There is a certain sadness that comes with change, something that brings the melancholy in real time. When my kids were small, Mrs. Lowetide and I would pick them up from school on the last day (report cards, goodbyes) and take them to lunch. For the first few years it was so much fun (little kids love going to restaurants, my daughter would order pancakes and my son grilled cheese sandwiches) but they have their own dreams and you have to let them sail on down the line. If I had one wish, it would be to roll through those years more slowly, to enjoy their laughter and discovery. People keep making big decisions about their lives, and I have to let it happen. I keep thinking I didn’t sign up for this, comes the answer you sure as hell did.
SAIL ON, TIMRA RED EAGLE
It was all there in black and white, in the original scouting report.
- Elite Prospects: A very smart two-way player with excellent hockey sense. Lander reads the game well and makes mature decisions with and without the puck. Plays with some intensity, but his skating needs some improvement. Is a capable playmaker that protects the puck very well and usually comes out with the puck from the corners and along the boards. Defensively aware and with leadership skills.
Lander stayed in Sweden until 2011 fall, when he was the talk of the town. His foot speed had improved and coach Tom Renney liked him enough to keep him up with the big club. The other worry, offense, made itself abundantly known in that season and really Anton’s entire Oilers career was spent bouncing between AHL dominance and NHL anonymity.
The record shows Anton Lander played in 215 NHL games, that’s a successful number for a No. 40 overall pick. He spent the last six years running up that hill, finding the range only during that very brief time Todd Nelson was at the helm. Anton Lander leaves for Europe at 26 years old, starting a new life and finding a brand new day. Sail on, Anton Lander, I very much wish you had come to us when the organization was standing in peaceful waters. Your decisions are finally your own, and that’s worth celebrating.
Although it’s not front and center and top of mind, I’m sure Peter Chiarelli will spend this summer on the lookout for a shooter for Connor McDavid’s line. Patrick Maroon, Leon Draisaitl, Jesse Puljujarvi and Drake Caggiula are roster players who may see time with him and the other roster forwards may emerge as candidates, too.
I think the Oilers need to grab some shooters this summer, draft and pro procurement. The WHL doesn’t have shot stats available for public consumption, but progressive leagues like the QMJHL, OHL and USHL do allow shot stats to be released. If you grab shots-per-game from draft eligibles, it results in a very interesting list:
- R Owen Tippett 4.73
- LR Eeli Tolvanen 4.73
- L Jonah Gadjovich 4.58
- L Jason Robertson 4.41
- LC Nico Hischier 4.05
- RC Nick Suzuki 4.02
Most of these men will be long gone by the time Edmonton picks, but men like Jonah Gadjovich and Jason Robertson could be chosen at No. 22 (or later). A volume shooter of note will be available when the Oilers pick.
You know, I think that’s so. As you will see below, Edmonton could add more than a baker’s dozen to their 50-man list before fall and they are going to be extremely active. The expansion draft, the changing of the Western Conference guard and the fact that almost all Eastern Conference clubs are about equal means it’s go time all over hell’s half acre. If you are the general manager in Boston, watching the Senators push Pittsburgh to G7, how motivated are you to get just a little better this summer?
I have looked high and low for possible wingers to place alongside Connor McDavid in the coming season and into the future. There are two ways (I think) to approach the idea: Volume shooters and snipers.
TOP VOLUME SHOOTERS
Here are the leaders in 5×5 shots-per-60 based on who may be available.
- Patrick Sharp 10.93
- Jakob Silfverbeg 9.76
- Patrick Eaves 9.27
- Michael Grabner 8.52
- Radim Vrbata 8.35
Thoughts? We have all of these names surrounded save Grabner, and perhaps he should be on the list. He costs $1.65 million for one more season, maybe the Rangers would make a deal.
This is top shooting percentage 5×5, players over 500 minutes and who could be available. Keep in mind there is luck involved and repeating a monster shooting percentage is easier said than done.
- Brett Connolly 18.92
- Michael Grabner 15.62
- Justin Williams 13.77
- Tyler Johnson 12.94
- Nino Niederreiter 10.96
Grabner again! Interesting. All of the names here are at least somewhat attractive although Williams on a line with McDavid would be more expensive than Grabner. I still think Strome is the more likely New York forward to be heading here.
CURRENT 50-MAN LIST
- G Cam Talbot. No. 1 goalie, will he play 73 games again?
- G Laurent Brossoit. Poised to be the backup in Edmonton, pending expansion.
- G Nick Ellis. Splendid first year pro, on par with Brossoit if he can sustain it.
- G Shane Starrett. Another college goalie with strong resume. First pro season coming up.
- G Dylan Wells. Slide rule, he’ll spend one more year in junior.
- LD Oscar Klefbom. Can he hit 40 points? 25 minutes a night? Quality.
- RD Adam Larsson. Consistent defenseman, with an edge.
- LD Andrej Sekera. He could be out for five months. A massive loss.
- RD Matt Benning. Outstanding rookie, can he do it again?
- LD Darnell Nurse. Will be relied on more with Sekera out.
- LD Griffin Reinhart, RFA. RFA. No. 7D if he survives the expansion draft.
- RD Mark Fayne. Luxury recall option and he might play more NHL with Sekera injury.
- LD Ziyat Paigin. Wingspan of a Condor, pro experience, shutdown talent.
- LD Ben Betker. Big man should get a full AHL season.
- RD Ethan Bear. Posted a terrific junior career and should have prominent role in AHL.
- LD Caleb Jones. He arrives in pro hockey with good speed and a range of skills.
- RD Ryan Mantha. Interesting new arrival. Big man, big shot, good speed.
- LD William Lagesson. He’ll spend the year in SHL shutting down Swedish forwards.
- LC Connor McDavid. Can he hit 110 points next season?
- LC Leon Draisiatl, RFA. Absolutely stunning season. Can he drive a scoring line?
- LC Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Shutdown series against the Sharks showed his iron.
- RC Mark Letestu. Great utility, can he score 16 again?
- LC Jujhar Khaira, RFA. A strong expansion candidate, brings size and rugged play.
- LC Joe Gambardella. Strong college career, he could surprise in Bakersfield.
- RC Kyle Platzer. He should get a feature role in Bakersfield if they believe in him at all.
- L Milan Lucic. He scored 23, played a rugged game and has more to give 5×5.
- L Patrick Maroon. His 27 goals last season may be a career season for him.
- L Drake Caggiula. He provides skill lines with a different look. Where will he play?
- L Benoit Pouliot. He can play, but probably not for the Oilers.
- L Braden Christoffer. AHL energy winger.
- L Tyler Benson. Slide rule, no update on his health in months.
- R Jordan Eberle. Cap and position may doom his return. 20+ goals like clockwork.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi. Should spike this year based on phenom history.
- R Anton Slepyshev. I think he’ll be a regular, can he score 15?
- R Zack Kassian. RFA. He has far more speed than anticipated, could score 10-15.
- R Iiro Pakarinen. End of the line for the NHL roster (14F). McLellan likes him.
- R Patrick Russell. Scored only 8 times as rookie pro. Needs to fill the net this year.
- R Greg Chase. Final year of entry-level deal ahead, has shown only flashes.
The team’s needs (2RD, C-W who can score and riff when Leon moves 2C to 1R, Sekera replacement) at the NHL level are obvious when we scan the roster. Perhaps less obvious is the extreme lack of forwards signed for next year. The list above names 20 forwards, with Tyler Benson likely back to junior. Expect a truckload of additions over the summer in that forward group. The AHL team basically has two centers.
WAITING (UFA, RFA)
- G Eetu Laurikainen RFA. Didn’t hear a thing about him after November. Unlikely to return.
- LD Kris Russell. Chiarelli sounded like Russell was coming back at his exit interview.
- RD Eric Gryba. PC also said the club would talk to Gryba, may depend on Reinhart.
- LD Jordan Oesterle. His speed will get him an NHL chance and he may grab a job.
- LD Mark Fraser. He was effective in his role, may return.
- LD Dillon Simpson RFA.. One of the few still outside who I believe will sign.
- LD David Musil RFA.. His “loan” to Tucson signaled the end, just waiting for destination.
LC Anton Lander. Officially signs with Ak Bars of the KHL.
- LC David Desharnais. Scored a huge goal versus San Jose, unlikely to be back.
LC Jere Sallinen. Signed in Sweden (Orebro HK) after unsuccessful season.
- RC Henrik Samuelsson, RFA. Major disappointment after trade. Future unknown.
- RC Zach Pochiro RFA. Remnant of Yakupov deal, unlikely to return.
- L Matt Hendricks. In the olden days, this is where we start talking roving minor league coach.
- L Joey Laleggia. He scored enough on LW to be considered a bona fide prospect.
- R Tyler Pitlick. I would like to see him back, but Pakarinen’s signing confuse.
- R Justin Fontaine. He is an interesting player, I could see him signing.
- Ethan Bear: “It has been a really exciting couple of years, but I know I still have a lot of work in front of me. I loved watching Edmonton play this season and I want to be a part of that. That’s my goal.” Source
Bear delivered two exceptional performances in his seasons after being drafted and things look very good for him as he enters pro hockey. I love his mention of the amount of work, and believe we should be patient with his progress. This blog receives emails quite frequently suggesting Bear can step right in, best to assume AHL and then be pleasantly surprised when he gets the NHL call.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
10 this morning, TSN1260. A cross section of subjects with Oilers front and center. Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Fixing the blue, Adam Larsson, Game 7’s of the past.
- Derek Taylor, TSN. CFL camps are open and the excitement is building!
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. Ottawa versus Pittsburgh, this doesn’t look close but it’s Game 7!
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. 90 minutes!