If I use the big part of my brain—the area devoted to Bobby Orr’s goals, Natalie Wood in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, the Allmans, and demon liquor—it shouldn’t be too hard to guess most of the Oilers opening night roster. Folly would be also guessing the Bakersfield 23 and the Wichita Extra Guys.
PROJECTED OPENING NIGHT ROSTER 2017-18
- Todd McLellan may decide to keep eight defensemen for the first while, hoping to figure out his pairings. Auvitu should get the push but Stanton has a chance.
- Placed the lines with Nuge getting the RW push and Leon centering his playoff line. The soft parade gets Strome.
- I would like to remind you that my lines are not meant to offend you in any way, that I’m not ‘working through some personal things’ and am not “finally coming around to your way of thinking” on these matters. If I didn’t piss you off with these lines, will do better next time.
- Would prefer Russell-Benning and Nurse-Gryba but I’m not sure we’ll see it.
- Andrej Sekera is not listed and that’s a damned shame.
BAKERSFIELD CONDORS 2017-18
- I look at AHL rosters strictly as development teams, so the prospects of note (mostly blue) are the important men.
- There are two tiers of prospects in Bakersfield this season.
- The first tier are veteran prospects (Rattie, Callahan, Lowe) and have a better chance of playing with the Oilers this coming season.
- The second tier are the prospects who are going to spend some of their entry-level deals in Bakersfield. I’ll include Jones, Bear, Paigin in that group.
WICHITA THUNDER 2017-18
- Starrett probably plays in both Wichita and Bakersfield so I put him in both spots.
- Based on what we’re seeing here, I think defensemen will be signed to increase depth for the minor league season.
- Brian Ferlin is listed here because it’s not certain how ready he’ll be this fall. Certainly has enough talent to win an AHL job if he is completely healthy.
Photo by Mark Williams
YOU GOT THE SILVER
There are seven men on the current 50-man roster—that is 14 percent, for the math challenged—who (in my estimation) have no chance of playing in an NHL game this coming season. That is no big deal—unless this is your third year of pro hockey and final one on an entry-level deal. If that is the case, then the chances of getting another deal at the end of the entry deal could be in doubt. Here is the list of players for whom I cannot see a pathway to the majors this winter.
ENTERING FIRST YEAR PRO
- G Shane Starrett. A promising college career got him an NHL contract and his resume looks good from here. A full season in the minors is straight ahead.
- RD Ryan Mantha. I don’t think any of the rookie blue (Jones, Bear, Paigin, Mantha) will play in the NHL this coming season, but Mantha is the surest bet to remain in the minors all year. No worries, the play here is getting pro experience, hopefully a bunch of it in the AHL.
ENTERING SECOND YEAR PRO
- R Patrick Russell. He had some interesting things last year (lots of shots) but needs to hit the score sheet way more often in the coming year.
ENTERING THIRD YEAR PRO
- RC Kyle Platzer. He was a third-round pick but hasn’t moved the needle much through two pro seasons. You’d like to see a major spike but the competition is heavy.
- R Greg Chase. The first year in pro saw some good ECHL numbers but Chase didn’t get into the lineup much in his second year. I hope he gets something resembling 68 games just to see what’s there.
- LD Ben Betker. He is the one player entering year three who I think the organization likes enough to keep around. PC is a fan of giants and Betker moves pretty well for a big blue. Don’t believe he plays in the NHL this season but a contract in the spring is very possible.
- L Braden Christoffer. He has the agitating style that lines up with a Chiarelli team, but the offense hasn’t been there in pro.
WHAT WILL AUGUST BRING?
We’re most of the way through the story of summer, with the big additions being Ryan Strome, Jussi Jokinen and Kailer Yamamoto. It feels like there are more things to come, and Leon Draisaitl’s signing (eventually) may in fact ignite a free-agent signing or (more likely) a trade.
There are things we don’t know (Sekera’s ETA) and things we do (Oilers are committed to kids on RW) and question marks along with astute additions. I keep wanting Peter Chiarelli to be aggressive in finding things (like his Torey Krug or his Nathan Horton) but he appears to be looking for internal solutions all down the line.
Can the Edmonton Oilers win the Stanley Cup with this team? My answer is there are too many question marks, too many unproven youngsters in major roles, to consider this team a strong SC contender.
I think Peter Chiarelli wasn’t ready for his team to be ready this past spring, and his solution seems to be preparedness for a stronger trade deadline. It’s a strange plan of attack but perhaps there is a trade target who will only come available after another failed season. We wait.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun show this morning as we dig into all manner of stories with an accomplished group of guests. 10 this morning, TSN1260, scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, Oilers Nation. We’ll chat about right wing, defensive pairings and Jesse Puljujarvi.
- Scott Mitchell, TSN. The Jays made some moves, blew a massive lead.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Leon’s deal, CFL weekend, Jays.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!