Expectations of this season for Oilers fans and observers varies wildly. Some believe the team will fall flat, finishing with fewer than 75 points. Others believe 85 is an outer marker, I’ve suggested 90 to 94 points is reasonable and some think a complete turnaround is coming, they believe this team pushes past 100 points.
The big item for me, the top priority from here, is the team arrives in April with at least some problems solved. The bets are obvious (Rattie at 1RW, Yamamoto at 2RW, Puljujarvi at 3RW, Rieder as Pisani, Benning at 2RHD, Bouchard at 3RHD, Koskinen as 2G) but we don’t know the winners yet. If Edmonton finishes with 92 points, misses the playoffs, but Yamamoto, Puljujarvi, Rieder and Benning are true, then that’s a lot from one season. That shopping list needs to be solved, at least partly, by next summer. Plus you have to sign the goalie.
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- New Lowetide: Oilers should make a waiver claim on Marko Dano.
- New Lowetide: College and AHL prospect update.
- New Lowetide: Panic storm on the horizon as Oilers remain a one-man show
- New Justin Bourne: How hockey has changed for the better and allowed its young stars to shine.
- Lowetide: Joel Persson’s early season performance in the SHL.
- Lowetide: Practice lines in Boston, anger in Edmonton and Kailer Yamamoto remains on the No. 2 line.
- Jonathan Willis: At 34, is Kyle Brodziak just too old to help the Oilers?
- Jonathan Willis: Why Todd McLellan’s name keeps showing up on those ‘first coach fired in 2018-19’ lists
- James Mirtle: Sizing up the NHL 2018-19 by age, height and age (Oilers content)
- Black Dog: Edmonton’s future is bright, but there are all kinds of questions in the present.
- Lowetide: Evan Bouchard survives first game.
- Lowetide: Ryan McLeod takes demotion in stride, while a Condo of Condors impress on opening weekend.
- Jonathan Willis: On AHL opening night, Caleb Jones and friends make it clear they want NHL jobs.
- Lowetide: Orange, white and blue October: In 1979, the Oilers rocked the NHL.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: After the death of his father, Sweden trip holds special significance for Adam Larsson, and one of his opponents.
- Scott Wheeler: How the eye test fails to properly evaluate Evan Bouchard.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Why the Nuge-McDavid-Rattie line has been so successful.
- Lowetide: The 2018-19 Oilers are in a period of transition.
HOW ARE THINGS GOING SO FAR?
- Ty Rattie as No. 1 right wing. I have been impressed with him over the first three games. Offense at 5-on-5 is shy (1.37 per 60) but we’re talking about 44 minutes of action. I like him on the McDavid line because he doesn’t let the play die on his stick and is looking for good ice in the offensive zone. Currently has four individual HDSC’s at 5-on-5, leading the team.
- Kailer Yamamoto as No. 2 right wing. He’s drawing penalties but the line isn’t humming at all. He has one HDSC, and hasn’t put together a complete 60 minutes yet. His 5-on-5 Corsi is 49 percent, his shot differential 39 percent. It isn’t all on him but he’s the most likely man on the line to be replaced. I think he might benefit from being sent to Bakersfield and coming back when the team has figured itself out.
- Jesse Puljujarvi as No. 3 right wing. He has good possession and goal differential numbers (both over 54 percent), but no points and just three shots on goal. He looked better in the New York game, still plenty of track left. A power-play opportunity wouldn’t go amiss.
- Tobias Rieder as Fernando Pisani. I have liked his checking, he needs to cash his opportunities offensively. He is also a part of the penalty kill, Oilers badly need that group to post strong numbers on the 4-on-5. It isn’t happening in the first three games.
- Matt Benning as 2RHD. It has been a decidedly rocky start but I still think Benning is the best option on the roster. It was two games. That said, we’re looking for answers and so far this bet isn’t trending well.
- Evan Bouchard as 3RHD. It’s actually working very well in terms of possession (53.45 Corsi for 5-on-5) and goal differential (50 percent). He makes rookie mistakes but you can see him improving seemingly with each shift. He is going to be a very good NHL player.
- Mikko Koskinen as 2G. Too soon to know.
— Lowetide (@Lowetide) October 15, 2018
The article drills down on the current roster and suggests names Dano could replace plus the roster movements that allow the team to grab him today. Edmonton isn’t first in line for claim so may not get the chance. However, if they pass on Dano, it’s my belief it will be an opportunity missed.
NEW LINES AND PAIRINGS
The second line and second pairing isn’t working. Marko Dano might get plucked off waivers today. Those things understood, here’s my suggestion.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Connor McDavid—Ty Rattie
- Marko Dano—Leon Draisaitl—Jesse Puljujarvi
- Milan Lucic—Ryan Strome—Tobias Rieder
- Jujhar Khaira—Kyle Brodziak—Zack Kassian
- Drake Caggiula, Alex Chiasson
- Oscar Klefbom—Adam Larsson
- Darnell Nurse—Matt Benning
- Kris Russell—Evan Bouchard
- Cam Talbot (Mikko Koskinen)
I placed Dano with Leon and JP, but the truth is you could run Rieder and Khaira. I would like to see two weeks of Leon without Milan Lucic. It isn’t because I dislike ML, as you may know I’m a fan of this player. It’s because Draisaitl is too important a player to have him fail, and right now his numbers are alarming. Here are the metrics year over year in some important areas (this year in brackets):
- 5-on-5 points per 60: 2.29 (1.42)
- 5-on-5 shots per 60: 6.98 (4.25)
- 5-on-5 individual HDSC: 3.09 (1.42)
- 5-on-5 individual takeaways: 3.41 (1.42)
- 5-on-5 Corsi for percentage: 52.26 (43.08)
- 5-on-5 shots for percentage: 53.38 (37.50)
- 5-on-5 goals for percentage: 49.17 (25.00)
It’s early, too early to make this a big issue (just 42 minutes) but by math and by eye, the Draisaitl line isn’t working well. It is a growing concern.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we hit the ground running. Either Marko Dano is chosen on waivers or the Oilers passed on him, either one is a story worth discussing. Scheduled to appear:
- Murat Ates, The Athletic Winnipeg. We’ll chat about Dano, Laurent Brossoit’s incredible game for the Jets last night and the Oilers-Jets clash on Tuesday.
- Cameron DaSilva, Rams Wire. The Los Angeles Rams are 6-0! Is this their year?
- Jason Gregor, TSN1260. A big weekend for Edmonton fans, as both the Oilers and Eskimos won important games. We’ll chat about the week to come for both clubs.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!