Edmonton Oilers Prospects: Junior Hockey Playoff Primer

Cameron Hebig, CHL, Dmitri Samorukov, Edmonton Oilers, Kailer Yamamoto, Kirill Maksimov, Oilers Prospects, Stuart Skinner, Tyler Benson


Yes — you just read the words “Oilers” and “playoff hockey” in the same sentence. The Edmonton Oilers have several prospects playing playoff hockey in junior. In total there are six Edmonton prospects that will participate in either the WHL or OHL playoffs. No Oiler prospects will be playing in the QMJHL playoffs. Ostap Safin, who plays for the Saint John Sea Dogs, saw his team finished dead last in the QMJHL. Safin’s junior season is now over.

As mentioned previously, Safin is now playing the rest of the season with Edmonton’s AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors. Dylan Wells, another prospect who didn’t see his team (Peterborough Petes) make the playoffs, joins Safin in Bakersfield. So who’s left?

Kailer Yamamoto, Tyler Benson, Stuart Skinner and Cameron Hebig are all participating in the WHL Playoffs. Kirill Maksimov and Dmitri Samorukov have already started their first-round series’ in the OHL. Of all the prospects playing in the CHL playoffs, Skinner likely has the best chance of winning something this spring. However you slice it, here’s a quick primer on the players left, their teams, and what you can expect.

Tyler Benson (Vancouver Giants)

A healthy Benson has been a force for the Giants this season. For the first time in his WHL career, since becoming a full-time player for Vancouver, Benson will get a taste of playoff hockey. He posted 27 goals and 69 points in 58 regular season games and finished second in team scoring. Benson’s a part in a lethal trio for the Giants along with Ty Ronning (61 goals this season), and James Malm (66 points).

Tyler Benson (Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Ronning is a New York Rangers prospect and Malm is eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft. They meet the Victoria Royals in the first round who boast Tyler Soy (Anaheim Ducks), and Mathew Phillips (Calgary Flames). The Royals are the second-highest scoring team in the WHL, so the Giants and Benson will have to match that offense to make a series of it. Benson will also be a key piece in shutting down the Royals on the penalty kill (PK). The Giants PK ranked fourth in the WHL.

PLAYOFF SERIES SCHEDULE

Game Date Home Away Time
1 March 23 Victoria Royals (1) Vancouver Giants (2) Vancouver leads 1-0
2 March 24 Victoria Royals Vancouver Giants 7:00 pm PT
3 March 27 Vancouver Giants Victoria Royals 7:00 pm PT
4 March 29 Vancouver Giants Victoria Royals 7:00 pm PT
5 March 31 Victoria Royals Vancouver Giants 7:00 pm PT
6 April 2 Vancouver Giants Victoria Royals 2:00 pm PT
7 April 3 Victoria Royals Vancouver Giants 7:00 pm PT

Cameron Hebig (Regina Pats)

Hebig was a deadline acquisition for Regina after they picked him up from the Saskatoon Blades. He’s since finished the season with 41 goals and 90 points in 66 games. Of those points, Hebig scored 32 in 26 games once he joined the Pats. He finished the season strong with 13 points in his last ten games, including three multi-point games.

Regina finished third in the East Division and drew fellow Oilers prospect Stuart Skinner and the Swift Current Broncos in the first round. Hebig was Regina’s leading scorer this year and will have to play a key role if Regina is to upset the team they went 1-4-1 against in the regular season.

PLAYOFF SERIES SCHEDULE

Game Date Home Away Time
1 March 23 Swift Current Broncos (3) Regina Pats (0) Swift Current leads 1-0
2 March 24 Swift Current Broncos Regina Pats 7:00 pm PT
3 March 26 Regina Pats Swift Current Broncos 7:00 pm PT
4 March 28 Regina Pats Swift Current Broncos 7:00 pm PT
5 March 30 Swift Current Broncos Regina Pats 7:00 pm PT
6 March 31 Regina Pats Swift Current Broncos 7:00 pm PT
7 April 2 Swift Current Broncos Regina Pats 7:00 pm PT

Stuart Skinner (Swift Current Broncos)

Like Hebig, Skinner was traded this season. Edmonton’s third-round pick in 2017 moved from the Lethbridge Hurricanes to Swift Current. However, one problem has carried over to his stint with his new team; consistency. Skinner’s been pulled twice in his last ten games, and on five occasions has allowed three or more goals.

Skinner was traded from Lethbridge to Swift Current. (Colin Moreland)

His numbers with Swift Current are a lot better than his numbers with Lethbridge, but there’s still plenty left to be desired with the  6’4? goaltender. He has a respectable 2.68 goals-against average, and a .914 save percentage in 25 games with the Broncos. If Skinner can prove consistent, he should be able to lead Swift Current into a deep playoff run. He did it with Lethbridge before, he can do it again.

PLAYOFF SERIES SCHEDULE

Game Date Home Away Time
1 March 23 Swift Current Broncos (3) Regina Pats (0) Swift Current leads 1-0
2 March 24 Swift Current Broncos Regina Pats 7:00 pm PT
3 March 26 Regina Pats Swift Current Broncos 7:00 pm PT
4 March 28 Regina Pats Swift Current Broncos 7:00 pm PT
5 March 30 Swift Current Broncos Regina Pats 7:00 pm PT
6 March 31 Regina Pats Swift Current Broncos 7:00 pm PT
7 April 2 Swift Current Broncos Regina Pats 7:00 pm PT

Kailer Yamamoto (Spokane Chiefs)

Yamamoto had the best points-per-game amongst any Oilers prospect at 1.60. He put up 64 points in 40 games and tore the WHL to shreds after coming back from the World Juniors. Spokane finished third in the US Division and draws the number two seed Portland Winterhawks in the first round. This could be one of the more offensively explosive series’ in the WHL playoffs.

Kailer Yamamoto (Larry Brunt / Spokane Chiefs)

The Winterhawks boast a lineup with Cody Glass, Kieffer Bellows, Skyler McKenzie and have two solid defenders in Dennis Cholowski and Henri Jokiharju. The Chiefs have a talented group with Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Hudson ELynuik, and a potential top ten pick in the 2018 draft, Ty Smith. Add Yamamoto to the mix and this could be a wide-open series. Spokane lost the season series and went 3-5-0 against Portland.

PLAYOFF SERIES SCHEDULE

Game Date Home Away Time
1 March 24 Portland Winterhawks Spokane Chiefs 6:00 pm PT
2 March 25 Portland Winterhawks Spokane Chiefs 5:00 pm PT
3 March 28 Spokane Chiefs Portland Winterhawks 7:00 pm PT
4 March 29 Spokane Chiefs Portland Winterhawks 7:00 pm PT
5 March 31 Portland Winterhawks Spokane Chiefs 6:00 pm PT
6 April 2 Spokane Chiefs Portland Winterhawks 7:00 pm PT
7 April 3 Portland Winterhawks Spokane Chiefs 7:00 pm PT

Kirill Maksimov (Niagara Ice Dogs)

Maksimov really burst onto the scene as a really good prospect for the Oilers this season. He’s a pure scorer that’ll look really good in Edmonton’s top six a few years down the road. This season he scored 34 goals and 80 points in 62 games, led his team in goals scored, and finished one point behind Akil Thomas for the team scoring lead.

Kirill Maksimov Niagara IceDogs

Kirill Maksimov (Graig Abel/Getty Images)

What’s even more impressive is that Maksimov hasn’t been held off the scoresheet in back to back games since October. He’s a far more consistent player this year and has 14 points in his last six games. Niagara ended the regular season on a hot streak going 8-1-1 in their last ten games. Both teams have superb special teams, and good goaltending. This series could go down to the wire, and Maksimov will arguably be one of the biggest stars in this series.

PLAYOFF SERIES SCHEDULE

Game Date Home Away Time
1 March 23 Niagara Ice Dogs (4) Oshawa Generals (2) Niagara leads 1-0
2 March 25 Niagara Ice Dogs Oshawa Generals 11:00 am PT
3 March 27 Oshawa Generals Niagara Ice Dogs 4:00 pm PT
4 March 29 Oshawa Generals Niagara Ice Dogs 4:00 pm PT
5 March 31 Niagara Ice Dogs Oshawa Generals 4:00 pm PT
6 April 1 Oshawa Generals Niagara Ice Dogs 11:00 am PT
7 April 3 Niagara Ice Dogs Oshawa Generals 4:00 pm PT

Dmitri Samorukov (Guelph Storm)

Samorukov plays on a deep Guelph defense and will be a key factor as the Storm look to upset the second-seeded Kitchener Rangers. The Oilers locked up Samorukov to an entry-level contract this season, and have high hopes for him to become an NHL regular. He added an offensive element to his game that people were questioning and finished the year with 11 goals and 34 points in 62 games.

Dmitri Samorukov Guelph Storm

Dmitri Samorukov (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

Kitchener won the season series 5-3, but Guelph won the last two meetings between the teams. The Rangers loaded up for a long playoff run and added a stud prospect in Logan Stanley. If Guelph is going to win this series it’ll be off the strength of their top three defenders in Garrett McFadden, Ryan Merkley, and Samorukov.

PLAYOFF SERIES SCHEDULE

Game Date Home Away Time
1 March 23 Kitchener Rangers (7) Guelph Storm (2) Kitchener leads 1-0
2 March 25 Kitchener Rangers Guelph Storm 4:00 pm PT
3 March 27 Guelph Storm Kitchener Rangers 4:00 pm PT
4 March 28 Guelph Storm Kitchener Rangers 4:00 pm PT
5 March 30 Kitchener Rangers Guelph Storm 4:30 pm PT
6 April 1 Guelph Storm Kitchener Rangers 11:00 am PT
7 April 3 Kitchener Rangers Guelph Storm 4:00 pm PT



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