This is the time of year when I take the estimated TOI for Oilers 2017-18 and marry it to performance. You saw some of that in our discussion about Leon Draisaitl yesterday. I find it fun to do, gives me a chance to project next season and see what I can see.
When it comes to Ryan Strome, I can’t project him well. His numbers don’t make sense to me, there’s no distinction in any area, nothing rhymes. He played the minutes, he scored, but there’s not a lot to identify him in the numbers.
RYAN STROME’S WOODMONEY
- This is all courtesy Puck IQ and the men who built the boat that will save us all. Bless you, men.
- The Islanders regarded Strome (rightly) as a mid-level player, he got the bulk of his playing time against the middle competition.
- Strome did not dominate that middle, nor did he dominate the soft parade. His rel number remains the same through all three levels of competition. Whatcha doing Ryan Strome?
- His 5×5 shooting percentage was 13.58 percent, but he shot at the rate of once every 10 minutes.
- He scored better with Jason Chimera and Nikolai Kulemin than with the bigger names on the roster. Weird year.
- I think Strome will get a lot of power-play time compared to a year ago, and he was 69, 11-11-22 at even strength in 2016-17. We might see a season similar to that of Milan Lucic as an Oiler last year. If Edmonton gives Strome a chance in the Letestu role, and that is my projection, we could see 20 goals from the new hire.
I’ve been reading a few comments lately about Darnell Nurse as the most logical player to step into the top 4D next season. As Puck IQ shows, Matt Benning is clearly the better option based on last season’s numbers. Now, we should be aware that young players can surprise you (good and bad) but the first option should be Benning.
The problem with going that route (Klefbom-Larsson, Russell-Benning, Nurse-Gryba/Auvitu) is the third pairing gets left out in the cold. Suspect it may end up being Klefbom-Larsson, Auvitu-Russell, Nurse-Benning.
KAILER YAMAMOTO (5.075, 153)
- Corey Pronman: He’s a plus skater, puck handler and passer. Yamamoto has great agility on his edges, combined with a good top gear. He can create when he is carrying the puck due to his skill, creativity and ability to see the ice. He can come down the wing with speed one shift and quarterback a power play the next. At the WHL level as an 18-year-old, he showed he could be decent defensively, but the main concern going forward is how will he do away from the puck at his size. I have reasonable concerns about that, and it’s why I don’t think he’s at the level of say, Mitch Marner at the same age. However, there is still a lot of promise in his game.
- HockeyProspect.com: He is a hound for the puck, as Yamamoto goes anywhere to get it including directly at puck carriers. Kailer plays with explosive feet and attacks sticks when he isn’t possessing the puck using his high tempo motor to cover ground and pressure opponents to make plays, making him quite effective on the penalty kill and in creating shorthanded chances. Below the goal-line, Yamamoto is elusive and can carve his way to the net using extremely strong outside edges. In viewings this season, he consistently skates his way to the net, surprising defenseman with the speed he generates without taking a stride. Yamamoto possesses a dynamic wrist shot that cleanly beats goalies with power and speed, he can shoot from multiple body positions, in motion and off balance with little effect on his shot quality.
I’ve written about the possibility of Yamamoto making the team several times, often get reactions like “why don’t you just be patient?” or “do you seriously believe they would do that?” from readers. First, my preference isn’t really the point. We’re talking about this player and the Oilers organization. The team has been brazen over the last decade in sending kids to the NHL right out of the box. I know this young man is small, but he has terrific speed, something Sam Gagner wasn’t gifted with when the organization gave him a push fall 2007. Taking into account skill set, team need, franchise proclivity, I think there’s a chance this happens.
NEXT YEAR’S FREE AGENTS
I wrote this five days ago, but have been asked about it overnight so will re-publish the free agent list for 2018 summer. Some of these men will get signed but a lot will be spending their final winter in Edmonton.
- Patrick Maroon, UFA. I think it’ll be a quick negotiation either way. If Maroon scores 27 again, he will have earned a handsome raise. Suspect Edmonton will make an offer well below market value and Maroon will sign elsewhere. This is going to be a theme among McDavid wingers for the next decade.
- Mark Letestu, UFA. He was the No. 2 playoff scorer this spring and brings lots of utility. He is also 32, so PC will need to be aware of erosion. Suspect Letestu gets a two-year deal.
- Mark Fayne, UFA. He will not receive an offer from Edmonton.
- Matt Benning, RFA. Too soon to know, but he may emerge as the most valuable signing next summer. Could $4 million times five get it done? If he repeats his rookie season, getting a long-term deal in place will be a big priority. Has a chance to become the new Dan Boyle in Todd McLellan’s scheme.
- Darnell Nurse, RFA. A lock to sign long term, the question here is cap. I’ve heard intelligent people suggest $2.5 million times whatever, but doubt that gets it done. This may end up being the most interesting negotiation of the year.
- Ryan Strome, RFA. If he delivers a strong season, Strome gets signed long-term next summer. The cap hit will probably be mid-level ($4 million?) but he has a chance to be part of the cluster if things break right.
- Anton Slepyshev, RFA. Anything could happen here, from a trade to long-term deal. Slepyshev is in a good spot but will need to deliver quickly, as the organization will be more patient with Jesse Puljujarvi.
- Drake Caggiula, RFA. A Chiarelli signing, I expect the second contract gets signed quickly and without fanfare. He plays a physical style and may cash more in year two (had tons of chances). Outside chance he emerges as 97’s scoring winger, hopefully they sign him before that happens.
- Laurent Brossoit, RFA. His upcoming season will tell us a lot and the range of possibilities is large. He could get a multi-year deal or lose the backup job, or could get thrust into a starting role due to injury. Could also lose ground due to the emergence of another goalie in the system.
- Iiro Pakarinen, RFA. A fringe winger, tough to say how things roll out. Pitlick’s exit gets him in a better spot to make the team and he does have some scoring ability. If he plays well in a support role, expect the Oilers to bring him back again.
I’ll bet on Matt Benning, Darnell Nurse, Ryan Strome, Drake Caggiula, Anton Slepyshev and Laurent Brossoit returning. After that it’s about what’s left to the cap.
— Jeff Chapman (@NewWaveOil) July 13, 2017
It will have to happen soon if it is going to happen at all. Arizona? No. Nashville? Unlikely. New Jersey? Carolina? Capgeek numbers here.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning, your texts will get their own segment (11:25) so send them in! Starts at 10, TSN1260, scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Are the Oilers better? Where do you play Strome? Who partners with Kris Russell?
- Ryan Pike, Flames Nation. Jagr in Calgary?
- Keegan Matheson, MLB.com. Jays! Are they sellers or straight on ’til morning?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!