In the 1960’s, I was too young to know what was cool and what was uncool. It led to many decisions based on personal taste as opposed to peer pressure. For instance, I liked the Monkees far more than the Beatles (my brother sent thousands of fists my way over that one), the VW Beetle more than the sports cars of the day, and collecting baseball and hockey cards.
My lifetime of nerdiness established and known to all but me, I made choices that, upon reflection, look decidedly unimpressive. For example, I love, love, loved the song “Kicks” by a band called Paul Revere and the Raiders. I liked more of their songs, not just that one. Paul Revere and the Raiders would appear on television wearing the damndest things, and I liked them anyway. Wherever cool was, they lived in the next town over. Didn’t matter.
Sometimes in life, things are just good and you have to admit it no matter the consequences. Preferring the Monkees to the Beatles cost me some lumps, and singing “Kicks just keep getting harder to find” while walking around our house wasn’t a friend getter, but you are what you are. If you see or hear quality, acknowledge it and own it. Those things are what make you unique.
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: Top 20 prospects: Forwards outside the top 20
- New Jonathan Willis: Are Hayden Hawkey and Phil Kemp underrated gems?
- 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?
TOP 20 PROSPECTS
I’ve been running a top 20 prospects list every summer for absolutely ages. The first time I published a list was summer 2003, via hfboards. It’s in the archives of this blog now, I want to repurpose it here in order to point out just how much we don’t know when ranking these young men.
- Marc Pouliot, Colin McDonald, Jean-Francois Jacques, Mikhail Zhukov and Kalle Olsson had all been drafted in the days before publishing. The 2013 draft picks not listed here who made the NHL include Kyle Brodziak (847) and Zack Stortini (257).
- I was a fan of Jani Rita and make no apologies. He scored a goal at the (I think) 1999 WJ’s that sealed the deal for me, but the Oilers didn’t love him like the fans. Rita had a long and successful career in Finland after heading back home.
- Raffi Torres was held in high regard and delivered. He would have had a long career if not for Raffi Torres.
- Matt Greene was ranked late in the top 10, I’d rank him there again. NHL teams can find shutdown defensemen easier than puck movers. That said, Greene could skate and well, might have been an idea to move him up a few spots.
- Some free agents (MA Bergeron, Ty Conklin) would emerge as time went by. Sniff.
- My final independent summer list, 2017, is here. Summer 2003 to summer 2017 is 15 years, that’s a long, long time. I enjoyed every minute of it.
THE ATHLETIC TOP 20
This blog started with a few ideas, chief among them to take bias out of the conversation (as much as possible) to allow for a neutral starting point for posters. I wanted you to arrive here, read the prose, be entertained and informed, and then we could begin a conversation about the subject at hand. It’s impossible to spend 15 summers ranking a top 20 list without letting bias get in the way and I was absolutely guilty time and again.
My move to The Athletic allows me all kinds of new experiences and the top prospects list was a major one for me. I’ve watched other sites reach consensus and for me that’s a great way to iron out the bias. I was also curious to know if my rankings would be out of time with others (and vice versa) when Jonathan Willis set about compiling four lists (his, mine, Scott Wheeler’s and Corey Pronman’s) into one ranking for the summer 2018 top 20.
I wondered how my rankings would differ from the group. I wondered specifically about Joe Gambardella, who in my opinion has enough going on that we might be dealing with a small “p” Pisani if things break right. I wondered if the three other gentlemen voting would give “Kicks” Gambardella a proper hearing, and also wondered if I let bias get in the way when the player’s numbers didn’t warrant a bold number (despite my belief in him as a prospect).
As it turned out, I ranked Gambardella one spot higher than consensus. I’m thrilled by that outcome, because a player that impressed me a lot but didn’t have the numbers got a fair shake in the overall rankings. I’m satisfied with the entire list, truth to tell.
You will see the results as the days roll by, but I’m happy to say differences in the group were minimal and exactly one player in my top 20 missed the cut (he is ranked No. 22 on the final list, I had him No. 18). It tells me two things: I may have improved since 2003, and when you rank prospects at a specific time it is exactly that process. What happens afterward, after the photo, cannot be predicted. I couldn’t know the Oilers head coach simply didn’t see Jani Rita as an NHL player and that Rita would never get 500 at-bats to show what he could do, but that’s not the purpose of the list.
If you haven’t yet subscribed, it’s less than $4 a month right now. I’m proud of The Athletic top 20 this summer, thrilled to work with Jon, Corey and Scott. Hope you enjoy reading today and in the days to come.
Montour's deal is worth $3.25M in 2018-19 and $3.525M in 2019-20. AAV of $3,387,500.
— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) July 24, 2018
Yesterday, Darcy McLeod dropped by with Puck IQ wowy’s for Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson against elites. As if Nurse didn’t need more ammo for his contract negotiations, the numbers are impressive. This is versus elite, DFF percentage.
- Darnell Nurse with Adam Larsson (48.1)
- Darnell Nurse without Adam Larsson (50.2)
- Adam Larsson without Darnell Nurse (49.8)
- Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson both off (46.7)
We know the power of the McDavid zoom, but that’s some good defense right there for the young Nurse. Two years, $3.5 per? Does that bring out the Chiarelli searchlight police copter? I think the second pairing should be Nurse-Benning, the third pair Sekera-Russell and if Evan Bouchard makes the team Russell is the one to sit sans injury. Agree?
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we rock and roll with some cool older people. Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal. Tour de France, Oilers prospects, WHA memories.
- Schuyler Dixon, AP Dallas/Ft. Worth. The Dallas Cowboys: Are they a playoff team?
- Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY Sports Major League Baseball columnist, MLB Network Insider. Trade deadline madness.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide text. See you on the radio!
BONUS: MY FAVOURITE SUMMER TOP 20