In 2010 September, I wrote an article (no longer available in the archives) called “Entering Hope” on this blog. It was in response to an online discussion surrounding how to handle Taylor Hall in his draft +1 season, and Magnus Paajarvi in his draft +2 campaign (both in 2010-11). I quoted several well known Oilers observers of the time, and gave my own opinion. My point in 2010 remains and I do think we might see it come into play this fall.
The Athletic made some big additions yesterday, including Daniel Nugent-Bowman joining the Edmonton staff. Daniel, Jonathan Willis, Minnia Feng, Pat McLean and me will deliver prose all winter long and there will be tons via the national desk from Tyler Dellow, Corey Pronman and Dom Luszczysyn. Special offer is here, less than $4 a month! Also, don’t forget to join us later this month (September 24, The Rec Room) for a get together and general merriment. I’m thrilled to be part of this group, hope you join us.
- New Lowetide: Ryan Mantha’s injury and uncertain recovery.
- Lowetide: Oilers rookie camp roster offers options and balance.
- Corey Pronman: The most intriguing prospect to watch at camp for every NHL team.
- Jonathan Willis: Three different KHL stars, three different paths to NHL success.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Bringing something different to the Oilers beat.
- Dom Luszczyszyn: 2018-19 season preview Edmonton Oilers.
- Lowetide: Who will win the McDavid-line lottery?
- Lowetide: The 2018-19 Oilers and what may come.
- The Athletic Cross Canada Tour Will hit Edmonton!
- Lowetide: The 2015 draft and what was lost
- Lowetide: Projecting the 2018-19 Oilers opening night roster
- Lowetide: Where will Tobias Rieder land on the Oilers depth chart?
- Lowetide: No. 1 prospect—Evan Bouchard.
- Lowetide: No. 2 prospect—Kailer Yamamoto.
- 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.
It is 2010. It is September. We are discussing the idea of Taylor Hall being sent back to junior. It’s important to note that no individual who will be quoted here had any real doubt about Hall playing in the NHL, there was a long established tradition of the No. 1 overall playing the following year in the NHL. Magnus Paajarvi’s status was also part of the conversation. Lesser player, still eligible for junior hockey. It was a matter of the wisdom of doing so, as it pertained to the well being of the franchise.
- Tyler Dellow: “Neither Taylor Hall nor Magnus Pajaarvi should make the Oilers this year. It’s a simple enough proposition: you only get three years with these guys on entry level contracts and you might as well use them when the player in question is a stronger player.”
- Benjamin Massey: “The primary reason I feel Hall and Pääjärvi should remain in the NHL for the coming season is that I believe it’ll help them improve as hockey players.” Source
- Robin Brownlee: “After four straight seasons out of the playoffs, telling Hall and Paajarvi to wait a year as part of the big picture might be a tough sell for the majority of fans. They just want something to cheer about, and who can blame them?” Source
- Lowetide: “If Taylor Hall is ready to score 20 goals in the NHL at his age, I believe he’ll be a better player one year from now because he was able to handle the extreme challenges at speed. If Hall gets to game number 9 and has 0-0-0 for boxcars then they need to send the young man back to junior. Same with MPS. The Oilers shouldn’t give millions to teenagers who aren’t good enough to play, but these two appear to be the real deal.”
Hall was 2-3-5 after nine games, but did start slowly (7, 0-1-1). He would play 65 games in 2010-11, scoring 22 goals. Paajarvi also played in the NHL that season, scoring 15 goals. Hall went on to post 80 points as an Oiler in 2013-14, and won the Hart Trophy with 93 points (and 39 goals) for New Jersey this past season. Paajarvi remains in the NHL but has scored only 36 more goals in the seven seasons that have passed since his rookie campaign.
Looking back, entering the NHL immediately worked for Hall and Steve Tambellini got him signed to a terrific contract. Paajarvi’s offense was a concern and it cost him a feature role on an NHL roster, not certain the early push had an impact but it’s worth a discussion.
THE 2018-19 SEASON
I feel the same way about Evan Bouchard. He’ll be 19 in a month and he is physically mature beyond his years. If he’s good enough to play, then the Oilers should employ him. If he’s 0-0-0 after 9 games, or getting caved, or passed like a house on the side of the road, then it’s clearly too soon. I didn’t agree with the Kailer Yamamoto decision one year ago, because it meant delaying Jesse Puljujarvi (who should have been in the AHL or Sm-Liiga in draft +1). This year, Evan Bouchard is the only underager I can see being in the conversation, and there is no defensive version of Jesse Puljujarvi who warrants the push. I do believe Bouchard has a chance to play in the regular season. The biggest issue will be coverage and gap control.
Jim Matheson has an update and explains Mantha’s absence from the rookie camp list. It will be a big loss for both player and organization, he had good numbers as a rookie pro and showed two-way acumen.
THE 2018 OILERS ROOKIE ROSTER
- G Stuart Skinner. He’ll turn 20 on November 1, coming off a strong campaign that saw him backstop the Swift Current Broncos to the WHL championship. He was .932 in 26 WHL playoff games in the spring, surely his career highlight so far. I would rank him as the best goalie prospect since Devan Dubnyk. Skinner saw 32.95 shots per in Lethbridge, 31.15 during the regular season in Swift Current.
- G Dylan Wells. Erratic results playing goal for a chaotic team, Wells enters pro hockey with more questions than Skinner. Wells faced 34.89 shots per 60 in Peterborough, hopefully we’ll see better results from him on a more structured team.
- G Olivier Rodrigue. Newly drafted goalie was the top NA goalie on most draft lists and the highest Oilers goalie selection (tied with Samu Perhonen) since Devan Dubnyk in 2004. He plays in the QMJHL (shot madness league) and faced 26.26 shots per 60. One curio worth mentioning? Rodrigue’s .902SP towered over his backup (.862) last year.
- RD Evan Bouchard. The big story at this rookie camp will be Evan Bouchard, the ‘perfect fit’ draft choice and a player the Oilers clearly project as a big part of the future. I’ll be watching for his outlet passing and improved coverage, he is not a breathtaking visual player but effective in several areas (passing, shot, patience).
- RD Ethan Bear. This should be his final trip to rookie camp and honestly Bear does have a chance to play in the NHL at some point this coming season. Coverage gaps and passing lanes are the things to watch.
- LD Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin. One of the curios things about this year’s rookie roster is the lack of junior invites and the large number of ECHL players who are well past 20. Crevier Morin is one (he is 22).
- RD Logan Day. Div III NCAA grad is an intriguing prospect, don’t look past him because of his college level. He has ability, looking forward to seeing him.
- LD Caleb Jones. Fleet defender should play a feature role at this camp and in the rookie games. He struggled a year ago but there’s a player here.
- LD Jake Kulevich. Huge defender who played for the Manitoba Moose a year ago, he’s on an AHL contract and will probably slot in where Ben Betker did one year ago.
- LD William Lagesson. He could pass Jones between now and spring, the pro experience (SHL) one year ago bodes well. I’ve seen him at WJ’s and he was a mobile shutdown type, don’t know how much offense he’ll bring.
- LD Dmitri Samorukov. He’s a year away but there’s some buzz about this player. A two-way type who plays an intelligent game, Oilers may have one here.
- LD Jared Wilson. Played for RPI in college, he’s on an AHL contract and this will be our chance to see him for the first time.
- R Kailer Yamamoto. He turns 20 later this month and I believe he has an outstanding shot at playing substantial NHL games this coming season. If you look at the Oilers depth chart on the wings, a skill player like Yamamoto stands out in a big way.
- L Tyler Benson. I cannot recall a prospect in the Oilers’ system who has the kind of expectation gap that Benson is burdened with at this time. His numbers suggest we could be looking at a solid checking winger in a couple of years but I think the Oilers see him as being far more than a No. 3 left winger. It comes down to how many plays he can get to, once there he has terrific hands and the grit to win battles.
- LC Luke Esposito. He has been here before, played in Grand Rapids (31, 1-7-8) of the AHL one year ago. He’s the only tryout on the roster, related to Mark Messier and that’s the connection. He would be seeking an AHL deal I expect.
- L Joe Gambardella. I wrote about him yesterday, he has many of the things this organization lacks and his time is now.
- R Dave Gust. Recently signed to an AHL deal, he had a strong pro debut with the Condors (53, 13-11-24) and should play a major role during this rookie camp.
- RC Cameron Hebig. He’ll be the guy shooting pucks on net halfway through the anthem and that is going to get him a feature role in Bakersfield this winter.
- LC Colin Larkin. College man (Div III) has speed and defensive acumen but the offence (16, 0-2-2 in a late run with Bakersfield) is shy.
- R Kirill Maksimov. Another marksman who scored 34 in the OHL one year ago, if he was a year older I’d give him a chance to make the NHL roster based on the current depth chart. He should impact the rookie games.
- RC Cooper Marody. At this camp he’ll have a feature role, possibly lining up with Yamamoto and Benson. I imagine he’ll be a main story among the msm when writing about this camp.
- LC Ryan McLeod. He’s fast as lightning, honestly his speed is a little shocking. I read the scouting reports and look at the offense and wonder how he was still there at No. 40 overall. We’ll get a good look at him in the coming week.
- L Evan Polei. I’m a fan of this player, he has terrific hands and can score goals. Footspeed is the issue, if he plays with a strong center expect results during this camp.
- R Ostap Safin. He has a lot on the line in this camp, if Safin impresses it could punch his ticket to pro hockey and the Condors. He can score from a distance and has the kind of size (6.05, 192) NHL teams love to see in skill players.
- R Ryan Van Stralen. He comes from the Canadian college ranks (Carleton) and scored at a point per game clip with Wichita. On the other hand, he’s 25 in November.
- RC Tyler Vesel. Mistakenly listed as a LH center, Vesel has two-way skills and that should mean he gets plenty of playing time in this camp and then in California beginning October.
- L Nolan Vesey. Everything I’ve read about him screams tweener but the Oilers traded for and then signed him, so giving him 500 at-bats in the AHL is the right thing to do.
There were one dozen invites one year ago (including Trey Fix-Wolansky) but the club is running bare bones this time. It’ll fuel the “Katz isn’t spending money” panic, but another reasonable answer is that this is a quick rookie camp followed by a quick main camp followed by the flight to Cologne.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy and fun show today, it all starts at 10, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Andy Benoit, Sports Illustrated. The NFL season kicks off with some talented birds (Falcons v. Eagles) playing smash mouth football tonight!
- Eric Fawcett, Press Basketball. A preview of the NBA season, with emphasis on the Raptors and Lebron’s big move.
- John Horn, Freelance Commentator, Reporter, Producer with ESPN, WTA, MLB Network, TSN. We’ll talk US Open.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!