The grind of the exhibition season nears an and, just as the AHL team and the team infirmary open for business. Welcome, ladies and men, it is time for another Oilers season and anatomy lesson. Giddyup.
- Cam Talbot, 29. He should get most or all of the October starts. Edmonton badly needs him to perform something close to out of his mind before Halloween, as each season in memory has been lost by the time the doorbell rings and the clowns demand candy. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- Jonas Gustavsson, 31. His career numbers do not inspire, and I believe the Oilers should at least consider plucking Reto Berra off the waiver wire. Gustavsson could be sent to Bakersfield to play with Laurent Brossoit, Nick Ellis could play in Norfolk and Eetu Laurikainen could set sail for Finland—as he did a year ago while under an Oilers contract. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Oscar Klefbom, 23. He was fabulous Tuesday night, such a fine skater and he was confident with the puck. A very strong player for this team. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Andrej Sekera, 30. Quality defender could help the power play and will help the 5×5 and PK. Effective moving the puck, suspect we will see him RH side at times this year. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Brandon Davidson, 24. I don’t think we see him tonight, possibly not Saturday. A guess would be short-term IR at the outer marker, and that might be a way to maneuver the roster. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Darnell Nurse, 21. With the defense (mostly) healthy, I will be looking for TOI total. If Nurse is playing less than the 20:14 a night he averaged a year ago, maybe he can take a step forward. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- LD Griffin Reinhart, 22. Uneven TC performance was saved by a strong outing Tuesday night. Still betting on a trip to Bakersfield. Chances of Making the Oilers: 25%.
- RD Adam Larsson, 23. I was impressed with his two-way play Tuesday, good passer and he can defend. Looked very good with Oscar. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- RD Mark Fayne, 29. I do believe he will make the team, but am not prepared to put it a lock—he was waived last fall, could happen again. Chances of Making the Oilers: 90%.
- RD Eric Gryba, 28. I think he has a legit chance to make this team, he played a ton the other night and defended well. Chances of Making the Oilers: 50%.
- RD Matt Benning, 23. In terms of mobile, passing defenseman, he is a very rare item on this roster. Has played well enough to get at least one more start. I think he could make this team. Chances of Making the Oilers: 35%.
- C Connor McDavid, 19. Edmonton’s new captain, the turn north imminent (we hope). The most delightful hockey player. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 23. Terrific WCOH and pre-season, he looks poised for a very good season—important to have his line contributing offensively. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C-R Leon Draisaitl, 20. Oilers appear to need a cloning device, as he is both 2R and 3C. I think they want him close to 18-20 minutes a night (2R) as opposed to 16 minutes (3C). I am picking him to post fewer points this year, but projected him as a 3C. Interesting days ahead. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C Mark Letestu, 31. Overlooked player in many ways, he can help the Oilers with important chores like PK, winning faceoffs and yes even the power play. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- C-L Drake Caggiula, 22. I have bumped his number, with injuries to others it seems he has a job at this point. Will he be in the opening night lineup? Chances of Making the Oilers: 80%.
- C Anton Lander, 25. I have him as a somewhat likely roster player, mostly due to the PK numbers. Remain convinced McDavid and Nuge are going to be on the 4×5, and do believe the team will cast about looking for a replacement if Lander is plodding again this year. Chances of Making the Oilers: 70%.
- L Milan Lucic, 28. Fans are restless to see action, as the big man rounds into form on a new team with new linemates. Oilers are still playing him a ton on the PP. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- L Benoit Pouliot, 29. Sublime forechecker, throwback winger in that way. I think he gets traded at some point this year, but it will be a mistake. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- L Patrick Maroon, 28. He was the best forward on the ice Tuesday, and seems to be in good spots a whole helluva lot of the time. Could play higher than 3L. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- R Tyler Pitlick, 24. Since 2010, I have written more words about Pitlick than any other prospect taken outside the first round. He always looked like a player to me. Chances of Making the Oilers: 60%.
- R Anton Slepyshev, 22. The injuries to others increase his chances, still look at him as a more likely Condor at this time. Chances of Making the Oilers: 50%.
- R Jordan Eberle, 26. He looks a step behind so far, needs to be ready for opening night—Edmonton needs a goal a game from the 1line to contend in my opinion. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- R Zack Kassian, 25. He is a surprisingly useful player with the puck, makes good decisions and can hold on to the puck for extended periods in the offensive zone. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- R Kris Versteeg, 30. I have bumped him up to 100 percent, the injury does not appear to be something that will require IR and he has been solid when in the lineup. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
- R Nail Yakupov, 22. He is still here, and the injuries probably put him on the roster. Where will he play? I think it comes down to Puljujarvi. Chances of Making the Oilers: 90%.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi, 18. He is big (6.04, 203), fast and skilled—and quiet so far during main camp. He did so some good things with Nuge, suspect he is on the bubble. A question we cannot answer: Does the organization feel JP will get better instruction in Bakersfield or Edmonton? Chances of Making the Oilers: 50%.
- L Matt Hendricks, 35. Tough break for the veteran winger, sounds like weeks instead of days. Chances of Making the Oilers: nil.
- R Iiro Pakarinen, 24. Injury did not look good, out for some time. Chances of Making the Oilers: nil.
- LD Andrew Ference—LTIR. Chances of Making the Oilers: nil.
Photo via Nevit Dilmen
MILES FROM BALANCE
As we enter what could be a fairly active transaction period, it is a good idea to remind ourselves about the areas that are required to reach balance:
- Puck-moving defenseman who can play RH on second or third pair.
- The Pisani, a two-way player who can be the defensive conscience on a line that lacks experience and or actual ability. This player anchors an outscoring line that over delivers on cap and playing time.
- A better backup goalie bet.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NAIL!
I hope it is here, with the Oilers, but no matter what I wish a good year for this young man and that his next birthday sees him more settled in his career. At 23, it is certain he has had a lifetime of crossroads.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A very busy day, starting at 10 this morning. TSN1260, scheduled to appear:
- Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. Reta Berra, Leon, Puljujarvi and Yak City.
- Andrew Stoeten, Blue Jays Nation. October baseball! How high can the Blue Jays fly?
- Andy McNamara, TSN4Downs. NFL Week 5 has Brady back, Eagles trying to go 4-0 and the Cardinals reeling.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. McDavid the youngest captain in NHL history, and it feels like a very active transaction weekend.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. This is going to be a fun day!