I like using comparables when talking about prospects, it gives me a possible trajectory for the future. Blame Bill James. I marked a bushel for Jesse Puljujarvi this time last year—William Nylander, Mikko Rantanen and David Pastrnak—but a lot of people had those names when going in search of Jesse’s brothers. Statistical matches are fun, and are accurate sometimes. What about stylistic matches? What about situational matches? Interesting idea.
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. Best available offer is here!
- New Jonathan Willis: Tobias Rieder will miss a critical month, creating problems for Edmonton but opportunities for its players.
- New Tyler Dellow: If nothing changes, Oilers should buy out Milan Lucic next summer.
- New Lowetide: The past, present and future of the Andrej Sekera contract.
- 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.
MACT AND THE HEMMER
It’s my experience that when a decade passes without agreement, we’re either talking about Middle East peace or an Edmonton Oiler. There was a time Ales Hemsky could part the Red Sea with his ability to divide people on the simplest issues–especially Oiler fans.
Ales Hemsky was supremely skilled, and delivered excitement during a period where there was very little. The one time he had a chance to play on a really good team he led that club in points and then had a terrific playoff run.
Hemsky arrived as a Czech playing in the QMJHL and by his second training camp Craig MacTavish didn’t want to send him back. The young Hemsky had much to learn away from the puck but he was talented offensively (MacT made several bets during his coaching career on offensive players) and from the fall of 2002 he was in the NHL when healthy or not locked out.
MacT gave him 9:26 (evens) a night (6-15-21) as a teenage rookie, 59 games. Hemsky got 2:36 on the PP (0-9-9) and he earned more time in year two: 11:13 (evens) and 2:42 (power play). A funny thing happened before year three, the NHL cancelled the season. Hemsky played in his hometown Pardubice, and when he returned, MacT released the kraken: 11:38 evens, 5:03 power play, 18 minutes a night. Hemsky led the team in scoring, delivered some memorable postseason moments and the two men shared their career highlight under the same sky. Hemsky was 22 that season.
The year away from each other might have helped, time away and the absence of alternatives (Edmonton didn’t have anyone like Hemsky, at least during the regular season) clears the mind.
I don’t know that Todd McLellan and Jesse Puljujarvi are ever going to go fishing together, but McLellan doesn’t have a lot of good alternatives who offer what JP brings. At 20, Hemsky was getting 11:13 a night at even strength. Jesse Puljujarvi? 11:09. You can look it up.
Per Todd McLellan, Tobias Rieder left the game with an upper-body injury and will be re-evaluated tomorrow.
— Daniel Nugent-Bowman (@DNBsports) November 14, 2018
Rieder is out for a month, give or take a weekend. That’s a blow, because the team was running on 13 forwards and Cooper Marody is a flat out rookie. Edmonton’s recall is another man who doesn’t have NHL experience, although Patrick Russell (photo by Mark Williams) is in the final year of his entry deal. I was going to write about the PK options (I use SA/60) but Sunil Agnihotri did that and more here.
Patrick Russell got the call yesterday, he’s up to the NHL for the first time in his pro career. I love these stories, and in the case of Russell it all started in Holte, Denmark, which is a suburb of Copenhagen. I’ve seen him several times as a Condors forward and he’s a good penalty killer, can score shorties, anticipates well and is a throwback type in that he’s where you expect him to be most of the time. McLellan will like him.
CONDORS SCORING, FORWARDS, 5-ON-5
- Cooper Marody and Patrick Russell are now in the NHL, with Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto in Bakersfield.
- Tyler Benson is starting to post crooked numbers at 5-on-5 that’s a terrific sign. The Oilers should resist any temptation to call him up, just let him flourish at that level. Cup of coffee late in the year if it makes sense.
- Cameron Hebig is among the leading rookie scorers in the AHL, much of that coming on the power play.
- Joe Gambardella is a player I thought we might see instead of Russell. Both men are playing well.
- The Condors play in San Diego tonight.
CONDORS, DEFENSE, 5-ON-5
- Jay Woodcroft is some kind of prospect whisperer, his best prospects are rising to the top.
- Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear and William Lagesson are all playing well, with the numbers suggesting Jones might be the early recall option over the other two. Of course, lefty-righty and style would have an impact.
- Kevin Gravel, Ryan Stanton and Keegan Lowe represent the veteran group, Gravel getting some NHL time.
- Logan Day appears to be a chaos blue based on on-ice goal differential but he can play.
WINTER TOP 20
I’ll begin my ‘winter top 20’ at The Athletic tomorrow, with the No. 1 prospect in the Oilers’ system. Damn near half the list is new, it’s a stronger list than a year ago. I hope you enjoy it, one of my favourite things to do each year, this is year No. 16 for the winter list. The first No. 1 prospect in winter 2003? Jarrett Stoll. As a throwback bonus, here is the winter top 20, 2004 edition:
- Rob Schremp—Not a complete player by any means, but a potential impact player.
- Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers—Made a huge leap with early success.
- Marc-Antoine Pouliot—He’s a kid who could falter in one area and still make it to the show.
- Jeff Woywitka—Size, calm feet, makes a nice outlet pass and is progressing. Lots to like.
- Doug Lynch—Pretty much the same as Woywitka only more offense so far.
- Colin McDonald—Best PF prospect in the system imo.
- Jean Francois Jacques—Is stepping forward in a big way.
- Matt Greene—Possible impact defender.
- Devan Dubnyk—There’s a monster in net.
- Roman Tesliuk—I like how he handles the puck. Confident.
- Tony Salmelainen—Size only concern. Skilled.
- Brad Winchester—Has turned a corner.
- Jesse Niinimaki—The body of Ichabod Crane ain’t gonna get it done.
- Zack Stortini—Showing some promise.
- Troy Bodie—Ditto.
- Brock Radunske—Based on potential.
- Alexei Mikhnov—I give the hell up.
- Jani Rita—Boy, did the 90s blow or what?
- Liam Reddox—Skill.
- Mike Bishai—Has overcome exceptional odds.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun morning, we’re heading for the weekend and there’s much to discuss. At 10, TSN 1260, scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, BigMouthSports. CFL playoffs, Oilers putting McDavid-Draisaitl together, and best/worst broadcast teams of all time.
- Danny Austin, Calgary Sun. The western final should be a fabulous game, we’ll preview.
- Matt Iwanyk, TSN1260. Western final, Oilers big weekend on the way.
It’s been one year since Tyler Yaremchuk joined the show, we’ll celebrate by playing the most famous moment of the last 12 months at 11:20. You don’t want to miss it! 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.