We had 400 versions of ‘Autumn Leaves’ at our house when I was a kid. Lots of instrumental versions, piano mostly but also 101 Strings (101 Strings recorded all of the songs all of the time). If you wake me up at 4am, and scream ‘AUTUMN LEAVES!’ the melody will enter my brain instantly. The melody was written by a Frenchman at the end of the Second World War, it remains haunting to this day. The English words were written by Johnny Mercer, he was a helluva lyricist. The French lyrics, the originals, are more final, more heartbreaking. Damned French and their sad, sexy words.
ONE YEAR AGO
We have two games tonight, looks like Connor McDavid stays in Edmonton and I imagine Ryan Strome will play alongside. Edmonton had two games v. Calgary to start things off a year ago. same thing the year before that, too. Here are the lineups from last season:
- Milan Lucic—Drake Caggiula—Jordan Eberle. College center between $6 million wingers.
- Benoit Pouliot—Ryan Vesce—Jesse Puljujarvi. Tough year for all three men.
- Taylor Beck—Jujhar Khaira—Kris Versteeg. Only one would spend the year in the NHL.
- Mitch Moroz—Kyle Platzer—Iiro Pakarinen. The Finn found a way.
- Oscar Klefbom—Adam Larsson. A value pairing, now the top pairing.
- Ben Betker—Mark Fayne. AHL defenders.
- Markus Niemelainen—Matt Benning. Benning never stopped moving up the roster.
- Cam Talbot (Eetu Laurikainen). Talbot had an amazing year.
- Patrick Maroon—Anton Lander—Nail Yakupov. Nail would be gone 12 days later.
- Matt Hendricks—Mark Letestu—Zack Kassian. De facto 4line.
- Braden Christoffer—Jere Sallinen—Anton Slepyshev. Slepyshev made it.
- Greg Chase—Josh Currie—Patrick Russell. AHL line.
- Darnell Nurse—Brandon Davidson. Young emerging blue.
- Jordan Oesterle—Eric Gryba. Fringe NHLer and Oilers 7D.
- Caleb Jones—Ethan Bear. Will they get another start tonight?
- Jonas Gustavsson (Laurent Brossoit). The backup plan.
TWO YEARS AGO
- Taylor Hall—Connor McDavid—Teddy Purcell: Major firepower on 1line.
- Anton Lander—Leon Draisaitl—Nail Yakupov: There was lots of buzz about this trio.
- Ryan Hamilton—Andrew Miller—Tyler Pitlick: There was zero buzz about this trio.
- Luke Gazdic—Josh Winquist—Matt Ford: Only Gazdic would play NHL games.
- Andrej Sekera—Mark Fayne: Ended up being the most effective pairing.
- Andrew Ference—Nikita Nikitin: The Eno experiment.
- Brad Hunt—Brandon Davidson: Davidson rose rapidly after this game.
- Cam Talbot and Laurent Brossoit: The position has been consistent for some time now.
- Benoit Pouliot—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Jordan Eberle: The big line.
- Matt Hendricks—Mark Letestu—Lauri Korpikoski: An NHL line.
- Anton Slepyshev—Bogdan Yakimov—Rob Klinkhammer: Rocknrolla.
- Phil McRae—Jujhar Khaira—Braden Christoffer: Khaira would emerge during the year.
- Oscar Klefbom—Justin Schultz: Blue money married to blown money.
- Griffin Reinhart—Eric Gryba: I liked this pairing a year ago, like it now.
- Darnell Nurse—Joey Laleggia: Both men can wheel.
- Ben Scrivens and Anders Nilsson: One job, two goalies. The Swede won it.
It doesn’t matter who wins, just solid performances and signs of progress, no injuries please. We should be looking for strong performances from defenders in the middle of the pack, and goals from right wingers.
We saw five cuts last night, all junior kids and expected. It does give us a chance to look at the overall roster chase to see if there are any changes.
- Slepyshev remains on the list, if he doesn’t see action in the next week or so, we may have to move him down.
- All of the men listed here have been mentioned in various reporting, several defensemen have scored goals during the scrimmages.
- Most of the stories have been training camp ‘faster than a speeding bullet’ headlines. That’s not really germane to what we do, but Darnell Nurse being stronger is interesting and may have hockey application.
- Jujhar Khaira has delivered early in camp, Iiro Pakarinen also having his moments.
- Yohann Auvitu and Dillon Simpson have been playing together, interesting alignment and something to watch for tonight. Auvitu has to be right at the cut line, so maybe they’re looking at his partner, too.
- Joey Laleggia has impressed, scoring a nice goal and getting some feature minutes. He could fit on the roster, moving Jokinen or Khaira the easiest solution.
- Chris Kelly is going to get a long look, which is galling to many but completely understandable. Edmonton didn’t have a strong PK last season, Kelly can do it and he can also play center. Utility at the back of the roster is always in fashion.
THE DISTANT BELLS
- We have our first strikethroughs, with the five kids heading back to junior. They all performed well by my eye, encouraging draft crop for 2017.
- William Lagesson has performed well in this preseason, I bet he gets a game tonight.
- There could be a bunch of cuts after the game, we’ll discuss them tomorrow.
- The players on this list who have received blank ink since camp started: Patrick Russell, Grayson Downing, Chad Butcher, Braden Christoffer, Ziyat Paigin, Ryan Mantha, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear. I expect many of these men will play tonight.
One story to follow is Drake Caggiula’s spot on RW. He was demoted from the 2line in the first scrimmage, came back and scored in the second. Coach Todd McLellan mentioned a subpar day one and second day improvement, but with Anton Slepyshev on the sidelines young Caggiula needs to make an impression. A big game tonight is important, no matter what line he plays on.
THE NUGE LINE
I don’t know how many lines will stay together this evening, but excitement is building over the Nuge line (with Jussi Jokinen and Jesse Puljujarvi) in a big way. If this trio can outscore opponents at 5×5, and there is some hope for it, we might be looking at three lines who can exceed 50 goals on the season. Last season, Nuge played often with Jordan Eberle and Milan Lucic. The trio scored 61 goals on what was a de facto 2line. If this trio can get 50, the McDavid line can score 86 (again) and the Draisaitl line 70, the top three lines could post over 200 goals! I know it’s crazy, but it’s blue sky time just ahead of the exhibition games. There’s a lot of talent on this team.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
There’s too much going on this time of year, and we’ll grab as much as we can this morning at 10, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Pierre Lebrun, TSN and The Athletic. Hockey is back! We’ll pluck a few stories and run with them, including a quick preview on the Oilers.
- Rob Soria, The Hockey Writers. The Denis Shapovalov legend grew on the weekend, we’ll also talk Oil.
- Jason Gregor, TSN1260. Eskimos lose another and now we’re in serious territory. Plus Oilers preview of tonight’s games.
- Derek Taylor, TSN. What the hell Esks? and is Dariant Durant Done?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!