My friend Louise and I talked for hours about Sam Gagner during the first summer and fall he was an Oiler. I argued he should be sent back to junior, she argued he would overcome obstacles because he was a smart player. Turns out, Gagner stayed and posted 49 points as a rookie phenom. His career hasn’t turned out as planned, but he returns to Edmonton as age 29. Based on early returns, both fans and player are pleased to be reunited.
Oilers played well last night but it was another loss. I expect the next couple of weeks will see some wins and lots of goals from the captain. Can they get a save?
The Athletic Edmonton features 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: Cam Talbot’s Oilers career a disappointment save one beautiful spring.
- New Jonathan Willis: Edmonton’s trade for Sam Gagner is a gamble well worth making.
- Jonathan Willis: Inside the success of the Bakersfield Condors, and what it means for Edmonton
- Lowetide: The Oilers sure have a lot of problems, but there is a simple solution.
- Jonathan Willis: Taking stock of Oilers positives as they enter the final third of a dismal 2018-19 season.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Keith Gretzky on the Oilers trade deadline plan, Andrej Sekera’s return and Jesse Puljujarvi’s season
- Lowetide: Oilers’ potential roster upheaval might set a record for summer activity
- Jonathan Willis: Teams should beware of these players at the 2019 NHL trade deadline.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Will he stay or will he go? Possible trade destination for Cam Talbot.
- Lowetide: Comparing Oilers prospects Tyler Benson and Kailer Yamamoto
- Lowetide: Is Ken Hitchcock helping Jesse Puljujarvi find his way as an NHL player?
- Lowetide: It’s time for Oilers owner Daryl Katz to stand and deliver a winning organization.
- Lowetide: Entry deal AHL forwards give the Oilers an excellent trade pool.
- Lowetide: Finding a path to the playoffs may involve reckless use of future assets by the Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: An Oilers blueprint for the 2019 NHL free agency period
- 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: Complete Oilers top 20 prospects, Winter 2018
OILERS AFTER 58
- Oilers in 2015: 22-30-6, 50 points; goal differential -28
- Oilers in 2016: 31-19-8, 70 points; goal differential +13
- Oilers in 2017: 24-30-4, 52 points; goal differential -33
- Oilers in 2018: 24-29-5, 53 points; goal differential -25
OILERS IN FEBRUARY
- Oilers in February 2016: 2-6-0, four points; goal differential -17
- Oilers in February 2017: 4-4-0, eight points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in February 2018: 1-6-1, three points; goal differential -5
- Oilers in February 2019: 1-5-2, four points; goal differential -12
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM FEBRUARY
- On the road to: Philadelphia, Montreal (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-2)
- At home to: Chicago (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- On the road to: Minnesota (Expected 0-0-1) (Actual 1-0-0)
- At home to: San Jose (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- On the road to: Pittsburgh, Carolina, NY Islanders (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-3-0)
- At home to: Arizona, NY Islanders, Anaheim (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Nashville, Toronto, Ottawa (Expected 1-2-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 7-6-1, 15 points in 14 games
- Current results: 1-5-2, four points in eight games
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Nurse-Russell were 13-6 in 10:37, 8-5 shots, no goals and 4-1 HDSC. Moving the puck out under control remains an issue, although Nurse’s passing has been more precise in recent days and Russell got a nice shot through on the Nuge goal. The pairing needs more skill and Sekera is close to returning. One hopes he’ll land here. Went 4-2 in 4:00 against Nelson-Lee-Eberle.
- Klefbom-Larsson went 19-12 in 19:24, 8-7 shots, 0-1 goals and 3-4 HDSC. Klefbom got caught at the opposition blue on the 4-2 goal, Larsson left his feet on the pass across and was DOA. Went 8-4 in 7:31 against Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck.
- Gravel-Petrovic were 6-9 in 9:01, 2-2 shots and 0-1 goals, 1-1 HDSC. Petrovic didn’t get over to cover on the Filppula tip, it was a nice play but could have been defended. Went 6-4 in 6:58 against Kuhnhackl-Barzal-Bailey. Gravel is criminally underrated on this team imo.
- Mikko Koskinen stopped 19 of 23, .826.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Draisaitl-McDavid-Kassian were 11-1 in 9:54, 6-1 shots, 0-1 goals and 4-1 HDSC. McDavid was 14-7 in 13:07 against Pelech-Pulock.
- Draisaitl-McDavid-Chiasson went 7-5 in 5:13, 3-4 shots, no goals and 2-2 HDSC.
- Lucic-Brodziak-Kassian were 3-1 in 4:37, 2-0 shots and 1-0 HDSC.
- Rieder-Nuge-Gagner were 5-2 in 3:30, 2-2 shots, 1-1 goals and 1-1 HDSC. Nuge was 2-5 in 4:39 against Leddy-Boychuk.
The Condors won again last night, 15 in a row and are absolutely on fire in the AHL’s Pacific Division. In the last 10 games, here’s what the scoring totals look like:
- Tyler Benson 10, 3-9-12
- Joe Gambardella 8, 7-4-11
- Josh Currie 10, 7-4-11
- Patrick Russell 10, 6-4-10
- Caleb Jones 10, 3-6-9
- Cooper Marody 10, 3-4-7
- William Lagesson 10, 1-6-7
- Logan Day 10, 0-6-6
- Dave Gust 8, 3-3-6
- Kailer Yamamoto 9, 3-2-5
Yamamoto is coming on (3-1-4 in his last four) but the real story is Benson. I expect the Oilers will keep this group together (sounds like Jesse Puljujarvi may be joining them) and a recall might come from the older group (Gambardella, Russell) but we’ll see.
KEITH GRETZKY AS GENERAL MANAGER
I’ve mentioned this a few times and will again this morning. I believe it is very possible Keith Gretzky is winning the general manager’s job at this time. Often when I make a statement like that, the reaction from commenters is that I’m endorsing. I’m not endorsing nor discouraging the idea, merely offering my observations on a team that has been fairly consistent in decisions over many decades.
My guess is the forensic search will include the universe of “known” candidates among people in the front office. You may think that’s everyone but my suspicion is there are all manner of qualified individuals who won’t get an interview.
Kelly McCrimmon checks all the boxes for the Oilers (scouting background, they’ll know him, he has a good reputation and is more media friendly than Peter Chiarelli), and there may be others (Hunter brothers, Ken Holland).
Bob Nicholson may eventually interview most or all, but in the meantime Keith Gretzky is handling things and the team is playing better. If they start winning? This idea will catch fire.
I think Bob Nicholson will find someone he’s comfortable with, someone the people he trusts believe will do a good job. I don’t think much time is going to be spent on building an analytics department or improving pro and European scouting. What about sports science? Sleeping patterns, ideal times to travel, resting overworked skaters and goalies.
I’ll give you 10 names: Kelly McCrimmon, Keith Gretzky, Mark Hunter, Ken Holland, Ron Hextall, Mike Gillis, Doug Armstrong, Dean Lombardi, Mike Futa, Steve Yzerman.
How many of these names are on Bob Nicholson’s list? How many not listed are on the Nicholson list? My belief, based on decades of observation, is the Oilers will hire someone from my list, make a big effort to say the right things, and then have everyone return to their office to go about doing things the same way as before.
What Oilers fans need is a general manager who will hire people smarter than him, give them authority and power, utilize their findings and implement good ideas. A good start would be hiring Tyler Dellow to run the real forensics department, while also creating a budget for staff under the analytics umbrella. Hiring Jeff Krushell for nutrition and sports science wisdom would also indicate progress. Further, making sure good ideas see the light of day and are put into practice is also key.
It can be done. The Boston Bruins are adding analytics staff on the hurry. I don’t believe the Oilers are committed to real change, a true overhaul. I would love to be wrong. We wait.