We had just purchased our new house, the one we would raise our two beautiful children in. It was the smallest house on the block, we didn’t have enough furniture to fill it, but it was ours all the same. Two kids, under four, and we’re starting a new life.
For years, over a dozen, she’d been warning me. “If you keep chewing on that pen cap, one day you’ll choke on it” and one day, with the kids in bed at about 7:30 at night with the sun streaming into our beautiful new home with no furniture in the living room, her warning found flight. I coughed, made a funny face, and turned a different color. What appears next is as it happened in real time.
“WELL, it’s finally happened! I told you! How many times did I tell you??? And now, with two little kids and this new house, you’ve choked on a pen cap and that’s exactly what I’m going to tell people. How did he die? Why, he choked on a pen cap, just liked I warned him!”
She saved me, hammering on my back until I could breathe again. I was grateful for the effort, a little pissed about the prologue, and I sure as hell took heed of her warnings from that day forward and nowadays you couldn’t pay me enough to chew on any part of a pen. One remembers near death experiences and those moments in life when a single instant could have a major impact on future events. Which brings us to Mikko Koskinen.
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The Athletic Edmonton lineup will be there, including Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Eric Duhatschek will attend! I’ll be there to make sure everyone uses a coaster, and I’d love to see you there. If you haven’t subscribed yet, now’s your chance. Special offer is here, less than $4 a month!
- New Lowetide: Oilers farm system beginning to resemble the real thing
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: A pair of Ryans: Oilers McLeod, Strome strengthen families’ bond as teammates.
- New Lowetide: After more Oilers’ cuts, roster decisions coming into focus.
- Tyler Dellow: Is Connor McDavid good enough to make a power play with five left shots work?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Former Oiler Dave Manson on coaching, nicknames and his raspy voice.
- The Athletic Cross Canada Tour Will hit Edmonton!
- New Lowetide: RE 18-19: Cam Talbot is key to Oilers success in 2018-19
- Lowetide: RE 18-19: A case for the defence.
- Lowetide: RE 18-19: Ryan Strome and the Oilers long journey to competent third and fourth lines
- Lowetide: RE 18-19: Leon Draisaitl and the pursuit of a second outscoring line in ’18-19
- Lowetide: RE 18-19: Can the McDavid line lead the 2018-19 Oilers to the playoffs?
- New Jonathan Willis: Challenge accepted: Young RW’s showcase skill in Oilers preseason game.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Assessing the aftermath from Darnell Nurse’s deal with the Oilers.
- New Jonathan Willis: Pleasant and unpleasant surprises from Tuesday’s training camp cuts.
- New Lowetide: Oilers sign Nurse to a two-year deal.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Can Tobias Rieder be the perfect complement to Leon Draisaitl?
GOALTENDING STATS, PRESEASON
- Cam Talbot 2, 2.40 .913
- Al Montoya 1, 3.00 .929
- Mikko Koskinen 1, 4.50 .842
- Shane Starrett 1, 3.00 .833
Koskinen needs to look sharper than his first outing, one that saw him leak shots through every possible area. It looked frightening and after one game I still don’t know a thing about his glove (that’s a bad sign). It may take a period of transition to get used to the North American game, and it may mean a trip to Bakersfield (first suggested within earshot of this writer by Jonathan Willis on the Lowdown). Big game for a big goalie.
DEFENSIVE SCORING, PRESEASON
- Ethan Bear 2, 1-1-2
- Evan Bouchard 2, 1-1-2
- Kevin Gravel 1, 0-2-2
- Oscar Klefbom 1, 0-1-1
- Adam Larsson 1, 0-1-1
- Matt Benning 1, 0-1-1
- Caleb Jones 1, 1-0-1
- Jakub Jerabek 2, 0-0-0
- Darnell Nurse 1, 0-0-0
- Kris Russell 1, 0-0-0
The NHLers (Klefbom, Larsson, Nurse, Russell, Benning) have played just one game, and all of the hopefuls save Gravel have had two opportunities. I think the Bear v. Bouchard scenario may play out just as the Puljujarvi v. Yamamoto situation did one year ago, with the junior player making the grade for the first nine games and the pro player spending more time in California. We’ll see.
FORWARDS SCORING, PRE SEASON
- Ty Rattie 2, 4-3-7
- Connor Mcdavid 1, 1-3-4
- Kailer Yamamoto 2, 2-2-4
- Tyler Benson 2, 0-3-3
- Jesse Puljujarvi 2, 2-0-2
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1, 2-0-2
- Patrick Russell 1, 2-0-2
- Alex Chiasson 2, 0-2-2
- Ryan McLeod 3, 0-2-2
- Leon Draisaitl 1, 0-1-1
- Cooper Marody 2, 0-1-1
- Milan Lucic 1, 1-0-1
- Pontus Aberg 2, 1-0-1
- Ryan Strome 1, 0-1-1
- Joe Gambardella 1, 0-1-1
- Jujhar Khaira 2, 0-0-0
- Zack Kassian 1, 0-0-0
- Kyle Brodziak 1, 0-0-0
- Drake Caggiula 1, 0-0-0
- Tobias Rieder 1, 0-0-0
The right wingers have scored well in this training camp, that’s encouraging but the team will need good production when the games are for real in a couple of weeks. I’m most encouraged by Jesse Puljujarvi, whose potential trumps all the other hopefuls. It’s also true that Ty Rattie is making it damned near impossible for Kailer Yamamoto to make the team, suspect all precincts will be heard from by season’s end.
ROSTER STATUS, PLAYER BY PLAYER
- G Cam Talbot. He came in and established himself with fine play, Todd McLellan is likely comfortable with his starter entering the season.
- G Mikko Koskinen. Both Peter Chiarelli and the coaching staff have to be wondering what they have here for their $2.5 million investment. One poor outing doesn’t mean Edsel, but there has to be some concern.
- G Al Montoya. He played well in his first outing, things are looking up for the forgotten netminder.
- LD Oscar Klefbom. He’s healthy and shooting the puck constantly. Moreover, he has those boots on and can move the puck by pass or carry. A key player.
- RD Adam Larsson. Fine shutdown defender looks right as rain so far, he’ll need to play big minutes for 82+ and looks capable.
- LD Darnell Nurse. Just one game so far and a shorter training camp. he’s such an impressive player skating the puck out. Needs to keep improving his defending and cut down on the penalties, but arrows are headed in a good direction.
- RD Matt Benning. I believe he can successfully cover the No. 2 RD job but it’s a bet for sure and the Oilers may want to have a backup plan in their back pockets (I believe they do). Benning has his detractors, I’m a fan.
- LD Kris Russell. All things being perfect, he’ll play No. 3 LHD this season. I’m not sure any of the hopeful lefties on the farm will push this year but they are coming and it might mean a changing of the guard next summer.
- LD Jakub Jerabek. I still haven’t seen enough of him to really make any kind of informed decision, like his passing and wondering about his coverage. He can skate, might be a No. 7D.
- RD Evan Bouchard. He is exactly as advertised, sublime passer with intelligence and the calm feet required to weigh options before committing. Defensively he’s raw, I’d fall short of calling him a project. How quickly can he learn at the NHL level? Suspect we’re about to find out.
- RD Ethan Bear. He’s in this fight for a job, I’m cheering for him. Bear might benefit from another 35 games in Bakersfield, not sure the organization will afford him the chance. He can pass the puck and shoot it, and his boots are better this year.
- LD Kevin Gravel. He has an advantage over some of these men ahead of him, because Gravel could slide into the No. 7D role easily (prospects have to play). I like what I’ve seen.
- LD Jason Garrison. PTO invite looked a little rusty so far, he’ll get another chance to show what he can do. He is a longshot to make the team based on current status.
- LD Keegan Lowe. He didn’t perform well in his first preseason game, the Oilers will probably give him another game. Lowe had a strong season in Bakersfield a year ago, would have to be considered a strong recall option sometime during the year.
- LD Andrej Sekera. Injured.
- LC Connor McDavid. He can still part the waters and is faster than a speeding bullet, plus the organization appears to have found him new solid linemates. I have him scoring 50-70-120 this season, and have seen many projections beyond.
- LC Leon Draisaitl. A massive season for the big man, he’ll be asked to drive his own line, push the river, and score 70+ points. Can he do it? That will be a major question answered by April.
- RC Ryan Strome. He’s once again caught in a bit of a preseason issue, as his performances are more matzah balls than ginger curry. He doesn’t appear to be a long-term Oiler under the current regime.
- RC Kyle Brodziak. He looks solid on the penalty kill and we’ll see about him in the next game, don’t know how much of a push up the lineup we’ll see from him. Faster than Letestu and that is key.
- LC Brad Malone. He’ll be a recall option this year, but this training camp has seen him be less prominent than a year ago. Part of that is the pushing up from young pivots, a good sign for the organization.
- RC Cooper Marody. He’s more skilled than I thought he would be, he can make major league plays in a phone booth. I’m encouraged by his skills, looks like Chiarelli found a player here.
- LC Ryan McLeod. He’ll be signed soon, speedy center who can keep the play going and shows up in good spots defensively. He has more range of skills than we thought, and I think he’ll push again next fall.
- L Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Looks right at home on the portside, pray baby Jesus that baby Nuge doesn’t fall ill with his annual October-November bout of influenza.
- L Milan Lucic. I’m interested to see what might happen if the big man struggles alongside Draisaitl. The smart play would be to move Lucic down, don’t know if the organization will have the stomach for it.
- L Jujhar Khaira. He looks strong and effective again, the offense was a bit of a surprise one year ago, you’ll want to see him do it again.
- L Drake Caggiula. He’ll make the team but he’s on increasingly shaky ground. Caggiula played up the lineup consistently last year, he’s stapled to the No. 4 line now. There is some urgency here.
- L Pontus Aberg. He is in some trouble for this roster, despite a very strong showing in his most recent game. I’d keep him as a possible option for Leon’s wing (either one) but get the feeling the die has been cast.
- L Scottie Upshall. He hasn’t played yet and it’s getting late early. We might see him as a ‘Chris Kelly is skating with the team’ option if Upshall can’t play this week.
- R Ty Rattie. He has been exceptional during preseason, passing, shooting, scoring and keeping up with the McDavid. He has locked down the No. 1 RW job as of now.
- R Tobias Rieder. He had a quiet game the other night, that’s fine if the puck is heading in the right direction. It was not. We’ll see how long he holds on tot he skill RW job. People are pushing.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi. The big winger has been quality through this point in the preseason, I think you can argue he has been the team’s best player so far. I didn’t like that elbow to the jaw the other night, we’ll see if he’s brilliant as ever next time out.
- R Zack Kassian. He must see Chiasson as legit competition and must know the PTO invite is impressing. Kassian needs to show something in his next game.
- R Kailer Yamamoto. He has been solid to excellent, but I don’t know that there is room for him this fall. A fine problem to have, Yamamoto in the AHL.
- R Alex Chiasson. Based on quality of play, I would say he is on the way to making the team. Holding him up is the presence of Upshall on a PTO and the organization’s contract with Kassian.