Many years ago, Bill James wrote a chapter about the Minnesota Twins in one of his annual abstracts. Summary: It didn’t look too good when those young kids arrived and kicked the ball all over the yard, but just a few years later the organization won it all. The emergence of Frank Viola, Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti and Tom Brunansky in 1982 gave the club an enormous lift, later aided by the addition of Kirby Puckett (1984) and some astute trade additions. This is the hope for the Edmonton Oilers, who have the greatest gift of this generation and require quality to surround him. This is the hope for Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto and others.
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 Black Dog Pat: Yeah, sure (prospects past, JP and KY)
- New Corey Pronman: Edmonton: Complete prospect ranking.
- New Lowetide: Stuart Skinner’s net worth.
- Lowetide: Assessing the cost of the Oilers ill-advised AHL experiment.
- Jonathan Willis: No. 12 prospect—Joel Persson.
- Blackdog Pat: There won’t ever be another Stan Mikita.
- Lowetide: No. 13 prospect—Ostap Safin
- Jonathan Willis: No. 14 prospect—Olivier Rodrigue
- Lowetide: No. 15 prospect—William Lagesson
- Jonathan Willis: No. 16 prospect—Cameron Hebig
- Lowetide: No. 17 prospect—Graham McPhee
- Jonathan Willis: No. 18 prospect—Ryan Mantha
- Lowetide: No. 19 prospect—John Marino
- Jonathan Willis: No. 20 prospect—Tyler Vesel
- Lowetide: Top 20 prospects: Forwards outside the top 20
- Jonathan Willis: Are Hayden Hawkey and Phil Kemp underrated gems?
- Lowetide: Oilers 2013 draft: Two NHL players and one crazy trade.
- Lowetide: Some lingering questions about Oilers 2018 draft and evaluating goalies.
- Lowetide: Oilers training camp: 28 men for 23 jobs.
- Lowetide: Is Evan Bouchard NHL-ready?
- Lowetide: The maturation of Daryl Katz, or heading down a dangerous road?
RE 2018-19 FORWARDS (ESTIMATING TOI) TOP 2 LINES
- We began our RE discussion a week ago, the totals above are last year’s numbers in the first three columns, my estimates for the top 6F breakdown in 2018-19 is the last column.
- This is even strength and skill forwards from the top two lines.
- I don’t have the point projections here, will publish them later in the summer once we’ve run through The Athletic profiles.
- I’ve chosen Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto and Ty Rattie as the RW hopefuls who get the big push on Connor McDavid’s line. I have a winner and will tell you in those profiles.
- I estimated Tobias Rieder gets big minutes inside the top 6F, both on RW and LW as injuries impact the roster.
- I have estimated a recovery for Milan Lucic, and that he will play the season on the No. 2 line. That may change at the deadline, but I’ve chosen to bet that the Oilers keep him in a feature role. As I wrote in the spring, the Oilers would be wise to move the big man down to the No. 3 line until it’s established he can play those big minutes effectively.
- Among skill forwards on the top two lines, I’m predicting a career crossroads for Ty Rattie and Drake Caggiula. I do think Rattie holds on to the No. 1 RW job for an extended period, but will eventually lose out to one of Yamamoto or Puljujarvi (my model has Yamamoto but that’s a guess, they are both substantial options).
RE 2018-19 FORWARDS (ESTIMATING TOI) BOTTOM 2 LINES
- The graph above was published a week ago, this is the new stuff.
- The totals above are last year’s numbers in the first three columns, my estimates for the bottom 6F breakdown in 2018-19 is the last column.
- This is even strength and skill forwards from the top two lines.
- Kyle Brodziak and Ryan Strome will be counted on to improve the performance of Edmonton’s bottom two lines this coming season.
- The best wingers in the bottom six will be Tobias Rieder and Jesse Puljujarvi but both men will spend much of their seasons playing inside the top 6F based on my estimates.
- I think Jujhar Khaira and Zack Kassian grab the biggest TOI among available wingers, beating out Pontus Aberg and Drake Caggiula on the depth chart at even strength.
- I have Todd McLellan using his No. 3 and No. 4 lines less during the regular season, relying more at even strength on the top two lines. I think a player like Brodziak will see substantial penalty-killing time, Rieder too.
WINGERS ESTIMATED EV TIME ON ICE
- Milan Lucic 1134—The Oilers don’t have a bunch of options for skill LW and Lucic is healthy every year. Expecting a recovering in goals and points is reasonable but there is a chance he continues to erode. I’m predicting a small recovery and a season on the skill lines.
- Tobias Rieder 1120—Rieder’s skills arriving in Edmonton are somewhat similar to several days of rain in the desert: Badly needed and extremely valuable. I suspect Todd McLellan plays the hell out of him.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1072—His career high in points (56) should be left in the dust if RNH spends the entire season with 97. I have him as LW on the No. 1 line for much of the season but do think Leon Draisaitl will move up (forcing RNH to No. 2 C) a few times this winter.
- Jesse Puljujarvi 1014—Lots of people predicting a breakout season, for me JP will establish himself as a solid NHL player and score 15-20 goals. I’m not sure that’s breakout or solid progress, but this blog is always trying for reasonable. Predicting 26 goals is beyond reasonable. What does that mean? For me, if Jesse Puljujarvi scores 26 goals this season, everyone should acknowledge it to be an outstanding leap forward (which it would be) and treat it as special. I think an 18-goal season is reasonable as a prediction.
- Ty Rattie 714—Rattie gets the job early and holds onto it until one of the kids forces the issue. After that, it’s going to be difficult for him to find a role on the team, we could see Rattie move into that No. 2 RW job and allow Rieder to play on the No. 3 line. I’m not predicting it.
- Zack Kassian 675—My model suggests he continues in his No. 4 role, but plays less than a year ago (due to McLellan running his horses more at even strength).
- Jujhar Khaira 650—Suspect he’ll have another good season and play some on the No. 3 and No. 4 line, but no prediction of skill line minutes. It could happen but I don’t see it.
- Kailer Yamamoto 616—I’m suggesting he’ll spend the first portion (25 games) of the season in Bakersfield and then join a skill line in the NHL, where he will have success.
- Pontus Aberg 500—Aberg is the one player in my model I faded despite some very nice things a year ago. He gets squeezed by Yamaoto and Puljujarvi is my take, but don’t be surprised if Aberg forces his way into a more prominent conversation.
- Drake Caggiula 459—The numbers suggest Caggiula will have a hard time getting work on the skill and fill lines, eventually having his role reduced to part-time player. Getting passed by two first-round picks is no sin, Caggiula has a hard road this season.
- Joe Gambardella 7—Cup of coffee.
- Tyler Benson 4—Half cup of coffee.