The Edmonton Oilers have three home games this week (Colorado and Dallas later) and it begins with the Winnipeg Jets here tonight. The club is 13-17-6 under Todd Nelson solo and I’m sure the coach is thinking about adding some W’s to his resume before the big decisions go down over the summer. As he should. The GM? Well, it’s good to win these games but lordy there’s a generational talent out there and winning the lottery may turn a subpar GM into Sam Pollock. Draft McDavid and you get smarter in a heartbeat.
I don’t think the Oilers catch Arizona or Buffalo (despite their head to head battles to come) and that means it’s likely Edmonton will select No. 3 or No. 4 overall. There’s outstanding talent here but it won’t help immediately—and that could be good for this management group. This franchise is going to get another tremendous player, someone to add to the list that began with Jordan Eberle and now includes Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom, Nail Yakupov, Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl and Justin Schultz. Justin Schultz? Does Justin Schultz belong on that list? More in a minute.
LOWETIDE TOP 10, 2015 DRAFT
- (1)C Connor McDavid, Erie Otters (OHL) 47GP, 44-76-120 (2.55)
- (2)C Jack Eichel, Boston U (NCAA) 36GP, 22-42-64 (1.83)
- (3)R Mitch Marner, London Knights (OHL) 63GP, 44-82-126 (2.00)
- (4)D Noah Hanifin, Boston College (NCAA) 36GP, 5-18-23 (.639)
- (5)C Dylan Strome, Erie Otters (OHL) 68GP, 45-84-129 (1.90)
- (6) D Ivan Provorov, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) 60GP, 15-46-61 (1.02)
- (8) C Mathew Barzal, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) 44GP, 12-45-57 (1.30)
- (7) D Zach Werenski, Michigan (NCAA) 34GP, 9-16-25 (.735)
- (10) C Nick Merkley, Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 72GP, 20-70-90 (1.25)
- (11) R Evgeni Svechnikov, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL) 55GP, 32-46-78 (1.42)
I think any of the top five as listed here would be a dynamite addition and you could probably talk a few people into that Russian defender playing in Brandon if you had a mind to in the next few weeks. I bet the Oilers love Lawson Crouse too, it’s a matter of how much. Corey Pronman mentioned Edmonton’s interest in Marner awhile back so we know they’re contemplating all available options (I’ll have Pronman on the Lowdown this morning). If the Oilers end up taking Marner and he eventually grabs the 2RW job, you could eventually see the top two lines being Hall—Nuge—Eberle and Yakupov—Draisaitl—Marner. That’s an enormous amount of talent.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT JUSTIN (HockeyAnalysis & BTN)
|5X5 CORSI FOR %||44.0||42.7||50.4|
|OFFENSIVE ZONE STARTS||48.1||46.4||63.4|
|QUAL COMP (among D’s)||No. 5||No. 4||No. 6|
Eakins used Schultz in a different (better) manner this year and one hopes coach Nelson continues the ZS push. If we’re looking for a Dellow-aided usage this would be it. Corsi over 50%, ZS push for the guy who should be able to do something with it, soft parade (although the opposition has something to say about that, too). Here are Schultz’ partners this year with minutes and their 5×5 Corsi for % together:
- Oscar Klefbom (52.6) (534 minutes)
- Niki Nikitin (43.4) (160 minutes)
- Andrew Ference (42.4) (154 minutes)
- Brad Hunt (51.1) (130 minutes)
- Keith Aulie (51.9) (74 minutes)
- Martin Marincin (56.3) (59 minutes)
Huh. Oscar Klefbom and shove them into the O-zone every time you get a chance. Of course, you’re going to have to pay this guy and the other four defensemen have to be Pronger but it’s a plan! Seriously, if you can bring Schultz back at the same number, do you consider it? Seems like there’s a fit here in that very specific window. By the way, 0.82 5×5/60 ranks No. 70 overall in the NHL this season. Paying Schultz big money is crazy but a one-year deal under $4 million? Thoughts?
Here’s what I think: At some point, maybe next season, Klefbom is going to be far too valuable to babysit Schultz (Marincin will be too, for that matter) and the Oilers will be spending $4M large on a one-dimensional defenseman. This team can’t turn north with Schultz, Ference and Nikitin, I don’t see a way. If Craig MacTavish follows through on the idea of running those three as half of next year’s blue, the trending on each of these three defensemen better turn around in a quick hurry.
OILERS CHL STATS AND NHLE 2014-15
|NAME, LEAGUE||2014-15 STATS||NHLE|
|LEON DRAISAITL WHL||32GP, 19-34-53||82GP, 15-26-41|
|KYLE PLATZER OHL||68GP, 34-47-81||82GP, 12-17-29|
|GREG CHASE WHL||61GP, 20-39-59||82GP, 8-16-24|
|DARNELL NURSE OHL||36GP, 10-23-33||82GP, 7-16-23|
|MARCO ROY QMJHL||59GP, 26-24-50||82GP, 11-10-21|
|JACKSON HOUCK WHL||66GP, 22-29-51||82GP, 8-11-19|
|BEN BETKER WHL||64GP, 6-25-31||82GP, 2-10-12|
|KEVEN BOUCHARD QMJHL||36GP, 3.85 .872|
There are some good seasons here, Leon did a very nice job in Kelowna and delivered quality offense in a two-way role. Platzer was drafted without the benefit of a quality season (he was basically a utility player on a deep team) but blossomed in Owen Sound. If I had one vote, he would be the guy Edmonton signs as we head toward the deadline. Greg Chase had a strange start to the season but got untracked on the coast and I am looking forward to tracking his career in pro hockey beginning this fall. I think those numbers for Nurse are a pretty good estimate of his offense and added to the considerable defensive ability Oilers fans should be very pleased with his progress and future.
I’m uncertain about the Oilers position on Houck and Roy. There are significant pressures on the 50-man list and it may come down to choosing between Roy, Matt Fraser, Josh Winquist and Curtis Hamilton for a contract next year. The current LW depth chart at the pro level is Hall, Pouliot, Hendricks, Fraser, Gazdic, Ryan Hamilton, Curtis Hamilton, Mitch Moroz, Kale Kessy. Matt Fraser and Curtis Hamilton are RFA’s, Anton Slepyshev may be in the mix.
It’s completely possible we see the LW depth chart next season look like this: Hall, Pouliot, Perron replacement, Hendricks, Gazdic, Ryan Hamilton, Curtis Hamilton, Mitch Moroz, Kale Kessy, Josh Winquist. Why? Well, in the two periods this season where Winquist was a feature player, he’s posted 4-7-11 in nine games. He’s a younger prospect than Hamilton and more offensively capable than Moroz and Kessy. The question: Is he fast enough? I don’t know. Either way, I’d sure as hell sign Marco Roy, as a center or a wing. Two-way guys with speed don’t grow on trees. The other guy to watch for is Anton Slepyshev.
There are no first-round talents to be signed this spring but Josh Winquist, Joey Laleggia, Anton Slepyshev, Kyle Platzer, Marco Roy, Jackson Houck and Ben Betker have played well enough to earn contracts in this blog’s opinion. Is there room? Don’t know.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy Monday as we hit the ground running with terrific guests! 10 this morning, TSN 1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Scott Burnside, ESPN. We’ll talk Bruins—Senators and a very unlikely playoff race in the Eastern Conference, plus Scott’s article on Mike Ribeiro.
- Kent Ridley, Ridley Scouting. The CFL’s regional combines begin today in Edmonton, we’ll talk about the deepest draft in years and I’ll ask Kent about O-linemen (the Eskimos are pretty well stocked in receivers but as always need some help along the line).
- Corey Pronman, ESPN. We’re getting down to the real business of draft analysis now, as three candidates for No. 3 have emerged (Hanifin, Strome, Marner). We’ll discuss the trio and find out if there’s any gap at all between the three. Questions welcome, post in comments or at Lowetide_ on twitter, 10-1260 text.
- Dennis King, Oilogosphere Icon. We’ll look back on 1990 spring, when the Jets should have beaten the Oilers but couldn’t do it, and compare that period of time with today. The Jets are coming to town for two points they need and Edmonton does not. Shame.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide_ on twitter.