The Edmonton Oilers announced their presence with authority last night with victories up and down the province. I went into the evening looking for goals from the RW’s and most of the major players complied. Kailer Yamamoto scored a dandy, picked up two points and probably earned another game. That’s the deal over the next 10 days for all these bubble players, and for the veterans it’s time to stretch things out, stay healthy, and start feeling good about what each man can bring consistently. We are underway.
THE WHO, BY NUMBERS
- No. 8, R Ty Rattie. 0-0-0, -1 13:05. He saw plenty of power-play time (everyone did, it seems) but couldn’t cash. I didn’t see a lot of the Calgary game, but he battled in the offensive zone along the way and kept the puck moving.
- No. 15, L Mitch Callahan. 0-0-0, -1 15:06. He played three minutes each on both special teams, showing his range. Uphill to make the big team, but showing an ability to help in multiple ways.
- No. 16, L Jujhar Khaira. 1-0-1 15:31. He scored a goal, had multiple chances and continues a strong run early in training camp that began on day one. Khaira is a bubble player who is waiver eligible, and helping his cause. Saw time on PP and PK.
- No. 22, C Chris Kelly. 0-0-0 14:49. Two shots, one takeaway and five minutes on the penalty kill. I didn’t see much of him. He was only 41 percent (nine of 22) on the dot.
- No. 24, C Brad Malone. 0-0-0 12:51. One shot, 60 percent on the dot (three of five), one blocked shot and over three minutes on the PK. He seems destined for Bakersfield.
- No. 27, L Milan Lucic. 0-1-1 +2, 16:00. He looked quicker and under control, although there were a couple of errant passes. Two shots, lots of 5×4 time. He was good.
- No. 29, C Leon Draisaitl. 0-1-1 +2, 18:56. He was the best player in the Calgary game. One shot, three takeaways, he was strong on the puck and looked quick to me. He’s a bull with skill, played with some real edge last night. Leon’s a prick, I mean that as a compliment.
- No. 41, L Evan Polei. 0-0-0, 7:43. It’s a big compliment to him getting a game in, he had a shot on goal and played his gritty style. I think he could get an NHL contract in the next 12 months.
- No. 45, C Joe Gambardella. 0-0-0, 10:31. One shot, one takeaway, he took two penalties on a night when looking at someone funny got you a trip to the box. He got limited time but had good moments. I would like him to be more involved in the game, he has enough speed to insert himself often. Probably just getting a lay of the land.
- No. 56, R Kailer Yamamoto. 1-1-2, 15:45. He had two shots, one takeaway and a productive evening. Yamamoto has a lot of skill, something Edmonton needs at his position. He’ll likely get another game. I have been saying since mid-summer the danger with this player is that he eclipses the other hopefuls because of superior skill. We have miles to go, but one of the things Peter Chiarelli has to be thinking about today is the gathering storm around JP and Yamamoto. How can he send the kid down when he shows this kind of skill? What does that do to Puljujarvi, who struggled? Bah.
- No. 72, R Greg Chase. 0-0-0, 10:04. He was solid on the forecheck, took care of the puck for the most part and worked hard in the part of the game I saw him.
- No. 91, R Drake Caggiula. 2-0-2, +1 15:18. He continued his positive march toward a role as an NHL regular on a skill line. Popped two goals and played a lot on both special teams. This is the game I hoped for Jesse Puljujarvi. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Needs to play a little more safe in the neutral zone.
THE WHO BY NUMBERS, BLUE
- No. 6, RD Adam Larsson. 0-1-1 +2, 26:28. Played an insane amount, over 10 minutes on special teams and that’s crazy for preseason. Two shots, one block. He got beaten late by Dillon Dube but looked calm, cool and collected otherwise in the portion of the game I saw.
- No. 47, LD Keegan Lowe. 0-0-0, 17:29. One hit, one block and over four minutes on the penalty kill. He was listed as third pair but played enough to rank second pair on the evening. I was curious about where he was slotted (third pair) and remain perplexed about why he didn’t play more last night. You run the hell out of your top pairing and don’t get a long look at your bubble men? This makes no sense to me.
- No. 77, LD Oscar Klefbom. 0-1-1, +2, 27:02. Played a monster amount (this is crazy) and had a major impact. Three shots, three blocks, major special teams minutes. Absurd TOI. Klefbom looks a bit similar to Serge Savard with the puck on his stick, strong and mobile and winding his way up the ice. He’s a confident veteran now.
- No. 79, LD Dillon Simpson. 0-0-0 -1, 18:04. Played the third most minutes among the Calgary group. Three minutes on the PK. Three shot attempts, delivered his usual quiet, effective game.
- No. 81, LD Yohann Auvitu, 1-0-1, -1, 15:54. He was noticeable in the time I saw him, very mobile and he’s confident with the puck. I’m curious why he didn’t play more. Injury? I think he has an excellent chance to make the opening night roster.
- No. 92, LD Ziyat Paigin. 0-0-0, 11:48. His playing time was a surprise, I wonder if his early game performance dictated sheltering him the rest of the way. Paigin is going to take some time to figure out positioning on the smaller surface, he doesn’t drive his mark to the outside very well.
THE WHO BY NUMBERS, GOAL
- No. 1, Laurent Brossoit. Had a .923 save percentage and looked good.
- No. 34, Nick Ellis. Had an .850 save percentage.
THE WHO BY NUMBERS, FORWARDS
- No. 18, R Ryan Strome. 1-1-2, 16:06. Five shots on goal, that’s exactly what the Oilers need from him. He had plenty of chances, I think you’d have to give him a passing grade on the evening. He did have a giveaway and you’d like to see more pressure 5×5 for his line but these are early days.
- No. 19, L Patrick Maroon. 1-2-3, 16:10. Maroon has a sixth sense around the net, he scores a lot of what they used to call ‘garbage’ goals. They stopped calling them garbage goals around the time of Steve Shutt, and good that they did. Maroon was quality, as usual.
- No. 26, R Iiro Pakarinen. 0-1-1, 13:04. He played a lot more than I thought he might, coach McLellan clearly likes what he brings. He played nine minutes at evens, more than most of the skill players.
- No. 28, C Grayson Downing. 0-0-0, 11:20. Had some good looks and covered pretty well, I’d like to see him get another game. Only 2-7 in the faceoff dot. He was one of his team’s top forwards in even-strength ice time (the skill was on the power play), managing three shot attempts and a takeaway.
- No. 44, R Zack Kassian. 0-0-0, 15:40. He was up to his usual last night, skated well, had a mini-breakaway and got some special teams time. Led the team (along with Laleggia) with three hits and had one takeaway.
- No. 46, L Ryan Hamilton. 0-0-0, 14:26. He was noticeable along the wall, played more than expected (probably because of the score).
- No. 52, R Patrick Russell. 0-0-0, 12:26. I thought he had some good moments, he is a bigger winger and kept the puck heading in a good direction during 4line minutes. Led the team’s forwards in EV ice time, 10:18.
- No. 55, C Mark Letestu. 2-0-2, 17:31. He scored twice by doing what he did all last season, hanging around in the good spots and offering a quality target. Letestu was 57 percent in the dot, had a takeaway and a blocked shot, and performed extremely well.
- No. 84, L Joey Laleggia. 0-0-0, +1, 16:37. He skates well, didn’t get a lot of good looks on the evening but should get a few more games. A solid night, two blocked shots. I hope he gets another game.
- No. 93, C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. 1-0-1, 17:54. His goal was a fluke but it counted. Over seven minutes on the power play, that unit wasn’t as tight as you would like. He was 56 percent in the dot, skated miles and was on the good side of the puck often.
- No. 97 C Connor McDavid. 0-2-2, 17:03. He was 60 percent in the faceoff circle, had several brilliant moments and defended well (he was down low all night in coverage). He’s perfect.
- No. 98 R Jesse Puljujarvi. 0-0-0, +1, 16:52. He had two shots, six shot attempts but what I noticed was his two takeaways and effective play without the puck. He had a couple of awkward shots on the power play, and looked frustrated and then less effective in the offensive area. I know he’s going to be a fine player, just a matter of where he lands on the depth chart. I think he’s a two-way winger, ladies.
THE WHO BY NUMBERS, DEFENSE
- No. 5 RD Mark Fayne 0-0-0, -1 14:53. Three blocked shots, lots of PK time, I like his calm, veteran feet and look forward to seeing him shine in Bakersfield. Some rumblings among msm that he’s in better shape and has a chance to make the big club but I don’t think Todd McLellan trusts his boots.
- No. 25 LD Darnell Nurse. 0-1-1, 18:10. He was the combination of skill and chaos we have come to expect. Skated well, didn’t make enough good decisions with the puck to be projected into a two-way role. That said, he was the best Edmonton defenseman in the capital last night, despite some giveaways. Nurse can transport the puck with aplomb and defended pretty well, the major item being failure to clear the puck out during a marathon PK shift.
- No. 62 RD Eric Gryba. 0-0-0 16:46. He looked slow and chased at times, but also displayed veteran presence. Two takeaways, three blocked shots, I would say he helped his goal of becoming the 6D out of camp.
- No. 74 RD Ethan Bear. 0-0-0 +2, 18:40. I was impressed by his play. Three shot attempts, one blocked shot, he didn’t have any mobility issues to my eye. He is a fine passer, didn’t get a chance to use his shot at all but distributed the puck well.
- No. 82, LD Caleb Jones. 0-1-1 +2, 21:19. Led all Edmonton game defenders in total ice time and played well all night. Four shot attempts, one takeaway and looked solid for the most part. Turned the puck over a couple of times and you have to expect that from young people.
- No. 89 LD William Lagesson. 0-0-0 -1, 16:31. He didn’t play a lot but was effective in limited usage. Lagesson got sent out after the game but showed well during camp. I had him No. 16 on my Winter Top 20 last December, he is exactly the player type (defensive defender) who gets underrated without viewings. I like him.
THE WHO BY NUMBERS, GOAL
- No. 33 Cam Talbot. Stopped all 11 shots on a quiet night, although he did have one brilliant stanza in which the Oilers gave the puck away and he just kept stopping the damned thing from going in the net.
- No. 32 Eddie Pasquale. Stopped 12 of 14, he acquitted himself well overall.
I think there was some progress made last night, will mention Laurent Brossoit, Yohann Auvitu, Dillon Simpson, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, Kailer Yamamoto, Drake Caggiula, Jujhar Khaira. It’s also important to note the down arrows, I will include Jesse Puljujarvi, Chris Kelly. It’s opportunity lost for others, as Joey Laleggia, Joe Gambardella and Mark Fayne played well enough but didn’t impact the game at a level where we can award a good arrow.
THE DISTANT BELLS
William Lagesson got sent out last night, the club is ripping through the distant bells at a nice clip this week. If we agree two men will go on IR (Andrej Sekera, Tyler Benson) to begin the season, then we’re talking 17 hopefuls. From that list, Ben Betker, Braden Christoffer, Josh Currie, Kyle Platzer, Chad Butcher, Brian Ferline and Zach O’Brien haven’t played yet so we can look for some of those names this week. There’s a back-to-back on the weekend, perhaps we don’t see a big cut down swath until Sunday or Monday.
THE UNCERTAIN OILERS
Jujhar Khaira has a head of steam now, he’s bringing it and impacting the game offensively (the universal question mark among the young pro forwards). Iiro Pakarinen played well enough to hold his place in line, and Yamamoto has certainly justified my placing him in this area of the current roster. Ryan Stanton has yet to be heard from, the defense is rolling out as expected (Auvitu and then everyone else in a tie for No. 9 D).
THE CERTAIN OILERS
- The top line looked good to me last night, would have liked some even-strength consistency. Ryan Strome can learn from Patrick Maroon: When 97 gets the puck, just go to the net with your stick down and the brain God gave you.
- Drake Caggiula is a bit more of a soloist than Anton Slepyshev, but he could find a great landing place with Draisaitl and Lucic.
- Nugent-Hopkins scored a goal but Jesse Puljujarvi looked lost in the supermarket with the puck on his stick last night. He appears all in his mind at times, and my hope for summer (that he was working on a quicker release) does not appear to have been a priority. On the other hand, he remains a surprisingly (for his age) effective defensive forward. All the neurons are firing, just not in the right order. This is a very big item for the Edmonton Oilers organization. This isn’t funny, dammit. Is there an answer here? Unlocking this player is vital.
- Klefbom-Larsson should get the rest of the week off. Utter silliness to play the two guys you’re sure of that much, I will be very interested to see how they are handled for the rest of the week. Playing your top defensemen damned near 30 minutes in a game that doesn’t matter is twilight zone decision making.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning, your input on last night’s game will be welcome in one of the segments. Scheduled to appear, TSN1260 beginning at 10:
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic & The Nation Network. Oilers last night, Jussi Jokinen and Jesse Puljujarvi.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. CFL, Oilers and Leafs.
- Andy McNamara, TSN. NFL Week Two and Three.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Tune in, the workday goes quicker when you do!