The 1979-80 Oilers were a discombobulated crew and that’s being kind. Expansion left the team with gaping holes hither and yon, while also gifting the organization with some of the most outstanding building blocks in history. It was a strange brew and Glen Sather cast about looking for solutions. Despite the script that was actually written, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Fall and winter 1979-80 saw a lot of exits and entries.
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- New Lowetide: Oilers free-agent prospect procurement isn’t aiming high enough (will link)
- New Black Dog: Getting old, in and out of hockey
- Lowetide: Shopping Milan Lucic for another problem contract.
- Tyler Dellow: The value of draft picks and reasonable trades Canadian teams can make
- Corey Pronman: 2018 NHL draft board.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: The Oilers and the USHL.
- 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.
THE OILERS PROCUREMENT MADNESS
The Sather-Larry Gordon Oilers were grabbing players from everywhere, as established teams grabbed back players who had been lost to WHA raids in exchange for extra prospects they didn’t need and would never employ. Edmonton made a deal with Minnesota to stay away from Paul Shmyr (a pretty good defenseman) and received the draft pick spent on Glenn Anderson. It was the wild west of NHL transaction history, anything could happen and often did happen.
Edmonton sent a second-round pick to Montreal for Dave Lumley and Dan Newman, big break for them with Lumley scoring 20 goals as an NHL rookie in ’79-’80. Oilers traded Joe Micheletti (another defenseman) to St. Louis for Risto Siltanen and Tom Roulston. In December, Edmonton traded Dan Newman and acquired Bobby Schmautz, who was a veteran winger with a monster shot. Schmautz hated it and the club sent him away quickly. In March Edmonton dealt Cam Connor (who was a helluva player, big power forward) for Donny Murdoch who looked like an Osmond and scored like a Rolling Stone but Murdoch didn’t score for Edmonton.
Lumley, Schmautz, Murdoch and they drafted Glenn Anderson. By the next fall, Anderson and Jari Kurri were both NHL rookies and 12 months after the expansion draft Edmonton owned three damned good right wingers (Kurri, Anderson, Lumley) who would all win Stanley. Looks like a smooth transition now, but at the time it was pure chaos. We were all worried about Blair MacDonald’s contract, Slats sent him away for 12 salmon and a pack of Certs.
My recall of the Oilers’ lines in that inaugural NHL season were Brett Callighen—Wayne Gretzky—Blair MacDonald, Mark Messier—Stan Weir—Dave Lumley and then Dave Hunter—Ron Chipperfield—Bill Flett. Peter Driscoll was on the team, Dave Semenko, Cam Connor. Bruce McCurdy probably remembers these lines better than I do, but Messier played quite a bit with Weir that year and the top line for sure ran together often.
Ty Rattie is about the same age as Dave Lumley was in 1979 fall, although a far different player. Rattie is a one dimensional winger but the dimension he owns is goal-scoring and that’s one of the best cards in the deck. The Oilers have a bunch of Lumley and Murdoch types, some of whom (Anton Slepyshev) are already gone. I’ve suggested and written about Austin Czarnik and Daniel Sprong and Nic Petan, but the reality of the situation is that it’ll probably come down to draft picks like Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto—just as it did in 1980 when Kurri and Anderson ripped it up as rookies.
As I haven’t compiled a list of ‘inexpensive options who could push for NHL jobs’ it might be a good idea to publish one to see the range that might be out there. Some of these names will be familiar to you but the thrust of this segment is to put all the names in one place.
RAIDING THE AHL
- R Daniel Sprong, Pittsburgh Penguins. An inexpensive winger young enough to grow with the group, he was among the league leaders in AHL shots per game (3.29) and goals (32). Excellent skater, strong fit.
- RC Austin Czarnik, Boston Bruins. He’ll be a free agent July 1, and was among the top scorers in the AHL this past season. On the power play, he scored 13 goals in 64 games.
- R Nikita Soshnikov, St. Louis Blues. An intriguing player, shoots left but plays right wing. Prospect-stats.com estimates he scored 2.79 points-per-game at 5×5 last season.
- R Connor Brown, Toronto Maple Leafs. Solid young winger with some NHL experience, he also played with Connor McDavid in Erie.
- L Warren Foegele, Carolina Hurricanes. Big forward with skill and two-way acumen, he appears to be an emerging player but the Hurricanes are in a period of transition so maybe he shakes loose.
- L Andreas Johnsson, Toronto Maple Leafs. Not one chance in hell he shakes loose but it would be a damned good day if he did. Maybe Babcock won’t like him but he’s building a stunning resume.
- L Nic Petan, Winnipeg Jets. Undersized and very creative, he would be an interesting alternative offensively to Drake Caggiula. Blocked six ways to Sunday in the Winnipeg organization.
- W Peter Cehlarik, Boston Bruins. Big forward with skill, more playmaker than shooter but he can score goals.
- LC Lucas Wallmark, Carolina Hurricanes. I liked him on draft day and he has developed into a solid prospect. Nice range of skills.
Expect Kailer Yamamoto, Cooper Marody and Tyler Benson to see NHL time in 2018-19, plus Oilers at the draft and a reminder of how little production Edmonton received from notable players a year ago https://t.co/6EjAkPvHLl
— Lowetide (@Lowetide) June 4, 2018
It still looks that way to me after the signing of Patrick Russell and trade that brought Nolan Vesey into the organization. Is Tyler Benson ahead of Vesey on Peter Chiarelli’s whiteboard? His age should give him the early edge, but the trade yesterday doesn’t look like an NHL solution. Edmonton is being very aggressive in procurement, but there are miles to go before morning. Without a pile of green to attract big name free agents, signing Austin Czarnik or dealing for Peter Cehlarik may be the prudent way to go this summer.
— Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) June 9, 2018
Bakersfield Condors site has a nice tracker for their roster, this is a dandy page and worth a bookmark. It has signing dates and notes the NHL contracts. Well done.