The future’s uncertain and the end is always near. A pretty smart hippie poet wrote that line and it applies to all kinds of things. People generally don’t like change, or death, or finality in all forms. Even unhappy, people mostly try to keep things as close to “normal” as possible.
I’m not suggesting the Oilers “turn on, tune in, drop out” like the old hippies did, but doing things “because we’ve always done it this way” isn’t working at all. Time for a change and a brand new day.
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. INSANE NEW OFFER IS HERE!
- New Lowetide: Identifying the risk and the right price if the Oilers were to trade Adam Larsson (to Toronto?)
- Lowetide: Oilers’ prospect Tyler Benson’s rookie AHL season a revelation.
- Lowetide: The Edmonton Oilers draft early, the WHL is loaded and there’s a lot of history.
- Jonathan Willis: Analyzing how much the Oilers should be willing to spend on pending free agent Alex Chiasson.
- Lowetide: Leon Draisaitl and the Oilers’ history of 50-goal seasons
- Jonathan Willis: Keith Gretzky is a legitimate Oilers GM candidate, but would be a hard sell in Edmonton
- Lowetide: How the Oilers can build a contender during Connor McDavid’s prime.
- Lowetide: How the emergence of William Lagesson in Bakersfield complicates Edmonton’s 2019-20 depth chart.
- Jonathan Willis: The Oilers aren’t good, but this group has more potential than teams from the decade of darkness
- Lowetide: Bob Nicholson’s search continues for the Oilers new tomorrow, but at a leisurely pace.
- Jonathan Willis: Potential GM candidates and why Edmonton needs to consider those with varied experiences
- Lowetide: Identifying Oilers roster needs reveals a familiar list
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How Leon Draisaitl has found ‘another level’ by matching offensive wizardry with sound positioning.
- Lowetide: How many future NHL goal scorers are playing for the Bakersfield Condors this season?
- Lowetide: The career destination for Oilers phenom Jesse Puljujarvi remains unknown.
- Jonathan Willis: Learning from a flawed argument I made about Leon Draisaitl in 2016.
- Black Dog Pat: How the Oilers can emerge from the Bob Pulford-like era they’re stuck in.
- Lowetide: The Oilers’ deadline decisions inform what may come in spring and summer
- Jonathan Willis: From Mikko Koskinen to Bakersfield, the next two months will reveal a lot about the Oilers
- Lowetide: The Edmonton Oilers and the OHL.
OILERS AFTER 73
- Oilers in 2015: 28-38-7, 63 points; goal differential -36
- Oilers in 2016: 39-25-9, 87 points; goal differential +22
- Oilers in 2017: 32-36-5, 69 points; goal differential -34
- Oilers in 2018: 32-33-7, 71 points; goal differential -25
I would like to see the team finish with 82+ points, and March has made it possible so far. The next two games (St. Louis, Columbus) along with the Vegas roadie were (imo) the tough part of the month.
OILERS IN MARCH
- Oilers in March 2016: 5-4-0, 10 points; goal differential -3
- Oilers in March 2017: 5-3-1, 11 points; goal differential +10
- Oilers in March 2018: 4-4-1, nine points; goal differential 0
- Oilers in March 2019: 5-3-0, 10 points; goal differential +1
WHAT TO EXPECT IN MARCH
- On the road to: Columbus, Buffalo (Expected 0-1-1) (Actual 2-0-0)
- At home to: Vancouver, Toronto, NY Rangers, NJD (Expected 2-1-1) (Actual 2-2-0)
- On the road to: Arizona, Vegas, St. Louis (Expected: 0-2-1) (Actual 1-0-0)
- At home to: Columbus, Ottawa, Los Angeles, Dallas, Anaheim (Expected: 3-1-1) (Actual)
- Overall expected result: 5-5-4, 14 points in 14 games
- Current results: 5-3-0, 10 points in eight games
I suggested Josh Leivo before he was cool, Nic Petan too. Patrick Maroon matter of fact, and yes, Teddy Purcell way back in 2008. Every once in awhile a player we’ve trumpeted as a group will find his way, and we’ll all say “I knew it!” and feel good about things.
This isn’t scouting, or even math really. Not the difficult math anyway. It’s about believing the talent pool is larger than what is available at any given time in the NHL.
You know who taught me that? Whitey Herzog. Crew cut old man naked press conference post-game Whitey Herzog. When he became manager (and GM) of the St. Louis Cardinals, Whitey went fishing for ballplayers in the minors and found Willie McGee. Got him for a broken pitcher and a drunken mule, or maybe it was the other way around.
If you look at the NHL like a pyramid, the top end (McDavid division) is populated by very few people. Next up are the players just outside the elite of the elite, and there’s a handful. After that, there are a few dozen very capable players who remain key to winning hockey games.
That’s followed by a group who are “slightly” above league average, a group that is average and then replacement level players who I define as being good enough to keep a job due to convenience, despite not reaching average level. Below that are these ghastly contracts that teams are forced to keep, the players basically roster ghosts waiting for a merciful end.
Somewhere in there, I’ll say in the bottom portion of the “average” group, lies the AHL-NHL fringe players like Petan and Leivo and Maroon. Here are some AHL-NHL forwards Edmonton should look at this summer.
- LW Joe Gambardella, Bakersfield. You might think I’m joking, but Gambardella leads AHL forwards (30+ games) aged 22-26 in 5-on-5 goals per game (.46) and 5-on-5 goals (22 in 48 games). He is 25 and RFA, suspect the Oilers are having a look to see if he’s worth another contract. I would say yes.
- LW Reid Boucher, Utica. Also 25, he’s played in 133 NHL games, averaging just over 12 minutes per game. He’s averaging 12 goals and 141 shots per 82 NHL games, and given more playing time and a prominent role, there’s probably a player here. He is an RFA this summer, Boucher has played in just one game this season for the Canucks. Has 197 shots this season in 48 AHL games.
- LC Carter Verhaeghe, Syracuse. He’s 23, drafted by Toronto traded to NY Islanders and is now a Lightning prospect. His numbers were pedestrian until arriving in Syracuse but he now looks close to NHL-ready (has 20 5-on-5 goals in 63 games).
- LC Chase de Leo, San Diego. He’s 23 and I’ve mentioned him before, de Leo is having a good season with Dallas Eakins on the coast. Has 15 5-on-5 goals in 57 games.
- LW Daniel Carr, Chicago. I’d love to say Brandon Pirri will be available but doubt it happens. Carr is having his best AHL season and is 15-20-35 in 100 NHL games. A little older (27) but a reasonable bet.
- LW Nick Paul, Belleville. I’m not sure why he hasn’t made the grade already but the numbers (16-19-35 in 32 games) are solid and he’s still only 23 (24 later this month).
ROSTER OPTIONS AT FORWARD
If we can agree that a perfect world involves the centers three playing in their natural habitat, then Edmonton has an enormous amount of work to do this summer. If we can believe the organization in regard to slow playing the kids, the new general manager’s whiteboard on Day One might look like this:
- ???—Connor McDavid—???
- ???—Leon Draisaitl—???
Who is the top option to fill the first square? Zack Kassian? Alex Chiasson if he signs? Sam Gagner? Jujhar Khaira? Jesse Puljujarvi may be down the line, Tyler Benson and Kailer Yamamoto are going to be in Bakersfield apparently. I’m telling you, that’s too much work for one summer.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. We’ll chat about the Oilers down the stretch and what we can learn from recent performances. We’ll also chat about wingers for 2019-20.
- Matthew Scianitti, TSN. We’ll chat about the CFL ratio change that is being discussed and about the labor negotiations.
- Andrew Stoeten, The Athletic. Jays!
10-1260 text, @Lowetide twitter. See you on the radio!