As we slide out of winter (someday) and into spring, I’d like to use more of these off days to discuss the future. Today our subject is space, as in ‘roster’ space and what the Oilers might look like this fall.
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
- G Mikko Koskinen. $4.5 million for three seasons beginning 2019-20, he’s 33, 2.90 and .905 while winning 14 games. I don’t think he’ll be the team’s starter all three years but also don’t believe they’ll have to buy him out. A guess, and it would help if he could post a string of good games (he’s been terrible since the contract) but smart goalie people believe he can play at this level.
- G Anthony Stolarz. $761,250 this season and then an RFA. 12, 3.33 .902. We don’t know much about him aside from the fact he’s another giant who has had injury issues. I’m anxious to see him play.
- G Shane Starrett. $817,500 this season and then an RFA. This is a player to watch, his impressive run with the Condors (27, 2.37, .916) may mean he’s in the mix this fall. More likely he’s back in Bakersfield but his emergence has been a welcome wrinkle in a trying season.
- G Dylan Wells. $745,000 this season, the first year of his entry deal. 9, 3.01, .902. He has also played in Wichita (15, 2.86 .914) and would have to be ranked ahead of Skinner based on performance. Miles to go.
- G Stuart Skinner. $784,166 this season, the first year of his entry deal. 5, 2.78 and .890 in Bakersfield, he’s 30, 3.20 and .906 in Wichita. He is still a valuable prospect, but Wells has a lead based purely on usage and math.
- LD Oscar Klefbom. $4.167 million through summer 2023. Injured during important portions of the season, his value cannot be denied. He’s 37, 3-14-17 this year. A big part of the current and future team.
- LD Darnell Nurse. $3.2 million this and next season, he is 58, 7-21-28 in what is his best offensive season. Struggled much of the season defensively, I’m hopeful the Nurse-Russell pairing is uncoupled in the coming days. I like him as a player.
- LD Andrej Sekera. $5.5 million this year and through 2021 summer. If he can play at previous levels, Edmonton will have made an impressive deadline pickup.
- LD Brandon Manning. $2.25 million this year and next. Well, I’m not going to lie to you this was an ill-advised acquisition. The cap torment alone should have sent up warning signs. Yeah, I got nothing.
- LD Caleb Jones. $720,000 this and next season. Before the Manning pickup, I would have suggested Jones was a strong candidate for full-time employment in the NHL in 2019-20. He’s ready or close. Currently 31, 5-16-21 in the AHL after going 17, 1-5-6 early in the year with the Oilers.
- LD William Lagesson. $741,666 this season and next, he has emerged as a quality AHL defenseman in his first season at that level. There is a bit of a traffic jam at LHD, but this young player looks close to NHL-ready. He’s 48, 4-14-18 for Bakersfield, showing more offense than his SHL boxcars implied.
- LD Keegan Lowe. $675,000 this and next season. A year ago he was the best defenseman on the Condors, but this season has been more of a secondary, mentoring role.
- LD Dmitri Samorukov. His entry level deal starts this fall ($855,833) and he has improved defensively this winter. Edmonton might have another bona fide LH blue prospect here.
- RD Adam Larsson. $4.166 million this season and two more after. He’s 58, 2-13-15 and the world’s most unassuming filthy Swedish ruffian defenseman. Pure pleasure to watch him mangle humanity on the lowdown. He can also defend.
- LD Kris Russell. $4 million this and two more seasons. He’s 48, 2-8-10 and playing too far up the lineup (not his fault), but that could change with Sekera’s activation. I think he’ll be a candidate for trade this summer, possibly earlier, and would have value on the market.
- RD Matt Benning. $1.9 million this and next season. He’s 46, 2-8-10 and I thought he was gone the day Alex Petrovic was acquired. Now? Not as certain. He would be excellent Bouchard-Bear-Persson insurance next year.
- RD Joel Persson. $1 million next year and then RFA. Puck mover (42, 5-20-25) from the SHL, he is going to get every chance to make the NHL team this fall.
- RD Ethan Bear. $720,000 this and next year. He is 39, 2-18-20 despite some injuries this season. I think there’s a sense he is falling behind Jones and Lagesson, important to remember prospects don’t develop in a straight line. A year ago, it was Bear leading the parade.
- RD Evan Bouchard. $925,000 entry deal kicks in this fall. It’s only a matter of time, and I do think he could win an NHL job in training camp, but the AHL option should be strongly considered. He’s going to post offense in the NHL, will he play top-4 minutes?
- RD Ryan Mantha. $870,000 next season if he plays.
- LC Connor McDavid. $12.5 million through 2026, which might be the saddest summer since 2006 around here if this organization can’t turn it around. He’s 57, 31-52-83 this season, an absolute joy to behold.
- LC Leon Draisaitl. $8.5 million through 2025 summer. A splendid offensive player, his current numbers (58, 35-34-69) have him on a trajectory that may seem him land among the league’s top goal-scorers by season’s end.
- LC Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. $6 million this and two seasons after. Nuge is 58, 18-35-53 in a season that might be his most complete.
- RC Kyle Brodziak. $1.15 million this and next season. He’s 53, 4-3-7 this season and has trouble with foot speed. I thought it was a good signing, so it’s difficult to lay blame. That said, it hasn’t worked out.
- LC Colby Cave. $675,000 this and next season. I think he’s shown well in a small sample size and further expect he’s going to be here in the fall. He’s 29, 1-4-5 with Boston and Edmonton this season.
- RC Josh Currie. $687,500 this and next season. Currie has earned his way up from an AHL-only deal to the NHL contract. He’s 49, 24-13-37 for Bakersfield, if he’s ever going to get a call to the NHL, it might be now.
- RC Tyler Vesel. $735,000 this year and then RFA. He has been placed in a secondary offensive role for much of the season (42, 4-9-13) but does have checking ability.
- RC Cameron Hebig. $759,166 this and next season. Started like a house on fire but got bumped off the scoring line and has faded. Is 47, 10-12-22 for the campaign.
- LC Colin Larkin. $690,000 and then RFA. His offense (16, 0-2-2 in Bakersfield and 30, 1-8-9 in Wichita) is shy, so he’s vulnerable in terms of another NHL contract.
- LW Milan Lucic. $6 million through 2023 summer. He’s 58, 5-9-14 and about the same spot as Al Secord in 1988-89.
- LW Tobias Rieder. $2 million this season then RFA. He’s 44, 0-10-10 and has been a wild disappointment. I bet they can get something for him at the deadline, but he was supposed to be so much more.
- LW Jujhar Khaira. $675,000 this season then RFA. He’s 53, 3-13-16 and sure to go past 20 points for the second year in a row. I like him for next year’s team, question is where does he play. Ideally bottom-six and PK.
- LW Tyler Benson. $808,333 this and the next two seasons. He’s 49, 8-35-43 and the best number there is games played. He’s pushing now, posting crooked numbers most every night. They’ll keep him on the farm as long as they can, but the depth chart above isn’t strong.
- LW Joe Gambardella. $725,000 this year then RFA. He’s 40, 23-15-38 in Bakersfield and I’ve tracked him as a modern Pisani, hoping his offense will come alive (and it has). We could see him in the NHL next season, it’s getting late for him (25).
- LW Nolan Vesey. $817,500 this and next season. Edmonton gave up a conditional seventh-round pick for Vesey. He’s 30, 3-6-9 in Wichita and had one point in six AHL games.
- LW Ostap Safin. $770,833 entry deal starts in the fall. Injuries are a concern, he has played in just 10 QMJHL (2-7-9) this year. Is it possible they keep him in junior another year? He’s physically ready.
- RW Sam Gagner. $3.15 million this and next season. He’s 8, 1-2-3 with Vancouver and Edmonton this season. I think he’s going to get a full push this and next season, including power-play time. Can he post 10 points in the last 24 games? Only seven current roster forwards have more.
- RW Zack Kassian. $1.95 million this and next season. He’s 55, 8-7-15 this year, including a recent offensive flurry that has him playing on the No. 1 line with McDavid. Might be trade deadline asset but more likely back in the fall.
- RW Jesse Puljujarvi. $925,000 this year then RFA. He’s 46, 4-5-9 and two veteran coaches have made the call. He’s averaging 10 goals per 82 NHL games, which is in the range of Kassian for his career. Sekera will be activated before Tuesday’s game, Puljujarvi could get sent out today. It’s possible he has played his final game with the organization.
- RW Ty Rattie. $800,000 this year then RFA. He’s 37, 4-6-10 this year, looks like he didn’t take advantage of an enormous opportunity at the start of the year. Injury contributed, and he has been spending some time with 97 lately.
- RW Cooper Marody. $925,000 this year and the two years after. He’s 39, 12-27-39 in Bakersfield and 6, 0-0-0 in Edmonton this season. I have put him at RW because Hitch moved him there during his NHL time, perhaps that’s where he’ll play as an NHLer. Strong candidate for NHL play next year.
- RW Kailer Yamamoto. $894,166 this year and the two years after. He’s 20, 7-6-13 in the AHL, 17, 1-1-2 in the NHL. With Edmonton’s new “slow-play everything” policy, we might not see him much next season in Edmonton.
- RW Kirill Maksimov. $770,833 entry deal starts in the fall. He’s 51, 32-35-67 in the OHL this year. Edmonton badly needs a sniper, he should get a push next year in Bakersfield.
I have not included RFA Robin Norell and all of the UFA’s (Alex Chiasson, Alex Petrovic, Kevin Gravel). Edmonton also has some prospects (Ryan McLeod, Filip Berglund, Hayden Hawkey and Vincent Desharnais) they may want to sign.
EARLY PROJECTION 2019-20 LINEUP
The new general manager is going to have to make a long list of possible wingers to acquire. High end, midrange and fringe, maybe grab one from all three piles. Honestly, Khaira and Gagner are the only sure things I see to return aside from the centers three.
Andrej Sekera was recalled yesterday, the team will have to move someone out by tomorrow. I expect Jesse Puljujarvi gets sent to Bakersfield, but we could see a trade and waivers is possible.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning (I’m on the round table at 9) begins at 10, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Ryan Holt, Bakersfield Condors PBP. We are talking historic here, amazing run by the Condors (15 games). Where do they go from here?
- Andrew Peard, Oil Kings PBP. The Oil Kings are also enjoying a tremendous run that has them atop the Central. The OK play this afternoon, we’ll tee up the game.
- Jason Gregor, TSN1260. Sekera back, Puljujarvi could be heading to the farm, has he played his final game as an Oiler?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!