The last time we ran Riesen to Believe, two weeks ago, it seemed things were pretty much set for training camp. A few invites possible, maybe a small deal or waiver move late, we’re on to Cologne. Suddenly, Andrej Sekera’s year is in question, the team signs a replacement defenseman and we have a forward sign a PTO. Are we there yet?
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- New Lowetide: No. 2 prospect—Kailer Yamamoto.
- The Athletic Cross Canada Tour Will hit Edmonton!
- Lowetide: No. 3 prospect—Ethan Bear
- Lowetide: No. 4 prospect—Ryan McLeod
- Lowetide: No. 5 prospect—Cooper Marody.
- Lowetide: No. 6 prospect—Kirill Maksimov.
- Lowetide: No. 7 prospect—Tyler Benson.
- Jonathan Willis: No. 8 prospect—Caleb Jones.
- Lowetide: No. 9 prospect—Filip Berglund.
- Jonathan Willis: No. 10 prospect—Dmitri Samorukov.
- Lowetide: No. 11 prospect—Stuart Skinner’s net worth.
- Jonathan Willis: No. 12 prospect—Joel Persson.
- 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 sign Scottie Upshall to PTO, expand options
- Cam Talbot, 31. Save percentage fell from .919 to .908, he went from being the team’s best penalty killer to an inconsistent stopper. I think the organization still believes in him but won’t hesitate to move on if it comes to saving the season—but my guess is he recovers. 100%.
- Mikko Koskinen, 30. His KHL save percentage (.937 SP) is stellar but those goalies from Russia are a little all over in Year One NHL performance. Anders Nilsson was a .936 KHL goalie and sported a .901 SP in Edmonton during 2015-16. I think Koskinen will perform better but Nilsson kept the job until the trade deadline (Oilers got the pick that turned into Graham McPhee for him). 90%
- Al Montoya, 33. Montoya didn’t impress (.906) after coming over in a trade but there’s every chance he’ll play well enough to be in the conversation at training camp. 10%
- Shane Starrett, 24. He was a regular in the ECHL (.912 in 38 games) with a .895SP in three games for the Condors. Depending on what happens with the three NHL goalies, he might be starting in Bakersfield (seems unlikely). Mike Griffith from Bakersfield.com has more on the goalies and new head coach Jay Woodcroft.
- Dylan Wells, 20. Peterborough allowed 36 shots per game, highest in the OHL. Wells save percentage (.896) doesn’t inspire but he may improve behind a better defense (Condors allowed 30.97 shots per game last year).
- Stuart Skinner, 19. He scorched junior shooters after being dealt to Swift Current, posting a .914SP during the rest of the regular season and .932 in 26 playoff games. I think he’s the best goalie prospect and would be intrigued by a push, but the Oilers never do that kind of thing.
- Olivier Rodrigue, 18. Prospect-stats.com has a metric called ‘goals saved above average per 30 minutes’ and Rodrigue ranked No. 2 among eligible Q goalies who were regulars (Zachary Emond ranked No. 1, barely ahead of Rodrigue). There’s a man named Colten Ellis who is eligible in 2019 and he had an enormous season by this new metric.
- Oscar Klefbom, 25. Klefbom is “good to go” for training camp according to Jim Matheson, massive importance to the organization’s success. His defensive deficiencies are well documented, but Dangerous Fenwick via Puck IQ loves him both seasons they’ve measured. I think he’s key. 100%.
- Darnell Nurse, 23. Nurse doesn’t have a contract yet but he’s another big part of Edmonton’s blue. He faced (again according to Puck IQ) elite opposition 35 percent of his 5-on-5 time a year ago, garnering 49 percent possession and 56 percent goal share. We know that was partly McDavid-aided but he’s improving and he’s young, fast and can move that puck out of trouble. Also performed well offensively (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%.
- Jakub Jerabek, 27. He doesn’t have a lot of experience and this could be long-time forgotten by this time next year. That said, it looks like an astute bet, especially considering what was out there when the Sekera news hit. 70%
- Kevin Gravel, 26. He gets a boost with the Sekera injury despite not being a similar player. Experience (70 NHL games) becomes a big consideration with the injury to Rej. Now, 70 games doesn’t seem like much but it’s a helluva lot more than zero. 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. 60%
- Keegan Lowe, 25. The Lowe jokes continue unabated but he did good work in Bakersfield and we could see a lot of him this coming season. Similar to Gravel in style but brings a little more of an edge. 20%
- 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%
- 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. He has coverage gaps but that’s to be expected at his age. The speed will get him chances. 5%
- William Lagesson, 22. There’s a bit of the unknown with this player but the opening provided by Sekera’s injury means the coaching staff will be looking for options and strong play. Lagesson is in a good spot despite his placement lower on the current depth chart. 5%
- Andrej Sekera, 32. Frack. Shiza. Huge loss in an area that couldn’t afford it. Now there’s going to be pressure on Klefbom and Nurse, plus the team has to figure out how to populate the 4-5-6 spots behind Klefbom, Larsson and Nurse. Bah. I always liked Sekera going back to his eastern conference work, hope he makes it all the way back.
- Dmitri Samorukov, 19. Solid to very good last year in the OHL, played well in an AHL cup of coffee. He has a nice range of skills, but in reading on him via several sources he seems to be a tighter defender than some of his competition. A lock to head back to junior but he has a promising future.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- Adam Larsson, 25. Like Klefbom, Larsson’s reputation suffered during a trying season but he remains the class of the group. Larsson is a player-type I enjoy watching and value, he defends well and has some offensive ability (that doesn’t always result in points). A valuable player. 100%.
- L Kris Russell, 31. He could move over to LH side with the injury to Sekera and that’s a preferred result. That said, the right side has fewer options and Russell remains here on our little depth chart for now. 100%.
- Matt Benning, 24. I’m in favor of moving him up to the second pair no matter what happens with Russell but Dellow’s recent work is a revelation. I’d still try it. 100%.
- Evan Bouchard, 18. He got a break when he was drafted, turned heads (fans and management) with a cannon at orientation camp and now the Oilers are down on defenseman. He keeps getting breaks. I think he gets nine games but the script for more is there to be written. 50%
- Ethan Bear, 21. In writing about him for The Athletic, I’m excited to see his future but convinced he is far enough away from ready the club shouldn’t count on him this fall. That doesn’t mean the Oilers agree. 20%
- Joel Persson, 24. The Oilers aren’t bringing him over but if we reach next training camp with everything running in place, Persson will vie with Bouchard and Bear for RH puck mover, all things being equal.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Connor McDavid, 21. Some of the point-total predictions I’m seeing are mind-boggling. I think he’ll finish shy of 135 points this season, the Oilers are going to use 97 in a “Mats Sundin will need to drag the team into the playoffs and make Dmitri Khristich a 20-goal man at the same time” role for much of all of the campaign. Note: This does NOT mean I hate Connor McDavid. 100%.
- Leon Draisaitl, 22. One of the main items to watch this coming season involves Leon and the No. 2 line. If they can outscore their opposition, I think the Oilers make the playoffs. I would put Nuge on his line. 100%.
- Ryan Strome, 25. There are some experienced observers of the Oilers who are predicting 40+ points, but that depends on usage in my opinion. Strome didn’t see the 97 line a lot this past season and will be getting the third set of wingers when he’s in the middle. 100%.
- Kyle Brodziak, 34. He’s going to be in the NHL for the next two years, but the style of player he is, and the production he brings, suggests we are close to the end of the line. It’s impossible to project him to repeat last season but if he can help the penalty kill then Edmonton will be paid in full. 100%
- 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 isn’t a sexy option but he’ll fit under the cap and can do some things. 5%.
- 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. Smart player, slight chance he turns out to be the pleasant surprise of training camp. 5%.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cameron Hebig, 21. He enters pro hockey with a team hungry for offense. Hebig averaged 4.6 shots per game, suspect he’ll be used in an offensive role in Bakersfield.
- Colin Larkin, 24. He appears to be an offensively shy center who is best suited for a checking and penalty killing role in the minors.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 25. Patrick Maroon scored 29 goals in 1500 minutes (1.16 goals per 60, approx) with Connor McDavid over three seasons (in all disciplines). Leon Draisaitl has scored 39 goals in 2,400 minutes (all disciplines) with 97 (.975 goals per 60, approx). Last year, Nuge scored eight goals in 300 minutes (1.6 goals per 60, approx, once again in all disciplines). Can he score 30 with McDavid? 100%.
- Milan Lucic, 30. .His best stat might be Corsi for 5-on-5, where he is 52.72 percent with Connor McDavid, 50.04 without. Lucic was over 50 percent with 97, 29, 93 and Strome last season. It doesn’t change the money v. production ratio but the puck was headed in a good direction. 100%.
- Drake Caggiula, 24. He scores 13-12-25 per 82 games, but his possession numbers are not strong. In my model it was fairly easy to replace his minutes and I think this is a big season for him. Edmonton can’t afford meager production. 100%.
- Jujhar Khaira, 24. May have done enough to find a home on the No. 3 line with Ryan Strome but more likely spends most of the year on the No. 4 line with Kyle Brodziak. Khaira is an improving penalty killer. 100%.
- Pontus Aberg, 25. If you look strictly at numbers and performance from one year ago, Aberg should contend for No. 2 LW. I don’t see it happening, suspect he’s in tough for a job during training camp. 70%.
- Scottie Upshall, 34. His numbers from last season impress (delivering offense from the bowels of the roster) in some ways, and are left wanting (PK prowess) in others. When he signed I was convinced he would make the roster, now not as certain. Oilers need a penalty killer. 20%
- Tyler Benson, 20. I think the Oilers believe it’s only a matter of time and where he slots on the depth chart and wouldn’t be at all shocked if he’s an early recall. The first forward who enters pro hockey for the first time who is guaranteed a feature AHL role in several years.
- Joe Gambardella, 24. He came on offensively later in the season and has speed plus two-way acumen. I’m not saying he is a lock for an NHL career, but there’s a story here.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ty Rattie, 25. Per 82 games in the NHL so far, he’s 15-17-32, but if he plays 82 games with Connor McDavid he might score 30. I don’t think he’ll hold on to the job, which is different than cheering against him. 100%.
- Tobias Rieder, 25. Per 82gp, he’s 14-19-33, I think he’ll play enough on a prominent line to score at a higher rate. A lot of people are saying the Oilers didn’t do much to help themselves this season, for me Rieder is a perfect fit. He’s the Pisani. 100%.
- Jesse Puljujarvi, 20. My guess is he blossoms this season, scoring 16-20 goals and establishing himself as a reliable young two-way forward. There’s a chance he blossoms and scores 35, and with his next contract looming, that does fall into the Oilers ‘luck of the Irish’ contract storylines. 100%.
- Zack Kassian, 27. 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. His emerging penalty killing gives him more utility, but is he good enough at the job? 100%.
- Kailer Yamamoto, 20. I am predicting about half a season in Bakersfield before recall but wouldn’t be at all surprised if he makes the team out of camp. If he does, Jordan Eberle’s 69, 18-25-43 totals seem a reasonable projection. 50%.
- Mitch Callahan, 26. The Condors badly need a recovery season from Callahan, who was a solid AHL player before last year’s 45, 2-7-9 derailment. Before last year, per 82 games, he scored 21-21-42.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy return as we enter a big week (Labor Day classic, we should start getting the roster invites for Oilers training camp). At 10 this morning, TSN1260, scheduled to appear:
- Laura Armstrong, Toronto Star. Kendrys Morales goes super nova.
- Jason Gregor, TSN1260. Jason is back, we’ll discuss Brooke Henderson’s massive win at the LPGA Canadian Open, plus Eskimos.
- Matt Danely, Stampede Blue. We’ll chat Indianapolis Colts.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!