Steve Tambellini was the most conservative Oilers general manager of my lifetime, your lifetime and that of our children. That’s not a bad thing on its own, but middle managers (Mr. Tambellini was one) have a tendency to be on the wrong side of “no guts, no glory” before the start line. Peter Chiarelli might be the most aggressive general manager in Oilers history (Slats was kind of a maniac at times) and that has its own rewards and punishments. One of the risky moves made by PC this offseason was the signing of Mikko Koskinen. He is signed, sealed and delivered but the story he’ll write is a blank chapter in the 2018-19 season. What do we know about him?
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- New Lowetide: Handicapping the race to win jobs on McDavid/Draisaitl wings
- Lowetide: Three prospects on the upswing after orientation camp, free agency
- Lowetide: Oilers grab Tobias Rieder in free agency
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers hopes rest on players already on the roster
- Lowetide: Frugal Oilers grab Kyle Brodziak in free agency
- Lowetide: Hard Target Search: Tobias Rieder.
- Lowetide: Oilers still preferred CHL and older prospects in 2018 draft.
- Jonathan Willis: How will Oilers manage rich collection of goalie prospects?
- Lowetide: Is Evan Bouchard NHL-ready?
- Lowetide: Low budget free agents can deliver Oilers big bang
- Lowetide: The maturation of Daryl Katz, or heading down a dangerous road?
- Lowetide: Oilers top 10 prospects in front of the 2018 draft.
- Lowetide: Draft 2018: Oilers scouting directors: A history.
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) May 1, 2018
Mikko Koskinen is a big goaltender (6.06, 205) who posted some major numbers in the KHL last season (29 games, .937 save percentage). He also had a strong playoff and has been one of the best goalies in Europe over the past four seasons. His size is the big thing, he blocks out the sun. Among the most unusual bets for Edmonton this coming season will be Koskinen. It’s a one-year deal, $2.5 million and if it works out he might be the No. 1 goalie this time next year.
A year ago, Edmonton moved Laurent Brossoit up from the farm and that seemed a reasonable bet to me. My argument was he had done his time in the system, earned the opportunity. You have to give a man his chance. He didn’t pass the test. Al Montoya is still here and with the number of goalies still on the market he could in fact get sent down during training camp and clear. For me, I’m comfortable with the Oilers goaltending because Cam Talbot. He posted a .920 save percentage from March 1 through season’s end. He’s a good goaltender.
When it comes to Edmonton signing another forward, the names mentioned include the attractive (Anthony Duclair, Nick Shore), the aged (Jason Chimera, Scottie Upshall), the curious (Tyler Ennis) and Lance Bouma. Bouma kills penalties (Shore does it better) and doesn’t bring a lot offensively (5-on-5 per 60 numbers):
- Scottie Upshall 1.93
- Kyle Brodziak 1.89 (signed)
- Anthony Duclair 1.63
- Tyler Ennis 1.31
- Tobias Rieder 1.27
- Nick Shore 1.19
- Jason Chimera 1.09
- Lance Bouma 0.85
Duclair is my top option, because he is young, has scored 20 goals in an NHL season and can grow with the group. I’d be fine with Shore too. Upshall had a cool season, maybe there’s some gas left in the tank and Ennis is a why not option. Bouma and Chimera are the rank outsiders.
- Marco Bombino, McKeens: A big forward who can play both center and wing, has a good shot with a quick release. Skating is not his best attribute right now, but there’s potential here Source
- Bob Green, Edmonton Oilers: Hard working kid, our guys in Europe really liked him. Bigger guy, hard working, has some skill. Have some time with him, playing men’s league next year, will have some time to develop.
The Oilers went into last season with Andrej Sekera on the shelf and soon encountered all manner of injuries. Peter Chiarelli signed Kris Russell to a contract in an effort to keep the band together, but needed both Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning to step up.
This is the Puck IQ 2017-18 run, what a beautiful glimpse into what’s going on. Nurse played a lot against the elites (tied with Larsson for No. 1, at 35 percent) and struggled in possession. In his three NHL seasons, Nurse has moved to the upper pairing twice (as a rookie with Andrej Sekera, last season with Adam Larsson). His Corsi for 5-on-5 with Larsson (50.92 percent in 820 minutes) is slightly worse than Oscar Klefbom (53.35 percent in 214 minutes) with Larsson, but Nurse could play with Larsson this coming season. I prefer the Swedes together.
The big improvement year over year will be Andrej Sekera. In his final six games of the season, his Corsi for 5-on-5 was 55.63 (all numbers via Natural Stat Trick).
- Oscar Klefbom—Adam Larsson
- Darnell Nurse—Matt Benning
- Andrej Sekera—Kris Russell/Evan Bouchard
It was one year ago today the Edmonton Oilers signed Connor McDavid to his eight year extension. At least once a month since he was drafted, someone will email or dm me with “the Oilers better start winning or Connor McDavid will ask for a trade” and I message back saying something like “hockey players aren’t wired that way.”
There are two things I believe that might contribute to 97 wishing to leave. First, is criticism of the contract by the public. Make no mistake, he is worth the max ($15 million at the time of the signing) but people are people and in Edmonton (a series of towns/villages/small cities strung together) those dollars are a lightning rod for criticism. I think it’s easier to be Connor McDavid in a bigger city, but his signing with the Oilers for what will be 11 seasons, and his clear focus on the team’s success, override all but rampant criticism of the contract. I believe that to be true. So, when you see a video of the player leaving a restaurant with his parents and getting heckled, that’s your danger right there.
The other item is constant rebuilding. The Oilers aren’t addicted to winning, they are obsessed with the ‘five-year plan’ and getting it right. They remind me of the Star Trek Voyageur episode about a man obsessed with restoring his world to a perfect point from the past, manipulating the restore point over and over again. That’s the Oilers, and if this constant resets continue, one of these rebuilds, as was the case with Rick Nash in Columbus, the organization will run the risk of its best players asking out.
That’s it. If you’re worried about McDavid’s loyalty to the team, don’t spend a second on it. Remember, Taylor Hall didn’t ask out. Neither did Gretzky. Hockey players are a damned loyal bunch and they are absolutely devoted to team.
Patrick Maroon is number one on the TSN free agent list today, I don’t think it will be long before he gets signed. I would sign Duclair. He might grow with the group. Edmonton needs value contracts, Duclair could be one of them.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun morning, as we tee up the weekend and talk about the remnants of free agency. At 10 this morning, TSN1260, scheduled to appear:
- Derek Taylor, TSN #Details on the CFL. We’ll talk week four and some of the surprises, including the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
- Rob Vollman, ESPN and NHL.com. Erik Karlsson trade imminent? Should the Oilers sign Anthony Duclair?
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. Our final visit of this season, we’ll chat about the Oilers, Karlsson and the business still to be done this summer.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!