The Edmonton Oilers are going to have at least one first-overall selection in their lineup next season in Connor McDavid, but they could have another, as 2011 KHL first-overall pick Anton Slepyshev has told Salavat Yuleav Ufa GM’s Leonid Vaisfeld he wishes to play in North America next season.
According to Igor Eronko of Sports.ru, Slepyshev informed Vaisfeld of his interest in playing for the Oilers in 2015-16. Vaisfeld said Salavat Yulaev, who lost in the first round of the KHL post-season, would like to keep Slepyshev for at least one more season and that the club has made him a contract offer.
Slepyshev, who was selected in the third round, 88th overall, by the Oilers in 2013, is coming off of his first full professional season in the KHL after spending the past three seasons bouncing between the KHL and MHL, the Russian equivalent to the AHL. While it wasn’t an outstanding first season, Slepyshev did manage 10 goals and 25 points in 58 games and another two assists in five post-season games. Where Slepyshev did stand out, though, was in international competition.
In December, Slepyshev, along with his Ufa club, participated in the Spengler Cup where the 21-year-old winger suited up for five games and scored two goals and five points en route to a selection to the tournament’s all-star team.
The Oilers are stacked with prospects from top to bottom, so if Slepyshev did make the jump to North America next season, it’s entirely likely that he’d spend at least parts of his first season in the AHL. After that, it would be anyone’s guess how his development goes and whether or not he makes a full-time jump to the NHL.
In The Hockey News’ 2015 Future Watch issue, Slepyshev was the Oilers’ seventh ranked prospect, but there are questions about how his game will translate to the NHL style.