The Edmonton Oilers did as hoped, keeping their powder dry and investing in the youth movement. That probably means short-term suffering and possibly another season on the outside looking in. Management is betting on a market correction on a (mostly) young roster, with better health and goaltending big items on the wish list. Up front, who needs to shine?
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- New Lowetide: Tracking Oilers training camp six weeks out.
- Lowetide: Some lingering questions about Oilers 2018 draft and evaluating goalies.
- Lowetide: Oilers training camp: 28 men for 23 jobs.
- Jonathan Willis: Predicting the winners in the top 6 and top 9 forwards.
- 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.
- 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?
RIESEN TO BELIEVE
- C Connor McDavid, 21. Per 82 games in his entry-level deal, 97 scored 34-66-100. Elite player, he could post higher numbers and reach an even higher gear. Stand back! 100%.
- C-R Leon Draisaitl, 22. Leon’s big contract negotiations were the story a year ago, hos offense fell from .939 points-per-game to .897—and many fans were outraged. Considering the injury and the power play, I think he did fine. Huge season to come, can his line outscore the opposition? I think he’ll play 30 percent of his season with 97. 100%.
- L Milan Lucic, 30. One of the keys to the season might be Lucic’s performance and how quickly Todd McLellan reacts if things are on the downbeat. Lots of focus on points, but if the big winger plays on a No. 3 line, scores 35 points but plays on a productive outscoring line things will be better. I don’t know if ML has that in him but we’re going to find out. 100%.
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 25. Nuge has scored 24 goals twice, but if he catches the McDavid train, 30+ is likely with good health. I do expect him to play 70 percent of his season on the top line with the captain and 60+ points are likely. Has scored 21 goals per 82 games during his career. 100%.
- F Tobias Rieder, 25. He can play either wing and my guess is that’s just what he’ll do. Rieder can help out in all areas but Edmonton will need him for two-way prowess and penalty killing. Per 82gp, he’s 14-19-33, and with the elevated status (I’m betting he plays at least 50 percent of the time with a skilled center). I’m looking forward to seeing him play as an Oiler. 100%.
- R Ty Rattie, 25. Rattie’s summer has no doubt been spent listening to the world telling him how lucky he is, but he brings potential for fantastic value for Edmonton. Per 82 games in the NHL so far, he’s 15-17-32. As is the case with Rieder, that number could go way up if he can keep the job assigned. 100%.
- C-R Ryan Strome, 25. My RE prediction one year ago (40 points) including time with McDavid. He fell shy (34), while also playing very little with the captain. Now? We don’t talk about him as an option. If he does land on the jackpot, a righty center would come in handy on that line. 100%.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi, 20. He’s big, strong, talented. Scored 12 goals in a part-time role scored eight goals in the first 22 games of last season. JP is a gigantic teddy bear, but there’s just too much here for him to fail. My guess is he blossoms this season, starting on the Strome line and then moving up to the Leon trio. 100%.
- L Jujhar Khaira, 24. Last year I had him at 70 percent, suggesting it would come down to offense. He scored well based on expectations, and may have done enough to find a home on the No. 3 line with Ryan Strome. Khaira is a physical player who can play a rambunctious style, both Chiarelli and McLellan value that player. 100%.
- L Drake Caggiula, 24. He scores 13-12-25 per 82 games, but he’s not scoring enough considering how much he plays with top-end skill. His possession numbers are not strong and there are stronger options available, but Caggiula’s speed gets him into a prominent spot often. If he is unable to post strong outscoring numbers, this could be his final season in the organization. 100%.
- R Zack Kassian, 27. He fell off from 2016-17 and he’s pricey for the position, but Kassian brings a rugged game and surprising skill for player-type. Edmonton needs secondary scoring and one of these days Kassian is going to score more than seven goals. He absolutely gets enough chances to score 15 a year. 100%.
- RC Kyle Brodziak, 34. Brodziak is at the point in his career where the next poor season probably takes him out of the league, but it’s been some time since he was truly poor. He could be an inspired signing, but I said the same thing about Jussi Jokinen a year ago. 100%.
- W Pontus Aberg, 25. I keep thinking he’ll win a job inside the top 9F, but the Predators are a smart organization and maybe he’s a little shy of being that player in the NHL. Scores 21.7 points per 82 games, you’d guess he would be more productive just watching him. 80%.
- R Kailer Yamamoto, 20. Last year I wrote “Electric skills and another goal scorer. A small winger, he will impress if given chances. If he is here late in camp, the club may give him nine games.” I think he’ll get more than 9 games this season but am less certain about his status on opening night. 10%.
- LC Brad Malone, 29. Malone can play center, wins faceoffs, penalty kills and it won’t hurt him to sit in the pressbox for long stretches. 5%.
- RC Cooper Marody, 21. Some buzz around Marody, whose final college season (40, 16-35-51) for Michigan was a quality junior season. 5%.
A FEW THOUGHTS ON SUMMER
I wanted the Oilers to keep their powder dry, to make that pick at No. 10, hold on to Oscar and Nuge, refrain from dealing out Jesse Puljujarvi. And it happened just that way. The challenge now is getting off to a reasonable start and then making the playoffs. For Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan, a postseason berth means they live to fight another day. I don’t know how tempting it was at the draft for the organization (on the draft broadcast Brian Burke suggested a deal was contemplated, No. 10 for an NHL puck mover), but on the other side of midnight things are looking better long term with the Evan Bouchard investment.
It always takes a little time to absorb a draft, the 2018 edition gives us more clues about Keith Gretzky’s touch and Bob Green’s style. Green and his staff were without Gretzky in 2015 and 2016, the push for skill evident. In the combined 2017 and 2018 drafts, the Gretzky-Green combination seem to be about skill first and foremost. I’ve been reading about the two kids at the back end of the 2018 draft, and they can do things with the puck. I’m not sure Markus Niemelainen and Matt Cairns (from the 2016 draft) would have been chosen by the current group, offense seems to have moved up on the priority list.
In just two drafts, the scouting group have added forwards Kailer Yamamoto, Kirill Maksimov, Ostap Safin and Ryan McLeod. That’s four legit prospects pushing. Defensively the big name is Evan Bouchard, but Dmitri Samorukov and Phil Kemp are trending well and the more I drill down on Michael Kesselring the more interesting the story gets.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun, busy morning with plenty of Oilers and hockey talk. It all starts at 10, TSN1260, scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. Jon kicks off our Oilers prospect coverage today, you’ll see articles over the next couple of weeks covering every prospect in the system. We’ll touch base on today’s article by Jon, the bubbling under group.
- Zac Jackson, The Athletic. We begin our look at NFL camps with the Cleveland Browns, a team that has lots of room to grow.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. CFL teams are going trade wild, what the hell is going on?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!