When we moved to Maidstone in the winter of 1971, it was a major adjustment. Moving from Haney BC, where the weather was mild and Stanley Park was a rather common occurrence, the prairies had less curb appeal. I am generally a positive person, and cast about trying to find something to hold on to in my new surroundings.
Saskatchewan in 1971-72 was a time warp in all directions. The schools were more advanced than the ones I left, so much so I almost failed the year we arrived in town. On the other hand, we had far less freedom as kids in Saskatchewan, mostly because there was work to do after school. In BC, our time after school was kind of open, but in my new surroundings we had things to plant, goats to milk and bus rides that took forever (Saskatchewan is miles and miles of miles and miles, I think that’s W.O. Mitchell). By the time I’d been in Maidstone for all four seasons, I’d managed to do all kinds of things to make myself useful as well as ornamental. It was an education.
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 Lowetide: Cap decisions of 2017 may continue to hamper 2019 decisions
- Lowetide: Creating the ideal No. 2 line for the 2018-19 Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: Which RFA’s are the most attractive for offer sheets.
- Scott Burnside: Q&A with new Humboldt Broncos coach Nathan Oystrick.
- 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?
BAKERSFIELD’S FOUR SEASONS
I write a “Farm Workers” post every year, looking at players during different stages of their careers (entry level, second contract-prospects fading, AHLer heading to Europe someday). Eric Rodgers runs the numbers a couple of times during the year from the minors and I post them. He sent me his end of season totals yesterday and I thought it would be a nice idea to post the whole bunch in today’s article. I have placed them in different categories this time, in a way it matches the seasons I saw on the farm years ago. The promise of spring, the strength and power of summer, the gray of September and the long way home. Rodgers gives us estimated time on ice, even-strength goal differential, points-per-game (in all disciplines). That’s a lot, and I thank him.
PROSPECT FWDS WHO SPENT LESS THAN 20 GAMES IN BAKERSFIELD
- This is the group of forwards who mostly started or ended the season in Bakersfield but didn’t spend much time there.
- Jesse Puljujarvi was down on the farm because Kailer Yamamoto played well enough to get a 9-game look. Sending the Finn down was foolishness if they didn’t plan on running him with big minutes. That’s a fact. One of the things Jay Woodcroft should do, and we’ll see, is play the hell out of the kids. They will struggle in October but find their footing by January. You have to play the kids. As for Puljujarvi, No. 2 or No. 3 line duty on right wing in Edmonton is the right play for 2018-19. He’s a good bet to blossom if given enough rope.
- Cooper Marody, Tyler Benson and Tyler Vesel had some success. All three men should be major players in Bakersfield this winter. Marody would be the obvious player from this group for NHL time in 2018-19.
- Keegan Lowe’s goal differential at 5-on-5 is borderline impossible considering the other numbers beside the rest of the defensive group. He’s blocked by Kevin Gravel as No. 7D but someone will get hurt and Lowe is clearly the next man up in terms of actual defending from this group.
- Ethan Bear displayed the same coverage issues we saw in Edmonton when he was in Bakersfield, but those headman passes are going to get him some NHL looks. He might be blocked by Evan Bouchard but the Oilers will need some options if the first-round pick ends up back in junior for one more year.
- Ryan Mantha is a year older than Bear but did display some defensive acumen based on these numbers. We didn’t get a lot of information on his injury until after the season, turns out it’s a worrisome eye issue. Mantha is a good prospect, hopefully he resumes his career in the fall. He played quite a bit with Keegan Lowe.
- Caleb Jones was an adventure, I checked for maladies and ailments but couldn’t find specifics on his 10 games missed. He’ll need to improve that goal differential at 5-on-5.
- Eric Gryba didn’t have a strong showing.
- Dillon Simpson is off to Columbus, I hope he discovers the NHL.
AHL FORWARDS SIGNED TO NHL DEALS
- Ty Rattie could be a huge story this time next season. If he scores 20 NHL goals, Rattie might get a contract for many dollars and several years. What a story! He’ll have to work and pray though, there are two kids who will push him.
- Iiro Pakarinen is what the Oilers hoped Lennart Pettrell would be and a helluva PK man to boot. I’m going to miss him.
- Joey Laleggia signed with St. Louis, I think they’ll use him on defense. The Oilers have uncovered Brad Hunt and Jordan Oesterle in recent years, Laleggia might be next. He’s one dimensional as hell but if that one dimension scores goals then there is value.
- Joe Gambardella’s numbers are mildly encouraging in a “maybe he’ll make the NHL at 27” kind of way.
AHL FORWARDS SIGNED TO AHL DEALS
- Eric’s TOI estimates have this group playing over 4,000 minutes a year ago. That’s too many for AHL contracts but then again some of the team’s best players are from this group.
- Josh Currie is a good hockey player. I sometimes wonder if they ever considered Charles Lingleting him, but no NHL contract arrived. He will player the second year of a two-year NHL deal this winter.
- Nurse’s agent Anton Thun: “At the end of the day, Peter (GM Chiarelli) and (cap specialist) Bill Scott control their cap space and their decisions. They bought out Eric Gryba to add another player (50-man protected list), which cut into their cap and they signed the European goalie (Mikko Koskinen) for two-million and change, and that did the same to their cap space. If they’ve got $5 million in cap space (now), it’s not going to be a long-term deal.” Source
Fascinating quotes from Jim Matheson in his Thursday article, I linked one day ago and wanted to return for a few minutes. The agent is correct, Edmonton used dollars to address the goaltending and then made a curious move (50-man is one option but the Oilers are unlikely to finish close to max at the end of summer).
I think it’s reasonable to suggest management felt all along that a bridge deal would be best. I think Nurse has done some very good things so far but if you’re going to pay a defenseman $5 million that player needs to bring some offense. Nurse has great wheels but lacks creativity with the puck. That isn’t news, we can go to the tape. He is an entirely useful player but we know what we know and at this point signing him to a long-term deal could be a mistake. This is the proper course.