I Dreamed You Paid Your Dues in Canada

There are times when things are not as they appear. After signing Andrej Sekera in free agency 2015 summer, and then Milan Lucic the following year, Peter Chiarelli’s big signing July 1, 2017 was Ty Rattie. It was a mid-level signing, the kind teams make a couple of weeks into free agency. I wrote about it at the time, putting things into perspective.

  • He is from the Sam Gagner player tree (undersized, highly skilled, average speed) and is more of a scorer historically. I had him ranked No. 29 overall in his draft year and still think he’s NHL calibre. He is a good scorer at the AHL level, but size (6.0, 195) and speed are average. Right shot. Source

It could turn out to be the best signing of the whole damned bunch. Early days, let’s not get too excited, but this is turning into a major story in real time. McDavid to Rattie is shining like a diamond.

THE ATHLETIC!

The Athletic Edmonton is going to bring it all season long. Proud to be part of a lineup that is ready to cover the coming year. Outstanding coverage from a large group, including Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis, Lowetide, Minnia Feng and Pat McLean. If you haven’t subscribed yet, now’s your chance. Special offer is here, less than $4 a month!

  • New Lowetide: Impressive Cooper Marody preseason could lead to NHL recall.
  • Lowetide: Oilers farm system beginning to resemble the real thing
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: A pair of Ryans: Oilers McLeod, Strome strengthen families’ bond as teammates.
  • 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.
  • 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?

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

  • Klefbom-Larsson went 19-14 in 13:30, 10-11 shots and 2-0 in goals. Went 4-8 against Baertschi-Horvat-Eriksson (2-0 GF) and both men made several fine plays at 5-on-5. Klefbom scored a goal, made some good passes (wobbly on the 5-on-4, though) and Larsson was physical and quality in coverage.
  • Russell-Bouchard went 15-13 in 13:28, 7-4 shots and 1-0 in goals. Bouchard made some lovely passes (especially on the second Puljujarvi goal) but he also made some very poor decisions with the puck. That’s what rookie blue are about, it’s growing pains in the early stages. Ask Bruce McCurdy about the early days of Paul Coffey. Russell-Bouchard had two offensive, eight neutral and six defensive zone starts, curious the rookie was used in this way.
  • Garrison-Jerabek went 8-16 in 14:16, playing the most 5-on-5 minutes among the three pairings. Were 3-6 in shots, 1-5 in HS scoring chances. Garrison was the better player on the night, Jerabek had some good moments but several chaos events too. John Shannon has Garrison 60-40 to make the team.
  • Cam Talbot was quality, stopping all 35 shots on net. If he does that consistently this year, Edmonton will be playing well into spring.
  • NHL.com and NaturalStatTrick.

FORWARDS

  • Nuge-McDavid-Rattie were 13-9 in 10:30, 8-7 shots and 2-0 goals. Went 9-5 against Hutton-Tanev and tore up the blacktop on the night (eight points for the trio). I think this is phase two (Maroon-Leon being the first phase) linemates for McDavid’s career.
  • Chiasson-Brodziak-Kassian went 9-8 in 9:40, 3-4 shots and no goals. This line worked well, although Chiasson missed some time after getting hit behind the Canucks’ net. I wonder if Chiasson makes this team as a utility forward.
  • Lucic-Draisaitl-Yamamoto went 11-15 in 11:13, getting plenty of minutes but not getting a lot done (4-6 in shots as a group). It’s better with Yamamoto there but this line isn’t firing on all pistons. The third line might pass them, crazy as it sounds. The Finn is more dynamic than Draisaitl this fall.
  • Rieder-Khaira-Puljujarvi were 6-7 in 10:01, 4-1 shots and 1-0 goals. Puljujarvi is dangerous every shift now, Khaira can make plays and Rieder offers veteran experience. I’m not sure we see this combination much but I would like to see it again.

TAKE HEED, TAKE HEED!

Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts has a passage about the San Jose Sharks (Point 4) and defenseman Tim Heed being available. He’s a righty blue with 5-on-4 rising, someone Edmonton would and should be interested in. On a slightly related note, ‘Boots of Spanish Leather‘ is a gorgeous song.

Mr. Friedman also has an interesting item on John McFarland, who is trying to get back to where he once belonged, this time in the Oilers’ system.

WHAT DO WE KNOW FOR SURE?

All teams are a series of bets surrounding sure things and this preseason has been mostly good for the Edmonton Oilers. Ty Rattie and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are flying with the best player in the game, Connor McDavid. Evan Bouchard is showing outstanding skill combined with calm feet and the ability to shake off rookie mistakes. Cam Talbot looks impressive, Darnell Nurse solid and Jesse Puljujarvi is the new Eddie Shack.

There are a few downbeats, though. Mikko Koskinen would give everyone involved a good night’s sleep with a quality performance in his next game, and Leon Draisaitl’s line isn’t taking part in the fun of a 4-1 start. That’s an issue. Here are the 5-on-5 points-per-60 totals for Oilers skaters so far this preseason (more than one game).

  1. Ty Rattie 15.08
  2. Connor McDavid 14.98
  3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 6.11
  4. Kailer Yamamoto 3.8
  5. Ryan McLeod 3.37
  6. Tyler Benson 2.85
  7. Ryan Strome 2.80
  8. Milan Lucic 2.45
  9. Jesse Puljujarvi 2.39
  10. Evan Bouchard 2.28
  11. Oscar Klefbom 2.14
  12. Kevin Gravel 2.08
  13. Cooper Marody 1.98
  14. Adam Larsson 1.92
  15. Alex Chiasson 1.72
  16. Pontus Aberg 1.77
  17. Darnell Nurse 1.66
  18. Jujhar Khaira 1.28
  19. Leon Draisaitl 0.00

Leon has only played in two games, 23 minutes, and he does have a power-play point. Still, his line at 5-on-5 is running under 40 percent Corsi and it’s pretty damned noticeable for those of us who have watched the games. Peter Chiarelli was on Toronto radio talking about Lucic and his improved conditioning (“The speed and agility testing we have four tests – I would probably say from last year to this year between 45 and 60 percent improvement. Significant improvement. You know those pro agility tests, those shuttle runs – significant improvement. You can see it on the ice”) so I think 29 has Lucic stapled to him for the immediate future.

I’m going to write about this today at The Athletic but we have always talked about the gap between McDavid on the ice and McDavid at rest. We are reaching the same point in preseason where, one year ago, Todd McLellan shuffled his roster and put 29 and 97 back together again. I don’t believe that’s an option now, McDavid is on record as wanting consistency in linemates (McDavid is smart) and breaking up that line would be professional suicide.

This is going to be painful, now or later. Maybe the next game will see Lucic-Draisaitl hit 60 percent possession, they were over 50 percent together a year ago (with a ghastly 37.50 goal percentage). If this continues, how far into the season will management and coaching go before throwing their $8.5 million center a life line? I wrote about moving Lucic to the third line during the spring, maybe I’m stubborn and overreacting to what is clearly a ridiculously small sample size. Maybe I’m jumping on this story too soon. It doesn’t look good, that No. 2 line. I know that’s true.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A fun morning with some of my favourite guests today, we start at 10 on TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:

  • Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal. We’ll chat “McDavid, baby!”
  • Sarah McLellan, Minneapolis Star Tribune. We’ll preview the Minnesota Wild season to come. It was a quiet summer but the organization retained Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker and will look to repeat a strong 2017-18 campaign.
  • Scott Cullen, TSN. The CFL playoff seeding remains a complete mystery but the Eskimos are on the wrong side of the Roughriders. Plus we’ll talk NHL training camps.

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Love this lineup!

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216 Responses to "I Dreamed You Paid Your Dues in Canada"

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  1. russ99 says:

    I have loads more confidence in Rattie who’s paid his dues and played 200 AHL games than Yamamoto who might need those 100 of those games.

  2. Professor Q says:

    russ99:
    I have loads more confidence in Rattie who’s paid his dues and played 200 AHL games than Yamamoto who might need those 100 of those games.

    But imagine if Nugent-Hopkins and McDavid made Rattie the new Cheechoo?

    That would most certainly be a great thing for Oilers Hockey.

  3. OmJo says:

    godot10: I don’t think he has played against a starting goaltender in the pre-season yet.He has been playing with McDavid, so all of his games, except maybe one, have been at home with a loaded Oilers lineup against a weak visiting team road roster.

    I’m a fan of Rattie and impressed with his preseason, but this is a valid point.

    He’s played against Nilsson (2 goals), Eric Comrie (2 goals, 3 assists), and Nilsson again (3 goals). One is a NHL backup goaltender, the other is an AHL starter goaltender with 4 games of NHL experience.

    That being said, that’s the nature of preseason. He’s still taken full advantage of his opportunities. 10 points in 3 preseason games is still something to be excited about heading into the season. The rest of the league is playing against similar competition and he’s leading the way. He’s heading into the season confident and with McDavid as his C, two things that usually lead to lots of goals being scored.

    Is Rattie going to score 191 goals this season? Probably not.

  4. OriginalPouzar says:

    I wonder what the lineup will look like for tonight’s game.

    Got to assume that Bear is in the lineup and, like Bouchard, I think he should play with Russell as his likely partner if he’s on the team and in the lineup.

    Time to give McLeod his last game before he is re-assigned – does he center a couple of fourth line candidates such as Caggulia and Aberg or does he play with some more material wingers? I don’t really see the point of him playing with wingers that we know are in the top 9 as, if those wingers are in the game, they should be playing with a likely regular season center – not that they’ve done much of it but no more effing around.

  5. OriginalPouzar says:

    OmJo:
    Is Rattie going to score 191 goals this season? Probably not.

    Why do you have to be so negative?

  6. Back 9 says:

    GMB3: Would you rather have Caggiula for 1.5 or overpay Drai by 1.5?

    The answer should be we want neither because all overpays will hurt the team. To state the question in this way implies that we had to do one or the other instead of seeing that we keep shooting ourselves in the foot.

  7. Walter Gretzkys Neighbour says:

    GMB3,

    I totally understand the scepticism and restraint but honestly I do think it’s a bit much to state that Bouchard will “never be” a top tier D.

    Things happen, players evolve, under the right circumstances there is a tremendous range in what this young man may be able to do. The point is no one knows anything for certain.

  8. Jaxon says:

    One thing we need to recognize when discussing Draisaitl’s supposed overpay is that it is an 8 year contract. In a few years, it will be a steal. He has 7 more years while the cap keeps going up and other stars get paid more. All cap hits on long term contracts feel a bit inflated in the beginning.

    Playoff performer. In their playoff run, he didn’t just burn hot, he was visually dominant when it mattered most and when McDavid wasn’t scoring all that much. He was the top scorer in the first two rounds. 16 pts in 13 games. He was a Memorial Cup MVP (Stafford Smythe winner). I’d pay extra for a playoff performer. If you look back at history there have been many greats who were somehow able to turn it up a notch when it mattered most (Chris Drury, Claude Lemiuex, Jagr, Marleau, Brett Hull, Glenn Anderson, Mark Messier, Maurice Richard, Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Steve Yzerman, Patrick Kane, Dino Ciccarelli, Dale Hunter, Butch Goring, Mike Bossy, Doug Gilmour, Brian Trottier, Esa Tikkanen, Ken Linesman, Pavel Bure, Jari Kurri, and of course, Gordie Howe, Booby Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux). Maybe Draisaitl is one of those.

    These are guys you need on contenders and you have to pay for them. However paying a 3rd pair D like Russell, a backup goalie like Koskinen, and a fringe forward like Caggiula is where you lose cups. These guys can be found for less. You don’t need to overpay to retain them. If they don’t like your offer you can really, truly let them walk and find someone just as good or better. Plus, being at the bottom of the roster means they are sometimes blocking players who can do the job better. I think they could have saved about $3M with just those 3 players, maybe more. $3M is a lot of scratch in a cap league.

  9. Bruce McCurdy says:

    unca miltie:
    First chance I have had since Monday night to have a few minutes to comment. First of all, big thanks you to LT, Jon along with Eric & Daniel for an entertaining evening. Certainly enjoyed it. Was great to meet each of you and spend a few minutes with you, your Wetaskiwin story has been retold many times already.My only regret is that I did not get a chance to meet Bruce McCurdy. Would have loved to swap some old time stories with you Bruce. of course I am older than you so my exaggerations might also be greater.
    KInda neat that I glanced over at the gentleman next to me and he was on this site on his phone, Good to meet you Bendleson.
    As far an the Athletic is concerned, I have only one complaint. There is far too much great content for me to keep up to. Just not enough hours in a day. It’s better than having the sports section of each major newspaper in North America all in one place..

    Sorry to have missed you, Unca. You too, Bendelson. (Unless you were one of the folks I spoke with who we never got arund to introducing ourselves.)

    I enjoyed the event immensely, great turnout, outstanding panel, lots of time to hang out & shoot the shit with them along with folks like Sunil, Speeds, kevRock & many more.

  10. Side says:

    godot10: I don’t think he has played against a starting goaltender in the pre-season yet.He has been playing with McDavid, so all of his games, except maybe one, have been at home with a loaded Oilers lineup against a weak visiting team road roster.

    If it was so easy, how come the other Oilers didn’t score more than Rattie?

    I feel like you’re just discrediting Rattie out of necessity, because you took such a hard stance on him and now you don’t want to be wrong. You NEED him to be bad.

    #AHLReplacementPlayer
    #Mirage

  11. PennersPancakes says:

    Side,

    Agreed.

    Its not just that hes putting up points but hes leading the oilers & the league. Yeah the competition might not be the toughest but its the same for everyone. Wonder if this means Pulju is a mirage too /s.

  12. Side says:

    PennersPancakes:
    Side,

    Agreed.

    Its not just that hes putting up points but hes leading the oilers & the league. Yeah the competition might not be the toughest but its the same for everyone. Wonder if this means Pulju is a mirage too /s.

    The league is in for a world of hurt if #AHLReplacementPlayer is leading them in the pre-season.

  13. Walter Gretzkys Neighbour says:

    Side: If it was so easy, how come the other Oilers didn’t score more than Rattie?

    I feel like you’re just discrediting Rattie out of necessity, because you took such a hard stance on him and now you don’t want to be wrong.You NEED him to be bad.

    #AHLReplacementPlayer
    #Mirage

    Completely agree with this.

  14. ashley says:

    Jaxon:
    One thing we need to recognize when discussing Draisaitl’s supposed overpay is that it is an 8 year contract. In a few years, it will be a steal. He has 7 more years while the cap keeps going up and other stars get paid more. All cap hits on long term contracts feel a bit inflated in the beginning.

    Playoff performer. In their playoff run, he didn’t just burn hot, he was visually dominant when it mattered most and when McDavid wasn’t scoring all that much. He was the top scorer in the first two rounds. 16 pts in 13 games. He was a Memorial Cup MVP (Stafford Smythe winner). I’d pay extra for a playoff performer. If you look back at history there have been many greats who were somehow able to turn it up a notch when it mattered most (Chris Drury, Claude Lemiuex, Jagr, Marleau, Brett Hull, Glenn Anderson, Mark Messier, Maurice Richard, Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Steve Yzerman, Patrick Kane, Dino Ciccarelli, Dale Hunter, Butch Goring, Mike Bossy, Doug Gilmour, Brian Trottier, Esa Tikkanen, Ken Linesman, Pavel Bure, Jari Kurri, and of course, Gordie Howe, Booby Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux). Maybe Draisaitl is one of those.

    These are guys you need on contenders and you have to pay for them. However paying a 3rd pair D like Russell, a backup goalie like Koskinen, and a fringe forward like Caggiula is where you lose cups. These guys can be found for less. You don’t need to overpay to retain them. If they don’t like your offer you can really, truly let them walk and find someone just as good or better. Plus, being at the bottom of the roster means they are sometimes blocking players who can do the job better. I think they could have saved about $3M with just those 3 players, maybe more. $3M is a lot of scratch in a cap league.

    Good post and agreed. It may work out to be better value as time goes on. The playoff performance was a rather small sample so I’m not ready to jump in with both feet on that data point, but it would be great if he turns out to be a playoff demon like Claude Lemieux.

  15. GMB3 says:

    Back 9: The answer should be we want neither because all overpays will hurt the team.To state the question in this way implies that we had to do one or the other instead of seeing that we keep shooting ourselves in the foot.

    I do agree with this actually. I was just pointing out that the overpay on Drai isn’t as big of a deal if other players weren’t overpaid. I like Draisaitl’s chances of covering the bet more than Lucic per say.

  16. GMB3 says:

    Walter Gretzkys Neighbour:
    GMB3,

    I totally understand the scepticism and restraint but honestly I do think it’s a bit much to state that Bouchard will “never be” a top tier D.

    Things happen, players evolve, under the right circumstances there is a tremendous range in what this young man may be able to do. The point is no one knows anything for certain.

    For sure, it could happen, but the Edmonton Oilers continually place a lot of faith in magic beans. I don’t see it as the likely scenario, maybe I phrased it a little harshly last evening (I’d had a few beverages)

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