We are exactly one month from the NHL Entry Draft, followed by free agency 2018. A trade window opens after the Stanley Cup Final is completed (latest ending June 13) and it could be reefer madness all summer long. The Oilers will be active (Peter Chiarelli is aggressive, in case you didn’t know) but the truth is the roster players from last year will be the key to next season. Regression isn’t always a bad word, kids.
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- New Corey Pronman: 2018 NHL draft board. It’s 24 hours since release, I’m not yet halfway home. Best in the business.
- New Lowetide: Summer 2018 on a budget. Calling Warren Foegele!
- New Lowetide: Is Stuart Skinner the real thing? Stopped 54 of 56 last night.
- New Corey Pronman: Draft picks not on my board for 2018.
- Jonathan Willis: A look at which Oilers could stay and which could go this summer.
- Lowetide: Everything you ever wanted to know about Joel Persson but were afraid to ask.
- Lowetide: Oilers summer to-do list short and sweet.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and Russia: A draft tragedy.
- 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 2018: Oilers and the WHL.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers draft history and the OHL
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the NCAA.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers at the draft: Overagers.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers scouting directors: A history.
- These are not lines.
- There is a mountain of room on the 50-man list, 35 deep currently and with five or less additions among the restricted players.
- I’ll guess Ryan Strome, Drake Caggiula, Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning and Nick Ellis return.
- If all five of those names do return, the Oilers weaknesses will be scoring wingers, two way wingers and puck movers. Maybe goaltending.
Here we go! Final (assuming I don't find any errors) contract predictions for the 2018 Free Agent Class:https://t.co/CwF6kTUfdZ
— Matt Cane (@Cane_Matt) May 21, 2018
Matt Cane is one of the people out there who takes things we’re curious about and builds a model designed to answer those questions. This is the good stuff. I spent some time (lots of time) with this model yesterday and it fascinates me in most every case that could involve the Oilers.
Free Agent List
I have a free-agent list ready and kept wondering about the best way to publish it. Thanks to Matt Cane, I can run it based on projected cap hit next season. Here goes.
- LC John Tavares, $10.7 million. Not possible, but what an incredible dream. I’m not certain this number gets him, to be honest. Vegas has a mountain of money, might use it.
- RD John Carlson, $8.6 million. Edmonton could do this, but it would involve trading Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins plus to make room.
- LC Paul Stastny, $5.4 million. He would be a terrific addition, playing alongside Leon on the No. 2 line. Just out of reach but if the club could find a way to offload a $4 million player this would be an option.
- L James vanRiemsdyk, $5.3 million. He’s my top free-agent option at the top end, for me everyone here and below on this list is affordable on some level. Note: That does not mean I endorse signing any player to a $5 million deal. It’s a big money contract, and as you see above money is tight. It would involve trading a defenseman.
- L James Neal, $4.3 million. He can play either wing and if I had to guess this player would be Edmonton’s target during free agency.
- R Thomas Vanek, $2.86 million. I’d rather sign him to a bigger nut for one year than long term, but Cane’s numbers suggest both are possible. Oilers should target him for sure.
- RC Derek Ryan, $2.4 million. I like him a lot but that’s too much money for the No. 4 center. Jujhar Khaira looks like he may be able to take on the role so that’s an option I would pass on at this number.
- RC Riley Nash, $2.275 million. Righty center had a strong season and would be a nice replacement for Mark Letestu. I don’t like the price but he’s in the conversation.
- LC Val Filppula, $2.2 million. This is a player I’ve always liked and his ability to play a two-way game (and more than one position) make him an attractive (if expensive for his role) option.
- RC Kyle Brodziak, $1.5 million. I wonder if he’s interested in coming home for a couple of seasons. Scored well this past season, wasn’t as effective in possession (although zone starts in his own end were a factor).
- L Scottie Upshall, $1.1 million. Same story as Brodziak, I think either man is a candidate to be signed by Edmonton.
- LC Derek Grant, $1.0 million. Minor league journeyman caught on with Anaheim and delivered an excellent season, including a superior faceoff percentage. I think he stays on the coast but he’s an interesting option.
PROJECTED OILERS ROSTER 2018-19
- I understand some of these numbers are eye popping, but Cane is using the past to predict the future. That’s always a good idea. We’ll review these numbers at summer’s end to see how they shine.
- The Nurse deal got lots of attention but for a long-term deal it seems to be in the range. Cane estimated four years, but if this contract gets signed for seven years I don’t know that people will think it crazy. Whether Edmonton should make that offer is another conversation. I would bridge.
- The Benning number seems high, the Strome number solid.
- I chose Vanek, Schaller, Chiasson and Dillon Simpson as my free agent additions.
- Right wing has cover for young Jesse Puljujarvi but that also means the team should be able to shoot the moon and try him on the big line. Let him wheel, see what he can do. If he’s struggling after 20 games, Vanek is there for cover. In the meantime, Leon gets a nice veteran to play on his line.
- The skill lines can be moved about but I wanted to keep Lucic away from Puljujarvi. They don’t mix.
- I moved Zack Kassian to add some room, it might come to that this summer.
SHOOT THE MOON, 2012
The 2012 draft will be remembered for the poor return on the No. 1 overall selection, but the Oilers drafted players who had enough offense (with one exception). As you read these words from six years ago, have a look at the equivalencies. Nail Yakupov didn’t impact the NHL, but math adored him. You’ll notice the picks I was favoring over the No. 32 selection by Edmonton didn’t exactly tear up the blacktop.
- #1 overall: R Nail Yakupov. Ridiculous talent combined with swagger and attitude. Yakupov has great personality and should give Oiler fans a lot to cheer for on and off the ice. Perhaps this young Russian can win the Calder trophy for a franchise that still hasn’t been honored with it. NHLE 82, 18-22-40.
- #32 overall: L Mitchell Moroz. Coke Machine selection that takes Oiler fans back to the days of Kevin Prendergast, Moroz was taken when their was more skill on the board. The pick was disappointing. The players we talked about this morning were available at that number. My picks were Pontus Aberg, Dalton Thrower and Matt Finn–you may have had other names. NHLE 82, 6-3-9.
- #63 overall:F Jujhar Khaira. Another big forward (6.03, 195) with room to grow, he played in the BCJHL and Red Line suggests he was underscouted. Quoting RLR: this kid is big, mean, aggressive, nasty, and guess what, he can score too. I was initially unimpressed with the Khaira pick but after reading more he’s at least worthy of being “in the range” of his selection. The Oilers clearly spent the day drafting for need and I think this player gives them their best chance of getting that big forward who can play with real skill. NHLE 82, 6-11-17.
- #91 overall: L Daniil Zharkov. The second most famous prospect Edmonton drafted this weekend, Zharkov is also Russian and another strong personality. At 6.03, 200 he fits the Coke Machine description (or will) but has enough skill to be considered a good hockey player. NHLE 82, 11-7-18.
- #93 overall: D Erik Gustafsson. Very interesting player, he’s 20 years old and one imagines the Oilers might bring him over right away for OKC. Gustafsson’s size (6.0, 176) runs out of time with the Coke Machine theme of this season’s draft. NHLE 82, 5-6-11.
- #123 overall: D Joey Laleggia. This has the best chance to be a depth gem along the lines of Rieder. Corey Pronman’s take: He’s a good skater with a great offensive mind who would be a nice shot in the dark pick in the mid-rounds due to his notable offensive upside. He flashes high-end hockey sense with his quick game processing and he’s really effective moving the puck out of his own end and controlling the blue line on the power play. NHLE 82, 9-21-30.
- #153 overall: R John McCarron. The third straight 1992-born player, he’s a huge winger (6.03, 215) with plenty of toughness and a mean streak. McCarron fits the Coke Machine label perfectly. NHLE 82, 6-12-18.
Stuart Skinner @ssskipy_74 with simply one of the best goaltending performances I've ever seen with 54 saves and I have to think one of the best in @MCMemorialCup history… but it falls short as the @SCBroncos fall 2-1 to the @BulldogsOHL tonight. We're live on @TheEagle94one
— Shawn Mullin (@shawnmullin) May 22, 2018
I wrote about him the other day (link above) and it’s basically impossible to know if this is a turn north or a hot streak. That said, we’re 53 games (regular season, playoffs, Memorial Cup) since the deal and he’s been fire in Swift Current. The next question for Skinner, now that he is signed, is where do you play him next season? WHL, ECHL, AHL?
#Isles just released an official statement announcing Lou Lamoriello’s hiring, noting that he “will have full authority over all hockey matters with the organization.” There is no mention of Garth Snow.
— Daniel J. Friedman (@DanJFriedman) May 22, 2018
LOU IN BROOKLYN
Lou Lamoriello is the ultimate example of what happens when things are “grandfathered” and one guy stays too long at the fair. As was the case with Sam Pollock, I cannot argue the wisdom of the man, only that Lou’s trump cards should not be available to him. It makes the league look uneven, unfair. Example: The NHL had this silly whack-a-mole rule that awarded draft picks to an organization losing a coach or an executive. The rule was in place for about 10 minutes, but the Edmonton Oilers got tripped up twice by the blasted thing. If such a thing had happened to a Lou Lamoriello team, or a Sam Pollock team, I would bet my bottom dollar the rule would have been eased. Seriously. Remember the “Ilya Kovalchuk lose your draft pick” penalty? Yeah. The NHL rules are written in stone for some, invisible ink for others. Same as it ever was. Lou has apparently been talking to John Tavares while (as far as we know) still being employed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. If I’m the Leafs, not happy. Mark Hunter quit, what are the odds he’ll be in Brooklyn by September 1? Bah. And what pray tell comes of Garth Snow?
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy, fun show with spectacular guests trying to make sense of long run on sentences that serve as questions! Such fun! 10 this morning, TSN1260, scheduled to appear:
- Pierre Lebrun, TSN and The Athletic. What a run for Winnipeg, VGK the story of the century, big doings in Louville.
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. What is the outer marker for the Oilers in free agency? Neal? Vanek?
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Vegas, Caps-Lightning, and what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is going on in Toronto with the Leafs?
- Marshall Ferguson, Ti-Cats PBP for TSN1150 Hamilton. Johnny Football, baby!
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!