Over the next few weeks we will see the addition of PTO’s, perhaps college free agents who reach freedom August 15 and the signing of Leon Draisaitl. The big business of summer is complete and we have the training camp roster surrounded. Edmonton enters 2017-18 with renewed confidence from a strong regular season, a long awaited playoff run, and the most valuable trump card in the deck.
- Cam Talbot, 30. Aside from McDavid, the most important player on the roster. Injury the big worry but you can say that about every contender. The only guy not worrying about playing another 73 games seems to be the guy who may well do it again.
- Laurent Brossoit, 24. We will know more one year from now, I believe the Oilers have to give him a full chance at grabbing the No. 2 job. He’s earned it with fine play over several years. That’s not the same as saying I believe he’ll keep the job but 25 starts should tell us a lot about what we don’t know now.
- Nick Ellis, 23. His consistency is flat out impressive and I’d rank him as one of the top players to watch in training camp and preseason.
- G Eddie Pasquale. AHL backup or Co-No. 1 goalie is my guess, the Oilers signed him for one year at $700,000 with $200,000 guaranteed. Could get some NHL time, he has yet to make his big league debut and is 26.
- G Shane Starrett. Another college goalie turning pro. Strong resume, it’s similar to Nick Ellis a year ago. Main difference between the two men is Starrett has been the de facto No. 1 goalie the last three seasons.
- G Dylan Wells. Slide rule, he’ll spend one more year in junior. He had some stellar moments at WJSS (3gp, 4.24 .842) including a fantastic performance against Finland where he stopped 22 of 23. He has a good chance to make the WJ team.
- G Stuart Skinner. He has a solid resume and the Oilers love him. Allowed five goals on 22 shots at the WJSS, I’ve seen a few people making a big deal out of it. Calm your tits, folks. It’s one game in a summer exhibition series. I do think he is a very long shot for the WJ roster.
There doesn’t seem to be a lot out there in terms of training camp invites, the CapFriendly list doesn’t give us much. Mac Carruth is still looking for a job based on Elite Prospects information. I think the Oilers are set, development camp included Wells, Skinner and Starrett along with Miroslav Svoboda who will play in the top Czech league this fall (we shouldn’t expect him at camp).
LEFT DEFENSE (12)
- L Oscar Klefbom, 24. He can wheel, his shot is a rocket and he is just coming into his own. He should get more power-play time this coming season and we can hope the young man plays 82 games again.
- L Kris Russell, 30. Todd McLellan values him highly, the Woodmoney tells us what he does well. Russell keeps the youngsters farther down the depth chart until ready, that may well be his biggest contribution. He is not well liked by analytics, I’m fine with Russell on my team but would prefer LH side.
- L Andrej Sekera, 31. He won’t be back for at least 20 games, maybe as many as 40 games. Edmonton will miss him in every one, his absence creates a big hole. The other worry is how close to being 100 percent will he be upon return? That’s a major issue.
- L Darnell Nurse, 22. Big, strong, fleet and with a substantial mean streak. Nurse has shown (imo) an ability to play third pair minutes effectively. He played against elites far less than Matt Benning (talked about it here) last season, perhaps that’s a tell and we’ll see Kris Russell on LH side.
- L Yohann Auvitu, 27. I keep reading about Auvitu being a dubious acquisition, as in “if he was any good the Devils would have kept him.” Here’s the thing: This signing may not work out, you may never hear from Auvitu, but it was an astute bet. Seems to me this signing was applauded and then scorned based on the idea NJD never make personnel errors. Strange. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do in training camp.
- L Ryan Stanton, 27. He appears poised to battle Auvitu for the 7D spot this fall, the edge goes to the player whose skill set best matches the required role. In a way, Stanton is more in competition with Gryba but the PK worries may favor Stanton.
- LD Dillon Simpson. Excellent chance he plays some NHL games this year, but the additions of low-key FA’s like Auvitu, Stanton and Lowe cloud the depth chart 8-12.
- LD Keegan Lowe. Top 4D in Bakersfield and I think he might get NHL time in 2017-18. There’s a spot on D right behind Eric Gryba and that spot is going to play in some NHL games. Another Lowe playing defense for the Oilers, man the memories will flood back.
- LD Ziyat Paigin. The most likely of the 2015 defensive draft picks to play in the NHL this coming season (he is older and played in the KHL (101 games including playoffs). ETA for Paigin is fall 2018 in my opinion, the organization loves him. You can tell based on verbal.
- LD Ben Betker. Big man should get a full AHL season (he has played in both the ECHL and AHL in each of his first two pro seasons). Lost in the flood a little moving forward, Oilers may not sign him past this season (although he is a big man and PC loves size).
- LD Caleb Jones. Fastest and most mobile of the new pro defensemen, I think the organization will plan to keep him in Bakersfield for much of the year. Plans change, and he can wheel, so don’t be surprised if he gets some NHL time.
- LD Dmitri Samorukov. Intriguing two-way defender, he’ll be a player to watch closely in training camp before heading back to junior. Lots of smart people like this player.
There was talk of Jared Cowen signing around July 1, that’s a name to keep in mind as we head nearer to invite period. Oilers had only one LHD invite at Orientation camp (Mark Auk) and he’s headed back to Michigan Tech for his senior year. Tim Erixon has NHL experience and is unsigned according to Elite Prospects.
RIGHT DEFENSE (6)
- R Adam Larsson, 24. His presence helped the team in terms of defensive structure and coverage. There were times last season when he made amazing look stupid defensively. Paired with Klefbom, Edmonton has a fine young tandem at very reasonable cap. Talk of Nurse-Larsson as a pairing and we may see it early days.
- R Matt Benning, 23. He’s a smart player, good-to-excellent with the puck and cool as a cucumber in pressure situations. He is my first choice to move up into the second pairing until Sekera returns, fascinated to see how Todd McLellan sees things. He did trust Benning as a rookie, no reason to believe that will change.
- R Eric Gryba, 29. Played 40 games as 7D last season, saw action in three playoff games. I think he’ll be in the mix for regular third-pairing activity but may not hold that job. As of now, he is a lock for the roster and likely to play north of 40 games.
- R Mark Fayne, 30. He can defend but his foot speed isn’t great, he does not play a rugged game and the offense is minimal. I don’t think he’ll be on the team but he’s been a good soldier and sometimes those things matter.
- RD Ethan Bear. A player to watch in Bakersfield, his passing and his shot are going to get him noticed and we can project some good rookie boxcars in the AHL. Speed of the game and footwork are probably the things to work on (he is good in coverage in the WHL but it takes time to adjust). He has good speed but not Jones wheels, I think he’s a little better defensively than Jones. I give the edge to Bear in making NHL debuts, because of handedness.
- RD Ryan Mantha. Big man, big shot, good speed. Duplicates Bear’s skill set and he is a year older. I think he may see some ECHL time (crowded house on AHL blue) but that’s a guess and maybe that extra year moves him ahead of Bear.
Sahvan Khaira was at Orientation Camp and may return for training camp before heading back for his final junior season. Dennis Wideman is still out there and the Oilers may have some interest (Cap Friendly blue here). I will mention Cody Franson as an option for the 1,000,000th time just to make it a round number.
- C Connor McDavid, 20. I’ve projected 110 points and that’s reasonable in my opinion. McDavid’s speed is supernatural, his hand eye is magic and his determination top drawer. When the Flames tied the game opening week, McDavid hit the ice, stern jaw, eyes on the goal. Bang! and Bang! again! Please lord give me 25 more years to watch this beautiful career.
- C-R Leon Draisaitl, 21. The thing people often miss about Leon is that he used draft day as a starting point. In his draft season, I interviewed several scouts and draft insiders, with foot speed and flagging energy at the end of shifts being popular criticisms. Draisaitl has fantastic natural talent but he also worked on the things that held him back. That’s the most impressive thing about him, I believe.
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 24. He can help this team in multiple ways, my guess is Todd McLellan is going to ride him hard on the PK and at evens. Nuge has lost some speed on his bat but is young enough to get some of it back. His biggest offensive asset—power-play witchcraft—stays in the garage with a cover on it because 97. Carolina may come calling.
- RC Mark Letestu, 32. Unique skill set fits the Oilers perfectly, although Letestu may lose power-play time to Strome and others. He needs to have stronger linemates (Kassian was excellent but LW was a mess) and to improve possession numbers against soft parade.
- LC Brad Malone, 28. Malone can play center, wins faceoffs, penalty kills and it won’t hurt him to sit in the pressbox for long stretches. I have him on the Edmonton roster for about 40 percent of the season, don’t believe it’s a stretch.
- C Joe Gambardella, 23. He is not a high end prospect but could emerge as an NHL option (over time, likely a season or two). Slight chance he slides into a useful utility role at the back of the roster as early as this season. Can he PK at this level? Big advantage if he can.
- C Grayson Downing. Skilled center coming off subpar second AHL season, there’s an air of mystery about just what he brings but we’ll find out in due time. Edmonton needs him to be “AHL Lander” and that’s a giant chore.
- RC Josh Currie. Back on an AHL deal, he has skill and two-way ability. Currie plays a lot on merit, look forward to the day a drafted Oiler can give him a run for his money.
- RC Kyle Platzer. Platzer has a good opportunity here to push his way into a regular job with Bakersfield. Edmonton badly needs him to emerge as a bona fide NHL prospect again.
We should expect some invites at center, Brandon Saigeon, Ethan Szypula, Kevin Klima and Steve Owre were at Orientation Camp and may return. Saigeon is an interesting prospect. Ryan White is a player Edmonton probably has interest in, I sometimes wonder if Daniel Winnik is really 90 years old but he’s been a solid player in the past. CapFriendly FA C here.
- L Patrick Maroon, 29. All he’s done since arriving is score goals. Maroon has a sixth sense about location and has shown enough speed and skill to hang with 97. That has actual value, and another 25+ goal campaign will get him paid. Here or elsewhere.
- L Milan Lucic, 29. Big winger has scored 2.00+ 5×5/60 in the recent past and he’ll be determined to get there again. If he can, added to his impressive 5×4 performance, Lucic might push 60 points (career high 62).
- L Drake Caggiula, 23. Caggiula battled injury and playing out of position for much of the season, came on strong late and showed PK acumen. He may not emerge as a scorer, but there are other things he can bring.
- L Jussi Jokinen, 34. Jokinen brings clarity to the roster. He will be valued for his penalty killing and for his ability to play up and down the lineup. A very strong addition, he could blow the LW depth chart out of the water if he’s healthy and gets in a good spot.
- L Jujhar Khaira, 23. The Oilers like his size, speed and grit, with scoring the one worry. I see him as Matt Hendricks’ replacement, we’ll see if he can find a way to get into the lineup every night.
- L Joey Laleggia, 25. Goals, Goals, Goals! Scored damn near 20 in a second half that saw him play extended time with Anton Lander and Jesse Puljujarvi. He’s coming from Laredo with this position change but that run in Bakersfield was impressive.
- L Ryan Hamilton. AHL only deal, he’ll get some time with the big club in camp.
- L Braden Christoffer. Final year of entry deal coming up, Christoffer hasn’t shown enough offense through two seasons. His gritty, agitating style is a good match for the BrOILERS but he needs to cash more often.
- L Evan Polei. Size and skill (6.02, 227 and 33 WHL goals) are intriguing. He’s on an AHL deal and we’ve seen these develop into nothing before, but Polei has offensive skill and he can also play center.
- L Tyler Benson. Slide rule, may get some pre-season games if healthy. The only thing to worry about with Benson is getting a complete WHL season under his belt, plus playoffs. He badly needs a healthy season and the Oilers badly need to see it from him.
- L Ostap Safin. Size, speed and skill. First Oilers camp on the way and I can’t wait to see what he brings.
- L Kirill Maksimov. He has a very interesting resume and could be a draft steal. There’s usually a reason for a pick to go where he does, but the resume is strong for Maksimov. Brock Otten wrote about him (and other Oilers OHL prospects) today.
Thomas Vanek would be an interesting add (CP LW UFA) but the Oilers have Maroon, Lucic and Jokinen already at this position.
RIGHT WING (14)
- C-R Ryan Strome, 24. This is a grand opportunity for Strome, who will play mirror man to Leon Draisaitl all winter (if I have things pegged). I think 20 goals are possible, more if he gets a major push with Connor McDavid.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi, 19. Puljujarvi is an impressive prospect with great skills, it’s just a matter of waiting for him to show what he is as a mature player. Scorer? Playmaker? Brilliant two-way player? I think we’ll see it play out at the NHL level this year. If he scores 20 goals in year two, the Leon-McDavid-Puljujarvi cluster will become legendary.
- R Zack Kassian, 26. Rugged winger is young enough to hang around for several years, his foot speed is impressive. I feel a little as though we are looking at a brand new player who could surprise. I’ll be interested to see who Todd McLellan plays with him at TC.
- R Anton Slepyshev, 23. I see him as being a big part of this year’s forward group, and would say there is a chance he emerges as a 15-20 goal man. If I’m his agent this is the summer to have him training hard and arriving as a doppelganger for Ivan Drago.
- R Iiro Pakarinen, 25. The club has added several PK options who project to play ahead of him, so this could be a difficult camp. He plays with the abandon Todd McLellan values and that will help him in his effort to win a job. He’s a bubble player entering camp.
- R Ty Rattie, 24. This is an excellent spot for Rattie, whose actual scoring ability right now may not be far from men like Caggiula, Slepyshev and Puljujarvi. He’s just one year older than Slepyshev and could push for a roster spot with a strong training camp.
- R Mitch Callahan, 25. Consistent AHL performer, he brings skill with some physical play and that combination appeals to the Oilers. He may show very well in camp and has many of the elements Matt Hendricks brought to every game.
- R Kailer Yamamoto, 18. Electric skills and he can score goals. A small winger, he will impress if given chances. If he is here late in camp, the club may give him nine games. I’m not predicting it but wouldn’t be at all surprised.
- R Patrick Russell. Scored only 8 times as rookie pro but shot the puck a lot and may have been experiencing a Bermuda triangle shooting percentage. Posted strong offense in the NCAA he may surprise this season.
- R Greg Chase. Final year of entry-level deal ahead, he has small windows where everything seems to rhyme and then falls back again. Chase has scoring ability, needs to take advantage of opportunities and find consistency this year.
- R Brian Ferlin. Effective when healthy. Has had substantial injury issues. A 2011 Bruins draft pick during the Chiarelli era, I think expectations should be low as this season may be about working his way back to healthy.
- R Chad Butcher. AHL deal, skilled and small RW who scored over 100 points with Medicine Hat. He has high skill, could be the new Josh Winquist.
- R Dave Gust. Small skill winger signed to an AHL deal. It feels like he’s Joey Benik’s replacement but we’ll see.
- R Zach O’Brien. Played mostly in the ECHL a year ago, can also play center. Had some titanic offensive seasons in the QMJHL years ago.
Kelly Klima is 20 and smaller, posted 49 points with two QMJHL teams this year. He is Kevin’s twin brother and Dad is Petr. Davis Koch is an Edmonton Oil Kings winger, has improved each season (he is 19) and scored at almost a point-per-game this year. Should be one of the better skill forwards with the OK.
There are a ton of UFA RW still available, Jaromir Jagr, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, Drew Stafford, Alex Chiasson, P.A. Parenteau. Oilers could invite one to camp and it would make sense. Source.
WORLD JUNIORS SUMMER SHOWCASE STATS
- Kailer Yamamoto 5, 3-3-6
- Aapeli Rasanen 4, 0-3-3
- Phil Kemp 6, 0-1-1
- Markus Niemelainen 4, 0-1-1
- Dylan Wells 3, 4.24 .842
- Stuart Skinner 2, 8.23, .727
A bizarre stats page but I believe the information above to be correct. Small sample size alert, and if you come after me re: Yamamoto’s chances of making the team, I’ll remind you this was a discussion point on this blog weeks ago.
That’s the first edition of the training camp list, if I missed a name or you have heard a rumor, let me know. A month from now we’ll have our morning coffee with a cool morning breeze. It’s on the way, I can feel it.