Later today, I’ll begin the RE series for 2017-18. It will begin with Connor McDavid, who I am projecting to lead the team in scoring again. That’s your first bit of ‘breaking news’ on the RE, although it’s the ultimate no-brainer. I’m not going to tell you how the final RE breaks down in terms of goal differential, but will say this is a very different season to come.
- 2015-16: 31-43-8, 70 pts (199-242) (GD: -43)
- 2016-17: 47-26-9, 103 pts (243-207) (GD: +36)
- 2017-18: ?
My RE projections have some career seasons, and a lot of players ending up in the same spot on the graph. Why? It’s difficult to know which of the kids are going to spike, so they are all in a row and the veterans pass them because their roster spots are more assured. I’ll probably run four or five a week and hope to be done by end August.
For me, the key to this season will come on the 5×5. I’m fairly confident the power play will outscore the penalty kill failures, and even strength is the big piece of game state. Edmonton finished No. 8 in 5×5 goals (165) and No. 9 in goals against (139) during 2016-17. In 5×5 goal differential, the Oilers finished No. 6 with a 54.3 goals-for percentage. Can the team improve on that?
I have six rookies playing at least one game, but none of them playing more than 20. It’s a more veteran group than we’ve seen in many years. Is the team better than a year ago?
I am not projecting three scoring lines, but the inability to identify a winner among Jesse Puljujarvi, Anton Slepyshev and Drake Caggiula produces nine forwards with 10 or more goals. This past season had just seven. This year, there are nine, but the biggest reason is that indecision among the young forwards.
Not exactly news but Andrew Ference retired yesterday. It’s too bad Ference was unable to play at peak levels during his time in Edmonton. I got to enjoy watching him as part of the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup team in 2011, enjoyed that playoff run immensely. Ference is not your typical Albertan, or Edmontonian, or eighth-round pick. He had a fine career, got everything possible out of his abilities. Sail on, Sherwood Park Flyer, Sherwood Park Met, Portland Winterhawk.
- Phil Myre, ISS: “This player is showing a lot of improvement and getting more ice time. He plays on the PP and kills penalties. Excellent hands, passing and shooting. He can make plays and score. Needs to improve his play on the boards in the DZ. Smart player with a continued slow growth. Big upside”.
- Hockey Prospect.com: Kirill Maksimov is a shoot first winger with good size and intriguing potential. Kirill possesses an intriguing combination of size and skill, which makes him a versatile threat offensively. Maksimov’s best offensive tool is his shot. It’s a shot that comes off a quickly and with a deceptive release. His shot also possesses strong velocity and accuracy.
SAVING PRIVATE RYAN
My RE pushes Nugent-Hopkins numbers a little and that may bring a dilemma for Peter Chiarelli next summer. The general manager will have boxed himself in by then, with McDavid’s deal kicking in and Leon grabbing a major slice of the cap. Nuge’s $6 million deal makes him vulnerable to trade but there are ways around it.
- Suffer through one year (2018-19) tight to the cap and then deal Andrej Sekera. Beginning 2019-20, he must give the Oilers 15 teams he can be traded to according to Cap Friendly.
- Trade Cam Talbot. His no-trade clause includes a list of 10 teams he can be traded to beginning summer 2018.
These are not ideal and I’m pretty sure we’re going to see Nuge’s his red tail lights heading for Spain in the next 12 months.
2017 TRAINING CAMP ROSTER
We’re several weeks from knowing but it’s fun to have a look to see what we can see out among the remaining free agents. The Oilers are now a “have” team, so there may be significance to the names. A year ago, Kris Versteeg and Eric Gryba were among the invites and Edmonton grabbed Kris Russell late in camp. The 2016 TC list is here.
Among the current free agents I would like to see in Edmonton for training camp:
- RD Dennis Wideman. Veteran defender with a howitzer, never hurts to have a look.
- R Jaromir Jagr. Someone will sign him, but a fan can dream.
- RD Cody Franson. Surprised he isn’t signed yet.
- LD Jared Cowen. If he is recovered might be able to provide some depth.
- F Daniel Winnik. Music for the two-way portion of the roster, PK.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy Friday, as we head to the weekend with lots going on. TSN1260, 10 this morning, scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, BigMouthSports. Which Canadian team is in best position to win the Stanley Cup in 2018? Are the Jays sellers already? Steve’s Alberta vacation!
- Scott Mitchell, TSN. The second half begins tonight, can the Jays close the gap in a quick hurry?
- Matt Iwanyk, TSN1260. Point-Counter Point today is all about the Eskimos, boxing and who plays with McDavid.
- Jeff Chapman, Copper & Blue. Leon’s offer sheet destinations.
10-1260 text @Lowetide on twitter. Friday on my mind!