We are beginning to see the breadth and depth of Connor McDavid’s impact season. He is now eligible for three major awards this summer:
- Art Ross Trophy (he has already won it)
- Hart Trophy (MVP)
- Ted Lindsay Award (Outstanding player in the regular season as judged by the members of the NHL Players Association).
Sami Vatanen on Connor McDavid's goal: "Well, he welcomed me back. He’s a fast guy. I was still turning when he already scored the goal."
— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) May 2, 2017
It’s going to be a fun summer, we get to see McDavid receive the first (of many) major awards. You can track a team’s progress partly through awards, as elite talents emerge, establish themselves and then begin winning Stanley’s. Bobby Clarke’s first Hart Trophy came in 1973, and the Flyers won Stanley in 1974. Wayne Gretzky won his first Hart Trophy in 1980, the Oilers won Stanley in 1984. All good arrows here, make that great arrows.
OILERS DEPTH CHART AND PLAYOFF SCORING
- The three members of the 1line have scored eight goals, almost a g-a-g line so far this spring. The second line has one goal, and that’s on all three men.
- The third line has five goals, although ML’s power-play presence is a key to that total.
- The fourth line has three goals, good production.
- The defense? Five goals.
- Cam Talbot is the key player for tonight. If he plays well, and that seems a reasonable bet, the Oilers have a very good chance to fly to California up three games to one.
Ian McClung plays for the Jagerbombers and had this to say about the EMHL: Being part of a team exposes you to all different types of activities with teammates. The friendships I have made with the team has taken me on trips in and out of the country, exposed to joining other sport leagues, camping trips, company for watching professional sporting events and a whole new group of support I would have not been exposed to otherwise. Click on the link (ad) if you’d like to be a part of men’s or co-ed teams this summer.
COMPLETE FIRST-ROUND MOCK DRAFT
- New Jersey Devils: RC Nolan Patrick, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL). Complete talent, he has a nice range of skills and will add to NJD’s group of quality young F’s (Pavel Zacha, Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian, John Quenneville).
- Philadelphia Flyers: LC Nico Hischier, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL). A more dynamic offensive player than Patrick, he would represent the most skilled forward drafted by Philadelphia since Claude Giroux in 2006.
- Dallas Stars: LC Casey Mittelstadt, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL). Speed and skill, he also possesses good size. I think the Stars made a mistake a year ago in the first round (Riley Tufte) but this player seems to have more good arrows.
- Colorado Avalanche: LD Miro Heiskanen, HIFK (Sm-Liiga). Puck-mover, excellent vision and speed. He is absolutely spiking on draft boards, owing mostly to his U18’s dominance and ability to compete well in the Sm-Liiga. Heiskanen is described as an elite two-way defender in the making, sounds like a perfect fit for the Avs.
- Vancouver Canucks: RC Gabriel Vilardi, Windsor Spitfires (OHL). Creative C with size, NHLE (33). Vilardi’s draft value seems to be surging (Bob McKenzie has him at No. 3 overall). The Canucks need a franchise center with exceptional offensive ability, and Vilardi seems to have emerged from the pack based on McKenzie’s list.
- Vegas Golden Knights: R Owen Tippett, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL). He covers 3 important categories (size, speed, sniper). The Golden Knights will know by draft day the other NHL teams gave them nothing offensively. George McPhee will have to grow his own and he starts here.
- Arizona Coyotes: RD Cale Makar, Brooks Bandits (AJHL). Fast, exceptional puck-moving acumen. Scouts see him as the next Erik Karlsson based on what we are hearing. The Coyotes have been drafting very well, I think Makar is a good fit.
- Buffalo Sabres: L Eeli Tolvanen, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL). Plus skater, NHL shot and release. Impossible to project the Buffalo draft template at this point, but they could use a shooter and this guy might be the best one in the draft.
- Detroit Red Wings: RD Timothy Liljegren, Rogle (Swe Jr). He is a mobile 2-way D with impressive skill. There is some evidence that he is moving down draft lists (McKenzie has him at No. 12) but his offense based on TOI looks good and he is mobile and can play defense.
- Florida Panthers: L Elias Pettersson, Timra (Swe-1). Impressive talent, very skilled. He is a mobile 2-way D with impressive skill. The team with the bulging analytics gets the player who appears to be a monster player based on his NHL equivalency. There is some buyer beware, as the NHLE is based on a small sample size. He appears to be worth the risk.
- Los Angeles Kings: RC Cody Glass, Portland Winterhawks (WHL). Complete skill set and his offense (NHLE:30) compares to pretty much anyone on this list. He moved up the McKenzie list, so could go higher than I have ranked him.
- Carolina Hurricanes: L Kristian Vesalainen, Frolunda (SHL). Big W, skilled, strong, can play L or R. Surging up the draft rankings, mostly due to outstanding performance at the recent U18’s. I’m not sure about his offense, but he is a very interesting prospect.
- Winnipeg Jets: LC Lias Andersson, Linkoping (SHL). Throwback 2-way C, aggressive, quick. 5.11, 200. The Jets could go any number of ways, but this is an astute pick and they usually do that kind of thing.
- Tampa Bay Lightning: L Jason Robertson, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL). Big winger with a good shot. Speed is an issue for some, but his NHLE (31) is in the range with the best forwards available in the draft.
- NY Islanders: LC Michael Rasmussen, Tri-City Americans (WHL). Big C, physical, good skater. There are several players in this draft who could go in the top 10, and Rasmussen may be such a player. I don’t think his offense is enough to get him there, we will see.
- Calgary Flames: RC Robert Thomas, London Knights (OHL). Speedy forward, creative. One of my favourite players in this draft, he fits like a glove compared to recent Flames first-round selections. Underrated on many lists imo.
- Toronto Maple Leafs: RC Martin Necas, Brno (Czech). High speed skill W, he is rising on draft lists (BM: No. 10). I think Toronto have turned into exceptional value drafts and they would have to be thrilled if Necas fell this far.
- Boston Bruins: LC Ryan Poehling, St. Cloude State (NCAA). Big skill C with an offensive reputation. The achilles for this draft is offense, but Poehling’s scouting reports suggest he is going to be able to contribute at a solid clip.
- San Jose Sharks: R Kailer Yamamoto, Spokane Chiefs (WHL). Smart, elusive, offensive. He is undersized and has average speed, but Yamamoto can make things happen with the puck on his stick.
- Montreal Canadiens: R Klim Kostin, Balashikha (MHL). Giant winger, good offense. He has been injured much of the season, but the combination of size and skill will be too much for Montreal to resist. He could go much higher.
- Columbus Blue Jackets: LD Juuso Valimaki, Tri-City Americans (WHL). A big two-way D, smart, creative. Columbus has a dynamic defensive cluster, and don’t need to draft a blue this year in the first round. Valimaki represents terrific value here imo.
- Arizona Coyotes: RC Nick Suzuki, Owen Sound Attack (OHL). Skill and creativity, a little one dimensional. He may go much higher (on merit), but foot speed is mentioned as a concern and that could scare early pickers away. Great value at this number.
- Chicago Blackhawks: RD Cal Foote, Kelowna Rockets (WHL). Huge D, awkward skater who does have straightaway speed, good passer, tough. Chicago begins anew in building a strong backline.
- St. Louis Blues: LD Nicholas Hague, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL). Rangy, aggressive, emerging offense. I have him as BPA, the Blues have a nice group of young defensemen pushing up.
- NY Rangers: LC Alexei Lipanov, Dyanmo Balashikha (VHL). Impressive 2-way resume. The Rangers rarely pick in the first round (last one: 2012, Brady Skjei) and badly need this one to come through. Lipanov seems a good bet.
- Anaheim Ducks: R Kole Lind, Kelowna Rockets (WHL). Speedy W with skill. He doesn’t get mentioned a lot as a first-round option, but he is bona fide.
- Washington Capitals: LC Joshua Norris, USNDTP (USHL). Two-way C showing good offense. He emerged later in the year as possibly the top USHL forward option for this draft. The Capitals get a fine prospect late in the first round.
- Nashville Predators: LC Jaret-Anderson Dolan, Spokane Chiefs (WHL). Small, very quick skater and plus skill. The Predators are demons at the draft.
- Ottawa Senators: RD Conor Timmins, SSE Greyhounds (OHL). Smart, reads plays well, excellent passer. He would certainly fit the Senators draft model (skilled, often the OHL).
- Edmonton Oilers: RC Scott Reedy, USNDTP (USHL). Center with speed, range of skills, dynamic. Scouting reports talk about ‘power forward’ potential. That is a Peter Chiarelli player.
- Pittsburgh Penguins: LD Uro Vaakanainen, JYP (Sm-Liiga). Fast two-way blue with a good shot. Fitting that the Finns add one more player to a dominant first round.
I have ranked teams based on record and current state of series. Washington is behind Pittsburgh, teams finished 1-2 in overall points, but the Penguins have the lead in the standings. Thus the ranking in terms of picks.
DON’T BOTHER, THEY’RE HERE
- Carlyle: ‘To me it seems like there is somewhat of a white-glove treatment for Mr. McDavid. The restrictions on anybody touching him seems to be a little bit higher than normal. It’s fact. Simple. We review the tape numerous times. He does draw penalties, because of his speed. But if you don’t get close to him and you’re not inside of him, you’re going to watch him or you’re going to try and impede his progress.’ Source
Oiler players sorted by score adjusted Fenwick. Top players with terrible goal share. Oh, hello PDO. pic.twitter.com/E5lZjEuN7G
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) May 3, 2017
This is a brilliant way to frame the Eberle (and Nuge, Lucic) issue. This line is getting shots and chances (Nuge, for crying out loud!) but cannot cash. As we talked yesterday, regression will occur and that’s the thing we should be discussing. It may not happen in this series, and you want to see each man on this line work like a demon. There is evidence they have been performing well, while also playing in some bad luck. Oilers Nerd Alert has been posting player shot pages on twitter, and the Nuge page is rife with good looks. Maybe tonight. Lucic and Eberle need to have events with the puck in scoring areas more often.
2016 DRAFT TRENDS
We are one year after on the 2016 entry draft and I think we have this draft class marked now. It is uncertain to me that any of the men chosen by Edmonton are going to bring enough offense to stand and deliver as productive skill players. Here are the NHLE’s:
- No. 4 overall: R Jesse Puljujarvi 13-18-31
- No. 32 overall: L Tyler Benson 7-21-28
- No. 63 overall: LD Markus Niemelainen 1-3-4
- No. 84 overall: LD Matthew Cairns 1-8-9
- No. 91 overall: RD Filip Berglund 0-14-14
- No. 123 overall: G Dylan Wells .916
- No. 149 overall: L Graham McPhee 2-6-8
- No. 153 overall: RC Aapeli Rasanen 4-11-15
- No. 183 overall: RD Vincent Desharnais 2-1-3
- My bet (we have to wait five years) is that we are going to see Jesse Puljujarvi emerge as a very productive two-way player. He will probably bring more offense than Gaetan Duchesne (one of my all-time favorite players). If we’re lucky, he may emerge as a modern Jere Lehtinen, and if that is the case the Oilers will have received full value. Puljujarvi will have plenty of opportunities to show his offensive chops, and if he plays a lot with McDavid, big offensive seasons may occur.
- Benson had a promising season going with Vancouver Giants but it was once again derailed by injury. At this point, it is uncertain if we’ll ever see him at his best in pro hockey.
- Among the three third-round defensemen, I identified Berglund as the most promising and the season’s posted confirm my suspicions. Miles to go, and Brock Otten confirmed many times to me that Niemelainen had a good defensive season, but he needs to post better boxcars. Cairns is raw and a project and we will see.
- Dylan Wells is one of the feel good stories from the 2016 draft for Edmonton.
- I have hopes for McPhee and Rasanen, but they are a fan’s hope, the same given to Tony Hand or Dragan Umicevic.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy show this morning beginning at 10, some things are fluid so tune in and see if everyone made it! TSN1260, scheduled to appear:
- Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. The hammering of Eberle, Nuge’s PDO, massive Game 4 tonight.
- Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance. Noah Syndergaard’s injury and what it tells us, and what questions we should be asking.
- Simon Boisvert, Prospect Insider. Why is the 2017 draft so difficult to rank? And did the Oilers handle Jesse Puljujarvi’s draft+1 season properly?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!