Since arriving as general manager, Peter Chiarelli has drafted 27 players, 12 of them (44 percent) blue. Edmonton’s head of procurement has also signed defenseman Joel Persson as a free agent. I wrote recently about the Oilers finally having enough depth to trade from strength (here) and the team seems to have enough bubbling under on left and right defense. That’s the strength. What is the area of weakness? Scoring forwards.
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- New Lowetide: The past, present and future of the Andrej Sekera contract.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Elmer Benning on his 47 years as a scout (excellent article).
- Jonathan Willis: After several failed attempts to fix their issues on the wings, it’s time for the Oilers to explore the trade market.
- Lowetide: Connor McDavid, a 50-goal season and chasing Phil Esposito’s magical 1970-71.
- Lowetide: Oilers send Puljujarvi and Yamamoto to Bakersfield; recall Marody
- Lowetide: Oilers trade options: Dealing from strength is finally a possibility.
- Lowetide: What happens to the Oilers when Alex Chiasson’s hot streak ends?
- Jonathan Willis: Under the circumstances, playing in the AHL affords Jesse Puljujarvi the best chance at career redemption.
- Lowetide: A new day dawning for Oilers prospects in Bakersfield as increased usage means greater success.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: In depth: Embattled Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli defends his record, remains bullish on the future.
- Lowetide: Future Oilers bubbling under in Bakersfield may get a look sooner rather than later.
- Lowetide: Oscar Klefbom takes a step forward for the Edmonton Oilers.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Forty years later, remembering the forgotten trade that brought Wayne Gretzky to Edmonton.
- Lowetide: Oilers reach a pressure point on defence and right wing.
- Connor McDavid—227 NHL games. Per 82gp: 35-67-102
- Caleb Jones—69 AHL games, appears close to NHL-ready. Per 82 AHL: 5-26-31.
- Ethan Bear—18 NHL games. Impressive passer, range of skills. Per 82 AHL: 11-27-38.
- John Marino—Junior year at Harvard a challenge so far.
- Miroslav Svoboda—NSH prospect, he owns the ECHL (.931).
- Ziyat Paigin—No longer in organization, not moving the needle back home.
Remember last year when we talked about prospects not developing in a straight line? Remember when I said Bear was having a great season but Jones might flip the script 12 months gone? It’s happened and now Jones would appear to be in the queue for recall and possibly a part of the Oilers’ future. Bear has had injury issues but there’s a player there in my opinion. Wonderful passer. If the goal is two players from each draft, who the hells cares they got McDavid! Seriously, you’d like to see both AHL blue emerge as NHL players. This was an historic draft, important to get as much as possible from it.
- Jesse Puljujarvi—104 NHL games. Per 82gp: 11-12-23
- Tyler Benson—16 AHL games, impressive pro debut. 11, 3-9-12 so far.
- Markus Niemelainen—58 Sm-Liiga games. 16 minutes a night this season.
- Matt Cairns—16 NCAA games. He is 6, 1-1-2 with Cornell, there’s a pulse.
- Filip Berglund—112 SHL games, he’s 16, 2-5-7 this year, 19:25 a night. Up arrows.
- Dylan Wells—5 ECHL games, .874SP. No outstanding arrows for some time.
- Graham McPhee—83 NCAA games, spiked offensively last year, quiet early this time.
- Aapeli Rasanen—38 NCAA games, good checker, offense needs to emerge.
- Vincent Desharnais—98 NCAA games, senior season underway.
This is emerging as a strange and uneven draft, the final one without Keith Gretzky. Puljujarvi hasn’t emerged as a regular and his entry deal ends at the conclusion of the season, but there are all kinds of good arrows for the player. Benson is having a strong rookie pro season, Berglund has done everything in the SHL to show he’s worthy of a contract.
After that, it’s a mixed bag and we’ll see, Matt Cairns has shown some signs here early in the season. Both Boston College forwards (McPhee and Rasanen) have failed to launch this year, hopefully that turns around soon.
- Kailer Yamamoto—21 NHL games, needs to bring more offense.
- Stuart Skinner—6 ECHL games, .912SP. Appears slightly ahead of Wells.
- Dmitri Samorukov—147 OHL games. Seems to have taken a step back.
- Ostap Safin—69 QMJHL games. Injury early this year, on track now.
- Kirill Maksimov—198 OHL games, hot start this season, slowed lately.
- Skyler Brind’Amour—77 BCHL games, offensive spike in second BCHL season.
- Phil Kemp—31 NCAA games. Sophomore college season just underway.
Yamamoto scored his first NHL goal (a stunner, best since Eberle) but couldn’t deliver enough offensively to stay in the lineup. He’s in Bakersfield and will make his AHL debut this weekend. Skinner’s early pro results are positive, and junior scorers Safin and Maksimov are posting solid to excellent numbers (although the Maksimov cooling is a slight concern). It’s a big season for this draft.
- Evan Bouchard—7 NHL games. He’s 3, 2-1-3 back in the OHL. An outstanding prospect.
- Ryan McLeod—215 OHL games. He’s started his OHL season like a house on fire.
- Olivier Rodrigue—110 QMJHL games. He is playing well, .900SP so far.
- Michael Kesselring—27 USHL games. He has taken a step forward this year.
- Patrik Siikanen—45 Jr. Sm-Liiga games. He’s up slightly in boxcars this season.
An NHL team needs to cash its first rounders every time and then grab at least one more player from each draft. Ryan McLeod and Olivier Rodrique are the strongest candidates for the second NHLer but Kesselring is a fascinating prospect.
If we use the traditional line in the sand (two players per draft season) Chiarelli’s Oilers should expect eight players from these drafts. Connor McDavid is the only player who has punched his ticket, so seven more should be expected. I’ll pick Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, Jesse Puljujarvi, Tyler Benson, Kailer Yamamoto, Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod as the seven most likely to cash. Your mileage may vary.
I’m not talking Andrej Sekera or Milan Lucic, but rather college or CHL free agents who would have been considered prospects on signing day. Here’s a quick look (I think it’s everyone) at the group.
- Braden Christoffer—156 AHL games. He didn’t score enough in entry deal to take next step.
- Jere Sallinen—53 AHL games. He was a capable AHL forward.
- Nick Ellis—56 AHL games. One fine AHL year, one subpar one, and then he retired.
- Drake Caggiula—141 NHL games. Won NHL job, kept it. Per 82gp: 15-11-26.
- Patrick Russell—147 AHL games. Good two-way F and PK man. Offense strong this year.
- Matt Benning—149 NHL games. Solid NHL blue when healthy. Per 82gp: 5-17-22.
- Shane Starrett—5 AHL games. Off to a strong start (2, .917) this year.
- Joe Gambardella—67 AHL games. Increased offense this year, solid two-way forward.
- Ryan Mantha—43 AHL games. A freak injury has his career in doubt.
- Ty Rattie—58 NHL games. He has impressed me in 23 NHL games.
- Brian Ferlin—7 NHL games. His injury was too severe to get back.
- Yohann Auvitu—58 NHL games. An underrated signing, he didn’t get a PP push.
- Cameron Hebig—11 AHL games. 6-6-12 so far, looks like a solid addition.
- Colin Larkin—16 AHL games. Looks like another Braden Christoffer.
- Joel Persson—67 SHL games. He’s posting impressive crooked numbers. Legit.
Chiarelli has done good work here, with Caggiula, Benning and Rattie emerging as NHL players (I think Rattie is there, perhaps I’m jumping the gun). Guys like Gambardella, Hebig and Persson are matriculating, I believe his aggressiveness in this area was forced by the generally disappointing 2012 and 2013 drafts and the strange 2014 drafting.
This exercise isn’t meant to give a pass or fail to the general manager, in procurement it’s best to wait five years after a draft meaning we’re 18 months away from getting the first report card. Rather, it’s designed to identify all available names (and we’ve missed some, like Cooper Marody and Hayden Hawkey) procured in an effort to improve the overall quality of the NHL roster since Chiarelli’s arrival.
It’s interesting to see so many goalie bets, suspect the organization is hoping one of these inexpensive bets turns out glorious. Skinner and Hawkey appear to have the best chance, although Rodrigue is playing well in a tough league for goaltenders.
On defense, Evan Bouchard is the new big hope (Chiarelli said the other day none of his NHL defensemen are exceptional passers) as he is already a plus passer and has great vision. There are probably a half dozen additional blue are legit NHL prospects, I think the team can deal from strength here any time now.
THE CORE 4 U-24 TOP 50 PLAYERS: Until further notice, the best hockey player on the planet is Connor McDavid. He was first in the #TSNHockey preseason list of the Top 50 players and he's first in the #Core4U24 Top 50.
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) November 15, 2018
The key here is the cluster, the group of players we can safely place around Connor McDavid as sure things for the future. I believe the McDavid cluster should include the captain, Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Evan Bouchard. If that’s the case, this team needs a goalie for the Stanley runs and more scoring on the wings plus a two-way forward or two who can help on the penalty kill.
Perhaps Tobias Rieder and Matt Benning will be added to that cluster in the days to come, there are things about them that suggest they could fit into areas of need. Even the glory Oilers had players who played complementary roles that were important. I think some of us have lost sight of that, and it’s important to value all players who help a team win. Penalty killing isn’t sexy but it sure sucks to lose games because the PK is no damned good.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
We hit the airwaves at 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Marshall Ferguson, TSN1150 Hamilton. The Tiger-Cats look strong enough to make the Grey Cup, we’ll chat about the team’s momentum.
- Scott Rafferty, NBA.com. Golden State feud, 76ers loading up, Raptors hit a bump.
- Frank Seravalli, TSN1260. Core four under 24 and why McDavid flattens the universe.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!