Yesterday the Oilers traded for Ryan Spooner. He’s a skilled complementary forward who has played center at times during his career, but is more effective on the wing. Spooner is a playmaker and has had success on the power play, although his role in Boston was reduced as more capable players (Marchand, Pastrnak) were either added to the roster or moved past him. At 5-on-5, Spooner can post numbers if he plays with superior linemates, as he did 2015-17. I like the trade. It could work out handsomely if Spooner finds himself playing left wing with Connor McDavid. That’s the ideal spot for him, replacing Drake Caggiula. It could work out poorly if Spooner is asked to drive a line with lesser players alongside.
TOP 20 PROSPECTS BEGIN!
Of all the things I’ve written, the thing that brings me the most pride is the winter top 20. We’ve seen a lot together over these many years, and watching these prospects blossom into productive NHL players is a satisfying pastime. If you’ve enjoyed my ‘top 20 prospects’ series going back to 2003, and contemplating subscribing to The Athletic, this would be a great time to do it. I began the series this morning with No. 1 (Evan Bouchard) if you click on that link it’ll direct you on how to subscribe. I’ve added a ‘personal observations’ segment, designed to give you an idea about estimated time of arrival and what the player will bring when he gets to Edmonton. If you’re already a subscriber, please drop me a line in regard to my take on Bouchard.
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 Lowetide: Oilers No. 1 Prospect winter 2018: Evan Bouchard.
- Jonathan Willis: Tobias Rieder will miss a critical month, creating problems for Edmonton but opportunities for its players.
- Tyler Dellow: If nothing changes, Oilers should buy out Milan Lucic next summer.
- 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.
OILERS AFTER 19
- Oilers in October 2015: 6-12-1, 13 points; goal differential -12
- Oilers in October 2016: 10-8-1, 21 points; goal differential +2
- Oilers in October 2017: 7-10-2, 16 points; goal differential -10
- Oilers in October 2018: 9-8-1, 19 points; goal differential -4
This is a monster weekend, it could be grand or diabolical. In movie terms, the range high to low would be Shawshank Redemption (destination Zihuatanejo) to The Lost Weekend (destination a lit cigarette meeting a full glass of whisky). If Edmonton wins both of these games, it sets up November in a very positive way.
OILERS IN NOVEMBER
- Oilers in November 2015: 3-4-1, seven points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in November 2016: 2-5-1, five points; goal differential -9
- Oilers in November 2017: 4-3-1, nine points; goal differential +6
- Oilers in November 2018: 3-4-0, six points; goal differential -2
The November McLellans have been a little all over the place. His best November team (to this point) is easily the most disappointing of the four clubs he has coached (2017-18). Yet, eight games in the arrows were heading in a good direction. The gales of November are a constant worry.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM NOVEMBER
- At home to: Chicago (Expected 1-0-0) Actual (1-0-0)
- On the road to: Detroit, Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida (Expected 2-2-0) (Actual 1-3-0)
- At home to: Colorado, Montreal (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
- 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: 3-4-0, 6 points in 7 games
The rubber hits the road against the Pacific Division now, Edmonton under Peter Chiarelli has placed a lot of focus on these games. The team had quite the run against the Flames over recent times, that began to change late last season. The Oilers won the season opener 3-0 in 2017-18, than another (7-5) win came in December (it was the Brossoit killer game on HNIC), then a shootout win in late January (Brandon Davidson scored twice). The next two games, in March, were losses by 1-0 and 3-2 scores. In 2016-17 (4-0 Oilers) the club delivered handsomely. A repeat this time would be ideal.
STEP UP FOR MARODY?
- Todd McLellan: “He is and will be an NHL centerman, when all is said and done. That could probably happen quickly when he gets that opportunity to play. We’ll see as our lineup evolves.”
The first thing you have to examine after this trade’s completion? Who is playing No. 3 center. There are several ways this can go, this is the group I expect we’ll see:
- Drake Caggiula—Connor McDavid—Leon Draisaitl
- Ryan Spooner—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Alex Chiasson
- Milan Lucic—Cooper Marody—Ty Rattie
- Jujhar Khaira—Kyle Brodziak—Zack Kassian
- Oscar Klefbom—Adam Larsson
- Darnell Nurse—Matt Benning
- Kevin Gravel—Kris Russell
- Mikko Koskinen (Cam Talbot)
I would find a way to get Spooner to the No. 1 line, not sure about Marody in the middle but what a great opportunity for him. If he can help that line outscore opponents he’ll never leave the lineup.
The Oilers have more speed, skill, quickness today. The team has one fewer PK option and I’m not sure Spooner is going to be one of the four best power-play forwards. I don’t think he’s going to be a center either, but if Marody is in fact sliding into the every night lineup perhaps the coach will pair them.
— Matt Mosewich (@EDMFutureWatch) November 17, 2018
CONDORS FRIDAY NIGHT
- Kailer Yamamoto—Josh Currie—Jesse Puljujarvi
- Joe Gambardella—Brad Malone—Braden Christoffer
- Tyler Benson—Tyler Vesel—Cameron Hebig
- Evan Polei—Luke Esposito—Dave Gust
- William Lagesson—Caleb Jones
- Keegan Lowe—Ethan Bear
- Ryan Stanton—Logan Day
- Al Montoya (Shane Starrett)
The Condors were no match for the San Diego Gulls, Dallas Eakins’ team scoring three in the first half of the game and then riding to victory. The Lowe-Bear pairing struggled, Jesse Puljujarvi was brilliant and got in a fight (Oilers have to be careful about this kind of thing, the AHL has a bunch of nasty pieces of work looking to gain a reputation).
Shane Starrett stopped a lot of rubber in relief, Yamamoto had some flashes, but it was a generally disappointing game
SPOONER VERSUS STROME
I like yesterday’s trade in all areas but two: Penalty killing has taken a hit, and Spooner’s arrival comes at a vitally important moment in the season. I would have liked to see this Oilers team arrive at these next games set in their roles. That said, the skill is higher today than it was yesterday.
You hope this trade ends up being a turning point for both players and their careers blossom. Chance are it’s going to be closer to Jussi-Jokinen-for-Mike-Cammalleri than Billy-Harris-for-Butch-Goring.
- Spooner per 82gp NHL: 13-32-45
- Strome per 82gp NHL: 14-23-37
I think that’s a fair reflection of the offensive gap between these two players, but Strome is a RH center and can penalty kill. Both men are complementary offensive players, but Spooner has more ability and can play on the 5-on-4 and that’s in the numbers above. I don’t think he’s going to get power-play time ahead of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He will be a bigger help than Milan Lucic, and maybe that gets him No. 1 power-play time. I don’t think it’s likely. If I were king of the world, I’d work toward this roster when Tobias Rieder and Jesse Puljujarvi return to the capital:
- Ryan Spooner—Connor McDavid—Leon Draisaitl
- Tobias Rieder—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Jesse Puljujarvi/Ty Rattie/Kailer Yamamoto
- Milan Lucic—Jujhar Khaira/Cooper Marody—Alex Chiasson
- Drake Caggiula—Kyle Brodziak—Zack Kassian
- Oscar Klefbom—Adam Larsson
- Darnell Nurse—Matt Benning
- Kevin Gravel—Kris Russell
- Jason Garrison
- Cam Talbot (Mikko Koskinen)
Chiarelli would be smart to push the idea, because Spooner (like Strome) isn’t a guaranteed success. There’s a chance he wouldn’t move the needle much more than Strome on a Lucic-Spooner-Chiasson trio.