Dickie Betts wrote “Jessica” and that’s a lifetime. Have you heard it? The Allman Brothers went dual everything—guitars, drums—and their sound echoes in my brain everyday. If you have an hour, listen to Jessica, Midnight Rider, Melissa, Blue Sky, Statesboro Blues, Soul Shine, Whipping Post. That’s probably more than an hour but what the hell. Like The Band and The Stones, there is a unique feel to the Allman Brothers Band, something in their sound you cannot find anywhere else. I recommend them every day for the rest of your life and then whatever comes after.
I think Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers management had to make a decision somewhere about Connor McDavid’s contract. Did they want to go five years and keep it lower (say $10.5 million) or go long and deep? Based on reports, long and deep it is and I will tell you that option pleases me. Connor McDavid is absolutely the best thing that is going to happen to the Oilers this century, might as well get the first 11 years of his career, and then maybe tack on another 11 seasons.
It does come at a cost (but a worthwhile one). This summer, it was Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome and next summer it is going to be Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for Sam Bennett. Hehe. Chiarelli seems to have decided (we don’t know what is going to happen although it doesn’t sound earth shattering) to thrust several young and inexpensive options into feature roles. I do not (and have said so) believe this is necessary, but will admit that it is hard to wheel until the Leon Draisaitl contract fracture has been resolved. Here are the youngsters who will be relied on heavily this summer.
- Laurent Brossoit, backup goalie. I think this is a reasonable bet, Edmonton has developed him in the minors and LB will be waiver eligible in the fall. At some point, when you are developing talent, you have to give a man his chance to stand and deliver. Lots of pressure on him but if he performs well it’s one more area that is no longer a problem.
- Matt Benning, 2RHD. Every metric I’ve seen had him performing at a high level. He was an older rookie, which may mean he will be able to repeat his strong debut season. Ideally you’d have a more seasoned player to step into the Andrej Sekera role, but Benning is the one who will move up in my opinion. Corsi for 5×5 %: 52.1; Corsi Rel 5×5 %: 2.8; DFF Elite 5×5 %: 50.2; DFF Elite Rel 5×5 %: +2.8 (31 percent of TOI v. elites). It’s all terrific. The truth is I do believe Benning is a reasonable bet to cover off the need until Sekera returns.
- Mark Fayne, 3RD. People ask me all the time about why I stick up for Pouliot and Fayne. The answer is simple: No one has given me a good reason to abandon them. I understand Todd McLellan likes more mobile defenders and that Fayne doesn’t bring any offense, but he is an actual NHL player and can fill a role. You would want a more mobile and offensive bet, and I have suggested Cody Franson. That understood, I’m fine with this bet.
- Ryan Strome, 3C. He’ll also play RW as Leon Draisaitl’s Mirror Man but it sounds like his overall responsibility includes a lot of time at center. I liked his skill on draft day and he scored 50 points three years ago. Recent history has been less impressive and this is a risk that could have major negative impact if it goes sideways. I understand the bet and realize the cap crunch, but do believe the Oilers are pretty exposed here. A Brandon Pirri signing would make me feel more comfortable.
- Drake Caggiula, 3L. I would have preferred one more year from Pouliot before handing the keys to Caggiula, but my argument revolves around offense and BP didn’t give me much to argue for with his year. Caggiula can wheel and has the Chiarelli gumption, so if he can slide 12-15 goals into the net then that should be good enough. I’m not so much against a bet on a young winger as against so many bets on a young winger.
- Jujhar Khaira, 4L. Absolutely time to give him a full 500-at bats and I’m glad for it. One area the Oilers may be exposed is penalty kill. I would be very happy to see him get PK time in pre-season just to see if he has the acumen. Other than that, I believe it is time.
- Jesse Puljujarvi, 2R. This is too early in my opinion, especially considering how he ended things a year ago. JP began the campaign confident but losing playing time had impact and I’m not sure he ever recovered. If they are going to do this, plenty of PP time and feature time or a soft minutes line are badly needed.
- Anton Slepyshev, 3R. He does have some cover in Zack Kassian and did play so well down the stretch and in the playoffs. I am less worried about the Russian than I am about Caggiula or Puljujarvi. I think this guy might score 20 under the right circumstances.