Riesen to Believe 2018 Volume 1

Tracking training camp rosters in some NHL cities is pretty easy. Players are signed, invites extended and in the week between Labor Day and rookie camp you have a piece of foolscap with a bunch of names on it from the NHL team. The Edmonton Oilers don’t do that kind of thing anymore so it means amateur sleuths such as myself have a mid-summer challenge! I have 61 names so far! Let’s get to it!

THE ATHLETIC!

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.

GOALTENDERS

  1. Cam Talbot, 31. Save percentage fell from .919 to .908, one of the major factors in a frustrating season. Management is showing faith in him, suspect we will see his games played total (73 and 67 the last two seasons) decrease this year. 100%.
  2. Mikko Koskinen, 30. His KHL save percentages are solid to excellent over the last six seasons, with a .937 SP during the 2017-18 campaign earning Koskinen a substantial NHL deal. He would have to fall apart in training camp to miss the roster. 90%
  3. Al Montoya, 33. The last time he saw the minors was 2010-11 and I don’t think he’ll see Bakersfield this winter—but it’s possible. A minor trade before or during training camp is likely, although he would be excellent insurance. I’d love to know what happened, the organization seemed strong on him when he arrived. 10%
  4. Shane Starrett, 24. He wasn’t impressive at all first year pro, posting a .912 save percentage in 38 games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL) and an .895SP in three games for the Condors. I’m not sure where he lands this fall, seems to me the minor league goalies are applying for all jobs available.
  5. Dylan Wells, 20. His uneven junior career (Peterborough save percentages of .893, .871, .916, .896) now over, we’ll see how well he handles pro hockey. The Petes allowed the most shots against per game (36) in the OHL 2017-18, perhaps Wells will flourish in his new surroundings.
  6. Stuart Skinner, 19. His four seasons of junior were stronger than Wells (SP of .909, .920, .905 and .905) and I do think he’s a better prospect. I’ve long ago stopped trying to figure out goaltenders, but Skinner has a solid resume and spiked after the trade to Swift Current.
  7. Olivier Rodrigue, 18. Oilers are drafting a better class of goalie these days, or at least I believe that to be true. We’ll see about Rodrigue, he was highly rated in his draft year.

THE GENIUS OF PUCK IQ

LEFTHANDED DEFENSEMEN

  1. Oscar Klefbom, 25. Klefbom had some tough moments during a season with injuries, but as the Puck IQ numbers show there are good things about him. He’s a lock for the roster, my guess is first pairing opening night and a 40-poing season in 2018-19.  100%.
  2. Darnell Nurse, 23. Nurse performed well defensively and added some offensive output (his 5-on-5 per 60 was 0.93, No. 58 among regular NHL defensemen). He has some room to grow but appears to be delivering on the promise of his draft day. 100%.
  3. Andrej Sekera, 32. How close to full Rej will he be on opening night? That’s the question. He is a brilliant passer and filthy in overtime, plus he can defend against quality. On the other hand, he is now 32 and that’s a factor—especially coming back from injury. 100%.
  4. Kevin Gravel, 26. He has played in 70 NHL games (1-9-10) and a year ago seemed poised to be a Los Angeles Kings for years to come. He’s a shutdown type, better speed and younger than Eric Gryba. He’s 6.04, 212 but appears to use finesse defensively more than the redass. 40%
  5. Keegan Lowe, 25. The edge Lowe had on Dillon Simpson involved a more aggressive style and I think that benefits Lowe in the race for the No. 7 job against Gravel. I don’t think he’ll win the job outright, but bet Lowe plays more than two games for the Oilers in 2018-19. 10%
  6. Ryan Stanton, 29. Injuries impacted his usage (and probably derailed a recall) in 2017-18 but his rugged style is a match for the Oilers. If he shows well in training camp, he might push Gravel for the No. 7 job. 10%
  7. Caleb Jones, 21. He struggled in his rookie season with Bakersfield, but the tools (speed, skill) suggest he could arrive quickly if he can put it all together. It may seem like a stretch, and Jones’ numbers a year ago didn’t move the needle, but the talent is undeniable. 5%
  8. William Lagesson, 22. Since being drafted, Lagesson has been making strides at each stop along the way. He will play in Bakersfield this season but should he play well there, we might see him in Edmonton before season’s end. 5%
  9. Dmitri Samorukov, 19. He’s progressing nicely (Jonathan Willis has an article up at The Athletic, link above) and it will be interesting to see how long Samorukov hangs around in training camp. Solid to very good last year in the OHL, played well in an AHL cup of coffee.
  10. Jake Kulevich, 25. Big shutdown type played with the Manitoba Moose last season, I expect he’ll see action in both Wichita and Bakersfield. AHL deal. 
  11. Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin, 22. Physical defender from the QMJHL who had a solid debut with the Wichita Thunder in 2017-18. He’s a depth player but looks like a solid pro based on one season. AHL deal
  12. Jared Wilson, 23. Not much on him, he came up through the AJHL and BCHL and then played for RPI (NCAA) where he scored more goals than you would expect for an obscure rearguard. AHL deal

RIGHTHANDED DEFENSEMEN

  1. Adam Larsson, 25. Larsson had a trying season on and off the ice, but the results against elites (above) were solid once again. He has more to give at both ends of the ice, in my opinion. The big question for me: Will he play with Klefbom or Nurse on the top pairing in 2018-19? 100%.
  2. L Kris Russell, 31. Someone mentions every season he’s a lefty, but it’s likely the veteran will once again play RH side and my guess is plenty of second pairing. I think he would be most effective on the third pair (LH side) and that’s something for the team to work on. 100%.
  3. Matt Benning, 24. He performed well against elites but didn’t play as much as the others in that situation. I’m in favor of moving him up to the second pair, but my estimates have the coach running Russell in that role for the coming year. 100%.
  4. Evan Bouchard, 18. I’ve been convinced for some time Bouchard has an excellent chance to make the big club (my model has him playing nine games). I don’t think anything that has happened since draft day has changed Edmonton’s thinking: They want to do the right thing and send him back, but they are going to give him a chance. 50%
  5. Ethan Bear, 21. Bear posted a strong first year pro, playing well in Bakersfield and adding responsibilities all along the way. He was exposed defensively during his NHL audition but also showed good offensive potential. He is a good passer, and what’s more, he makes good decisions in terms of the target he’s sending away. 20%
  6. Joel Persson, 24. He isn’t going to be at training camp but I wanted to mention Persson as a potential contributor anyway. The Oilers didn’t grab that big power-play option over the summer, and with Evan Bouchard so young, perhaps the team will change their minds and bring him over early? It’s a thought.
  7. Ryan Mantha, 22. The concern is his eye injury and only time will tell. He was quality in Bakersfield and might have gotten a call if he had stayed healthy. A bitter pill, here’s hoping he can make it back to previous levels and continue to push.
  8. Logan Day, 23. Only geeks like me noticed, but Day was a big offensive player in college and might have an impact in Bakersfield. AHL deal. 
  9. Justin Lemcke, 21. I always liked him in the OHL and suspect he’ll be a popular player in Wichita this coming season. Minor league deal. 

CENTER

  1. 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. A 125-point season hasn’t been seen since Jumbo Joe in 2005-06. Stand back!  100%.
  2. Leon Draisaitl, 22. Leon’s big contract negotiations were the story a year ago, his 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%. 
  3. Ryan Strome, 25For much of the season I thought Strome was a goner, but he started to come around on a road trip in November (Grey Cup Sunday) when he found some chem with Leon Draisaitl. I think he’ll play better this year and will take on more of the chores. 100%.
  4. 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. Edmonton can use him in multiple roles, perhaps most importantly on the penalty kill. I don’t see him emerging as a Letestu-type offensive contributor. 100%
  5. 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. He looked good during his recalls last season, although there isn’t much offense. 15%.
  6. Cooper Marody, 21. Some buzz around Marody, whose final college season (40, 16-35-51) for Michigan was a quality junior season. He is one of the group on this fall’s roster who could surprise and push for a job. 5%.
  7. Josh Currie, 25. The nature of his contract tells me the club either sees him as a possible option for NHL play (this is unlikely) or it’s getting more difficult to sign AHL centers these days. He got a signing bonus and will make $160,000 in year two of the deal.
  8. Tyler Vesel, 24. His time is now, despite the fact Vesel has never played a game of pro hockey. That said, he has a nice range of skills and will probably fit well into multiple scenarios. Edmonton will need mentors in Bakersfield in the coming seasons, Vesel’s two-way play and college experience might help him in this area.
  9. Cameron Hebig, 21. He’s an interesting player, Jonathan Willis had a look at him not long ago and looked at what his future might look like based on comparables. He averaged 4.6 shots per game, suspect he’ll be used in an offensive role in Bakersfield.
  10. Colin Larkin, 24. He appears to be an offensively shy center who is best suited for a checking and penalty killing role. Unfair to judge him on 16 AHL games (0-2-2) and he can scoot, but it’s an uphill battle for him.
  11. Lane Bauer, 22. He’s in Wichita (on their roster) suspect there’s a good chance Bauer gets an invite to training camp. Minor league deal. 
  12. Ryan McLeod, 19. Fast train rookie with some real promise, this will be a chance for him to see how he shines against older players.

LEFT WINGERS

  1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 25. Nuge could go 30-30-60 and it would still be considered a disappointment for a McDavid LW. Since he arrived in 2015, 97’s LW’s have been rugged types, while RNH brings skill and great edges. It could be a beautiful relationship. 100%.
  2. Milan Lucic, 30. One of the things we should know by Halloween is how much the big man can bring. If he is scoring well at even strength, fans should assume he will come at least part of the way back. 100%.
  3. Drake Caggiula, 24. He scores 13-12-25 per 82 games, but his possession numbers are not strong. Caggiula’s speed gets him into a prominent spot often. If he is unable to post strong outscoring numbers, he could find himself moving down the depth chart. 100%.
  4. 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 or No. 4 line with Kyle Brodziak. Khaira is a physical player who can play a rambunctious style, both Chiarelli and McLellan value that player. 100%.
  5. 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%.
  6. Tyler Benson, 20. The largest gap between organization and fans (imo) in regard to prospect evaluation is Benson. Many see his name, think ‘Alex DeBrincat’ and instantly assume Benson is another prospect headed for the lost highway. I think the Oilers believe it’s only a matter of time and where he slots on the depth chart. Should be fun.
  7. Joe Gambardella, 24. This is a player who could surprise. His boxcars in Bakersfield a year ago look pedestrian, but we have to take usage into account. At the very least, expect a larger role in Bakersfield.
  8. Nolan Vesey, 23. He doesn’t have a lot on his resume that stands out, the big question is how much playing time he’ll get with the Condors. Edmonton has hired a bunch of new hands, not sure how this will shake out.
  9. Ostap Safin, 19. He’s a mature prospect physically and has some power forward tendencies. I think he might make the grade based on potential and what’s left to learn in the QMJHL.
  10. Evan Polei, 22. He has slow boots but a fine shot and a nose for the net, Polei should make a living in the minors and who knows maybe he sees the NHL someday. AHL deal. 
  11. Braden Christoffer, 24. Now on a minor league deal, lack of offense was the catch in terms of getting a second NHL contract. No idea where he lands, my guess is Bakersfield. AHL deal. 
  12. Ryan Van Stralen, 24. He scored well (8 goals in 16 games) for Wichita after finishing up at Carleton University, mostly a wild card but he can score in the ECHL. AHL deal. 

RIGHT WINGERS

  1. Ty Rattie, 25. Rattie brings potential for fantastic value for Edmonton. Per 82 games in the NHL so far, he’s 15-17-32. There are examples of players who arrive this late as NHL players and flourish, I imagine he’s been running up hills all summer. 100%.
  2. Tobias Rieder, 25. Edmonton will need him for two-way prowess and penalty killing but that No. 2 right wing job is right there, too. Per 82gp, he’s 14-19-33, I’m looking forward to seeing him play as an Oiler.  100%.
  3. 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. My guess is he blossoms this season, scoring 16-20 goals and establishing himself as a reliable young two-way forward. 100%.
  4. Zack Kassian, 27He 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%.
  5. 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. 50%.
  6. Mitch Callahan, 26. A productive and experienced AHL farmhand signed a year ago with Edmonton, but didn’t deliver much at all. A recovery season is in order.
  7. Patrick Russell, 25. He was one of the last forwards standing at last year’s training camp, he can penalty kill and is rugged. The boots fail him but he might get another long look.
  8. Kirill Maksimov, 19. He’s a sniper, which is rare indeed for these Oilers. I don’t think he’ll get a long look but if they give him a preseason game don’t be surprised if he makes some noise.
  9. John McFarland, 26. He’s a former second-round pick in 2010, has kicked around for years now and is coming back to North America. No expectations. AHL deal. 

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211 Responses to "Riesen to Believe 2018 Volume 1"

« Older Comments
  1. OriginalPouzar says:

    What is Rel T (as oppossed to simple Rel)?

    It seems it takes in to account linemates but how?

  2. Wilde says:

    Woodguy v2.0,

    I think guys like Tyler Dellow may be over-classifying and compartmentalising ice-time and coupling that with an indirect rejection of the methodology others use for accounting for these usage differences ,without actually issuing a takedown on what guys are doing in their models in regards to this (unless he has and I’ve missed it, in which case I’m all ears)

  3. Wilde says:

    OriginalPouzar:
    What is Rel T (as oppossed to simple Rel)?

    It seems it takes in to account linemates but how?

    simply, rel is relative to the team average, relt is an aggregate of each individual teammate wowy

  4. Wilde says:

    and basically what WG is saying is that whenever there’s a big ass difference between a guys rel% and relt% in any metric you have to go digging

  5. VOR says:

    I want to start by offering some hope to Oilers fans.

    There are still many things that could go right for the Oilers defence.

    As one example the man from Red Bull might be waiting in Wichita.

    Or Kevin Gravel might be better than we think. Pre illness he played 3rd pair and did fine.

    Or maybe Ethan Bear might have had a big developmental jump forward. Russell and Bear might be your third pair.

    And of course Wilde is right the forwards are the problem. A lack of back checking and puck support can make any D man look bad.

  6. OriginalPouzar says:

    Wilde: simply, rel is relative to the team average, relt is an aggregate of each individual teammate wowy

    I understand rel (and use it) but not sure I understand the other.

  7. OriginalPouzar says:

    VOR:
    I want to start by offering some hope to Oilers fans.

    There are still many things that could go right for the Oilers defence.

    As one example the man from Red Bull might be waiting in Wichita.

    Or Kevin Gravel might be better than we think. Pre illness he played 3rd pair and did fine.

    Or maybe Ethan Bear might have had a big developmental jump forward. Russell and Bear might be your third pair.

    And of course Wilde is right the forwards are the problem. A lack of back checking and puck support can make any D man look bad.

    Agreed:

    Maybe Ethan Bear takes a huge step forward in his play away from the puck and we can run a 3rd pair of Russell/Bear? Seems unlikely without at least a few months of AHL time.

    Maybe Willie Lagesson, with pro experience, earns himself a roster spot on merit and we can run Lagesson/Russell – that one seems a bit out there as well.

    Maybe Gravel develops more consistency and runs with that 3LD spot.

    Lots of options out there.

    I wish we had Sekera but I’m not catastrophizing this too much as I had him slatted for the 3rd pairing.

  8. Andy Dufresne says:

    bendelson:
    Let’s hope the pitchfork crowd gets along with the torch crowd…

    There are good people on both sides

  9. Andy Dufresne says:

    OriginalPouzar: Some are, some seem to have a serious issue with me (inducing following me around the internet to disparaging me on various platforms) – somewhat endearing.

    I just looked up “internet” in the New Urban Dictionary…it said, and I quote, ” a binary tool where humans (aka other binary tools) follow each other around for the purpose of making disparaging remarks on various platforms”.

  10. Woodguy v2.0 says:

    Wilde:
    Woodguy v2.0,

    I think guys like Tyler Dellow may be over-classifying and compartmentalising ice-time and coupling that with an indirect rejection of the methodology others use for accounting for these usage differences ,without actually issuing a takedown on what guys are doing in their models in regards to this(unless he has and I’ve missed it, in which case I’m all ears)

    I have no opinion on the models and I have no idea what goes into them.

    I had a look at Manny’s output the other day.

    He had Chara and Lindholm ranked the same as Edmundson, Giardi and Murphy.

    That’s all I’m going to say about models right now.

    Also,

    I do know that NHL coaches use players in very specific circumstances, some favourable, some the opposite that significantly impacts their results.

    Failure to account for his leads to people like Burtch to proclaim the best Dmen in the NHL to be a list of heavily sheltered 3rd pairing Dmen.

    Context matters a lot.

    I don’t think Tyler is compartmentalizing too much. I don’t everyone does enough of it.

    Once we have puck and player tracking data we will be able to classify TOI into a number of discrete events and will be much more able to compare players as we can control the situations in which we compare them.

  11. jzed says:

    OriginalPouzar,

    Push down the slippery slope, my friend, rehabbing his knee, trying to get back to functional, not surprised at all that he hurt something else below the knee. Other muscles trying to compensate. If he ends up retiring, draw a straight line to that late hit.

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