If you’re looking for good signs, look to the draft and the group of players coming up behind Connor McDavid. If the Oilers had drafted in 2013 and 2014 like they have in 2017 and 2018, the organization would be on a far more promising trajectory. Unless there’s a DeLorean hanging around, the past is past, but the future has some lovely notes and may have real sustain.
Give The Athletic as a gift or get it yourself and join the fun! Offer is here, less than $4 a month! I find myself reading both the hockey (Willis, Dellow, Pronman, et cetera) and the baseball coverage a lot, it’s a pure pleasure to visit. We’ll sell you the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge.
- New James Mirtle: Letter from the editor.
- New Lowetide: Creating the ideal No. 2 line for the 2018-19 Oilers
- New Jonathan Willis: Which RFA’s are the most attractive for offer sheets.
- New Scott Burnside: Q&A with new Humboldt Broncos coach Nathan Oystrick.
- New James Mirtle: Canada job postings.
- Lowetide: UFA’s still available who can help the 2018-19 Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: Analyzing the Oilers 2018-19 depth chart (including additions)
- Lowetide: Bakersfield Condors could be best Oilers AHL team in ages
- Lowetide: Handicapping the race to win jobs on McDavid/Draisaitl wings
- Lowetide: Oilers grab Tobias Rieder in free agency
- Lowetide: Frugal Oilers grab Kyle Brodziak in free agency
- Jonathan Willis: How will Oilers manage rich collection of goalie prospects?
- Lowetide: Is Evan Bouchard NHL-ready?
- Lowetide: The maturation of Daryl Katz, or heading down a dangerous road?
The OHL is the best junior league in the world, forged by the GTHL, a universe of hockey that circles Toronto every winter. According to Wikipedia (I apologize but couldn’t find the information anywhere else), in 2011 there were 2,800 teams and 40,000 players in the GTHL. Ages range from 3-4 (Timbits) to U21. It’s a gigantic funnel, a melting pot of dreams and skills, and those youngsters combine to send the best of the best soaring to the highest highs available in the sport.
At the beginning of the 2016-17 NHL season, there were over 60 players from the GTHL on opening night rosters in the world’s best league. There are (at any given time) 713 players in the NHL (31 teams with 23-man rosters). The GTHL, not much shy of the size of the city I live in, feeds the NHL close to 10 percent of its entire population. Nothing compares to it in hockey terms. Edmonton’s share of these 60 players? Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse. Hallelujah, Amen.
Most of the information I’ve gleaned about McLeod since his draft day surrounds speed, skill and inconsistency. His scouting report is somewhat similar to Ryan Martindale when the Oilers drafted him in 2010.
- Ryan Martindale in 2010: 61, 19-41-60 0.983
- Ryan McLeod in 2018: 68, 26-44-70 1.03
Red Line compared Martindale to Ryan O’Marra and compared McLeod to Austin Watson. I like him as a prospect and the OHL is a supreme melting pot for prospects, but this isn’t a slam dunk and there’s a reason projected first rounders fall into the second round. Kirill Maksimov was chosen in the bowels of the draft but went from .57 points-per-game in his draft season to 1.29 in draft +1. If McLeod can deliver that kind of spike, we’re talking about a future top six forward with incredible wheels and substantial skills. It’s easy to love his speed, but math suggests we take a watchful approach on Mr. McLeod.
The two late picks are interesting but it’s tough to get intel on them. Siikanen has good hands and can be a real distraction around the net, he is not blessed with great speed. Siikanen finished No. 20 in points-per-game among U18’s in the Jr. Sm-Liiga, posting 0.71 per game. Aapeli Rasanen posted .076 same league in his draft year 2016. Always bet against later picks but this is an interesting player.
THE NEWS IS OUT ALL OVER TOWN
Some great reporting from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal is here, we’ll discuss Darnell Nurse tomorrow (honoring my 24-hour rule). In the meantime, click the link, good stuff there.
CURRENT STATE OF THE OILERS
Over the last few weeks, Edmonton added some nice prospects in the draft (Evan Bouchard, Ryan McLeod and Olivier Rodrigue were all among the best at their position pre-draft) and at least one free agent (Tobias Rieder) who can grow with the group. Kyle Brodziak is a solid veteran addition.
When giving Peter Chiarelli credit for these things, it’s also important to note his previous moves contributed to the current cap crunch/roster holes combination the organization is living under today. After crushing June trades that sent away top draft picks in the enormous 2015 draft, that sent away Taylor Hall and then Jordan Eberle, the big June trade this year was for Hayden Hawkey. Oilers didn’t bleed by their own hand this summer.
The downside of all these things for Chiarelli is that his team remains unbalanced at a time when he and coach Todd McLellan are under enormous pressure. The upside is there’s talent bubbling under the surface, and the McDavid cluster (I count 97, 29, 93, 25, 77, 6, and hope 98, 83, 16 and 56 join the band) will continue to grow with useful youths who don’t cost the moon.
If the result of 2017-18 means keeping the draft picks (unlike 2014 and 2015), developing them (you go, Jay Woodcroft) and making smaller, astute free agent signings (Tobias Rieder) then I’m onboard. I do think the overall thrust of these moves is wise. It’s the right thing to do, although it doesn’t bring those 2015 draft picks back to Edmonton.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy Friday morning with plenty of chat and lots of cool guests. Scheduled to appear, beginning at 10, TSN1260:
- Steve Lansky, BigMouthSports. Prairie storms, CFL Live mic, Stampede, World Cup.
- Derek Taylor, TSN. Mr. Details will tell us why the Stampeders are so damned good and what the Eskimos can do to counter those slow starts (and injuries on defense).
- Matt Iwanyk, TSN. World Cup, Eskimos-Argos.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!