At this early point in the season, it’s necessary to reset expectations of the 2018-19 Edmonton Oilers. The problem with doing it? The odds of overrating this team in projecting them forward is large based on the most recent performances. I had them posting eight points in 11 October games, the team now has 11 points in nine October games. What are fans to do with these Oilers? May I suggest ‘enjoy the ride’?
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- New Lowetide: Everything’s coming up Oilers as young AHL hopefuls in Bakersfield hammer Flames’ farmhands.
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi gets scratched, so what’s next for Edmonton’s lottery winger?
- Tyler Dellow: Oilers treading water despite tough schedule, but still struggle to score without Connor McDavid.
- Jonathan Willis: Connor McDavid finds another gear, but Oilers still lack scoring on the wing.
- Cat Silverman: How Laurent Brossoit found his way back to NHL form.
- Lowetide: Todd McLellan finds a suitable spot in the order for Milan Lucic.
- Jonathan Willis: Four reasons why the Oilers should return Evan Bouchard to junior.
- Lowetide: Drake Caggiula might be hearing footsteps as the Oilers look for offence to replace injured Ty Rattie.
- Lowetide: Kirill Maksimov is tearing up the OHL, three Condors fly high.
- Lowetide: Peter Chiarelli’s race against time.
- Daniel Nugent-Hopkins: Asking McDavid to take on Bergeron line at home shows what Oilers are missing.
- New Daniel Nugent-Hopkins: Remembering Ron Chipperfield’s brief and hellish time as captain of the Edmonton Oilers.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Grant Fuhr talks about his journey, drug use and the state of goaltending.
- Lowetide: Math offers a surprising option for Leon Draisaitl’s struggling No. 2 line
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Nurse-Russell were solid, the memories of the Penguins game beginning to fade. Went 12-12 (7-10 without 97) Corsi for 5-on-5 in 10:31 together, 8-5 shots, 3-1 HDSC and no goals. Went 6-5 in 6:15 against Fiala-Turris-Smith, Nurse on the ice for a goal against that line while Larsson was also on the ice. I thought Russell did some good things with the puck in the offensive zone early, I think Yawney’s influence is beginning to show.
- Klefbom-Larsson had an eventful day. Were 9-11 in 12:03, 7-5 shots and 1-1 goals. Went 5-9, (0-1 goals) against Forsberg-Johansen-Arvidsson. Klefbom went 4-2 in 2:28 with Benning (1-0 goals) and played fully half the game. I don’t know what that might mean for today’s game but Klefbom played well. Larsson got caught a little early on what turned into an Arvidsson breakaway and then took a face full of puck later but he hung in there and played well overall. Oscar Klefbom is one of the truly valuable players on this team. Larsson is as well, if you don’t believe me check every Oilers fan reaction after the big RHD was injured yesterday. Edmonton needs both healthy and effective in order to have success.
- Garrison-Benning were solid, going 3-5 in 6:18, 2-0 shots and no goals. A nice, calm third pairing but you’d like the group to play a little more overall (Benning did play 2:28 with Klefbom and played well). The Garrison-Benning pair were 3-3 in 4:51 against Hartman-Sissons-Jarnkrok.
- Mikko Koskinen stopped 24 of 27, .889. He made several spectacular saves in his Edmonton debut. At 5-on-5, he stopped 15 of 16, .938. I have to tell you he impressed the hell out of me.
- NHL.com and NaturalStatTrick.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Nuge-McDavid-Yamamoto were 16-10 in 9:28, 13-7 shots, 1-1 goals and 5-1 in HDSC. The McDavid goal was fantastic, outstanding pass through brilliant finish. They make it look so damned easy. It is not. Yamamoto is lagging a little, I think Rattie’s job is waiting for him when he’s ready. I do think the young undersized winger has earned his roster spot. McDavid went 6-5 against Josi-Ellis, 10-6 against Ekholm-Subban.
- Rieder-Draisaitl-Chiasson went 6-6 in 8:25, 4-2 shots and 1-0 goals. Rieder is an excellent complementary winger for Leon and Chiasson is playing well enough to stay this high on the depth chart (how long can he do it?). Leon is really pushing now, he has four goals in his most recent three games. Went 6-5 in 6:07 against Josi-Ellis, 2-2 against Ekholm-Subban. Leon’s step forward this week is a major item in the team’s success, don’t let anyone tell you different.
- Khaira-Brodziak-Kassian were 2-5 in 6:34, 2-0 shots and no goals. Went 1-0 against Bitetto-Weber, Brodziak had 1:31 clean on the PK, Khaira 0-1 goals 4-on-5 in 2:37. Kassian took a late penalty that resulted in a power-play goal but it’s unclear if it was in fact a penalty.
- Lucic-Strome-Caggiula went 3-9 in 6:40, 3-3 shots and 1-0 in goals. Lucic-Strome appear to be a productive (in possession) unit now, Caggiula’s two goals were his first points of the campaign. Line went 0-4 against Ekholm-Subban and 2-4 against Josi-Ellis.
OILERS IN OCTOBER
- Oilers in October 2015: 3-7-0, six points; goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-2-1, 15 points; goal differential +9
- Oilers in October 2017: 3-6-1, seven points; goal differential -11
- Oilers in October 2018: 5-3-1, 11 points; goal differential -2
This year’s team is nicely clear of the two non-playoff teams (2016 and 2017). It’s fascinating to see just how much has been established by the morning of Game 10 in these seasons. The two playoff misses here are obvious by Game 10, as is the playoff team. I picked this year’s model for 90-94 points, the current pace would see the team finish with 100. I can’t tell you what to expect today. I don’t know this team. They are a stranger to me, but in a good way.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN OCTOBER
- On the road to: Sweden to play NJD (Expected: 0-0-1) (Actual: 0-1-0)
- On the road to: Boston, NYR, Winnipeg (Expected 1-2-0) (Actual 2-1-0)
- At home to: Boston, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Washington (Expected 1-3-0) (Actual 2-1-1)
- On the road to: Nashville, Chicago (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- At home to: Minnesota (Expected 0-0-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 3-6-2, 8 points in 11 games
- Current results: 5-3-1, 11 points after nine games
The Oilers are setting themselves up very well with this current heater (I think that’s the word) that has them 5-1-1 in the team’s last seven games. If Edmonton can win today, this year’s team will be within a whisper of the 2016 playoff Oilers. It is very important to remain patient, this team is not complete and is not balanced. There will be difficult times ahead.
Elliotte Friedman’s hot stove highlights on HNIC included word that Zack Kassian has permission to seek a trade from the team. That is interesting. Kassian’s redemption story has been an impressive one, hope he finds an NHL home somewhere. I expect the emergence of Alex Chiasson has something to do with it. Don’t expect a lot in return, and the Oilers may have to retain some dollars on a handsome contract for Kassian.
I also expect we’ll see a few changes as the days go down. Jason Garrison is not as effective as Kevin Gravel, so that’s a move that can be made sooner than later. If Jesse Puljujarvi isn’t playing in Edmonton he should be in Bakersfield on the No. 1 line. For a team playing well, there are a few roster tweaks that should be coming.
TOP 20 PROSPECTS
I’m just getting started looking at the winter top 20 (it will appear at The Athletic again this year) and it is interesting to look back on last year’s rankings to see what has changed. I had Kailer Yamamoto No. 1, mostly because his offensive ability is more clear. Jesse Puljujarvi was No. 2 a year ago (he has now graduated) mostly because it wasn’t completely clear to me where his offense in the NHL was going to occur. If you look at his world junior highlights, JP often does a give and go with his center, who carries the puck into the zone, finds Puljujarvi in a promising scoring position, and Puljujarvi cashes from high-danger areas.
I’ve said all along that Puljujarvi is going to be a valuable NHL player, but the offense and how he creates it is something we have to see play out. I do think he will eventually get power-play time, and let’s remember he scored 10 a year ago at 5-on-5 (ranking him No. 5 on the team).
We might be dealing with an outscoring winger as opposed to a high-scoring winger. If he pops 20 a year and is a terror in possession, who is going to complain? Not me. Jesse has to play though, in Edmonton or in Bakersfield.
If they trade him for 10 cents on the dollar, I expect the future to be more ‘Miro Satan’ than ‘Nail Yakupov’ and my guess would be somewhere in the middle.