Sixteen years ago, the great Michel Riesen (pause) made the Edmonton Oilers as part of a Bulldog line featuring Daniel Cleary and Brian Swanson. The trio had success with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 1999-00, and made the big team fall 2000 without a lot of pre-camp fanfare. In an effort to never let this happen again, here are all of the people who have a chance to make the team—their current estimate—and the players with no chance at all.
- Cam Talbot, 29. Quality from Dec. 1 to end of year in 2015-16, and the schedule early allows for much rest because of off days. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- Jonas Gustavsson, 31. His .908SP last year trailed NHL average (.915) by some margin, and he is at an age when erosion is reasonably certain. Chances of Making the Oilers: 60%.
- Laurent Brossoit, 23. I spoke to Catherine Silverman about him on the weekend, she sees a substantial prospect. Not Bernie Parent, but an NHL player. Chances of Making the Oilers: 40%.
- Eetu Laurikainen—He could play in Bakersfield, Norfolk or Finland this year.
- Nick Ellis—College grad could surprise and play a lot in Bakersfield.
- Dylan Wells—Oilers latest junior bet, needs a strong camp and season in the OHL.
- Keven Bouchard—TC invite. Maybe they sign him as the new Ty Rimmer?
- LD Oscar Klefbom, 23. Early reports have him healthy. Music! Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Andrej Sekera, 30. Veteran should be an outstanding second pairing anchor. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Brandon Davidson, 24. A strong debut season has his career trajectory on a much higher arc than most expected. We don’t know what he can’t do. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Darnell Nurse, 21. Rugged defender had a difficult transition to pro, can he settle in and be effective on the third pairing? Chances of Making the Oilers: 90%.
- LD Jordan Oesterle, 24. Fast defender with offensive bent made some defensive adjustments in the NHL a year ago. Still miles to go. Chances of Making the Oilers: 45%.
- LD David Musil, 23. He has one big advantage—because he requires waivers, Edmonton may keep him if the club values him in a big way. Chances of Making the Oilers: 23%.
- LD Griffin Reinhart, 22. He is a PC acquisition and should get a push at some point during the year. Important to find out about him before the expansion draft—some believe his NHL role is already established. Chances of Making the Oilers: 25%.
- LD Mark Fraser, 29. He could see NHL time, unlikely to break camp with the big team. Chances of Making the Oilers: 2%.
- LD Dillon Simpson, 23. Remains a long shot for an NHL career, but his steady progress makes Simpson an interesting prospect. Chances of Making the Oilers: 1%.
- LD Andrew Ference—LTIR? Maybe he is healthy enough to play at some point this year.
- LD Joey Laleggia—A big season in Bakersfield could get him a cup of coffee.
- LD Ben Betker—End of the roster in terms of LD, he is a giant stay-at-home blue.
- LD Caleb Jones—I think there is a chance he hangs around training camp until very late.
- LD Markus Niemelainen—Mobile blue, looking forward to seeing his skating.
- LD Mikael Tam—A bit of a wild card, suspect he may see Norfolk in the fall.
- LD Kyle Jenkins—Apparently an invite, 20-year old with average size and some skill.
- RD Adam Larsson, 23. A substantial addition to the defense, he is a lock for the top pairing—likely with Klefbom, although Sekera is also an option. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- RD Mark Fayne, 29. Oilers badly need him to be an effective defender. From the Terry Harper family of blue liners, had a difficult transition to the Todd McLellan Oilers. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- RD Matt Benning, 23. He has a lot of things going for him and a strong training camp might get him in the conversation. Chances of Making the Oilers: 15%.
- RD Frank Simonelli—He is a righty blue from the Boston Bruins system. Bakersfield.
- RD Ethan Bear—A strong showing hoped for before he starts his final junior year.
- RD Aaron Irving—TC invite, I like his ability to move the puck. Promising addition.
- RD Dallas Valentine—Big (6.04, 205) defender has been invited to camp.
- C Connor McDavid, 19. Franchise. If the Oilers make the playoffs this year—most are picking them to miss—97 will be a major part of the success. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 23. Coming off a difficult season, I will bet on him 10 times out of 10. One of the few young Oilers who is a fully formed two-way player. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C-R Leon Draisaitl, 20. He could play a utility (C-R) role but the team sets up currently with Leon as the soft minutes pivot. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C Mark Letestu, 31. Underrated 4C, mostly because he had to play too high on the depth chart one year ago. I think he could still get PP minutes this year, at least until JP is established. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C Anton Lander, 25. There is a spot for him. Can he grab it—and keep it?. Chances of Making the Oilers: 75%.
- C Jujhar Khaira, 22. I think Khaira is very close to securing an NHL job, but don’t know if this is the year. He could be here for good around the trade deadline. Chances of Making the Oilers: 40%.
- RC Kyle Platzer—A big season ahead, he has talent but needs a chance to show it.
- LC Josh Currie—AHL center impressed last season, won another AHL deal.
- C-L Joey Benik—Another AHL contract, Benik is a small (5.10, 174) and quite skilled. Bakersfield.
- LC Thomas Foster—Skill center delivered when healthy, intriguing invite.
- RC Tomas Soustal—I really like his numbers and scouting report. Invite possibility (Orientation).
- L Milan Lucic, 28. Big man will play a massive role on a skill line, likely with McDavid. Unsure of his power-play presence on the club. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- L Benoit Pouliot, 29. One of the reasons Edmonton felt they could deal from strength at this position. Not a media favorite, his fancy numbers shine like a diamond. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- L Patrick Maroon, 28. We should temper our expectations (he scored at a 40-goal clip as an Oiler) but a bona fide addition. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- L Matt Hendricks, 35. Role players who survive in the NHL until 35 are damned hard workers who have sacrificed. Hendricks is such a player. Chances of Making the Oilers: 90%.
- C-L Drake Caggiula, 22. One of the wild cars this fall, we will notice his speed and skill. Suspect he has all kinds of success early, how deep into pre-season can he be a contributor? Chances of Making the Oilers: 10%.
- F Jere Sallinen, 25. Unknown Finns have a way of finding their way onto Edmonton’s roster, from Lenny to Iiro and now (possibly) Jere. Can do a few things, including play center. Chances of Making the Oilers: 4%.
- L Mitch Moroz—Oilers have one year to either give him a shot or continue to play him in half the games.
- L Braden Christoffer—Played well in Norfolk, needs to play in Bakersfield to show his stuff.
- L Ryan Hamilton—AHL only contract now, mentor for the kids and he will play in AHL. Bakersfield.
- L Scott Allen—A giant (6.03, 198) who came out of college (Alaska-Anchorage). Bakersfield.
- L Tyler Benson—I am pretty excited about this player. If he is healthy, first-round talent.
- L Collin Shirley—Two-way winger with size and some skill. Saskatoon Blades veteran.
- R Jordan Eberle, 26. If he stays all season with 97, a total of 30+ goals should be the expectation. He is 26, if Eberle can establish himself as McDavid’s shooter, he could be entering his goal-scoring prime. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- R Zack Kassian, 25. He has a chance to push out one of Nail or Jesse on the second or third line. Kassian has some nice things, including puck retrieval and passing ability. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- R Nail Yakupov, 22. It is almost certain now he breaks camp with the team, and if coach McLellan decides to put him back with McDavid this could be a very good year. The range of possible outcomes with this player remains mind boggling entering year 5. Chances of Making the Oilers: 90%.
- R Iiro Pakarinen, 24. Young physical winger pushed past all of the high draft picks in the minors to win the day with new coach Todd McLellan. Utility forward has a job in the NHL. Chances of Making the Oilers: 90%.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi, 18. He is big (6.04, 203), fast and skilled—and his best hockey a year ago came in the spring (10, 4-5-9 in Finnish playoffs) and International tournaments. Chances of Making the Oilers: 80%.
- R Taylor Beck, 25. Interesting addition, he has size (6.02, 203) and enough skill (NHL: 87, 11-12-23) to suggest he could be productive in a support role. Can play either wing. Chances of Making the Oilers: 12%.
- R Tyler Pitlick, 24. Has to separate himself from Pakarinen. Chances of Making the Oilers: 7%.
- R Patrick Russell, 23. A real long shot—new pro, speed a concern—but he has size and is physical so has a chance. Chances of Making the Oilers: 1%.
- R Anton Slepyshev, 22. A big season for him and there are many players ahead of him. Todd McLellan liked him a year ago and the Russian could see the NHL again this year. Chances of Making the Oilers: 1%.
- R Greg Chase—A quiet first year pro, expect he will push very hard for a feature role in Bakersfield this year.
- R Jaedon Descheneau—St. Louis(unsigned) pick in 2014. Small, skilled, AHL deal.
- R Carson Stadnyk—WHL scoring winger on the way to U of Saskatchewan (Rookie tournament).
- R Joel Rechlicz—Enforcer will no doubt be a popular player in Bakersfield.
- C Mike Richards—It sounds like an offer has been extended to him based on reports. If Edmonton plans on using him as 3C, that puts an end to unicorns.
- D Eric Gryba—He has been extended an invitation, and we should be prepared for 8D to start the season if he accepts.
POSSIBLE OPENING NIGHT ROSTER
I do think Eric Gryba ends up on the Oilers roster, although he may not play opening night. The one battle where the current favorite may not win the day? In goal, where Laurent Brossoit could win the job backing up Cam Talbot. Jesse Puljujarvi may come in an struggle, but if he has any chemistry at all with one of the three centermen one suspects he wins opening night employment.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun show, this morning at 10. Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. The calm voice of reason talks Hall deal, playoff hopes and job openings.
- Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance. Safety in sports, including football and soccer.
- Andy McNamara, TSN. Andy has a new NFL show and we will chat about some of the big Week 1 stories.
- Tom Lynn, Veritas Hockey. Free agents without contracts, Versteeg, more.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!