Misery

I can’t imagine the absolute slog running out the string on an NHL season must be like. Sure, the money is very good, but you’re flying to a new town every night, knowing the other team has playoff hockey ahead while your side is on the outside looking in. That said, the team has to show up and put out some effort and that brings us to last night. There were some injuries on the back end and it took a toll, but the power play offered no help and there were passengers up front. We’re seeing some of these men for the last time in an NHL uniform. Pretty sure.

THE ATHLETIC!

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. Offer is here.

  • New Lowetide: What if the 17-18 Oilers season was a blessing in disguise?
  • Lowetide: Can the Oilers find a partner in a Milan Lucic trade?
  • Black Dog Pat: What’s the use of continuity when the results don’t inspire confidence?
  • Jonathan Willis: Aberg and Rattie audition for jobs as value contracts in major roles.
  • Lowetide: Condors Curios: Interesting things bubbling under in Bakersfield.
  • Lowetide: What are the Oilers getting in Cooper Marody?
  • Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the Republic of Finland
  • Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and Sweden.
  • Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the QMJHL.
  • Lowetide: Draft 2018Oilers and the WHL.
  • Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers draft history and the OHL
  • Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the NCAA.

MAKE IT STOP, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • Oilers in April 2016: 0-1-0, goal differential -5
  • Oilers in April 2017: 1-0-0, goal differential +1 
  • Oilers in April 2018: 0-1-0, goal differential -3

I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s incredible how closely this season mirrors the 2015-16 campaign. If you’ll recall, the back half of that season marked a slow run by Taylor Hall (17 points in his final 32 games) that may have contributed to his being traded that summer. Beware of making big decisions based on small sample sizes.

AFTER 80, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • Oilers 15-16: 30-43-7, goal differential -53 (67 points)
  • Oilers 16-17: 45-26-9, goal differential +40 (99 points)
  • Oilers 17-18: 34-40-6, goal differential -34 (74 points)

The goal differential in these three seasons makes you dizzy, like riding Magic Mountain at Disneyland. My article in The Athletic today suggests ownership take some drastic measures this summer in order to make certain the organization isn’t compromised for years to come. This is a very strange three-season photo.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM APRIL

  • On the road to: Minnesota (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
  • At home to: Vegas, Vancouver (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • Overall expected results: 1-2-0, two points in three games
  • Overall actual results: 0-1-0, zero points in one game 

The Oilers loss last night gets them to the No. 7 slot based on this morning’s standings. That’s a big damned deal. If the draft goes along a predictable line (Dahlen, Svechnikov, Zadina, Tkachuk, Boqvist, Hughes), a player like Oliver Wahlstrom could fall to the Oilers at that number. I’ve used Bob McKenzie’s list from two months ago, so there could be a late spike (Evan Bouchard?) in there.

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

  • Sekera-Russell went 12-6 in 12:04, 0-1 GF and 5-4 SF. I like this pairing more again, Sekera’s passing really helps the duo. His injury is inconvenient but there are only two games left. Sekera showed well in the last few outings, perhaps he’ll return to full Rej in the fall.
  • Russell-Bear were 6-18 in 9:49, 0-0 GF and 3-12 SF. Nurse-Bear went 5-1 in 5:45, I didn’t think of that as a pairing but Bear is an excellent passer and Nurse is more of a shutdown player.
  • Nurse-Larsson were 7-18 in 13:43, 0-1 GF and 5-13 SF. The goal against was a bit of bad luck, Larsson couldn’t find the puck in his feet and had about one second to make a decision. The pairing chased all night and I still think Klefbom is a better match for Larsson.
  • Cam Talbot stopped 37 of 39, .949. I don’t blame him for the breakaway goal but could be in the minority.
  • NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.

FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT

  • Lucic-Strome-Puljujarvi were 14-12 in 13:25. It would be a very expensive No. 3 line next season and who knows if they’ll have chem in the fall. I don’t think JP scores 20 with this trio and no power-play time. 7-10 shots, 5-8 scoring chances, 2-4 in high dangers.
  • Slepyshev-Cammalleri-Kassian were 5-6 in 9:45. Were 2-3 in shots, 3-2 in scoring chances, 1-1 in high dangers. How many from this line return? What are the odds all three men are in new cities by October?
  • Caggiula-Khaira-Aberg went 5-10 in 8:31, were 3-6 in shots, 2-7 in scoring chances and 1-4 in high dangers. There’s a good chance all three of these men will be back, not certain that’s the right play.
  • Draisaitl-McDavid-Rattie were 10-20 in 15:07. They were good to great with the puck but didn’t have it much. Nuge, come back! Went 0-2 in GF, 5-13 in shots, 7-12 in scoring chances, 3-8 in high dangers. You’d have to look hard to find those kinds of numbers for a McDavid line during his young career. This stretch run has been a tough run.

MENTOR

When the Oilers brought over Jari Kurri from Finland, Glen Sather made a move to sign Matti Hagman (formerly of the Bruins and playing in Helsinki). Kurri was 20 and benefited greatly from having a veteran Finn with NHL experience on the roster. At the time of Hagman’s passing, Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal wrote a piece with some quotes from Kurri about Hagman.

I’d love to see Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl take on the mentor role with Puljujarvi. It might be a lot of hard work, but the payoff would come in the form of another drive. I believe the young man has it in him but skill needs skill to flourish.

DRAFT QUESTIONS

  1. Will the Oilers take a forward? If the team wins the lottery, it’s Dahlen. If any of Svechnikov, Zadina, Tkachuk or Wahlstrom is available when the Oilers pick, my suspicion is the team will grab a forward.
  2. Who are the top three defensemen? Bob McKenzie has it Dahlen, Boqvist and Hughes. I like Ty Smith enough to have him No. 4 in my rankings (a new ranking out tomorrow).
  3. How many of these men are plug-and-play for next year? I’d say five. Dahlin, Svechnikov, Zadina, Quinn Hughes and Brady Tkachuk seem to be either physically ready or carry one dominant skill that could project them into the world’s best league.
  4. What are the chances Edmonton trades its first-round pick? It’s a possibility. I have Oscar Klefbom, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jesse Puljujarvi and the 2018 top-10 pick as possible assets out. All are a bad idea, by the way.
  5. How many skill forwards should Edmonton draft? As many as possible. You can make the argument that the team’s devotion to defense in the 2015/2016 draft (eight of 15 players in those two drafts were blue) allows them some breathing room there. Also, the Oilers spent a high pick on a two-way option (Tyler Benson). Need to skill bigly. The 2017 draft featured skill forwards Kailer Yamamoto, Ostap Safin and Kirill Maksimov, the team needs to duplicate the performance.
  6. How quickly can the Oilers recover if they draft skill in 2018? By 2020 the organization could be flush with skill and hopefully men like Puljujarvi and Yamamoto will be successful alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. There aren’t a lot of options, and there is real urgency. Another season of auditions isn’t acceptable but we are heading in that direction.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A busy and fun morning, seems all the sports are happening. Beginning at 10, TSN1260, scheduled to appear:

  • Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. Last night’s game, the need for skill, will the Oilers chase speed?
  • Eric Koreen, The Athletic. We’ll get our weekly Raptors update and talk Villanova.
  • Scott Cullen, TSN. Historically bad trades that change franchise course and how quickly can a team recover?

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!

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228 Responses to "Misery"

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  1. Gerta Rauss says:

    Bag of Pucks: He’s traded for value contracts, but when’s the last time he negotiated one?

    I’m no Chia apologist, but the Klefbom contract is decent, especially if we get last years Klefbom

  2. Wilde says:

    Game 7 of Spokane Chiefs vs Portland Winterhawks is tied in the third period.

  3. Wilde says:

    Ty Smith and Yamamoto just got absolutely robbed on two separate chances in a 10 second span.

  4. Gerta Rauss says:

    Nice result in the NYI game-drafting 7OV got a little help tonight

  5. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    rickithebear: What does sexuality have to do with sport?

    You need players to perform at a high level and not miss games.

    RNH is a concern last 3 seasons
    66gm 17g 24a 41p
    12 evg 18 Eva 30 evp -4
    4ppg 6ppa 10ppp
    1shg 0sha 1shp
    Healthy PVP RNH is a beaut. Queen or jack
    16 games of uno card RNH matters.

    It doesn’t have anything to do with sport. I didn’t originate the labeling of players as face cards. LT did. As I recall there were no queens in LT’s descriptions. I don’t think anything was implied by anyone, it was just designed to avoid misunderstandings, I think.

    Nuge was good for a half year this year. You are right that he has not been as good as he can be the past 3 years.

  6. Wilde says:

    Portland’s scored on a point(ish) shot.

    Less than 5 minutes left to tie it.

  7. Wilde says:

    Kiefer Bellows just put this game away. His shot scored the 2-1 goal and he made the play to make it 3-1. Yamamoto’s season’s over, crazy series, glad I watched it

  8. Younger Oil says:

    For me, the worst thing about all of this is that if the team just stood pat and drafted BPA, it would look like something along the lines of:

    Hall-McDavid-Eberle (255 points)
    Draisaitl-Barzal-Debrincat (200 points)
    Slepyshev-Nuge-Puljujarvi (77 points (108 if each of them played the full season))
    Caggiula-Khaira-Kassian (59 points)

    That is 591 points, while the current top 12 Oilers forwards have combined for 418 points.

    D would be more or less the same, replacing Larsson with Carlo (or something along those lines). Not saying that would be a balanced team, or would fit under the cap, but that is a hell of a lot of pieces that a competent GM and coach could do a lot with.

    Revisionist history? Sure. But a good 80% of armchair GM’s around here were calling for those exact choices to be made when it came to trades and drafting.

  9. Wilde says:

    Here’s a more comprehensive update from Stauffer:

    —————————————-
    @Bob_Stauffer
    6m
    6 minutes ago

    Portland beats Spokane 3-1 in Game 7.

    Kailer Yamamoto, playing through an injury, had 1-3-4 in the series.

    Victoria beats Vancouver 4-3 in Game 7.

    Tyler Benson, 2 assists, had 3-8-11 in series.

    Both players WHL careers likey finished, Bakersfield has 6 games left in their season

    ————————————–

  10. Pescador says:

    Younger Oil:
    For me, the worst thing about all of this is that if the team just stood pat and drafted BPA, it would look like something along the lines of:

    Hall-McDavid-Eberle (255 points)
    Draisaitl-Barzal-Debrincat (200 points)
    Slepyshev-Nuge-Puljujarvi (77 points (108 if each of them played the full season))
    Caggiula-Khaira-Kassian (59 points)

    That is 591 points, while the current top 12 Oilers forwards have combined for 418 points.

    D would be more or less the same, replacing Larsson with Carlo (or something along those lines). Not saying that would be a balanced team, or would fit under the cap, but that is a hell of a lot of pieces that a competent GM and coach could do a lot with.

    Revisionist history? Sure. But a good 80% of armchair GM’s around here were calling for those exact choices to be made when it came to trades and drafting.

    I like to think of myself as a revisionist armchair GM,
    So ya count me in as part of the 80%
    It’s something that only years of experience can provide

  11. Pescador says:

    Wilde,

    Thanks for these Wilde

  12. JimmyV1965 says:

    Wilde:
    Kiefer Bellows just put this game away. His shot scored the 2-1 goal and he made the play to make it 3-1. Yamamoto’s season’s over, crazy series, glad I watched it

    Was Carter Hart crazy good?

  13. Wilde says:

    JimmyV1965,

    Hart’s on the Silvertips, not the Winterhawks.

    The WHawks goalie was lights out though. yeah. Kehler or something? Guy was a heartbreaker, especially compared to some of the stuff the Chiefs goaltending let in during the series.

    I’m also reading that apparently Yamamoto got tossed before the handshake line for trying to start fights after the game was over. He seems to be an emotional player, between this and the long slump coming down from the NHL.

  14. deardylan says:

    smellyglove, did you see my post from yesterday about you tapping into the LT hivemind asking about flexibility vs. $ & working for the man.

    https://lowetide.ca/2018/04/02/g80-2017-18-oilers-at-wild/comment-page-2/#comment-733048

  15. highgloveside says:

    If Oilers are picking outside the top 6, I am taking Bouchard all day long if he is available. Right shot, fantastically offensive, great skater and good outlet pass. He was is the second highest points of all players in any position in points, as a dman. 25 goals and 87 pts in 67 games even with all the veteran forwards being traded at the deadline.. PP/QB and future top pairing dman.

  16. Wilde says:

    highgloveside,

    Evan Bouchard is playing his 18 year old season, you can’t compare him to players playing their 17 year old season.

    Projecting him as a surefire top pairing defenseman is an extremely charitable perspective.

  17. Professor Q says:

    Wilde:
    highgloveside,

    Evan Bouchard is playing his 18 year old season, you can’t compare him to players playing their 17 year old season.

    Projecting him as a surefire top pairing defenseman is an extremely charitable perspective.

    He did say outside of the Top 6. I think he’ll go maybe later 10s, but there are a lot of D and some good F so maybe even as far back as 15ish (like last year’s slides). I also think he’ll be a good NHL D-Man despite the silly “18 yo season” narrative.

    Dobson (18 a few months ago), Smith (only just turned 18), Boqvist, Hughes (also 18), and obviously Dahlin (about to turn 18) will all likely go ahead of him, true, and I do see that now. But I really do think he’s very good, and still in the mix with that crowd due to his RHS, size, and playing style.

  18. JimmyV1965 says:

    Wilde:
    JimmyV1965,

    Hart’s on the Silvertips, not the Winterhawks.

    The WHawks goalie was lights out though. yeah. Kehler or something? Guy was a heartbreaker, especially compared to some of the stuff the Chiefs goaltending let in during the series.

    I’m also reading that apparently Yamamoto got tossed before the handshake line for trying to start fights after the game was over. He seems to be an emotional player, between this and the long slump coming down from the NHL.

    Thanks for the report. If we draft seven and he’s available, I think I go Wahlstrom. I think we can still get a good dman prospect in the second round. Of course, I say this with hardly watching any of these guys.

  19. Wilde says:

    Professor Q: He did say outside of the Top 6. I think he’ll go maybe later 10s, but there are a lot of D and some good F so maybe even as far back as 15ish (like last year’s slides). I also think he’ll be a good NHL D-Man despite the silly “18 yo season” narrative.

    Dobson (18 a few months ago), Smith (only just turned 18), Boqvist, Hughes (also 18), and obviously Dahlin (about to turn 18) will all likely go ahead of him, true, and I do see that now. But I really do think he’s very good.

    Yes, but my understanding is that most people have the top 3 set, so then there’s a /maximum/ of 3 non-Dahlin defensemen to go before Bouchard goes in the hypothetical.

    Whereas I’d say Bouchard is more likely the 5th-10th best D prospect in the draft, based on ceiling… which is all that matters in my perspective

    It’s… not a narrative that he’s a late birthday, 3rd season junior player. There’s no subjectivity in the notion that late birthdays should get dinged if they’re playing junior leagues.

    If you’ve got two late birthdays, like Hughes and Bouchard, and one of them played in a tougher league for their 18 year old season, something to consider is the comparison of their 17 year old season. Evan Bouchard had a good year in the OHL, Hughes had an excellent(one of the best ever for a D) year in the USN program.

    I don’t think Dobson or Smith go before him. one of Boqvist or Hughes is probably the best bet. I’ve seen Bouchard ranked in the top 5, and that’s where I disagree with folks. Especially if they’re citing a numbers advantage.

  20. Wilde says:

    JimmyV1965,

    I’m very high on Wahlstrom too. Zone entry machine and elite-level goalscoring. Excellent package.

    Say we’re 7th, I’d pick whoever’s left of Hughes, Wahlstrom, or Boqvist. If none are, trade down to 13-15 and select who’s left of Merkley, Bokk, Denisenko, or Smith.

  21. Professor Q says:

    Wilde,

    Most of the D in the Top 10 are 18 though, is what I meant. There are a few who are only 2-6ish months (January-April) younger than Bouchard and Hughes who are being considered as an entire year younger than them.

  22. Wilde says:

    Professor Q:

    Most of the D in the Top 10 are 18 though, is what I meant.

    Well, to suss out if that’s an accurate claim we’d have to first agree on what the top 10 D in the draft are.

    Here’s an expedited compilation(as opposed to an ordered list), arbitrated by myself, that you have every right to object to:

    Dahlin – Apr 2000 – EU Men’s

    Hughes – Oct 1999 – NCAA

    Boqvist Aug 2000 – EU U20

    Bouchard – Oct 1999 – OHL

    Dobson – Jan 2000 – QMJHL

    McIsaac – Mar 2000 – QMJHL

    Smith – Mar 2000 – WHL

    Merkley – Aug 2000 – OHL

    Wilde – Jan 2000 – USNTDP

    Sandin – Mar 2000 – OHL

    So there is, by my count, one guy the same age, two 2-3 months younger, everyone else is 6-10 months younger. The lion’s share then, is at least a half year younger.

    If Bouchard and Hughes are 1/2 to 3/4 of a year older, their 2016/17 season is closer age-wise to the younger player’s 2017/18 season. Doesn’t seem silly at all for that to push the conversation towards comparing those seasons as opposed to the ones literally further away, just because they’re the year that the draft actually takes place.

  23. ArmchairGM says:

    Wilde:
    highgloveside,

    Evan Bouchard is playing his 18 year old season, you can’t compare him to players playing their 17 year old season.

    Projecting him as a surefire top pairing defenseman is an extremely charitable perspective.

    Bouchard scored more points than any other defensemen in the entire CHL, including 19- and 20-year-olds. That’s not insignificant. He has size, skill and smarts – I don’t think it’s a reach to project him as a future top-pair defenseman, although “sure-fire” is not a word I would use.

  24. Wilde says:

    ArmchairGM: Bouchard scored more points than any other defensemen in the entire CHL, including 19- and 20-year-olds. That’s not insignificant.

    Yes, but what is the competition there?

    The 2017 NHL draft had zero first round picks that were OHL defensemen. The first guy to go was a monster 6’6″ two way prospect, there were no prolific scoring D in that draft class.

    The 2016 NHL draft had Juolevi who’s in Finland now, Chychrun who’s in the NHL. Sergachev’s in the NHL. Logan Stanley fizzling out before our eyes.

    But really, if I thought Bouchard’s point totals were insignificant I wouldn’t be calling him the 5th-10th best defenceman in the world at his age. They’re incredible.

    It’s just, you have too look at raw point totals without adjusting for age, toi, and competition or any other factor in order to view Bouchard’s numerical standing as above the likes of Merkley or Smith or whoever else.

  25. ArmchairGM says:

    Wilde: Yes, but what is the competition there?

    The 2017 NHL draft had zero first round picks that were OHL defensemen. The first guy to go was a monster 6’6″ two way prospect, there were no prolific scoring D in that draft class.

    The 2016 NHL draft had Juolevi who’s in Finland now, Chychrun who’s in the NHL. Sergachev’s in the NHL. Logan Stanley fizzling out before our eyes.

    But really, if I thought Bouchard’s point totals were insignificant I wouldn’t be calling him the 5th-10th best defenceman in the world at his age. They’re incredible.

    It’s just, you have too look at raw point totals without adjusting for age, toi, and competition or any other factor in order to view Bouchard’s numerical standing as abovethe likes of Merkley or Smith or whoever else.

    If you look at the numbers without any adjustments, Bouchard would rank #1 among defensemen. I don’t think anyone is saying that.

  26. Wilde says:

    ArmchairGM:

    I don’t think it’s a reach to project him as a future top-pair defenseman, although “sure-fire” is not a word I would use.

    Well, by definition there’s 60 top pairing guys in the league. If there were ten top pairing guys in every draft, the whole thing turns over every 6 years.

    And there’s probably ten D in this draft that have the potential, that we can see from here, on Bouchard’s level or above.

    I think it’s more reasonable to use top pairing potential as a label for about 5 guys in the draft.

    Cause it’s really hard to scroll through any NHL entry draft from years past and pick out more than a handful of guys that can play minutes against elite forwards and come out with a respectable share of the goals and chances.

  27. Wilde says:

    ArmchairGM: If you look at the numbers without any adjustments, Bouchard would rank #1 among defensemen. I don’t think anyone is saying that.

    Yes, but plenty of people have Bouchard above the two guys I mentioned, and that’s been what I’ve been talking about since the first couple posts. I don’t know what this comment means in regard to that.

  28. ArmchairGM says:

    Wilde: Yes, but plenty of people have Bouchard above the two guys I mentioned, and that’s been what I’ve been talking about since the first couple posts. I don’t know what this comment means in regard to that.

    Which two guys – Smith and Merkley? Well, I can’t speak for others, but Smith is a LHS which drops his value a little for me. Both are smaller than Bouchard (matters more for some than others) and despite all his talent Merkley can’t play defense worth a damn.

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