You’ve seen this story dozens of times. A second-round draft pick gets a seven-game look in the second year of his entry deal and follows it up with a strong first half in the minors the next season, his last on the contract. The player is recalled to the NHL, the team tests him with a veteran’s minutes and he flourishes. The replaceable, more expensive veteran is dealt at the deadline. Voila! An NHL player has arrived.

The Oilers’ classic modern example is Fernando Pisani. The former St. Albert Saints winger was drafted in 1996 by Edmonton from the AJHL, then spent four seasons with Providence in the NCAA. He played his first two seasons in the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs, seeing his first NHL action midway through Year 3. He replaced Daniel Cleary on the wing and coach Craig MacTavish played him on a regular shift for most of the decade.

Others from the last 20 years who fit the description are Brad Winchester, Zack Stortini, Kyle Brodziak,…





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