The Oilers are 7-4-1 in March, that’s a good record (on a pace to deliver 112 points over 82 games). Of course, the gap between Edmonton and the playoffs hasn’t closed much because Colorado is 6-3-1 in its last 10.
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: How the Oilers can shop for a big bang on a small budget
- New Jonathan Willis: How the Oilers can turn their prospect depth into the blueline of a contender.
- Lowetide: What Mark Hunter’s draft record in Toronto means for his Oilers GM candidacy.
- Lowetide: Colby Cave and Joe Gambardella build late-season resumes with Edmonton.
- Lowetide: The Oilers made a rare move and shopped the QMJHL at the 2018 draft. It could happen again.
- Eric Duhatschek: Sorting through the organizational problems in Ottawa and Edmonton.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: After a year of despair, Oilers prospect Cameron Hebig grateful for latest chapter with the Condors
- Jonathan Willis: Bob Nicholson’s misguided Tobias Rieder comments reveal deeper problems within Oilers management
- Jonathan Willis: Ken Hitchcock knows why Edmonton has trouble exiting its zone, but lacks the players to fix it.
- Lowetide: Trimming cap fat and adding speed and skill will shape Oilers’ offseason.
- Jonathan Willis: Former Canucks architects Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman should be considered for any vacant NHL GM job
- 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.
- 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.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How Leon Draisaitl has found ‘another level’ by matching offensive wizardry with sound positioning.
- Lowetide: The Edmonton Oilers and the OHL.
OILERS AFTER 77
- Oilers in 2015: 30-40-7, 67 points; goal differential -35
- Oilers in 2016: 43-25-9, 95 points; goal differential +30
- Oilers in 2017: 34-37-6, 74 points; goal differential -35
- Oilers in 2018: 34-34-8, 76 points; goal differential -23
OILERS IN MARCH
- Oilers in March 2016: 7-6-0, 14 points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in March 2017: 9-3-1, 19 points; goal differential +17
- Oilers in March 2018: 7-4-2, 16 points; goal differential +8
- Oilers in March 2019: 7-4-1, 15 points; goal differential +2
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 1-2-0)
- At home to: Columbus,Ottawa, Los Angeles, Dallas, Anaheim (Expected: 3-1-1) (Actual 2-0-1)
- Overall expected result: 5-5-4, 14 points in 14 games
- Current results: 7-4-1, 15 points in 12 games
HEAD TO HEAD VIA PUCK IQ
My article for The Athletic this morning approaches 2,000 words. It’s a look at the summer ahead and an offering of a possible future. One of the things I didn’t have room for (but may address in a future article) is the idea of Matt Benning moving up to the second pairing. Using Puck IQ, we see some trends.
As you can see over the past three seasons, Benning’s usage against elites has actually been reduced. Injuries, struggles, Kris Russell as a preferred option, all of these things have come into play.
Benning’s success against elites (Dangerous Fenwick Percentage) suggests to me the Oilers may want to flip him to second pair. Russell has played 160 more minutes against elites this season, but his possession rate is going the wrong way in a hurry.
The new general manager will have some tough decisions this summer, one of which is (probably) deciding between Russell, Benning and Sekera. I hope you enjoy the article (and thanks to Woodguy for his input on roster decisions for the piece).
Last time he played an NHL game, Malone got six minutes against the Rangers (March 11). Gambardella won an NHL job, at least for now.
BENSON AT 20
In this century, Tyler Benson is unique among Oilers prospect forwards who play in the AHL at 20. How unique? He’s No. 1 and here’s the top 10.
- LW Tyler Benson (18-19 Bakersfield Condors). 60gp, 14-45-59 .983ppg. In his last 31 games, Benson has 38 points. He’s second in rookie scoring, leads all rookies in assists. Edmonton has talked all along about keeping these kids on the farm, I think there’s a strong chance he’ll be one of the best options at left wing in the fall.
- LC Rob Schremp (06-07 SWB Penguins) 69gp, 17-36-53 .768ppg Schremp had a tough first year pro, getting benched a few times and was a healthy scratch a few times too. His coach did have some nice things to say about him but he was always dogged by skating and coverage issues.
- RC Jarret Stoll (02-03 Hamilton Bulldogs) 76gp, 21-33-54 .711ppg The two things I remember about Stoll in the AHL are a goal he scored maybe 5 seconds after the faceoff at center-ice and that the “shared” Habs/Oil team that year was a beauty. Stoll played with really good players and had an excellent season, which he built upon to become a solid NHL player.
- RC Marc Pouliot (05-06 Hamilton Bulldogs) 65gp, 15-30-45 .692ppg Pouliot played on a shared team (like Stoll) as a rookie pro and put up excellent results. Of all the kids who’ve played extended AHL time this century for the Oilers, he’s the guy who I thought could have helped them in the two-way role. It never happened for him. Injuries had a major impact.
- LW Jean Francois Jacques (05-06 Hamilton Bulldogs) 65gp, 24-20-44 .677ppg Jacques had a helluva pro debut and his size and speed made him a promising prospect. He lost a lot of momentum due to back injuries and may have lacked ‘hockey sense’. He is most famous for not getting a point as an NHL rookie in 2006-07 (in 37 games).
- RW Kailer Yamamoto (18-19 Bakersfield Condors) 27gp, 10-8-18 .667 ppg. It has been a disappointing campaign for the young winger, but he has scored at a rapid clip when playing with skill.
- LW Magnus Paajarvi (11-12 Oklahoma City Barons) 34gp, 7-18-25 .735ppg Paajarvi played in the NHL at 19, so this is after that teenage season. Great speed, good defensive instincts, can’t score enough to move up the depth chart, he has carved out a career as a depth player. This season with the Senators he scored 10 goals in an NHL campaign for the first time since he was a rookie in 2010-11.
- LW Teemu Hartikainen (10-11 Oklahoma City Barons) 66gp, 17-25-42 .636ppg The big Finn was a pure delight and the first 20-year old AHL forward in a couple of years to show up on the radar. He was a little shy on speed but I loved his hands and spirit. He’s an impact player in the KHL.
- RC Kyle Brodziak (04-05 Edmonton Roadrunners) 56gp, 6-26-32 .571ppg Brodziak has a nice combination of size and skill. His AHL debut at 20 came on a very poor offensive team, and he built on that season (that team couldn’t score a lick), finally emerging as a legit NHL player about the time Edmonton traded him.
- RW Jani Rita (01-02 Hamilton Bulldogs) 76gp, 25-17-42 .553ppg I thought Jani Rita would make it. He had the one thing Paajarvi didn’t (a great shot) but not enough of the stuff Paajarvi had to impress Craig MacTavish.
In a year that held several good choices, the selection of Sekera is the right one in my opinion.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we kick out the jams for opening day! Scheduled to appear:
- Jonah Birenbaum, The Score. Opening Day! Everyone is in first place!
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. These first-round matchups are (in some cases) wildly unfair. Some great teams are going home early.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!