By the end of the week we’ll have the entire training camp list and the Edmonton Oilers will be playing exhibition games against the Godless Flames. The giant giant is waking from its slumber and the beautiful game will be on display in the coming days! Music!
- Cam Talbot. Talbot’s NHL resume is very good. In four NHL seasons, his SP’s are .941, .926, .917 and .919, the last two years as starter. He is a quality goaltender and gives Edmonton an edge against most of the Pacific Division.
- Laurent Brossoit. Brossoit has earned this chance, he’ll need to win the confidence of the coach and figure out a way for Talbot to give up the net three or four times a month.
- Nick Ellis, 23. He enters camp as the AHL starter and first recall option.
- G Eddie Pasquale. AHL backup or Co-No. 1 at that level.
- G Shane Starrett. He probably gets AHL and ECHL time.
- G Dylan Wells. Slide rule, he’ll spend one more year in junior. WJ possible.
- G Stuart Skinner. Another junior season, WJ possible and maybe an entry-level deal.
LEFT DEFENSE (12)
- L Oscar Klefbom. I think he could score 15 goals and 45 points, maybe he’s on the flight with CMD for the mid-season All-Star game. Very rare item, an Oilers defensive draft pick who blossomed in real time.
- L Kris Russell. Could play either side until partner Sekera gets back, suspect it’ll be LH side but we’ll see. Russell is a veteran NHL player and that has value, he can mentor the next group (Nurse, Benning) and that may pay off come playoff time.
- L Darnell Nurse.. He is big, strong, fast and plays with a major edge. I love this player type. We don’t know where he’ll bat in the order but this season should give us an indication.
- L Yohann Auvitu.. Not bringing in Franson gives Auvitu a better chance to make the big club. Right now, I’d guess the puck mover makes the roster.
- L Andrej Sekera (INJ). He won’t be back for at least 20 games, maybe as many as 40 games. Gack!
- L Ryan Stanton. Stanton has some NHL experience on the PK, that helps his NHL chances.
- LD Dillon Simpson. Lacks one outstanding skill but he’s consistent and keeps improving.
- LD Keegan Lowe. His agitating style probably gets him some NHL games this season.
- LD Ben Betker. Big man should get a couple of exhibition games. He’s going to get passed by new pro’s.
- LD Ziyat Paigin. Gigantic human on skates, Oilers love him. He might last late into camp.
- LD Caleb Jones. Fastest and most mobile of the new pro defensemen, quality in Penticton.
- LD Dmitri Samorukov. Intriguing two-way defender, impressive Young Stars performance.
RIGHT DEFENSE (6)
- R Adam Larsson. Larsson calmed the waters in year one, and posted 13, 2-4-6 in the playoffs while playing tough minutes. He should have an even greater impact now that he is more comfortable from first day of camp. I don’t think he’s going to be a 30-point defender, meaning much of his value will be defensive.
- R Matt Benning. Outstanding rookie season and it looks like he’ll get the first chance at moving up to the second pairing. Benning has a wide range of skills (music!) but is slightly below average in size. Vital he stays healthy and plays at last season’s levels. A giant ask.
- R Eric Gryba. Played 40 games as 7D last season, saw action in three playoff games. I think he’ll be in the mix for regular third-pairing activity until Sekera returns. We could see him with Nurse regularly.
- R Mark Fayne. I don’t think he’ll be on the team but he’s been a good soldier, sometimes those things matter.
- RD Ethan Bear. He enters pro hockey with lots of expectations. Can he move up the pro depth chart in year one? Possibly get an NHL cup of coffee?
- RD Ryan Mantha. Big man, big shot, good speed. His Penticton performance (in Game One) was impressive.
- C Connor McDavid. I’ve projected 110 points and it may not be enough. The biggest compliment I can pay him is that we are still trying to find his outer marker, to quantify him. Two years in, we still don’t have him to scale, and that’s amazing.
- C-R Leon Draisaitl. This is going to be a fun year, still plenty of challenges and answers about him to come. By this time next season, I think he’ll be a full time center.
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. There seems to be a genuine push to improve RNH’s offense (from the organization side), I think he’s a solid player as is. The offense will bloom if he gets 5×4 time, but at even strength I’d let him play the toughs and let the other horses run.
- RC Mark Letestu. Letestu may lose power-play time to Strome and others but on the other hand he might lead the league’s forwards in shorthanded time-on-ice per game.
- LC Brad Malone. Malone can play center, wins faceoffs, penalty kills and it won’t hurt him to sit in the pressbox for long stretches.
- C Joe Gambardella. He has a nice range of skills and is a mature prospect (23). Lacks top end skill but has all the tools required to be a solid checking forward.
- C Grayson Downing. Skilled center coming off subpar second AHL season.
- RC Josh Currie. Back on an AHL deal, he has skill and two-way ability.
- RC Kyle Platzer. Platzer has one more year to show some offensive ability.
- R Chad Butcher. AHL deal, skilled and small, scored over 100 points with Medicine Hat.
LEFT WING (11)
- L Patrick Maroon. It’s going to be a strange year, as every goal past 20 will add to his contract ask and increase the chances Maroon plays in another city. I think he keeps the job.
- L Milan Lucic. Big winger has scored 2.00+ 5×5/60 in the recent past and he’s already said improving in that area is a priority. Career high is 62 points, that’s achievable if he improves 5×5 scoring.
- L Jussi Jokinen. Jokinen brings clarity to the roster. He will be valued for his penalty killing and for his ability to play up and down the lineup. A very strong addition, he could blow the LW depth chart out of the water if he’s healthy and gets in a good spot.
- L Drake Caggiula. His connection to McDavid could bode well for him. Caggiula battled injury and playing out of position for much of the season, came on strong late and showed PK acumen. I don’t think he has a high ceiling as a scorer but the club could use secondary scoring on the third and fourth lines.
- L Jujhar Khaira. The Oilers like his size, speed and grit, with scoring the one worry. I see him as Matt Hendricks eventual replacement. Can he help on the penalty kill? It would help a great deal if he could.
- Chris Kelly. I think he has a real chance to make the team as a PK specialist and 4L. It might mean trading Khaira before opening night.
- L Joey Laleggia. Scored a bunch in the AHL on a No. 1 line with Anton Lander and Jesse Puljujarvi. He’s coming from Laredo with this position change but that run in Bakersfield was impressive.
- L Ryan Hamilton. AHL only deal, he’ll get some time with the big club in camp.
- L Braden Christoffer. Final year of entry deal coming up.
- L Evan Polei. Size and skill (6.02, 227 and 33 WHL goals), AHL deal.
- L Tyler Benson. He’s skating with the scratches in Penticton. One step at a time.
RIGHT WING (13)
- C-R Ryan Strome. Based on management verbal entering camp, he is going to get a massive chance to be McDavid’s RW. He can help in the faceoff dot, I still think he’s Mirror Manwith Leon.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi. Puljujarvi is an impressive prospect with great skills. I keep thinking he could solve a lot of problems by scoring 20 goals. This would be a fine time to do it.
- R Zack Kassian. I feel a little as though we are looking at a brand new player who could surprise. I’ll be interested to see who Todd McLellan deploys him. Question: Could he score 15 goals a year?
- R Anton Slepyshev. I see him as being a big part of this year’s forward group, and would say there is a chance he emerges as a 15-20 goal man. His injury came at a crappy time, you know this position could be put to bed by mid-October and Slepyshev might not play a healthy game before then.
- R Iiro Pakarinen. Catches a break with the Slepyshev injury, my guess is he makes the club as a utility forward out of the gate. Has size, some skill and speed. All positives.
- R Ty Rattie. This is an excellent spot for Rattie, whose actual scoring ability right now may not be far from men like Caggiula, Slepyshev and Puljujarvi. Probably needs one more alteration above him to have a great shot at making the team but he’s near the bubble.
- R Mitch Callahan. He brings skill with some physical play and that combination appeals to the Oilers.
- R Kailer Yamamoto, 18. Electric skills and he can score goals. He is in the conversation.
- R Patrick Russell. Scored only 8 times as rookie pro he must have more to give.
- R Greg Chase. Has scoring ability, needs to take advantage of opportunities and find consistency this year.
- R Brian Ferlin. Has had substantial injury issues. Expectation should be low until completely healthy.
- R Dave Gust. Small skill winger signed to an AHL deal.
- R Zach O’Brien. Played mostly in the ECHL a year ago, can also play center. Had some titanic offensive seasons in the QMJHL years ago. AHL deal.
CHIARELLI TALKS TO MCKENZIE
- Chiarelli on Leon at C or RW long term: “That’s a Todd question. As a manager, I like Leon in the middle, he is strong, he’s heavy and he’s good on faceoffs. He’s more than that, but that’s why I like him in the middle.” Source
I think Leon at center makes perfect sense, and believe we’ll see it as soon as a suitable RW for Connor McDavid is found. He could be on the roster and coming to training camp, but as I mentioned yesterday in my article for The Athletic, down 2-1 after two periods in Calgary, Todd McLellan is extremely likely to put him with Connor McDavid. If they cash two in the third period and Edmonton wins, which is absolutely possible, I can see them putting the band back together for one more season. I get the idea of outscoring the opponents with McDavid off the ice, and Leon’s importance to same, but in the words of the great Michael Jackson, tell them that it’s human nature.
- Chiarelli on Milan Lucic’s game last year: “Out of 10, I’d give him a strong six. Any time you get a player coming to a new environment there’s an adjustment period. We saw that the year before with Sekera, I thought Sekera’s year was terrific last year. I think he (Lucic) felt his way through it a little bit. I love his game, he did everything we asked him to do, he’ll do better and he’s in good shape.” Source
If we look at Lucic historically, his 5×5 scoring was way down one year ago and a regression should be anticipated. I see a lot of negative about this player, I’m a fan and hope he recovers to something resembling career average. Using Natural Stat Trick, his 5×5/60 scoring since 2012-13 (2.14, 2.09, 1.66, 2.06 and last year 1.22), I think we can make a case that recovery is a reasonable bet. As for 5×4 scoring, he has not historically scored a bunch on the power play, maybe that regresses too.
I try to look at the recently drafted players, to see how they respond to new experiences and perform against mostly older competition. So far this year, Edmonton’s department of youth has performed well. Kailer Yamamoto went scoreless in his only game so far but could have cashed a few times. Kirill Maksimov scored a goal-scorer’s goal on a sweet shot. Stuart Skinner made the save of the tournament and garnered a shutout. Dmitri Samorukov has displayed nice wheels and heady play. Only Ostap Safin receives a down arrow, his one game saw him a day late and a dollar short. No matter, he just arrived in North America and it was one game. The rookies are back in action this afternoon, I may throw a GDT thread up (we’ll see).
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
I’m on the round table at 9 this morning, tune in and hear me talk expertly on things I know nothing about (it really is as good as it sounds). At 10 (TSN1260) I have a bunch of smart people lined up to answer questions. Scheduled to appear:
- Pierre Lebrun, TSN and The Athletic. Thrilled to welcome Pierre as a regular guest this season, we begin the week with a tee-up of the major hockey stories.
- Jim Roepcke, Penticton Insider. Jim’s our man in the B.C. interior and will give his impressions of young Oilers at the Young Stars tournament.
- Jason Gregor, TSN1260. We’ll chat Eskimos, Oilers training camp and some NFL.
- Derek Taylor, TSN. Wild football weekend.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!