There’s one giant helluva lot we don’t know about the 2019-20 Edmonton Oilers, but the depth chart at right defense is going to see a large increase in population. Evan Bouchard will turn pro fall 2019, and as of yesterday, the club secured late blooming Joel Persson to an NHL contract. Added to Adam Larsson, Matt Benning and Ethan Bear, Bouchard and Persson represent the “ridiculous” end of the famous sublime phrase. Who plays in Edmonton next year? Bakersfield? Let’s have a look.
The Athletic Edmonton brought it yesterday, there’s a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of the group. Outstanding offer is here.
- New Lowetide: Finding a path to the playoffs may involve reckless use of future assets by the Oilers
- New Jonathan Willis: An Oilers blueprint for the 2019 NHL free agency period
- Tyler Dellow: A deeper look at Connor McDavid and the Oilers’ 5-on-5 offensive changes under Ken Hitchcock
- Corey Pronman: 2019 NHL Draft midseason rankings
- Jonathan Willis: An Oilers blueprint for the 2019 NHL trade deadline.
- Lowetide: Edmonton’s 2019 entry draft plans may change with new GM but needs are clear
- Lowetide: Caleb Jones has impressive first showing in the NHL with Oilers.
- Tyler Dellow: Four questions that the Oilers should be asking candidates for the GM job
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: New Oilers caretaker Keith Gretzky caught between earning playoff berth and keeping future assets
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Goalless Tobias Rieder hopes to follow Zack Kassian and Milan Lucic and end his offensive funk.
- Lowetide: Complete Oilers top 20 prospects, Winter 2018
He’s an interesting player. A year ago, much of the credit for his season was placed on his impressive team (including Vancouver Canucks winger Elias Pettersson). This season, Persson offense remains strong and he’s getting all kinds of credit for the offensive output.
- 2017-18: 51, 6-28-34 (.667) 94 shots, 17:06
- 2018-19: 37, 4-19-23 (.621) 119 shots, 19:22
Some encouraging numbers in year two, including an increase in playing time and shots on goal. I ranked him No. 9 in my winter top 20, quoting radio color man Mike Zanier (former Oiler!): “6-foot-1, he is pretty quick, quicker than last year, sees the ice well, makes good passes and runs the power play well. He has a good shot when he uses it. I see no problem for him being able to jump in and compete for a job.”
Bouchard did some impressive things in training camp and early in the regular season with the Oilers. He scored his first goal, had a Corsi 5-on-5 percentage of 54 percent (in just a small sample, 71 minutes) and impressed the hell out of me with outlet passes.
- 2017-18 OHL: 67, 25-62-87 (1.30) 4.43 shots-per-game, 76-65 5-on-5 GD
- 2018-19 OHL: 23, 8-21-29 (1.26) 4.04 shots-per-game, 31-11 5-on-5 GD
Bouchard is running in place but it’s a damned nice place. He should win the race among this trio without a throw based on draft pedigree. If Edmonton sends Bouchard to Bakersfield it will be due to defensive reads, urgency of recovery and foot speed. Oilers fans should be hoping for major improvement in these areas. Notice the 5-on-5 goal differential.
Bear and Persson have some things in common (no draft pedigree, can pass well) and should by all rights trail Bouchard by some distance beginning this fall (and continuing from there). Bear has some NHL experience, but hasn’t been able to get back to Edmonton this year after starting the campaign (but not playing) in the show.
- 2017-18 AHL: 37, 6-12-18 (.486) 1.49 shots-per-game 17-25 5-on-5 GD
- 2018-19 AHL: 37, 2-17-19 (.514) 1.62 shots-per-game 30-23 5-on-5 GD
That’s a nice recovery in 5-on-5 goal differential year over year. At this point in his development, you’d like Bear to be pushing for an NHL job. He was injured early in the season but his most recent performances (2-8-10 in his past 12 games) suggest he may be rounding into form.
Chiarelli would have been looking at forwards. That’s not a long list. Chicago isn’t going to trade Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane or Alex DeBrincat. Still, EF used the word “big”
- L Brandon Saad. He has 15 goals and costs $6 million times two years after this one.
- C Dylan Strome. He’s playing well in Chicago, so unlikely. However, he’s an offensive talent.
The deadline should be a time for Keith Gretzky to trade away some of his talent, smoothing the way for summer acquisitions. I know fans want Brandon Manning and Ryan Spooner dealt, but there are some players with more value who could be sent away in the next few weeks.
- R Zack Kassian. I like this player a lot, but at $1.95 million he’s a player the Oilers can offload and replace for about $1 million less.
- L Tobias Rieder. He’s RFA at the end of the year, and honestly I’d like to see him back. That said, if the value is there, Edmonton needs to consider.
- RD Alex Petrovic. I think the Oilers have too many blue and Petrovic will have value.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
It’s Bell Let’s Talk day, so we’ll bring you a monster show with a lot of positive thoughts about mental health. I wish we knew in 1975 what we know now, but better late than never. Scheduled to appear:
- Nick Dika, The Arkells. The band is in town this week, we’ll chat about rock and roll and the Blue Jays.
- Scott Cullen, The Athletic. Scott has been very open about depression and the impact of events on it. He also talks about building your way back to a better place.
- Jon Campbell, OddsShark. Super Bowl betting! They bet on everything!
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. Oilers on bye week, will they make a move?
- Jeremy Cummins, Yegtalks. He started Yegtalks after having his own struggle with Mental Health and has given back much to the community.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!