Ah, competitive rebuilding. The plan that has allowed the Edmonton Oilers to take a few extra months off while the rest of the hockey world slogs on into the summer. The plan that has allowed the Oilers to stockpile 15th overall talent. The plan that has brought the Oilers past the first round only twice in a decade. And while it may be the New NHL, it's the same-old for the Oil. Not only has the team splurged on free agents like Dustin Penner and Sheldon Souray, they've given their farm team a good workout. Cogliano, Gagner, Brodziak and Gilbert are just the tip of the iceberg. Here are three more names headed to the big club in the near future.
Liam Reddox, LW- It's a funny world we live in when a former fourth round pick and a former seventh round pick are outperforming first-rounders. But that's what's happening in Edmonton. Heart-and-soul defensive forward Kyle Brodziak was a revelation in camp, jumping ahead of Marc Pouliot and Rob Schremp in the quest for an NHL spot. One of the team's early scoring leaders, Brodziak has since cooled off, and is now on the IR. Cue Liam Reddox. A tiny Energizer Bunny of a winger drafted out of Peterborough way back in 2004, the 5'9 left winger popped home 30+ goals two out of three years in the O. Left for dead after an abysmal 19-goal campaign as a 19/20 year-old, Reddox has since fought his way up through the ECHL, AHL... and now the show. With 10 points in 15 games for Springfield, the feisty yet skilled forward was the unanimous choice to replace Brodziak in the lineup. Set to debut this evening in the Battle of Alberta, look for Reddox to cap out as a top-nine forward who can play anywhere.
2007-08 Stats: 10 GP, 4-6-10, 10 PIM, +3
Career Potential: Agitating winger, 20-25-45, 100 PIM
Jeff Deslauriers, G- While the Edmonton Oilers were forecast by everybody to be a dreg of a team, there was one area pundit could agree on: goaltending. After all, former Conn Smythe-worthy goalie Dwayne Roloson finally had a defensive core of players with NHL experience that didn't total less than his age, and project goalie Mathieu Garon could provide some capable backup tending while he maybe regained his form. Three months later, and while the team still sucks, the situation in net couldn't be any more different. A free agent cast off of the LA freakin' Kings, Garon has been simply sensational, most recently stonewalling Vancouver in a 1-0 victory that saw him turn away every comer in regulation, OT and the shootout. Roloson, meanwhile, has simply been rotten, flashing some brilliance in between putrid starts. But the last straw could come from outside the NHL. Sporting a super-sexy 2.36 GAA and 0.924 SV% for the Springfield Falcons, 'JDD' is more than ready for NHL time. With teams like Pittsburgh and Atlanta seeking veteran goaltenders who can help greener keepers iron out their games, Roli's time with Edmonton looks to be coming to an end.
2007-08 Stats: 13 GP, 7-3-2, 2.36 GAA, 0.924 SV%
Career Potential: #1A goalie; starter on a lesser team
Sebastien Bisaillon, D- In the waning weeks of the 2006-07 season, the Oilers were hit by a rash of injuries to their defense core unlike any other team in NHL history. With as many as six regulars on the Injured Reserve, the Oil were so plagued by injuries that they began scouring the oil rigs for a former University of Alberta Golden Bear standout. When that didn't pan out- their prey couldn't get out of work- Edmonton turned to free agent signee Sebastien Bisaillon. Signed to a contract in the summer of '06, the QMJHL powerplay dynamo amassed 71 points in 2005-06 and was well on his way to a similar output before the Oilers called him up on an emergency basis. Debuting against the Vancouver Canucks, the 20 year-old played very, very well all things considered. This year, that experience has been more a boon than a burden. After being shipped to the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL on account of having no idea where to put him, Bisaillon racked up four goals and six points in just five games. Promoted to the AHL for what was just going to be a taste, the budding offensive defender has instead earned his keep, potting three points in four games.
2007-08 Stats: 4 GP, 1-2-3, 0 PIM, +2
Career Potential: #3 defender, 15-30-45