If you’ve got horseshoes, you’re in Oil Country! And the hits just keep on coming!
- Trevor Linden: “Oh, you just kind of… I… you just kind of roll your eyes… It’s just a disbelief… (Hosts laugh and joke that they can hear his reaction in his voice) It’s like – are you kidding?” Source
I mean, it’s like gold for me. The great thing is, it’s true! ARE you kidding me? NOOO! It’s true. Honestly, I’ve never been to an opium den (are there opium dens?) but this must be what its like. Music! Damn straight, Trevor! Roll your eyes!!! The lottery win is like that Bugs Bunny episode where the Acme Hat Company truck loses all the hats and they keep landing on Bugs and Elmer Fudd, changing their personalities with every new hat. The lottery hat that landed on the Oilers is a trump hat, it’s shock and freaking awe. So good, so good.
- Cam Neely: “There were times when I felt like I didn’t know exactly what was happening whether it was a confidence in knowing, or not. Communication [in the past] could have been better. I would have liked it to be better.” Source
Now that Cam Neely and Don Sweeney will have open lines of communication, things will go better in terms of communication. In terms of decisions? Well, that’s going to be a bit of a question mark for a time. Don Sweeney has significant experience, but all in the development end:
- Bruins site: He has spent the prior six seasons as the team’s Assistant General Manager and in that position, he oversaw the development of the team’s drafted prospects at the AHL, junior hockey, college and European levels in addition to having a supervisory role in the day-to-day operations of the hockey department. He also oversaw all hockey operations matters for Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence. Source
Peter Chiarelli paid in full for the Seguin deal (that was a trade that was an L from day one and that’s a fact) but the overall run during his time in Boston was very successful. He’s leaving significant cap issues and Sweeney is getting elevated, at least partly, due to his relationship with Neely. Neely’s hockey resume? Five seasons as president of the Bruins and he’s getting the team a new practice rink.
BARONS TO OILERS?
How many Barons will we see in the NHL next season? Among the players dressed for last night’s final game for OKC, I’d list Darnell Nurse and Andrew Miller as men who could play significant roles in the NHL in 2015-16. I believe Darnell Nurse will make the Oilers opening night unless changes are made on the dormant roster, but there is some anecdotal evidence that both Chiarelli and McLellan are very patient men (it’s below, hang in there).
We might see Brandon Davidson, Jordan Oesterle and two or three others recalled as required. There are some interesting prospects (Khaira, Musil, Simpson, Chase, Josh Winquist) but we need to see more before projecting them onto the NHL team. Laurent Brossoit is a prospect of note, but may not get much NHL time in 2015-16.
- Chiarelli’s first AHL team: He had a strong group in the AHL 2006-07, David Krejci was kicking ass at 20 and Mark Stuart was a significant prospect who would get a cup of coffee. Nate Thompson was on that team, as was Kris Versteeg but Chiarelli traded him away (a deal he lost, with Brandon Bochenski the return).
- McLellan’s first NHL team and AHL impact: The 2008-09 AHL squad for SJS would eventually produce NHLers Jamie McGinn, Jason Demers, Andrew Desjardins and Thomas Greiss. Interesting to note that rookie pro’s Demers and Desjardins didn’t get an NHL cup of coffee (although McGinn was recalled for 35 games).
The discipline shown in regard to Krejci (he played 6 NHL game as a rookie pro) and Demers (he didn’t play an NHL game that season) may offer us some insight into Darnell Nurse and his future.
Overall, and including all the AHL players this season (regular season, playoffs) my expectation for the future goes like this:
- D Darnell Nurse: He was splendid in junior and the late cup of coffee in OKC. I don’t see him playing more than 40 minor league games during his entry-level deal and believe he’ll emerge as a quality NHL defenseman who plays in the heart of the game.
- C Anton Lander: A major season in his career, he’s an NHLer now and an important Oiler (that 3C job will be important). Can he handle it? The performance at the WHC’s was further proof in my opinion, but Anton needs to play that role successfully for 82 full games before we crown him as the answer.
- D Martin Marincin: I was a little discouraged by the verbal from some quarters recently, seems Oilers fans simply cannot stand the idea of a defenseman who plays his career with his own teeth. I remain convinced he’ll be an NHL player, but will admit there’s some question about where he’ll bat in the lineup.
- C Bogdan Yakimov: Chiarelli talks about bringing the heavy but experience tells us bringing the skilled heavy is the real issue. Yakimov didn’t post many crooked numbers early but cracked the code for 11 points in his final 13 games before injury. Another full season in the AHL is likely but there appears to be a player here.
- W Iiro Pakarinen: He looked very good in the AHL and surprised with his aggressive play during an NHL audition. We don’t know if he’ll bring enough offense but this is a player with a chance, picked up as a free agent last summer to little fanfare. Love this kind of move.
- R Greg Chase: Five shots last night and he was getting chances in an elimination game. There’s a lot to learn and consistency is going to be one of the things we’ll hear about him needing to work on, but there’s actual evidence he can play the game and make a difference. Suspect the new coach and GM will notice him early and often in TC.
- C Kyle Platzer: I always earmark players who get a line in their draft day bio about two-way play, and Platzer’s offense added to that nugget make him a genuine player of interest. Miles to go, just like Chase, but these kids enter pro hockey having achieved much during their junior careers. Handled properly, and with patience, Edmonton could have something here.
- G Laurent Brossoit: He’s a goalie, so lord knows if he can cobble together two seasons that look similar but this past year showed he can play well in the AHL. Suspect he’s the No. 1 G in Bakersfield in 2015-16 and then we’ll see. Fine prospect.
- D Joey Laleggia: He played only two games in the postseason but his five regular season games (1-1-2) showed he can make plays at the AHL level. His size is going to make him more suspect than prospect until he makes it, but if you look at those college numbers there may be a player here. Miles to go before we know.
- C Jujhar Khaira: I see people lumping Bogdan and Jujhar in together, not sure that acknowledges the differences in offensive ability. Khaira did spike in the playoffs (8GP, 3-1-4) but small sample size and most of it came from one game. Next season should see him in more of a feature role, but the difference in offense between Yakimov (.491 to 1.96 ppg during regular season) is substantial and history tells us it’ll likely stay that way.
- D Dillon Simpson: An up and down season for the young defender, I think he has more ability than several Barons’ blue but the proof is in the performance. Simpson’s improvement year over year in college was quality, hopefully we see the same in pro.
- R Andrew Miller: Late bloomer has a chance, looked so good in an NHL audition. It might get swept away in all of the changes but I’d like to see him as an extra forward on the NHL roster next year.
- D Brandon Davidson: We’ve talked about him quite a bit recently, but he’s put himself in a decent position for an NHL job next year. Davidson’s skill isn’t going to get him noticed but he does a lot of things right and is consistent. Suspect McLellan will appreciate that and Chiarelli will love the price point. No guarantees, there will be eight to a dozen better D than Davidson in camp, but he’s faced longer odds and beat them like a rented mule.
- R Tyler Pitlick: Injuries remain his constant companion and the men who drafted him are no longer in the power positions in the organization. He always looked like a player to me, suspect Pitlick’s story has more chapters in it.
- D Jordan Oesterle: He so fast you can’t avoid watching Oesterle and for that reason alone I’d bet on some NHL time next year. Literally no idea if he makes it and that’s fair. You can find players in history with this skill set who made it, but many more were lost in the flood.
- D Josh Winquist: Winquist points out the importance of using draft picks wisely. Edmonton spent some higher picks in recent years on future role players, which is a poor use of assets. Winquist is passing draft picks in terms of performance without an NHL contract. The good bets Edmonton has been making under Bob Green in that little seam (college, CHL undrafted) is encouraging, with Winquist being a recent example.
- D Brad Hunt: Laugh all you want, this guy can flat out play when he has the puck. I don’t know what to do with him, but discounting his skill is wrong wrong wrong.
- D David Musil: He’s going to need a coach who believes in him, McLellan employed some stay-at-home types early on, less so later in his time with the Sharks. We’ll see, cheering for him.
- L Mitch Moroz: Year one saw the Oilers use him sparingly, which is a disaster for young prospects. He didn’t play much in the postseason, suggesting to me the organization may feel he’s still a long way from being able to contribute.
- L Kale Kessy: Showed some things early last season, including increased speed. Might pass Moroz as the next Gazdic.
- G Richard Bachman: Another guy I don’t know where to place but I like him a lot and he had a fine season.
- L Curtis Hamilton: Buddy needed to show more offense in my opinion, we’ll see and maybe they bring him in for another year. It’s more likely he’ll need to get a second opinion.
- Kellen and Connor Jones: All they do is make plays. I hope they get Bakersfield contracts just for their PK work.
- D Martin Gernat: Conditioning issues and injuries derailed his season, Oilers buried him and it doesn’t look good. We have to create an area, maybe call it the “Theo Peckham Room” for guys MacT soured on. Too bad, he looked like a player.
- C Travis Ewanyk: I don’t think he’s going to make it as an AHL player.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Dennis King, Oilogosphere Icon. McLellan, Nelson, Babcock.
- Eric Rodgers, Tend the Farm. Sail on, Barons.
- Travis Yost, TSN. Everything is happening!
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Plenty of room for your thoughts too!