I know you want to talk about playoff races and passing the Calgary Flames for good, but it’s important to remember the Edmonton Oilers are still a building team. They are young, lack experience and have unproven scoring on right wing. Ideally you draft Connor McDavid after all the busy work is done, but then again you draft Connor McDavid whenever the hockey Gods tell you to proceed. So it’s another year of ‘those wacky takeoffs‘ but one hopes there will be fewer holes one year from now. There is certainly progress, that’s for sure. (Note: Connor McDavid at Toronto Pearson with CIBC).
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 $3.50 a month!
- New Lowetide: Oilers reach a pressure point on defence and right wing
- New Jonathan Willis: Predicting the impact Ethan Bear and Edmonton’s other top AHL prospects will make at the NHL level.
- Lowetide: Zack Kassian market value.
- 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?
- Jonathan Willis: Connor McDavid finds another gear, but Oilers still lack scoring on the wing.
- 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.
OILERS AFTER 12
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, eight points; goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2016: 8-3-1, 17 points; goal differential +7
- Oilers in October 2017: 4-7-1, nine points; goal differential -9
- Oilers in October 2018: 6-4-1, 13 points; goal differential -2
This year’s team remains well clear of the two non-playoff teams, but have some work to do in order to catch the 2016 playoff squad. The schedule does favor Edmonton early this month, as we’ll see in a minute. Important to catch a wave early, ‘less the skies of November turn gloomy.
OILERS IN NOVEMBER
- Oilers in November 2015: 1-0-0, two points; goal differential +2
- Oilers in November 2016: 0-0-1, one point; goal differential -1
- Oilers in November 2017: 0-1-0, no points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in November 2018: 0-0-0, no points; goal differential 0
The club did a splendid job sledding through tough terrain right at the beginning of the trip. Important to get healthy, to avoid asking questions like “does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?” We’ve gone down with the good ship Oiler in Novembers past, and humbly ask the lord’s mercy before the beginning of this one. Hallelujah, amen.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN NOVEMBER
- At home to: Chicago (Expected 1-0-0) Actual (0-0-0)
- On the road to: Detroit, Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida (Expected 2-2-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Colorado, Montreal (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Calgary (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Vegas (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Dallas, Los Angeles (Expected 1-0-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 8-5-1, 17 points in 14 games
- Current results: 0-0-0, 0 points in 0 games
If the Oilers deliver on expectations, the team will end November with a record of 14-9-2, 30 points. That projects, all things being equal, to a final record of 46-30-6, 98 points. Although it may appear to be running in place, this pace would actually represent an impressive 25 game stretch. A team with 30 points after 25 games is in the playoff race on December 1. One team a year ago with 30 or more points (St. Louis) missed the playoffs, but that’s a line in the sand that should give the Oilers a strong chance to push forward and make the grade at Game 82.
Cameron Hebig picks up an assist on that Jones PPG. He is now tied for the team lead in scoring with 7 points (4g-3a) in 7 games. #Condorstown
— Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) November 1, 2018
A team that needs scorers is probably aware of its minor league scorers posting crooked numbers. No idea about his foot speed (is he fast enough?) but Cameron Hebig’s hands are getting some attention and after that it’s a matter of sustain. He ended up with three assists in a loss last night, Caleb Jones also had a big game. Here are the top 10 in points for Condors so far this season:
- Cameron Hebig 7, 4-5-9
- Brad Malone 7, 3-4-7
- Josh Currie 7, 3-4-7
- Tyler Benson 7, 1-6-7
- Cooper Marody 5, 2-4-6
- Caleb Jones 7, 2-4-6
- Patrick Russell 7, 2-3-5
- Dave Gust 5, 2-2-4
- Logan Day 6, 1-3-4
- William Lagesson 6, 0-4-4
- Joe Gambardella 7, 2-2-4
I count 6 (Hebig, Benson, Marody, Jones, Lagesson, Gambardella) legit prospects, and you never know maybe Russell or Currie turn into the modern Marcabello. The most encouraging AHL leaderboard I’ve seen in years. I’m reminded of the turn of the century Hamilton Bulldogs, truth to tell.
WHAT WOULD SAM POLLOCK DO?
Sam Pollock is dead of course, but it’s an interesting question to pose as we watch Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan wrestle with the future of the Oilers current mannish boy, Jesse Puljujarvi. Chiarelli, like every general manager in history, holds his draft picks as dear, even with the potential contained in Puljujarvi still mostly untapped.
Pollock’s Montreal was so deep even Hall of Fame talent got slow-played (Steve Shutt scored eight goals in 50 games as a rookie at 20, then 15 goals at 21), Edmonton doesn’t have the same issue. If Pollock were alive and Edmonton’s general manager today, he would likely send Puljujarvi to Bakersfield and get him thriving. Jesse is still very young, and the disappointment of demotion could be replaced by the confidence that comes with flattening the AHL (something he could absolutely do, especially with a skill center). Perhaps the team could send down Cooper Marody at the same time, give those two men 20 games together and see how they shine.
This may seem an unattractive option for Puljujarvi fans, but from an organizational point of view it’s the right thing to do. Trading Pulju now makes little sense, you’re likely dealing for an incomplete prospect, and very likely dealing JP for someone who has less range in terms of skill. Sam Pollock would retain Jesse Puljujarvi on his pro roster, pretty sure, while firing the guy who brought him up to the NHL before he was ready.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
It’s Thursday, game night and we have a rocking group of guests. Scheduled to appear, beginning at 10 this morning, TSN1260:
- Kent Wilson, The Athletic. Kent wrote a story on the potential Calgary Olympics bid and we’ll chat about it, plus the Flames start to the season.
- Jimmy Greenfield, Chicago Tribune. The Blackhawks are stronger than anyone expected, much of the success coming from the department of youth and a makeshift starting six on defense. We’ll chat about it.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. The first trade bait board has arrived, plenty of RW and D on it, we’ll touch base to talk about some possible deals.
- Jabari Greer, TSN. We’ll talk winners and losers on NFL trade deadline day.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!