News off the ice is going to start taking over the on-ice product now, the Oilers are not in the playoff race and the college signings, draft lottery and Euro rumors are going to ratchet up in the coming days. How much work is to be done before the new general manager arrives? Massive.
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 Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Chipped teeth, playing DJ and lots of Game of Thrones: A week in the life of Darnell Nurse.
- New Lowetide: Kailer Yamamoto’s first pro season a cause for concern.
- Lowetide: The Edmonton Oilers and the giant talent pool that is the USHL.
- Lowetide: How the Oilers can shop for a big bang on a small budget
- 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.
- 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.
- Lowetide: The Edmonton Oilers and the OHL.
OILERS AFTER 79
- Oilers in 2015: 30-42-7, 67 points; goal differential -37
- Oilers in 2016: 44-26-9, 97 points; goal differential +30
- Oilers in 2017: 34-39-6, 74 points; goal differential -37
- Oilers in 2018: 34-35-9, 77 points; goal differential -27
I think this Oilers team is clearly the second best of the McDavid Oilers, but how maddening is that? Everyone keeps saying Mike Gillis is poison for the culture of the franchise, did anyone pause to think that might be a good idea?
OILERS IN APRIL
- Oilers in April 2016: 0-1-0, zero points; goal differential -5
- Oilers in April 2017: 1-0-0, two points; goal differential +1
- Oilers in April 2018: 0-1-0, zero points; goal differential -3
- Oilers in April 2019: 7-5-2, 16 points; goal differential -2
WHAT TO EXPECT IN APRIL
- On the road to: Vegas, Colorado (Expected 0-2-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: San Jose (Expected 0-0-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Calgary (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 1-2-1, three points in 4 games
- Current results: 0-0-0
TO DO LIST
Keith Gretzky has several items on his list of things to do pre-draft, and the organization has a giant log of things to do before the fall. Here are a few that come to mind:
- Sign or trade John Marino if he plans to turn pro. Marino is worth signing, his progression post draft has been strong. That said, Edmonton’s RHD depth chart may mean a parting of the ways. The team has already made the decision to pass on JD Dudek.
- Sign goalie Hayden Hawkey. His college career continues, Providence is off to the Frozen Four April 11 weekend. I think he’s earned a contract, no idea how they’ll find room.
- Sign or move on from defenseman Vincent Desharnais, also heading to the Frozen Four with Providence College. I don’t think it’s a lock either way, would lean toward passing but it’s been a good season.
- Sign Ryan McLeod. Although he was drafted just one year ago, McLeod turns 20 in September. The Oilers could send him back to junior in the fall, going full “ripen!” but one suspects he’ll be in Bakersfield in October.
- Make a decision on Ryan Mantha. He’ll have one more year on his entry deal, haven’t heard anything about a comeback.
- Sign Alex Chiasson, who might be the only pending UFA who’ll return.
- RFA’s Jesse Puljujarvi, Jujhar Khaira, Joe Gambardella, Ty Rattie, Tobias Rieder, Tyler Vesel, Colin Larkin, Robin Norell and Shane Starrett all need contracts (or to be walked). My guess is they’ll retain Khaira, Gambardella and Starrett, while passing on the rest and trading Puljujarvi.
- My current guess is that JP is packaged with a substantial defenseman in an effort to get a scoring forward who is established. What might that look like? Don’t know, but Caleb Jones is the most likely defenseman to step in this fall, so a LHD might be in play.
There is so much work to do, and (as we’ve discussed) one summer isn’t going to turn this rig around. Two things that are positives: Edmonton’s drafting over the past two summers procured several impressive talents outside the first round (Samorukov, Skinner, Safin, Maksimov, McLeod, Rodrigue) worthy of signing. The other positive? The general manager has enough blue line depth to trade from an area of strength.
A FEW THOUGHTS
I think Oilers fans can assume Keith Gretzky will handle all business through draft day, and possibly into free agency. If Bob Nicholson’s plan is to interview everyone, the new GM might be at the draft but won’t have a helluva lot of roster knowledge. The longer this process goes past April 15, the more likely Gretzky handles summer.
The Calgary Flames are champions of the west! I don’t expect Oilers fans to jump on the bandwagon, but the organization can serve as a model for the Oilers moving forwards. Astute drafts, wise trades, and patience have all been factors, and yes they have a thriving analytics department. The most famous fellow in the team’s stats department ruined my life when his site went down. It was so convenient!
The Arizona Coyotes are driving toward a spot but may finish just shy. The number of injuries endured over the season makes the group a major story. Edmonton’s management could learn some things from that organization, too.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
I’ll be on the roundtable this morning with Dusty, Eric and Tom Gazzola, meaning I’ll have the fourth best hairdo in the room and will also trail badly in the smarts department. No matter, I’m loud! At 10, TSN 1260, the Lowdown hits the air. Scheduled to appear:
- Catherine Silverman, The Athletic. We’ll chat about Mikko Koskinen and what the future may bring.
- Andrew Peard, Oil Kings PBP. Oil Kings win the series against the Medicine Hat Tigers and are moving on.
- Jason Gregor, TSN1260. Oilers season winds down, GM candidates and who will return?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!