||43||64|
|3||Stuart Skinner (G)||Swift Current (WHL)||56||30||3.06||.905|
|4||Ethan Bear (RD)||Bakersfield (AHL)||37||6||12||18|
|5||Tyler Benson (LW)||Vancouver (WHL)||58||27||42||69|
|6||Cooper Marody (C)||U. Michigan (NCAA)||40||16||35||51|
|7||Ryan McLeod (C)||Mississauga (OHL)||68||26||44||70|
|8||Caleb Jones (LD)||Bakersfield (AHL)||58||2||15||17|
|9||Kirill Maksimov (RW)||Niagara (OHL)||62||34||46||80|
|10||Ostap Safin (RW)||Saint John (QMJHL)||61||26||32||58|
* Note: All statistics in the table above are from the 2017-18 season.
Tyler Benson: Scores First AHL Goal
Drafted: 32nd Overall, 2016 | Prospect Rank: 5th
2018-19 Team:Bakersfield Condors (AHL) | Stats: 2 GP – 1 G – 1 A – 2 PTS
As mentioned, Benson scored his first career AHL goal this past weekend in an 8-1 drubbing of the Calgary Flames’ farm club, the Stockton Heat. That decisive win has some significance as it’s the first time an AHL team has scored eight or more goals on opening night since the Grand Rapids Griffins trumped the Rochester Americans 8-1 back in October 2013.
Related: Edmonton Oilers Top 10 Prospects
As per Benson, he’s currently on a line with Cooper Marody and Tyler Vesel. His goal on opening night padded Bakersfield’s lead to 4-0 midway through the second period and it was smooth sailings from there on that night. That said, things didn’t go so smoothly in the Condors second game of the season where they lost 5-1 to the San Jose Barracuda. Benson was held pointless that night but still managed two shots on goal.
Injuries have been a concern, but this was the first time since being drafted 32nd overall in 2016 that Benson was healthy throughout the summer and participated in all on-ice competition for training camp. He looked great on “The Kid Line” with McLeod and Kailer Yamamoto during pre-season and now looks to start off strong in the AHL.
Expect Benson to continue getting top-six minutes as a left wing option for Condors head coach Jay Woodcroft who’s also in his first season with the AHL club. As the NHL season wears on, keep an eye on Benson who could be one of the first forwards called up from the farm to play in a top-nine role. Others to consider as injury call-ups are Cooper Marody and Cameron Hebig.
Kirill Maksimov: Can He Score 50 Goals?
Drafted: 146th Overall, 2017 | Prospect Rank: 9th
2018-19 Team: Niagara IceDogs (OHL) | Stats: 6 GP – 6 G – 3 A – 9 PTS
A lot of folks were disappointed to see Maksimov sent home so early from Oilers training camp. He didn’t play in a single preseason game before going back to the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs. Whether it’s a natural progression, or a desire to prove the organization wrong for not giving him a longer shake, Maksimov’s tearing the OHL apart to start the season.
Maksimov’s put up an impressive goal-per-game and a total of nine points in six games for Niagara. He’s had a point in each of the IceDogs’ games this season which brings his point streak to six games. In the two games Maksimov’s team played against McLeod’s Mississauga Steelheads, Maksimov has scored a total of four goals.
The 19-year-old exploded for 34 goals and 80 points in his draft-plus-one year last season and now looks to surpass that total in what’s possibly his last stint in the OHL. He’s currently tied for the OHL lead for most power play goals (three) with McLeod’s teammate Cole Carter. It’s entirely possible Maksimov eclipses 50 goals, which would make him the first Oilers OHL prospect to do so since Rob Schremp potted 57 goals in 2005-06.
So keep an eye on the talented Russian. He’s already looking like a great late round discovery. Maksimov should naturally find himself in the conversation for Team Russia at the upcoming World Junior Championships in Vancouver. He didn’t make the team last year and ended up sticking it to the Russian’s down the stretch with some fine play after their roster was announced last December. Will they be foolish enough to overlook Maksimov again?
That’s a storyline to follow as the year progresses.
Ryan McLeod: Draft Day Steal
Drafted: 32nd Overall, 2016 | Prospect Rank: 5th
2018-19 Team: Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) | Stats: 4 GP – 1 G – 5 A – 6 PTS
When the mid-season rankings come out, Benson, Maksimov, and McLeod could all find themselves amongst the Oilers top five prospects. McLeod’s already turning heads after a strong pre-season that had him as one of the final 17 forwards at camp. He was re-assigned as Mississauga kicked off their OHL season and has carried his momentum into the early part of the year for the Steelheads.
He’s currently ranked amongst the Top 50 scorers in the OHL right now, and a point surge is likely imminent. It’s possible McLeod finishes with a 30 goal, 90 plus-point season when all is said and done. In the meantime, he’s been an absolute joy for Oiler fans who should count their lucky stars.
If it weren’t for a late spree on defensemen in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft, McLeod likely wouldn’t even be an Oiler prospect. Eight of the final 11 selections to end the first round (No. 21-31) were blue liners. That pushed into the early second as well with four more going before McLeod eventually fell into the Oilers lap at No. 40.
Related: Ryan McLeod – 2018 Draft Day Steal
He’s a smart two-way center that’s strong on draws, can put up points, and is a strong skater. McLeod’s got all the tools to end a horrid track record for Edmonton and their second-round selections. The last time the Oilers found a legit NHL’er in the second round was 12 years ago when they drafted Jeff Petry. Since then, the list has been bowling shoe ugly. McLeod and Benson both give some hope to the franchise in that respect that they’ve turned this around.
In the meantime, McLeod’s Steelheads had two exciting games versus Maksimov’s IceDogs. McLeod missed the season opener in a wild 8-6 affair in which Maksimov potted two goals. In their most recent matchup on Oct. 6, Maksimov’s IceDogs got out to a 2-0 lead before McLeod led the Steelheads back to tie the game at 2-2 with a goal and an assist on the power play in 59 seconds.
Maksimov later tied the game at 4-4 late in the third before Mississauga took the win in overtime. The season series between these two Oiler prospects is knotted at one apiece, with their next head-to-head games being back-to-backs on Nov. 1 and 2. Circle those dates on your calendar folks!
Edmonton Oilers regular contributor providing insight on all things Oilers including club history, prospect profiles, trade breakdowns, and everything else in between. Check back regularly for new and exciting content. Follow on Twitter @SanderTHW.