My fascination with Bonnie Raitt began in about 1975. My friend Terry used to buy a magazine called Stereo Review. A man named Julian Hirsch (sp?) would write a monthly tome about new stereo equipment that was so full of high fidelity only dogs knew it existed, and Terry loved that stuff. I liked their album reviews (Noel someone, do not recall his name now, was I believe the writer) because they were straight to the point and tended not to frown on country twang or lyrics that landed on this side of Bob Dylan. Stereo Review loved Bonnie Raitt, and so I bought her music beginning middle 1970s. I gave up Stereo Review about 1978, but Bonnie Raitt still sings to me to this day.
Here’s the thing: Not many of us loved Bonnie Raitt in 1975. She had a cover hit of Del Shannon’s Runaway in the late 1970s (it was not my favorite song of hers) and then she drifted and lost a record deal or two along the way. She would show up from time to time on Austin City Limits and I would always watch, those great vocals and guitar still sounding good.
When Bonnie Raitt hit—and folks, she hit—I had been listening to her music for about 15 years. I thought it was pretty cool, kind of like I was part of an inside secret and the world finally caught up to it. That feeling, watching something grow and build and then find greatness, is what we may be witnessing now. There are no guarantees, the Oilers could let it slip through their fingers (although I am not sure how), but that feeling of being a part of the beginning is here now, today. We are here. Home plate.
NICK OF TIME
I always like to take a few minutes after the deadline to have a good long look at each remaining player and their situation with the team. As we have a couple of mornings this week to do it, I am going to discuss the forwards today and the rest of the roster tomorrow.
- Connor McDavid. Finishing his second year and this summer will no doubt see a contract extension. I think we can agree that year one was a flash, but this season we are seeing the enormity of this player. This is an historic player, in real time, full stop. Not just the franchise, he is the league. He came out of the sky, people. And he landed here. 2.63 5×5/60.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. A year ago, I feared the Oilers would trade him away because of his subpar season. Now, we are looking at whatever they call a two-year slump and one wonders how much offense Edmonton’s tough minutes center can bring. He is on pace for 41 points this year after a fairly strong recent run. I wonder if he is here in the fall. 1.36 5×5/60.
- David Desharnais. I am still surprised by Chiarelli’s adding a skill center. Lots of comments on his lack of size, but that isn’t a big thing for me. Rich Peverley wasn’t a big player, and Desharnais is no wallflower. No, this seems to be a genuine effort to right the ship and re-create an offensive line to hammer the soft parade. I cannot wait for Saturday night to see the alignment and do wonder about a possible future in Edmonton (should things go well). Then again, they passed on Derek Roy after a nice run. 1.35 5×5/60.
- Mark Letestu. He is one of the truly unique Oilers role players in recent history, playing big PP and PK roles while also being a 4C through and through. He may play even less at evens in the coming days. Another year at $1.8M and is a bargain based on this season. 1.59 5×5/60.
- Anton Lander. He is an RFA and based on Edmonton’s trade deadline activity one suspects he will not be a part of the team moving forward. His AHL boxcars may have appeal to Vegas, they will be looking for helpers making under $1M with some NHL experience. AHL estimate 3.68 5×5/60. Source
- Henrik Samuelsson. He is RFA and hasn’t done a lot in a short space of time, it would be unfair to suggest he has had enough time to show what he can do in five games. Still, that may not save him for getting walked this summer. AHL estimate 0.24 5×5/60.
- Jere Sallinen. He is RFA with arb. rights according to CapFriendly, there isn’t much offense (seven points in 46 games) and he may not return. AHL estimate 0.77 5×5/60.
- Kyle Platzer. A player like Platzer should hope for a change in the weather and a real chance to show what he can do with 15 minutes a night at the AHL level. I don’t think he has received a full shot so far in his entry-level deal. AHL estimate 0.86 5×5/60.
- Zach Pochiro. RFA who was part of the Nail Yakupov deal, a late spike (and a recall to the AHL) shows a pulse. Likely gone next year. AHL estimate 3.22 5×5/60.
- Bogdan Yakimov. A team so low on pro prospects up front may not be able to afford to cut him loose, but if he wants to stay in Russia probably best to move on. He did not have a good season.
- Likely to return: Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Mark Letestu, Kyle Platzer
- Too soon to know: David Desharnais, Henrik Samuelsson
- Likely to go: Anton Lander, Jere Sallinen, Zach Pochiro, Bogdan Yakimov
- Summary: Fantastic at the top, Nuge struggling, Letestu Swiss Army knife.
- Summer Headlines: McDavid signs deal for eight times maximum the law will allow; Oilers examine possibility of life without Nuge; Letestu’s groove requires a strong 3C; leaving Leon on RW.
LEFT WING (8)
- Patrick Maroon. The first of dozens of feelgood stories that begin ‘well, they put me on a line with McDavid…’ he is at 20 goals and could end up with 25 or more. Has another year on his deal, not quite a stranglehold on the 1L job. He isn’t going anywhere. 1.74 5×5/60.
- Milan Lucic. His first Edmonton season has been a worry, as chemistry and the forward pass have been found wanting. He is on pace for 45 points, so is still producing offense, and his contract guarantees several more seasons, but he will need to be better in areas he has flourished in the past—like passing and protecting the puck. 1.07 5×5/60.
- Benoit Pouliot. I am mildly encouraged by the addition of David Desharnais as it relates to Pouliot. Although it is ancient history (2009-11) the two men did have some success back then, maybe there is some goodness left in the pairing. It is important for BP to get going, Edmonton is extremely unlikely to get lucky and offload this $4M contract that expires in 2019. 0.98 5×5/60.
- Matt Hendricks. He is UFA at the end of the year and those $1.85M dollars are headed elsewhere. I imagine there is a chance of a TC invite but the Oilers have other, less expensive, options. 1.37 5×5/60.
- Drake Caggiula. The key for him is offense. I like his speed and he has an edge, plus (so far) enough elusiveness to avoid thundering crashes not of his choosing. I don’t know that we know about his bat yet, but do believe wing is probably his future. 0.74 5×5/60.
- Jujhar Khaira. If he survives the expansion draft, I think Khaira could have a solid career with the Oilers. He is fast enough and he is dogged on the check, and basically a vice-grip in a board battle. Does he have enough offense? I think he does for a 4L job. He is RFA but the contract would not be an issue. 1.07 5×5/60.
- Joey Laleggia. RFA after the season, his Oilers career may be getting a reprieve from the governor with his position change. He has 14 goals now and may get a contract this summer and a cup of coffee in this calendar year. AHL estimate 1.11/60. Includes time as a defenseman.
- Braden Christoffer. He has another year left on his deal after this one, and there isn’t much offense at the AHL level. He will return. AHL estimate 0.50/60.
- Likely to return: Patrick Maroon, Milan Lucic, Benoit Pouliot, Drake Caggiula, Jujhar Khaira, Joey Laleggia, Braden Christoffer
- Too soon to know:
- Likely to go: Matt Hendricks
- Summary: The position is covered for next season, but there is at least some worry about all of the characters in the plot. Are there two 20-goal men here? If so, who are they?
- Summer Headlines: Milan Lucic trains with Patrick Maroon; Khaira remains an Oiler after expansion; Can Caggiula score enough to play in the top 9F?
RIGHT WING (10)
- Leon Draisaitl. We all want him at center, but the Desharnais trade makes it less likely—at least for this season. Leon is an RFA this season and his contract number is going to be interesting. On pace for 69 points in his second full season. 1.72 5×5/60.
- Jordan Eberle. He is at 1.56/60 in scoring 5×5 and that represents a giant leap forward over his number in the metric earlier this season. That is very good news, as Edmonton needs him to be a productive player on one of the top two lines. UFA 2019 summer. 1.56 5×5/60.
- Zack Kassian. He has earned a new contract and the tea leaves suggest he will get one soon. On pace for 22 points and he can play up the depth chart in spurts. RFA this summer, my bet is he is signed before heading home for the summer. 1.57 5×5/60.
- Anton Slepyshev. Size and speed are there, the worry (there is a trend among the young wingers) is about offense. Although he has one year left on his entry-level deal, I find myself thinking the time is now if Slepyshev is going to make it as an Oiler. Scoring a few goals down the stretch could make a world of difference for him. 1.31 5×5/60.
- Jesse Puljujarvi. I said before the season that the one good thing about 2016-17 is that we would have JPs offensive potential surrounded by April. Well, we are here, and the answer is not yet completely known to us. Like the player, suspect 50-point seasons are out there, but would like some proof. 1.45 5×5/60 and AHL estimate 2.22 5×5/60.
- Iiro Pakarinen. RFA Pakarinen is probably going to lose a battle with this group of RWs in the race to a job as a regular. The coach likes him, that could help. 2.81 5×5/60.
- Tyler Pitlick. He has been out of the lineup for a long time now, but the numbers and performance were impressive. Pitlick and his agent may decide he should take advantage of that free-agent opportunity and find a more promising landing spot. I hope he stays, because when healthy Pitlick brings a lot to the table, including 5×5 goal scoring. 2.22 5×5/60.
- Justin Fontaine. UFA this summer and likely to fill a two-way role in Bakersfield. He has NHL speed and is a good checker, so could fill an NHL role if necessary. AHL estimate 1.79/60.
- Patrick Russell. The forgotten man in the NCAA free-agent flurry last season, he has skill but the speed is not great. Has one more year before RFA status. AHL estimate 0.91 5×5/60.
- Greg Chase. He played his first year pro in Norfolk, with the idea of coming to Bakersfield this year and establishing himself at that level. Didn’t happen. Chase has one more year on his entry-level deal, I would like to see him in the lineup on one of the top three lines for 40 games in a row. He may not be an NHL player, but give the man his at-bats and let him show what he can do at the AHL level. AHL estimate 0.84 5×5/60.
- Likely to return: Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Zack Kassian, Jesse Puljujarvi, Anton Slepyshev, Tyler Pitlick, Patrick Russell, Greg Chase.
- Too soon to know: Justin Fontaine.
- Likely to go: Iiro Pakarinen.
- Summary: If Leon stays at RW, the position has real strength. Jordan Eberle seems to be recovering his 5×5 offense, and Jesse Puljujarvi is posting some good numbers in Bakersfield. The club has plenty of depth below those three men at this position, with Zack Kassian a bottom 6F Godsend for fine work done on both sides of the puck.
- Summer Headlines: Oilers commit to Leon as RW, bloggers weep; Oilers contemplate life without Eberle; Jesse Puljujarvi ready for challenge of 2R role and increased expectations; Kassian signs three-year deal with Oilers.
CHIARELLI AT THE DEADLINE
Acquire Kevin Shattenkirk as a rental if the price isn’t too dear(No)
Acquire a two-way center who can play also play wing(Desharnais is an offensive C) Added to the list: RW who shoots right and can score goals(No) Acquire a backup goalie(No) Get real value for Brandon Davidson at the deadline, by procuring a forward under control and worth protecting (may happen after season)(Rental instead) Laying groundwork for deal with Golden Knights that could be tied into point No. 4(No) Grab a mittful of 2017 draft picks(signed Ryan Mantha)
This was a weird trade deadline for Edmonton. The club sent away Brandon Davidson, who was signed to an excellent contract, at a low value ebb. The return is a rental, but I am reminded of so many Bruins deadlines where the rental ended up staying for a longer term.
I am fine with PC giving his young wingers a chance to shine this spring, and do think we will see enough in names like Drake Caggiula, Jujhar Khaira, Anton Slepyshev and Jesse Puljujarvi to be heartened about the future.
The decision to pass on acquiring a backup goalie is curious to me. If the Oilers felt Laurent Brossoit was their backup man, then acquiring Jhonas Enroth for Bakersfield (and injury protection) could have been a solution. As it is, Cam Talbot will likely play all but two games between now and the moment Edmonton clinches. Great news for Brossoit, who has a clear chance to establish himself as the de facto NHL backup beginning this fall.
The Brandon Davidson trade was coming, we saw it from miles away. My preference would have been to acquire a piece that might be useful for the future, but Chiarelli decided to give the current team a little push and I can understand the concept. The state of the Oilers forward depth suggests to me that Desharnais has a real chance at another Oilers contract if he plays well down the stretch. Derek Roy was 1.53/60 at 5×5 in 2014-15 as an Oiler, if Desharnais can hit that number my guess is he gets the contract offer Roy never received.
Chiarelli may have contacted Vegas with a trade idea, I think George McPhee will be focused on Griffin Reinhart, Jujhar Khaira and Benoit Pouliot. It seems reasonable to me that the two men might be able to agree on a deal (select Benoit Pouliot in the expansion draft, Oilers deal the rights to Ziyat Paigin, as an example).
Although the mittful of draft picks did not appear, signing Ryan Mantha was a nice get and we will examine this young player and his potential in the days to come.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun morning filled with hockey talk and deadline reviews. TSN1260, beginning at 10, and scheduled to appear:
- Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. Brandon Davidson outer marker, David Desharnais deployment.
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Did the Oilers do enough at the deadline?
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. Who won the deadline? Were the Oilers close on anything else?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!