A big part of Edmonton’s future is in Toronto this week playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Connor McDavid played magic man for Team NA early on a fantastic goal (with Auston Matthews), Leon scored in OT for Europe and the Nuge was Dave Keon for Team NA. I was heartened by reaction (here and elsewhere) to RNH’s efforts last night—and remain relieved the Oilers didn’t trade him this summer. From his very first stride in an Oilers uniform, Nugent-Hopkins represented peak two-way forward in terms of the yutes. Last night, for team NA, Nuge was healthy, splendid and deadly effective. Music!

The centers three give Edmonton the kind of ‘build up the middle’ head start we haven’t seen here in 30 years, I swear. Do not break this group up, even if Leon spends some time on the wing. Aside from the clearly made up team names, it was a helluva night for the Edmonton Oilers future. Nuge is tied for No. 1 in scoring, McDavid and Leon are tied for No. 6 overall. All stats here.

benning-russell-jones

IDENTIFYING TRAINING CAMP ROSTER (62)

Jim Matheson has an article up that is a worthwhile read, lots of things in it including an update on Eric Gryba. He also says ‘The Oilers will have 62 players at camp — seven goalies, 19 defencemen and 36 forwards — depending on what happens with Gryba’ and that means we may be able to surround the actual TC list. Our number is 62.

THE CORRECT 62?

  1. G Cam Talbot—Stay healthy, get your rest, flu shot too. Godspeed young man.
  2. G Jonas Gustavsson—No. 2 goalie going into camp, good home plate number.
  3. G Laurent Brossoit—There is an NHL job to be won.
  4. G Eetu Laurikainen—He could play in Bakersfield, Norfolk or Finland this year.
  5. G Nick Ellis—After strong Young Stars performance, his spot on the depth chart could be heading north.
  6. G Dylan Wells—He plays goal like Tarzan based on last night.
  7. G Keven Bouchard—May hang around for UofA game, or it could be Knapp in this spot.
  8. LD Oscar Klefbom—Is this the year for Oscar to bust a move?
  9. LD Andrej Sekera—If he can play second pair, Edmonton should have a solid top 4D.
  10. LD Brandon Davidson—May end up top 4D, a lock for the top 6D if healthy.
  11. LD Darnell Nurse—Getting mighty crowded if Kris Russell is added.
  12. LD Griffin Reinhart—He will get a long look, and will likely play a substantial number of NHL games.
  13. LD Jordan Oesterle—A strong TC could land him a job in Edmonton.
  14. LD David Musil—Waiver eligible defender, he has insane competition on LH side.
  15. LD Dillon Simpson—Under the radar, but I think he has a chance to play in the league this year.
  16. LD Mark Fraser—May grab final D spot, especially if Edmonton runs with eight blue.
  17. LD Joey Laleggia—Oilers are looking for a PP option on the blue line, he has that skill set.
  18. LD Ben Betker—He was strong at the Young Stars and should hang around in main camp for a bit.
  19. LD Mikael Tam—Strictly a Bakersfield-Norfolk option, we will see where he lands.
  20. LD Caleb Jones—Two-way defender may get an extended look in TC before heading back to junior.
  21. LD Andrew Ference—I enjoyed watching him, fine career.
  22. LD Markus Niemelainen—He was one of the best stories in Penticton. Nice range of skills.
  23. RD Adam Larsson—Two-way defender who can be effective 22 minutes a night.
  24. RD Mark Fayne—He is a good defenseman but wildly unpopular. I may call him Edsel.
  25. RD Matt Benning—I think he has a slight chance to make this team. Terrific Young Stars.
  26. RD Frankie Simonelli—AHL defender from Providence. Has yet to play an NHL game.
  27. RD Ethan Bear—Looking forward to seeing his improved mobility in camp. Quality prospect.
  28. LC Connor McDavid—A very special player. Running out of words to describe him.
  29. LC Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—A quality two-way C, actual NHL player, age 23.
  30. LC Leon Draisaitl—Big C with terrific hands and vision. A big season from him may mean playoffs.
  31. RC Mark Letestu—He is an actual NHL player, I like him as 4C.
  32. LC Anton Lander—Probably hangs around for PK, job is not secure entering camp.
  33. LC Jujhar Khaira—Big forward ideally situated for playing time in the NHL this year.
  34. RC Kyle Platzer—He should get some feature time during pre-season, big minutes in Bakersfield.
  35. C Josh Currie—Effective a year ago as a utility AHL forward.
  36. C-L Joey Benik—Great scoring instincts were on display in Penticton.
  37. C-R Ryan Vesce. Skill C has posted strong numbers in various leagues over his career. 34. TC invite.
  38. L Milan Lucic—A unique player with a range of skills. Oilers will have a different look.
  39. L Benoit Pouliot—An important player in the top 6F, underrated.
  40. L Patrick Maroon—A bargain contract, useful winger with good hands.
  41. L Matt Hendricks—Likely to play some center, important for PK purposes. Rugged F.
  42. L Drake Caggiula—He is small and skilled, Edmonton probably has room for one more.
  43. L Jere Sallinen—KHL and SM-Liiga veteran, he can also play center.
  44. L Mitch Moroz—It will be interesting to see how long he stays in main camp.
  45. L Braden Christoffer—His second pro season likely involves more AHL time.
  46. L Ryan Hamilton—In camp on a PTO, he is ticketed for California.
  47. L Scott Allen—Big winger added via PTO, on an AHL deal. May take AHL time from prospects.
  48. L Tyler Benson—Doubt he plays in UofA game, hope he is healthy soon.
  49. L Collin Shirley—He played well in Penticton, unsure if he will be in main camp.
  50. R Jordan Eberle—The best pure scorer on the team, can he score 40 with 97?
  51. R Kris Versteeg—Interesting PTO winger, he could play up and down the line.
  52. R Nail Yakupov—Despite our conversations, he could be a key player on this team. Shooter.
  53. R Jesse Puljujarvi—He enters camp with enormous buzz around him. A perfect fit: RH sniper.
  54. R Zack Kassian—Has a great chance here, a veteran at a spot with lots of uncertainty.
  55. R Iiro Pakarinen—He is in a battle for sure, but the coach likes him and that counts for a lot.
  56. R Tyler Pitlick—A strong, healthy training camp is vital for this player. Still cheering for him.
  57. R Taylor Beck—A little under the radar, there is a job open and he could win it.
  58. R Anton Slepyshev—Won an opening night job a year ago, can he do it again?
  59. R Patrick Russell—Speed is a concern based on Young Stars performance.
  60. R Greg Chase—Buried a little with the changes, his skills do fit a Chiarelli team.
  61. R Jaedon Descheneau—Skill winger on an AHL deal. He could be a revelation this year.
  62. R Joel Rechlicz—Enforcer will no doubt be a popular player in Bakersfield.

We have talked about that 2013 draft a lot in the years since it went down, Nichushkin was the choice of many who frequent this blog. To re-set the verbal, here is my top 10 from that draft:

  1. L Jonathan Drouin: The most offensive potential in the draft. Outstanding prospect.
  2. C Nathan MacKinnon: Nice range of skills, not enough to make up for the gap in offense.
  3. D Seth Jones: Franchise defender. Offensive is not outstanding, rest of the package off the charts.
  4. C Sasha Barkov: Complete player, may step into an NHL lineup immediately.
  5. C Elias Lindholm: Impressive offense, nice range of skills. Getting lost a little, incredibly.
  6. L Valeri Nichushkin: A man among boys, scoring winger with an explosive quality.
  7. C Sean Monahan: Two-way C with the ‘perfect fit’ skill set for the Oilers.
  8. D Rasmus Ristolainen: Very little negative, across the board talent.
  9. D Darnell Nurse: He’s an excellent prospect, 2-way guy with plenty of room to grow.
  10. C Bo Horvat: Two-way C, he’s a bull in the middle (6.01, 203) and I bet MacT loves him.
  11. Source

I had Nichushkin No. 6, but always felt the gap between 6-10 was not great (while hoping that Monahan would fall to Edmonton). I had no quarrel with the Nurse selection—surely we can agree it was at least partly a draft for need—but remain convinced it is vital to develop him properly. That should include possible AHL time, and hopefully third pairing in the NHL should he make the team. Does the Nichushkin bolt change your opinion of the 2013 draft rankings?

reinhart gryba capture

ERIC GRYYYYYBA!!!

Matty’s article gives hope for Gryba fans in terms of return to the Oildrop. I think the idea has merit for several reasons, not the least of which is that Gryba can actually defend (he is not a puck mover). Those who dislike Fayne (feign in Vayne?) will not like the idea, but with Oscar Klefbom and Brandon Davidson coming off injuries and 8D possible, it is a reasonable move in my opinion. It takes a village to cobble together enough defensemen for an NHL season, it would be so very nice to spend a season with capable callup options.

THAT RW DEPTH CHART

It is possible to put together the LW (Lucic, Pouliot, Maroon, Hendricks) and C (McDavid, Nuge, Leon, Letestu) depth charts without breaking a sweat, but the RW list is long and full of possibilities. This (from the above list) could represent the pro depth chart opening night (top 5 in NHL):

  1. Jordan Eberle
  2. Leon Draisaitl
  3. Nail Yakupov
  4. Zack Kassian
  5. Kris Versteeg
  6. Jesse Puljujarvi
  7. Taylor Beck
  8. Iiro Pakarinen
  9. Tyler Pitlick
  10. Anton Slepyshev

What order would you place these players in? If you had to run Leon as a RW (I think he will be a center), where do you put Yakupov? The list is somewhat easier if Leon plays C, but it is still difficult to find roles for everyone. The opinions on Versteeg vary widely, but the real battle (imo) is going to be between Yakupov, Versteeg and Puljujarvi. If JP can score goals in the NHL exhibition season similar to that second goal Friday night, he wins the day. I am not prepared to suggest there is actual competition at an Oilers training camp, but we are approaching that kind of dilemma. Haven’t seen that kind of battle for a long time.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

  • Jonathan Willis, Oilers Nation. Training camp battles? What are those?
  • Andrew Stoeten, Blue Jays Nation. Toronto with a big win last night, what about that bullpen?
  • Chris Peters, CBS Sports. Team USA with a massive game tonight, and how many Americans are on Team North America (more than you think).

All starts at 10 this morning, TSN1260. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!

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[…] The Oilers full training camp roster hasn’t been announced to this point, but Lowetide has it surrounded. You can view the list here. […]

Frank the dog

Bruce McCurdy:
Great interview with Krueger. Whatever you think of him as a coach, he’s an extraordinary human being. Am genuinely sorry he didn’t stick around Edmonton a little longer than the one runt season.

If MacT hadn’t Skyped him out for the dementor we probably wouldn’t have sunk low enough to get CMD et al.

Bruce McCurdy

Great interview with Krueger. Whatever you think of him as a coach, he’s an extraordinary human being. Am genuinely sorry he didn’t stick around Edmonton a little longer than the one runt season.

Bruce McCurdy

Bruce McCurdy:
Frank the dog,

I heard Ralph auditioned for the role of the next Dos Equis guy & they just stopped everything & hired him on the spot.

Haha Tim & Sid just referred to Krueger as “the most interesting man in the World… cup of hockey”. They must read Lowetide.

Ca$h-McMoney!

rickithebear:
Average EVEN minutes per game 47-49
Avearge PP and PK 5.5 to 6.5 each

when talking the 4 lines

Upr 1st line:
#1 to 15 EVTOI Fwds
#1 Kane 15.9 EVTOI
#15 Lucic 14.55 EVTOI
#1 to 90 15.90 to 12.97

Upr 2nd line:
#91 to 105 EVTOI Fwds
#91 Nelson 12.96 EVTOI
#105 Simmonds 12.72 EVTOI
#91 to 180 12.96 to 12.23

Upr 3rd line
#181 to 195 EVTOI fwds
#181 Lewis 12.22 EVTOI
#195 D. Jones 11.80 EVTOI
#181 to 270 12.22 to 10.75

Oilers last year
Hall LW 15.21
Lucic LW 14.55; 14.00 in BOS
RNH C 14.46
Draisatl C 14.42
Mcdavid C 13.89
Eberle RW 13.51
————————- 1st line minutes
Pouliot LW 12.75
————————- 2nd line minutes
Yakupov RW 11.83
Kassian RW 11.77; 11.91 in VCR
Letestu C 10.80; 10.33 in CBJ
————————- 3rd line minutes
Maroon LW 10.66; 11.07 in ANA
Hendricks LW 10.49
Pakarinen RW 9.06
Lander C 9.03

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but you’d get a lot more mileage and responce out of your posts if you would put a sentence or two at the bottom clearly articulating the point you are trying to make. I’m sure there are lots of people who see that and blow right by it without any thought to the point you’re trying to get across.

You put a lot of work into this stuff, and while I don’t always agree with your points I appreciate what you bring to the conversation. A quick note for the less “factually inclined” folks at the bottom of your post would be a huge difference maker.

Bruce McCurdy

As for Leon playing the wing, I’m just visualizing a California road trip facing Thornton on Thursday, Kopitar on Saturday, Getzlaf on Sunday with a side trip to Hanzal on Tuesday on the way home. I thought the whole point of drafting a big centre was to have, you know, a big centre. Plenty of size with a modicum of skill on the flanks already in Lucic, Maroon, even Kassian. But there is only one big centre, unless you want to move Hendricks into the middle to fill the hole let by Draisaitl. Not sure I like it.

oilgreg: I would guess you missed those games last season were Leon played on the wing. 26 points in the first 20 games, iirc.The man possesses a pretty sweet backhand pass, too, making the right side a quite reasonable option.

Except most of those 20 games were at pivot. Leon was called up for Game 11 (right after Eberle qualified for LTIR) & did start out at wing with Hall & Nuge. But McDavid went down in Game 13 & that was that. As I recall McLellan tried to stay with 4-93-29 for a game or two but soon wearied of trotting out Letestu / Lander / Hendricks as the 2/3/4 pivots. So Leon moved into the middle, Purcell moved up, Nuge went back with Eberle & at least there were two lines that Could score. Short version, a top 6 C went down (McDavid) a top 6 RW came back (Eberle) & the obvious move was to shift the German back into his natural position.

That said, that Leon is capable of playing wing is useful, & I subscribe to the same notion that many here do that McLellan will stack his top six based on game situation. Whether it’s Leon or Nuge that moves to the wing may depend on whether the Oilers are in California or not. 🙂

If I’m not mistaken, McLellan had a couple seasons with the Sharks where Thornton-Pavelski-Couture were 1-2-3 in ice time AND 1-2-3 in faceoffs taken. I have every confidence that it’s a situation McLellan can handle.

sliderule

Lowetide: He sure does, but I have to say that it irks me he isn’t getting more play.

Leon turned it over at his own blue a couple of times and was benched .

Since then Ralph put him on a leash .

He has been letting out the leash as Leon has limited his turnovers.

rickithebear

Average EVEN minutes per game 47-49
Avearge PP and PK 5.5 to 6.5 each

when talking the 4 lines

Upr 1st line:
#1 to 15 EVTOI Fwds
#1 Kane 15.9 EVTOI
#15 Lucic 14.55 EVTOI
#1 to 90 15.90 to 12.97

Upr 2nd line:
#91 to 105 EVTOI Fwds
#91 Nelson 12.96 EVTOI
#105 Simmonds 12.72 EVTOI
#91 to 180 12.96 to 12.23

Upr 3rd line
#181 to 195 EVTOI fwds
#181 Lewis 12.22 EVTOI
#195 D. Jones 11.80 EVTOI
#181 to 270 12.22 to 10.75

Oilers last year
Hall LW 15.21
Lucic LW 14.55; 14.00 in BOS
RNH C 14.46
Draisatl C 14.42
Mcdavid C 13.89
Eberle RW 13.51
————————- 1st line minutes
Pouliot LW 12.75
————————- 2nd line minutes
Yakupov RW 11.83
Kassian RW 11.77; 11.91 in VCR
Letestu C 10.80; 10.33 in CBJ
————————- 3rd line minutes
Maroon LW 10.66; 11.07 in ANA
Hendricks LW 10.49
Pakarinen RW 9.06
Lander C 9.03

Bruce McCurdy

JDï™: He was at it today as well: https://streamable.com/xvsp

I saw that. Dirty & gutless both. He should be thrown out of the tournament for that garbage.

Bruce McCurdy

JDï™: Up until that dirty knee hit on Hall, yes. But that’s water under a bridge now.

Haha nice GIF. We ran a reader poll on the Gryba-Hall hit at CoH & a plurality called it a “hockey play”. It was crude to be sure. But even a fair number of Oilers fans weren’t too enraged by it — & normally such polls are “the hanging judge” when Oilers are on the receiving end of questionable hits.

JD_Wry

Bruce McCurdy: Fucking Komarov

He was at it today as well: https://streamable.com/xvsp

Visually better

Only because i’ve never actually realized until now, and from what I’ve seen (or in the case; the lack thereof), how come Lucic never even gets a snuff around roster naming time for these tournaments? Or World Championships or anything of the like?

Any ideas?

rickithebear

kinger_OIL:
leadfarmer,

– Sek is a good turd polisher with Fayne, but his CF% with Nurse @ 44.1% and Nurse not top-4 zone ready, and he sucked with Davidson @ 46.2% and played only 13 mins with Griff.

there are 12 forwards and 6 D onin a game on all 30 teams.
top 540 players.
of the top 275 EVP/6 players (50.9%)
263(95.6%) are forwards.

you might want to look at the forward line Dmen are playing with!
cause?
FORWRDS DRIVE THE F………….. OFENCE!
almost every dman is below average!and the ones that are not
are almost allways EVGA playoff blackholes!

theres oil in virginia

Lowetide: If he runs the top two lines 18-22 minutes a night, Leon might be sitting a lot. McLellan is going to push (imo) the McDavid line more this season, he is more mature and the Oilers are a different team with him on the ice. Nuge is a 19-20 minutes a night center, leaving about 22 minutes for the 3 and 4 lines. Suspect they want to run Leon more than the minutes that may be made available to the 3line.

Is Ralph limiting his minutes because Leon is more effective in limited minutes? He’s looking pretty good in that role.

rickithebear

Bruce McCurdy: Fucking Komarov

Florida’s going to get them some Mathews.
Head on a swivel young man.

ashley

Lots of positive comments here today. I’m working through some of the summer threads after vacation, and wow some of them are negative.

This is a good roster, no matter how much we miss Hall. This is as good as it’s ever been and we have a better chance at the post-season than we have had in years. The mood here on today’s thread would seem to agree, but that would not have been the case in the middle of summer!

I think this roster has plenty of speed. I love that Yak is still here (said the exact same thing last year after it was correctly predicted he would be traded imminently 0 out of 14 times).

Interesting discussion about why Hall got traded in the mid-summer….that his only fault is that he was the most valuable trading chip for a RHD. I have fairly close information to the Oilers braintrust that this is NOT true. Many teams were asking for RNH (assuming that Chia was blowing things up and trading all kinds of valuable things), but he balked at trading RNH. Even Shero wanted RNH. It looks like what we find to be the most valuable Oiler as fans and what the GM’s find to be the most valuable Oiler player are not on the same page.

Someone above mentioned 97-93 on a line. I think it concentrates talent too much and exposes other lines, but would love to see them together with Sekara or Davidson in OT.

BTW, McClellan would not draw the LW depth chart as we do. He thinks Davey is top pairing, definitely not third. Don’t be surprised to see minutes reflecting as much. Davey-Larsson is much more likely than Klef-Larsson.

Bruce McCurdy

JDï™:


Harvey Fialkov
‏@hfialkov

The Panthers have decided to bring Ekblad home. #FlaPanthers

Damn.

Fucking Komarov

rickithebear

Player EVP/60 rank for offensive D:
and
EVGA d rank with # of 352 forwards that can generate (GA + .31) = wild card playoff GF

#151 1.52 EVP/60 Karlsson #190 EVGA D 2.73; 19 fwds
—————————————– #6 player
#188 1.42 EVP/60 Gustafsson #44 EVGA D 1.86; 172 fwds
#199 1.39 EVP/60 Burns #118 EVGA D 2.22; 106 fwds
————————————— #7 player
#224 1.32 EVP/60 Carlson #38 EVGA D 1.88; 170 fwds
#230 1.30 EVP/60 Brodie #178 EVGA D 2.56; 35 fwds
#237 1.27 EVP/60 Hedman #20 EVGA D 1.68; 216 fwds
—————————————– #8 player
#241 1.25 EVP/60 Byfuglien #158 EVGA D 2.46; 47 fwds
#245 1.23 EVP/60 Orlov #143 EVGA D 2.32; 75 fwds
#255 1.21 EVP/60 Subban #164 EVGA D 2.48; 45 fwds
#255 1.21 EVP/60 Vlasivc #101 EVGA D 2.17; 115 fwds
—————————————– #9 player
#276 1.14 EVp/60 Paayko
so in what world is the #7 to #9 player offence worth getting Defence that can almost be unscoreable from a Wild card playoof standard.

So if youp lay your best off d with your 4th line Forwards it might be worth the risk.
otherewise
GET THE DAMN PUCK TO THE FORWRDS!

Ca$h-McMoney!

kinger_OIL:
Ca$h-McMoney!,

– I think we are on same page with Davey and his “deployment path”: So who do we partner Griff or Nurse with when he’s being bumped up because of the injuries?

– Fayne+ Gryba were awful withNurse &Griff, as expected. All 4 of them need to be paired with decent D to either tread-water for the former pair, or to develop for the latter pair.

– Davidson ends up batting too high, you hope he learns on the fly, while Nurse/Griff have no adequate partner on 3rd pairing available to develop with, and the D ends up a tire-fire: again….

Let’s say we lose Klefbom and Nurse to injury. 1 top guy, 1 bottom guy.

Sekera/Larsson
Davidson/Fayne
Reinhart/Oesterle

That’s fine. Or maybe Davidson/Larsson and Sek/Fayne with an even minutes distribution, whatever.

Griff/Oesterle as a third pairing was OK last year. There were games when they looked, at least to me, like our best pair. Of course there were games where they didn’t too. Is it Ideal? No. Tire fire? No, not in my book, at least not most of the time.

The above D is fine, given the hypothetical injury situation. Not perfect certainly, but not terrible.

JD_Wry

Bruce McCurdy: Liked him in Ottawa

Up until that dirty knee hit on Hall, yes. But that’s water under a bridge now.

frjohnk

Bruce McCurdy: You & me both, brother. Liked him in Ottawa, was happy when Oilers got him, & was generally happy with his play. Other than one early-season brain freeze in Minnesota, he did very little to hurt the team outside of those penalties, which are part of the territory for any greaseball bottom-pairing defenceman. I call it the SOB role in honour of the wonderfully-acronym’d Shane O’Brien, but it’s a player-type that dates back to early days where teams even dressed 6 d-men, with Don Jackson being an early prototype. (Of course there have always been greaseball #4 & #5 defencemen as well.)

Think of all the plugs Oilers have deployed in the position in recent years. Just in the 8 years since Matt Greene left town, only Andy Sutton & arguably Marc Fistric even belong in the convo with Gryba. It’s a longer list of guys who didn’t really measure up — in no particular order Teddy Peckman, Mark Fraser, Jason Strudwick, Keith Aulie, Jim Vandermeer, Dean Arsene & don’t get me started on Colten Teubert or Alex Plante.

Now I get that some folks are opposed to the role period, would rather see a skill guy like, I dunno, Philip Larsen or Brad Hunt in the role. That’s a philosophical difference of opinion. If, like me, you are resigned to the reality of hockey men doing hockey things & trying to get a SOB for your bottom pairing, Eric Gryba is a pretty damn good choice AFAIC. Especially a cheap Eric Gryba. Very happy Oilers will have first crack at him, hope that he is fully recovered from the kness injury that cost him two months of hockey and very possibly, several million dollars.

Put me the group that likes Gryba.

Looks like he can be had for cheap.

And like you mentioned, he is probably one of the better “heavy” Dmen the Oilers have deployed over the years in the role he played in.

I’ll probably get a scolding from you know who but I like Gryba in a 3rd pairing role at $1.5M or so compared to Fayne at $3.6M in the second pairing role.

And I have a hunch Oilers might feel that way as well. If Gryba makes the team, I’m not sure that Fayne does.

Bruce McCurdy

Frank the dog,

Ralph isn’t coming back to the NHL. He’s publicly stated he expects this to be his last trip to this particular rodeo and was surprised he even got the call to coach this team in the first place. He’s got a really great job in the UK and his entire other career in politics (world economic forum) and motivational speaking. He’s a great coach and the Oilers (and MacT) were incredibly shortsighted for letting him go, but he’s had the last laugh and a far more interesting life than being a career coach.

I heard Ralph auditioned for the role of the next Dos Equis guy & they just stopped everything & hired him on the spot.

Drew

Bruce McCurdy: You & me both, brother. Liked him in Ottawa, was happy when Oilers got him, & was generally happy with his play. Other than one early-season brain freeze in Minnesota, he did very little to hurt the team outside of those penalties, which are part of the territory for any greaseball bottom-pairing defenceman. I call it the SOB role in honour of the wonderfully-acronym’d Shane O’Brien, but it’s a player-type that dates back to early days where teams even dressed 6 d-men, with Don Jackson being an early prototype. (Of course there have always been greaseball #4 & #5 defencemen as well.)

Think of all the plugs Oilers have deployed in the position in recent years. Just in the 8 years since Matt Greene left town, only Andy Sutton & arguably Marc Fistric even belong in the convo with Gryba. It’s a longer list of guys who didn’t really measure up — in no particular order Teddy Peckman, Mark Fraser, Jason Strudwick, Keith Aulie, Jim Vandermeer, Dean Arsene & don’t get me started on Colten Teubert or Alex Plante.

Now I get that some folks are opposed to the role period, would rather see a skill guy like, I dunno, Philip Larsen or Brad Hunt in the #6 spot. That’s a philosophical difference of opinion. If, like me, you are resigned to the reality of hockey men doing hockey things & trying to get a SOB for your bottom pairing, Eric Gryba is a pretty damn good choice AFAIC. Especially a cheap Eric Gryba. Very happy Oilers will have first crack at him, hope that he is fully recovered from the kness injury that cost him two months of hockey and very possibly, several million dollars.

very happy with Gryba as a 6 – 7 RD. does provide a presence and can retrieve the puck. allows puck movers to gradually grow into the LD role in a 3 pair

Bruce McCurdy

Woodguy:
I always had more time for Gryba than your average fancystats Oiler fan (at least on twitter they seem to dislike him a lot)

Gryba takes too many penalties, but his possession is decent.

I ran a super-wowy on Gryba, making sure that Klefbom, Davidson or Sekera were not on the ice.

The Oilers’ CF% for the 365min that Gryba was on the ice, but Klef, Davidson and Sekera weren’t on the ice was 53%.

That’s a solid number for a 3rd pairing Dman on any team, let alone the fact that Gryba achieved that playing with Rookie Nurse, Rookie Griff, Ference, Nikitin and Schultz.

You & me both, brother. Liked him in Ottawa, was happy when Oilers got him, & was generally happy with his play. Other than one early-season brain freeze in Minnesota, he did very little to hurt the team outside of those penalties, which are part of the territory for any greaseball bottom-pairing defenceman. I call it the SOB role in honour of the wonderfully-acronym’d Shane O’Brien, but it’s a player-type that dates back to early days where teams even dressed 6 d-men, with Don Jackson being an early prototype. (Of course there have always been greaseball #4 & #5 defencemen as well.)

Think of all the plugs Oilers have deployed in the position in recent years. Just in the 8 years since Matt Greene left town, only Andy Sutton & arguably Marc Fistric even belong in the convo with Gryba. It’s a longer list of guys who didn’t really measure up — in no particular order Teddy Peckman, Mark Fraser, Jason Strudwick, Keith Aulie, Jim Vandermeer, Dean Arsene & don’t get me started on Colten Teubert or Alex Plante.

Now I get that some folks are opposed to the role period, would rather see a skill guy like, I dunno, Philip Larsen or Brad Hunt in the #6 spot. That’s a philosophical difference of opinion. If, like me, you are resigned to the reality of hockey men doing hockey things & trying to get a SOB for your bottom pairing, Eric Gryba is a pretty damn good choice AFAIC. Especially a cheap Eric Gryba. Very happy Oilers will have first crack at him, hope that he is fully recovered from the knee injury that cost him two months of hockey and very possibly, several million dollars.

Doug McLachlan

RexLibris,

Just as Gryba and the Oil have a pre-existing relationship that led to this PTO and potentially another one-year deal, I sense that Nakladal and the Flames know each other well enough that they are confident that the other will be there when the dust settles.

So yes, Nakladal is available but unless Chia throws him an offer so far in excess of what he feels he can bank on from Calgary he’s going to wait for the Flames to get their cap in order and sign in Calgary.

May well be wrong about this but that is my sense.

JD_Wry

Harvey Fialkov
‏@hfialkov

The Panthers have decided to bring Ekblad home. #FlaPanthers

Damn.

kinger_OIL

leadfarmer,

– Sek is a good turd polisher with Fayne, but his CF% with Nurse @ 44.1% and Nurse not top-4 zone ready, and he sucked with Davidson @ 46.2% and played only 13 mins with Griff.

– He’s clearly polishing Fayne, but not so much with our 3 other D in need of partners.

– But Chia et al know this way better than we do, they are working all the angles.:

– Gryba-Fayne-Griff-Nurse-Davidson = way too many current bottom-pair D at different stages of career. Some on the way up, some on the way down, and some we hope for: but they all don’t fit

Richard S.S.

Lowetide
Leon need to develop as a Centre, that’s a priority. Injury possibilities and an unlikely but possible RNH trade increase that priority. And three quality scoring lines could overwhelm opponents.

Leon should get PP minutes as Centre or Wing. When an equalizing or game wining goal is needed, they should run two lines with Leon on the Wing. If he should have more minutes make him #2 Centre.

flea

I think the gnashing of teeth over Leon on the third line is overblown. There are going to be injuries, likely at least one of the three centers is going to miss time this year. It’s inevitable. (Let’s hope it isn’t McDavid) If it isn’t a center, a winger will go down at some point, and one of those three guys might make more sense to fill a hole than one of the bottom 6 wings..

Trying to fit all the pieces right now won’t work, and I think that is by design. Management knows injuries are coming, hockey is a tough game. It also promotes a competitive environment, and when injuries do hit, it provides depth.

Ducey

Lowetide: If he runs the top two lines 18-22 minutes a night, Leon might be sitting a lot. McLellan is going to push (imo) the McDavid line more this season, he is more mature and the Oilers are a different team with him on the ice. Nuge is a 19-20 minutes a night center, leaving about 22 minutes for the 3 and 4 lines. Suspect they want to run Leon more than the minutes that may be made available to the 3line.

If Leon plays wing on the second PP unit with RNH he will get his ice time as 3C

If the Oilers get 6 PP minutes a game and have 6 minutes of PK

Connor – 16 min 5×5, 4 min PP, 1 PK = 21 minutes
Nuge 15 min 5×5, 2 min PP, 1 PK = 18 min
Leon 12 min 5×5, 2 min PP (on with Nuge), 0 PK = 14 min
Letestu 5 min 5×5, 4 min PK = 9 min

Not sure why we worry anyway. Every coach turns on the blender. If Yak is playing with Connor, he is not going to keep up with him for 21 minutes night.

Oddspell

leadfarmer: I actually dont think Fayne is a lock to make this roster and wouldnt be suprised for a flip for Wideman in a I’ll take your problem for my less expensive problem before the season starts.

I was just about to propose such a trade. Give the Flames cap space this year, gives us cap space a year early, and gives us a right shot D with offense. If we can fit it under cap then that seems like a good trade for both sides. I hate to do the Flames a solid though.

leadfarmer

kinger_OIL: – And that’s why I struggle with how you are going to develop all of Davidson/Griff/Nurse.

– If Davidson is going to be good enough to be “promoted” top-4 at some point this year: Fayne’s wowy’s from last year suck with anyone other than Sekera.

– Oddspell gut is right: Fayne is no good with anyone other than our best D last year, who was Sek. (Klef doesn’t count, he didn’t play the season)

– At least Davidson-Gryba were fine 3rd pairing in sheltered minutes (CF%53.7 together 283 mins TOI).Gryba sucked though too with everyone else except Sekera: so endless feedback loop!

– Can’t solve with the puzzles in this jigsaw for an optimal current pairing settings + develop and progress Davidson/Griff/Nurse properly

Sekera is the ultimate turd polisher. He can drag any partner into decent numbers. I actually dont think Fayne is a lock to make this roster and wouldnt be suprised for a flip for Wideman in a I’ll take your problem for my less expensive problem before the season starts.

dustrock

Lowetide: If he runs the top two lines 18-22 minutes a night, Leon might be sitting a lot. McLellan is going to push (imo) the McDavid line more this season, he is more mature and the Oilers are a different team with him on the ice. Nuge is a 19-20 minutes a night center, leaving about 22 minutes for the 3 and 4 lines. Suspect they want to run Leon more than the minutes that may be made available to the 3line.

Leon could do 3rd line minutes then play the wing in the 3rd for 5v5 close.

dustrock

RexLibris:
stephen sheps,

Awesome review, thanks.

Your viewing on Nakladal is spot-on. This guy represents everything that the Oilers are looking for and he’s sitting….right….there.

Big body, skates well, passes effectively, affordable, right-handed, shot from the point.

If the Flames find a way to dump Wideman and re-sign Nakladal I will be mightily displeased.

You all know the Kings or somebody will sign Nakladal. Hawks, Bolts, etc.

Hard to believe Chiarelli wouldn’t be turning the screws on him getting signed.

kinger_OIL

Ca$h-McMoney!,

– I think we are on same page with Davey and his “deployment path”: So who do we partner Griff or Nurse with when he’s being bumped up because of the injuries?

– Fayne+ Gryba were awful with Nurse & Griff, as expected. All 4 of them need to be paired with decent D to either tread-water for the former pair, or to develop for the latter pair.

– Davidson ends up batting too high, you hope he learns on the fly, while Nurse/Griff have no adequate partner on 3rd pairing available to develop with, and the D ends up a tire-fire: again….

RexLibris

stephen sheps,

Awesome review, thanks.

Your viewing on Nakladal is spot-on. This guy represents everything that the Oilers are looking for and he’s sitting….right….there.

Big body, skates well, passes effectively, affordable, right-handed, shot from the point.

If the Flames find a way to dump Wideman and re-sign Nakladal I will be mightily displeased.

RexLibris

Lowetide: The blog is built around conversation, and the coach has suggested he likes Leon on RW. Seems a reasonable discussion point, and I will continue to bring it up as it pertains to the coming season.

I’d hope they get enough out of Versteeg and Yakupov that Leon looks best as 3C. Mixing it up on the PP works fine for me, but due to the likelihood of this club trading Nugent-Hopkins for cap reasons as they re-sign McDavid and Draisaitl, I’d like them to start working Leon into that role sooner rather than later.

digger50

WOW, it strikes me today that we are in such a different place than previous years. Just awesome selection of talent this year, really impressive.

Prior to Versteeg I was convinced Drai would play with with Nuge. Now I’m not so sure. To me it’s not so black and white but a good debate. Build a third line around Drai or play him with Nuge. They would be fantastic together boosted by some net front presence from the left wing. Change these one goal losses into one goal wins.

Could Vesce be getting a look for third line centre?

Great to have Gryba coming in.

Nurse will stick and I believe Pjarvi will stick causing some surprises. At. Some point this year Letestu is going to find himself in trouble.

Ca$h-McMoney!

kinger_OIL: – And that’s why I struggle with how you are going to develop all of Davidson/Griff/Nurse.

– If Davidson is going to be good enough to be “promoted” top-4 at some point this year: Fayne’s wowy’s from last year suck with anyone other than Sekera.

– Oddspell gut is right: Fayne is no good with anyone other than our best D last year, who was Sek. (Klef doesn’t count, he didn’t play the season)

– At least Davidson-Gryba were fine 3rd pairing in sheltered minutes (CF%53.7 together 283 mins TOI).Gryba sucked though too with everyone else except Sekera: so endless feedback loop!

– Can’t solve with the puzzles in this jigsaw for an optimal current pairing settings + develop and progress Davidson/Griff/Nurse properly

I think the answer to this issue of Davidson as third pairing guy or not (you addressed it earlier) is that it comes down to injuries.

I agree that I’m not comfortable penciling Davidson into a top 4 role. I want him on my ideal 3rd pairing.

That said, I assume that 2 of our top 6 D are hurt at any given point. So while I’m not comfortable assuming Davidson is a capable #4, and am comfortable having him play second pairing our of necessity as required. In that scenario one or more of Nurse/Reinhart/Oesterle can play on the bottom pairing.

Typically 8D play reasonably big minutes over the course of the season. To me, Davidson is #5 on the depth chart. That means ideally he’s third pair, but realistically most of the time he’s doing more than that. And that’s reasonable in my opinion.

kinger_OIL

godot10: Mark Fayne is a #4D or a #7D.He is not a good third pairing D.He is only competent if one plays him with a competent puck moving veteran.Fayne cannot recover from breakdowns, so playing him 3rd pairing with a lesser D exposes him more than playing with a competent #3D on the 2nd pairing.

– And that’s why I struggle with how you are going to develop all of Davidson/Griff/Nurse.

– If Davidson is going to be good enough to be “promoted” top-4 at some point this year: Fayne’s wowy’s from last year suck with anyone other than Sekera.

– Oddspell gut is right: Fayne is no good with anyone other than our best D last year, who was Sek. (Klef doesn’t count, he didn’t play the season)

– At least Davidson-Gryba were fine 3rd pairing in sheltered minutes (CF%53.7 together 283 mins TOI). Gryba sucked though too with everyone else except Sekera: so endless feedback loop!

– Can’t solve with the puzzles in this jigsaw for an optimal current pairing settings + develop and progress Davidson/Griff/Nurse properly

Water Fire

Ducey: Gryba is 5 months younger than Nakladal, is much bigger and has about 218 NHL games to Nakladal’s 27.He makes more sense as a limited minutes/ 7 D to me.

I know that the Wood money stuff points to Nakladal being under rated but that is based on 27 games and 12 minutes a night. Small sample size.

I am not trying to be argumentative, but don’t see the upside of a soon to be 29 yr old who has trouble staying healthy (I am guessing based on GP), bounces around so much (he must have some bad sideburns), and has never put up much in terms of offense.

Is there any precedent for a guy like this coming over so late and turning into something very useful?

Not many, but all they need is a guy to play soft minutes that can actually make a pass. I see a main reason the Oilers get pinned so often and for so long at times is because they have D who had to find their partner or off the glass and out.

It is very predictable and easy to defend. Just cut off the lane and Fayne or Gryba and often Nurse give you the puck back.

Weak plays with the puck kill IMO. Passing is essential to diverting pressure, but also to conserve energy because not running around and chasing all the time.

Richard S.S.

Lowetide: The blog is built around conversation, and the coach has suggested he likes Leon on RW. Seems a reasonable discussion point, and I will continue to bring it up as it pertains to the coming season.

“… the coach has suggested he likes Leon on RW…”
Wasn’t this said before:
1) Kris Versteeg sign PTO;
2) Jesse Puljujarvi showed how good he is;
3) Leon Draisaitl announces his presence to the World?
I think it’s possible the narrative has changed.

If the Oilers need an offensive push for a desperate goal (tie the game, two-man advantage, regulation win), then I see Leon in top 6 playing major minutes. Otherwise the Oilers crush their opponents rolling out scoring line after scoring line after scoring line – the entire game.

Water Fire

blainer: The problem with Drai at center is ice time. While I do agree that he will be an awesome center it will be necessary for the teamto have him on the wing at times.

What a wonderful problem to have. Now keeping Drai as a third line center in limited ice time may just be fine also as it seems to be working out great at the worlds so there is a debate IMO for both options.

I would rather they didn’t over play anybody as they have done. While the guys like it, it’s a long season and the point of it all is playoffs, so you have to save something for them.

Good teams don’t seem to overplay guys as much as the Oilers, with a few exceptions. Plus Leon seems to get tired. 20-17-15-8 if everyone is healthy and playing well. Reality is there are injuries and slumps, match ups that aren’t favourable, so it’s always changing anyway.

Oddspell

godot10,

Maybe someone has looked into this, but Is it possible that it’s not that Mark Fayne plays well with a competent partner, but that Sekera (and Greene as well) is so good that he makes Fayne look like a #4? Kind of like Petry-Smid?

Spoils

watching JPulj it is going to be hard to hold him back. he’s a beast.

godot10

Richard S.S.:
Mark Fayne is a Right-Shot D, best utilized as third pairing D.People on this site I respect say playing him higher will cost the Oilers games.Eric Gryba is a Right-Shot D, best utilized as third pairing D.People on this site I respect say playing him higher will cost the Oilers games.Neither generate Offense.

Signing Kris Russell LD could be significant.He could easily be a #4 or a #5 LD per need, and could be better than the above two RD.He doesn’t generate Offense either.But, as per Lowetide, “Peter Chiarelli may have a deal in place to trade a LHD for a RHD.”I agree with this.

Mark Fayne is a #4D or a #7D. He is not a good third pairing D. He is only competent if one plays him with a competent puck moving veteran. Fayne cannot recover from breakdowns, so playing him 3rd pairing with a lesser D exposes him more than playing with a competent #3D on the 2nd pairing.

godot10

who: It got a response from me so it’s a very good discussion point. I just am having trouble seeing the other side of the argument. I do not see an alternative third line center in the system and think Leon will get plenty of ice time centering our third line and playing on the powerplay. Other than a late push for a goal I see no reason to load up two lines and have Letestu or Lander killing any offensive potential in our third line.

Ralph has Leon in the role of Phil Kessel in PIttsburgh last year, with 3rd line easier competition minutes and PP killer role. He keep Leon fresh and Leon is killing it. Less is more.

Maroon Draisaitl Puljujarvi seem to be an ideal 3rd scoring line able to dominate easier minutes.