Based on the early verbal, we’re about to spend the week listening to talk of ‘raised expectations last fall’ and ‘we’ve learned our lesson’ from the good ship Oiler. That’s fine, I do think people giving their perspective on things has value and should be heard.
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- New Lowetide: The Oilers and Russia: A draft tragedy.
- Jonathan Willis: Is Todd McLellan the right man to coach the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Condors forwards and Austin Czarnik.
- Lowetide: The Oilers and the need for speed.
- Minnia Feng: A cinematic analysis of this year’s Oilers.
- Lowetide: What if the 17-18 Oilers season was a blessing in disguise?
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the Republic of Finland
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and Sweden.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the QMJHL.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers and the WHL.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers draft history and the OHL
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the NCAA.
Bob McKenzie has "gut feeling" Peter Chiarelli will be back as GM next yr; "wouldn't be surprised if Todd McLellan is back as Head Coach" but didn't sound as convinced (1260)
— Taylor Hart (@akaRCN) April 9, 2018
Based on my reading of the tea leaves, it looks like the general manager, coach and some key assistants will stay and the turnover will happen in the “Steve Smith/Charlie Huddy” portion of the coaching staff. The negotiations going on re: who stays among the assistants could mean the head coach walks. That’s my guess this morning. Good news for all involved that we’ve heard nothing yet.
The dealing with raised expectations verbal misses a few home truths, and that’s a fact. If you’ve read this blog, you know I believe the Oilers treat young talent as a disposable item, a renewable resource. This year’s model didn’t work? Try the new, improved version available in the top 10 at this year’s draft! All the well selling a ‘five-year plan’ that lies just beyond the next hill.
The Oilers have had great talent over the years, in fact much of it will be on display in this year’s playoffs. Seriously. Check it out. Talent has never been the problem. Finding a way to allow that young talent to flourish is the issue. Current example: Jesse Puljujarvi.
The 2010 Top 20 prospects
- Lowetide blog: This is the strongest group of Oiler prospects I can recall. The 79-81 Oilers top 20 would have been better but after that this group must be the best. Potential and upside fall under the “If Wishes were Horses” category and we must know that some of these young men will falter. I think Oiler fans deserve good news by the tonne at this point in franchise history, so this list celebrates the future whatever it may be for the Copper and Blue.
That’s a very strong list. Taylor Hall might win the Hart Trophy this season, Jordan Eberle is a perennial 25-goal man on the other wing. Jeff Petry is a quality NHL defender and has been for years now and Devan Dubnyk has been a successful starter for a hockey generation. There’s also a late kicker group that includes Brandon Davidson, Tyler Pitlick and Chris VandeVelde.
My argument about the Oilers is personified in Teemu Hartikainen. The Oilers got rid of him because Jesse Joensuu was the answer but I’m convinced the Oilers had the better player. Edmonton is tougher on their own prospects than they are on other team’s castoffs. It has always been thus. Irritating.
THE 2018 TOP 20 PROSPECTS
There is no Taylor Hall here, but Jesse Puljujarvi could end up being a 30-goal winger with two-way ability. Insane value. Jujhar Khaira took a little time (lesson there) but looks like he may have a career (possibly on LW). Kailer Yamamoto and Tyler Benson start their pro careers in the fall and there’s plenty of opportunity to advance.
Ethan Bear played 18 NHL games as a rookie pro, ahead of schedule by any measure. He looked like a rookie but you can see his intelligence and passing ability. There may be a fine future there. There are eight defenders on this list. Four goalies. I expect the Oilers would prefer to draft a forward in the first round.
NHL DRAFT LOTTERY
Oilers are currently No. 9, they could draft in several spots in the first round. The well named Tankathon suggests Edmonton’s chances are:
- No. 1 overall: 5 percent
- No. 2 overall: 5 percent
- No. 3 overall: 5 percent
- No. 9 overall: 48.8 percent
- No. 10 overall: 30.7 percent
- No. 11 overall: 4.3 percent
- No. 12 overall: 0.1 percent
In the words of the great Johnny Mathis, chances are Edmonton picks No. 9 or No. 10. I think Ty Smith comes into view now, maybe Emil Bouchard or that Merkley fellow. Still think Edmonton would like a forward and wonder if they have someone in mind we haven’t discussed. My Top 100 ranking is here.
50-MAN (LONG FORM)
- G Cam Talbot. Signed for one more season, he had a .920 save percentage during March/April (final 17 games). Suspect the Oilers will bring him back as No. 1, believe it’s a solid bet.
- G Al Montoya. Signed for next season, he’s an established goalie but the Oilers should upgrade in this area. Montoya isn’t a goalie you can run with for two weeks.
- G Shane Starrett. He’s signed and that’s a big advantage. SP fell year over year from .918 to .899 in Bakersfield, that’s a down arrow.
- G Dylan Wells. Turns pro this fall. Three year save percentages in Peterborough (.871, .916 and .896) suggests Wells may begin his pro career in the ECHL.
- LD Oscar Klefbom. Went 66, 5-16-21 in a season made difficult due to injury. His surgery went well, although trading the young blue (if that was the plan) may be more difficult because of the medical news.
- RD Adam Larsson. He went 63, 4-9-13 in a difficult year for him, played well and had solid results while playing tough minutes.
- LD Kris Russell. He delivered 78, 4-17-21 and continues to lose the possession battle (it was close though, Fenwick 49.48).
- LD Andrej Sekera. He went 36, 0-8-8 but the final games were the only contests where he resembled the Sekera of last season. He was shutdown for the season’s final games but is apparently heading to the WHC’s.
- RD Ethan Bear. In the NHL (18, 1-3-4) and AHL (34, 6-10-16) he combined the errors of youth with signs of what may come. Smart, great passer, he finds attractive options while passing on low risk items. Very encouraging season.
- LD Caleb Jones. Inconsistent rookie seasons in pro hockey are not unusual and it remains clear Jones has all of the required elements. He just needs to fly more sorties. He went 55, 2-14-16 this season in Bakersfield, settling down after a wobbly first 15 games. He and Bear separated this season in career trajectory, this is a good time to remind prospects don’t develop in a straight line. There’s a player here.
- RD Ryan Mantha. A concerning eye injury ended his season (41, 3-7-10) and we’re not really sure where he stands. Mantha showed well when he played, recovery is the next important step in his career.
- LD Ryan Stanton. 46gp, 2-6-8 in Bakersfield he didn’t play in Edmonton, mostly due to an injury that put him behind in training camp. He might be more prominent next season.
- RD Eric Gryba. He was 21, 0-2-2 in Edmonton before heading back to Bakersfield. Foot speed got him, he could still defend on his final day in the NHL. The Don Awrey’s are leaving.
- LD William Lagesson. A strong SHL season and playoff may have him poised for a jump aross the water. He was 49, 1-12-13 during the season, a dozen SHL assists is a handsome total. He is best known for good wheels and excellent coverage.
- LD Dmitri Samorukov. Slide rule. Strong OHL season showing fine speed and defensive acumen, plus some offensive flair. Impressed the hell out of everyone in a brief audition with Bakersfield at the end of the year.
- LC Connor McDavid. Impossibly brilliant hockey player, McDavid once again won the scoring championship (82, 41-67-108) and has clearly established himself at the top of the game. A dream player for any manager or coach.
- LC Leon Draisaitl. He struggled with injury and inconsistency all year, but still managed to post 78, 25-45-70. The organization needs to find him two wingers who can complement his considerable gifts. I believe Jesse Puljujarvi may be one.
- LC Brad Malone. He was 56, 13-20-33 in the AHL and 7, 0-0-0 with Edmonton this season. He is a player I can see spending more time in the NHL next season, especially if he shows well as a penalty killer in preseason.
- LC Joe Gambardella. A slow start has given way to a good finish, he is now 47, 12-5-17 in the AHL. If he’s going to make the NHL, Gambardella will need to spike offensively next year.
- RC Cooper Marody. Brand new signing has skill and will receive a push beginning in the fall. He can play center or wing, suspect he’ll get a long look at pivot due to need.
- RC Cameron Hebig. Overage junior signed in the spring and has a good resume. His scoring for two WHL teams this year (66, 41-49-90) is eye popping. He turns pro in the fall, age 21.
- LC Colin Larkin. Division III center is a bit of a mystery, the good boots got him the contract and we’ll see. He is 13, 0-2-2 in Bakersfield.
- L Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Surged offensively when placed with McDavid, he brings some two-way acumen to the top line. He was 62, 24-24-48 this year. While all were fretting about Hall and Eberle being dealt, my main worry was Nuge. I still think he is vulnerable to trade.
- L Jujhar Khaira. 69, 11-10-21 in his arrival season in the NHL. Khaira has a range of skills and the offense seals the deal as a bona fide NHL player. You’ll want to see 11+ goals next season, but this is a fabulous story. Oilers don’t have a lot of third-round picks who see the light of day.
- L Milan Lucic. A bitterly disappoint season (82, 10-24-34) marked by an extreme lack of productivity after the AS break. He got chances too, with big time linemates. I don’t think the Oilers can enter next season projecting Lucic on a skill line.
- L Tyler Benson. A strong final WHL season (58, 27-42-69) was most impressive because the young man stayed healthy. His NHLE (28.29) suggests he might be closer to Jujhar Khaira than Patrick Maroon as a mature offensive player. Two-way acumen should take him far.
- L Ostap Safin. Slide rule. He’s a real find. A fourth rounder scored well in the QMJHL (61, 26-32-58) despite having very little in the way of help in the back half of the season. Spent time in Bakersfield and scored his first professional goal this spring. One to watch.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi. A mind numbing season for the youngster, he scored 65, 12-8-20 while playing with damned near every center in captivity. I want to tell the Oilers don’t let go the rope with this young man, if Chiarelli returns my suspicion is the Finn will, too. General managers rarely give up so quickly on their own lottery picks. The only question we have now is how much he’ll score.
- R Kailer Yamamoto. He posted three assists in nine NHL games to start the year, and then had an uneven WHL campaign (NHLE: 38). His junior offense suggests he has enough in his bat to play on a skill line, the question is when.
- R Pontus Aberg. I liked his game when he came over (16, 2-6-8) and there’s little doubt Aberg will be on the team in the fall. I think the Oilers see him as a skill line option.
- R Zack Kassian. I’ve heard more talk about his salary than about Leon’s, and that means it has been the subject many times. He scored 74, 7-12-19 this season but the Oilers haven’t got room for overpriced depth players. He could go.
- R Mitch Callahan. He got lost in Bakersfield (45, 2-7-9) this season, Callahan should have a better second year in California.
- R Kirill Maksimov. Slide rule. He may end up being the steal of 2017’s draft for Edmonton. Scoring 62, 34-46-80 (NHLE: 31.7) for Niagara IceDogs, Maksimov is a goal-scorer in an organization with very few.
- LD Darnell Nurse. Led D in scoring (82, 6-20-26) and had his best year so far, although January+ saw regression from an excellent first half. Nurse is part of the future in Edmonton.
- RD Matt Benning. He scored 73, 6-15-21 this season and established himself as a solid NHL defender. Seems to be past the concussion of last season and is rock solid as a third pairing option. He has more offense than some of the other Oil blue. (RFA)
- RC Ryan Strome. He scored 82, 13-21-34 and that’s exactly in line with expectations. Strome didn’t get much time with McDavid, one of many curios this season.
- The rest: Nick Ellis, Ben Betker, Drake Caggiula, Braden Christoffer, Kyle Platzer, Anton Slepyshev, Iiro Pakarinen, Patrick Russell. (Total: 11)
- Laurent Brossoit, Mark Fayne, Yohann Auvitu, Keegan Lowe, Joey Laleggia, Dillon Simpson, Grayson Downing, Mike Cammalleri, Ty Rattie, Brian Ferlin. (10)
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
It all happens TSN1260 this morning.
- Round table at 9am. I’m on with Dustin Nielson and Dean Millard. Oilers postmortem.
- 10am. Todd McLellan media avail.
- 10:40. Pierre Lebrun.
- 11:05. Jason Gregor.
- 11:20. You! Your comments.
- 11:40. Dave Jamieson.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!