They’re almost all gone now, you see them every once in a long while on a Tuesday night or a Sunday afternoon. Someday they’ll just be a distant memory, like BA gas stations, Pop Shoppe, Cuban Lunch, Dog & Suds and rotary phones. The pure defenseman is in his death rattle now, the final Cadillac rolled off the line last spring. I’ll miss you, Don Awrey.
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: Some lingering questions about Oilers 2018 draft and evaluating goalies.
- New Lowetide: Oilers training camp: 28 men for 23 jobs.
- Jonathan Willis: Predicting the winners in the top 6 and top 9 forwards.
- Lowetide: A bridge league would benefit the Oilers (and others).
- Lowetide: The news is out: Youth shall be served.
- Lowetide: The merciful end of the Leftorium.
- 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.
- 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: Is Evan Bouchard NHL-ready?
- Lowetide: The maturation of Daryl Katz, or heading down a dangerous road?
- Kevin Gravel is leather, not lumber. He played about as much as Eric Gryba (13:11) 5-on-5 per game last season, that’s about what we might expect from Gravel in terms of usage.
- Gravel had Crohn’s disease last season, it cost him his slot on the depth chart, and men named Kurtis MacDermid and Oscar Fantenberg jumped over him to win playing time in the NHL.
- If you want to read about his illness and recovery, google Kevin Gravel injury. Don’t google gravel injury, because you’ll get a bunch of scraped knee photos. Seriously.
- He didn’t penalty kill much last season (3:27 total), and just 25:33 the season before. His shots against per 60 (30.53) was fabulous but in a small sample.
I believe there’s an excellent chance Kevin Gravel will be on the opening night roster, but have come to suspect we’ll have eight defensemen on the roster when the plane lands in Cologne.
- Note: I made on error on the Darnell Nurse DFF, and have corrected the chart. Nurse surges forward in DFF and his combination of percentage of time and performance in that time is impressive.
RIESEN TO BELIEVE, FIRST BLUSH 2018
- R Adam Larsson, 25. His first Edmonton season was impressive, as the defense and coverage improved with him on the ice. His second campaign was far more difficult but he played a lot and delivered solid results in the big parts of the game. 100%.
- L Oscar Klefbom, 25. Klefbom has the full range of skills and looks comfortable with Larsson, that’s my top pairing. Even in a season of great struggle, his defending numbers (mostly with Larsson) are good in the big parts of the game. Needs to trust his shot. 100%.
- L Darnell Nurse, 23. Big, strong, fleet and with a substantial mean streak. The truth is the Oilers badly need him to blossom into a completely reliable top-4D, someone who can be the strength on a pairing. I favor a bridge. 100%.
- R Matt Benning, 24. He’s a smart player, good-to-excellent with the puck and cool as a cucumber in pressure situations. He is still figuring things out and injuries lurk around every corner, but I’m more bullish on Benning than anyone I read. I am hopeful a Nurse-Benning pairing can take over the second assignments. 100%.
- L Andrej Sekera, 32. His final games were stronger and one hopes he can return to his established levels before injury. His absence was a big contributor to the Oilers poor start and middle disaster a year ago. 100%.
- L Kris Russell, 31. Todd McLellan values him highly, I think it could be argued he kept the kids (Nurse, Benning) from harm until ready. It may be time to move him down the depth chart, giving Benning the tougher competition. If that happens, Russell might be eligible for pressbox appearances by season’s end (depending on progress made by others). 100%.
- L Kevin Gravel, 26. He’s done the work necessary to iron out mistakes, he should be able to help on the penalty kill. Gravel is a young defenseman with a great chance to win 7D job, but he is not a lock for the job. However, it’s important to remember he was on a very good trajectory with Los Angeles before the illness. He is young enough to be around for some time. 70%.
- R Evan Bouchard, 18. The one player in the draft pool (available at 10) who could be projected onto an opening night roster. Bouchard’s skills are a perfect match for the Oilers needs and they can bring him along slowly in the early parts of the season because of the Euro trip. 70%.
- R Ethan Bear, 21. His chances of making the big club were reduced by Bouchard’s selection, but not extinguished. Most of Bear’s issues are in coverage and quickness defensively, those things can be worked on in Bakersfield. He could also shine like a diamond in training camp and force his way onto the roster. 20%
- L Keegan Lowe, 25. I think he has a shot at the No. 7 spot out of the gate. Lowe’s Bakersfield season was impressive, if he outplays Gravel and Stanton on merit suspect he makes the team. 20%.
- L Ryan Stanton, 29. He appears poised to battle Gravel for the 7D spot this fall, the edge goes to the player whose skill set best matches the required role, or even who shows best on the penalty kill. 20%.