The World Juniors get underway later today in Buffalo, with the big early game featuring Canada versus Finland. The Oilers have four prospects in the tournament this year.
- Czech R Ostap Safin, Saint-John Sea Dogs (QMJHL) 33gp, 13-19-32 (127 shots) (.970)
- USA R Kailer Yamamoto, Spokane Chiefs (WHL) 13gp, 2-10-12 (32 shots) (.923)
- Finland RC Aapeli Rasanen, Boston College (NCAA) 18gp, 3-7-10 (28 shots) (.556)
- Russia LD Dmitri Samorukov, Guelph Storm (OHL) 32gp, 4-11-15 (73 shots) (.469)
It’s Russia versus Czech, Canada versus Finland and USA versus Denmark today, so all four men should get playing time during the first day of competition.
Great offer! Includes a free 7-day trial so you can try The Athletic on for size free and see if they enjoy the in-depth, ad-free coverage on the site. If you don’t feel it’s worth the $4.49/month, cancel anytime during trial before getting charged. Offer is here.
- New Lowetide: On Cam Connor, Jujhar Khaira, Ryan Strome and Anton Slepyshev (will link)
- Lowetide: Jones, Bear and Mantha
- Lowetide: Year-end taking stock
- Lowetide: Connor McDavid: The Athletic’s Person of the Year!
In the January 13, 1984 edition of The Hockey News, chief scout Barry Fraser was asked to list Edmonton’s top five prospects (in no specific order). He named Raimo Summanen (playing in Finland), Gord Sherven (Canada’s Olympic team), Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds LW Steve Graves, and junior defenders Jeff Beukeboom and Jim Playfair. He did not include Esa Tikkanen as one of the Top Five, but did mention him later in the interview.
- Barry Fraser: “He’s much the same as Summanen, I would say he’s ahead of where Summanen was at this stage of his career. He’s kind of a hard-nosed kid, too.”
First, the obvious. Esa Tikkanen, now as then, has never been much the same as anyone on planet earth. He is an original, and was a unique player. That said, in terms of being NHL-ready in January 1984, Summanen was probably the better fit. Long term? It was pretty obvious Tikkanen had the potential to have more impact. He was almost as good, playing in the same league while also being three years younger in 1983-83. At that point in their careers, both Summanen and Tikkanen were playing in the Sm-Liiga, Finland’s highest pro league.
- Raimo Summanen (age 21) Ilves Tampere 37gp, 28-19-47 (1.27)
- Esa Tikkanen (age 18) HIFK Helsinki 36gp, 11-19-30 (.833)
Summanen came over late that spring, went 2gp, 1-4-5 in the regular season and 5gp, 1-4-5 in the playoffs (Oilers won its first Stanley that year). He had a massive impact in the 1981 WJ’s (7gp, 7-9-16) at age 19. Tikkanen came over the following spring, playing zero regular season games and three in the playoffs. He played in three WJ’s, his age 19 run (7gp, 7-12-19) slightly better than Summanen’s at the same age.
In total, Tikkanen played three WJ’s, going 21, 17-18-35; Summanen played just the one year. Point being, the WJ’s do matter—if a prospect plays for a substantial nation at 17 that’s a terrific arrow—and age is an important part of the equation.
- Dmitri Samorukov: 18 years, 6 months, 10 days (0 WJ games)
- Ostap Safin: 18 years, 10 months, 15 days (0 WJ games)
- Kailer Yamamoto: 19 years, 2 months, 28 days (0 WJ games)
- Aapeli Rasanen: 19 years, 6 months, 25 days (6gp, 2-4-6 a year ago)
OILERS MONTH BY MONTH, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-2-0, goal differential +10
- Oilers in October 2017: 3-6-1, goal differential -11
If you’re looking for a “Johnson Rod” moment for this season, October is a good place to start. Oilers won the first game and looked poor in G2 Vancouver. The month didn’t so much progress as unravel. The result was a hole the team is just now getting out of, midway through the campaign.
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2, goal differential -6
- Oilers in November 2016: 5-8-2, goal differential -3
- Oilers in Novmber 2017: 7-8-1, goal differential -5
Edmonton stopped the bleeding in November but couldn’t gather enough momentum to climb closer to “Bettman .500” for the year. It put them in a slightly larger hole, meaning December needed to be a strong month.
- Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1, goal differential -9
- Oilers in December 2016: 6-2-4, goal differential +1
- Oilers in December 2017 (so far): 7-3-0, goal differential +11
This has a chance to be a strong recovery month, the final three games of December holding great importance for the rest of the year.
- Oilers after 36, 2015: 15-18-3, goal differential -18 (33 points)
- Oilers after 36, 2016: 18-12-6, goal differential +8 (42 points)
- Oilers after 36, 2017: 17-17-2, goal differential -4 (36 points)
Edmonton could finish the month with 20 wins (would need to win all three games this week). That seems a distant bell, especially the 27th game in Winnipeg. It will feature an early morning flight on game day and the road team often has a more difficult time than the home side on these “return from turkey and family” games. More tomorrow.