In the end, the 2018-19 Edmonton Oilers were all dressed up with no place to go. In the Game One prelude, I wrote about the season ahead, about the key rookies (Evan Bouchard, Kailer Yamamoto, Ethan Bear) and about the best way to keep score during the dog days:
“It’s still a McDavid/Talbot ‘key to the game’ but the big thing to watch is what happens when 97 is off the ice. Can this team close the gap?”October 6, 2018
- McDavid on-ice GF 5-on-5 2017-18: 81-61 (57.04 percent goal share)
- McDavid off-ice GF 5-on-5 2017-18: 82-115 (41.60 percent goal share)
Here were are, just about one year later. The answer is “yes” but not in the way you’d want it.
- McDavid on-ice GF 5-on-5 2018-19: 77-75 (50.66 percent goal share)
- McDavid off-ice GF 5-on-5 2018-19: 67-102 (39.60 percent goal share)
The gap was 15 percent a year ago, the Oilers have crumbled to the point McDavid’s Grand Canyon gap is down to 11 percent. I wrote about this recently at The Athletic, an absolutely vile outcome this season.
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: Will the new GM continue the Oilers aggressive pursuit of college free agents?
- New Jonathan Willis: Connor McDavid’s frustration should be seen by the Oilers as a warning of possible disaster.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers have another problem to solve: Lifting the cloud over a clearly frustrated Connor McDavid
- Lowetide: What’s going on with Connor McDavid’s with or without you numbers?
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: The four blows that set up the knockout of the Oilers from playoff contention.
- New Jonathan Willis: The Oilers’ failures of 2018-19 will cost people their careers.
- 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: The Oilers made a rare move and shopped the QMJHL at the 2018 draft. It could happen again.
- 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 81
- Oilers in 2015: 31-43-7, 69 points; goal differential -38
- Oilers in 2016: 46-26-9, 101 points; goal differential +33
- Oilers in 2017: 35-40-6, 76 points; goal differential -38
- Oilers in 2018: 34-38-9, 77 points; goal differential -33
OILERS IN APRIL
- Oilers in April 2016: 1-1-1, three points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in April 2017: 1-2-0, two points; goal differential -3
- Oilers in April 2018: 2-1-0, four points; goal differential -2
- Oilers in April 2019: 0-3-0, zero points; goal differential -7
WHAT TO EXPECT IN APRIL
- On the road to: Vegas, Colorado (Expected 0-2-0) (Actual 0-1-0)
- At home to: San Jose (Expected 0-0-1) (Actual 0-1-0)
- 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: 0-3-0, zero points in 3 games
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Sekera-Benning went 6-8 in 11:33, 3-4 shots, 1-2 goals and 2-1 HDSC. Great pass by Benning on Leon’s second goal, Sekera abandoned what would become the scoring range on the Burns goal (to cover a secondary option) and both men appeared to be doing their jobs on the winner (Nuge had his mark but couldn’t tie up his stick).
- Nurse-Russell went 14-14 in 16:53, 8-9 shots, no goals and 4-3 HDSC. Nurse made some nice transport sorties but didn’t get much done when he hit the offensive zone. Russell intercepted a pass in the offensive zone, it was a promising moment.
- Klefbom-Larsson were 9-13 in 12:07, barely qualifying as second pair based on TOI. 4-10 shots, no goals and 2-2 HDSC’s. Larsson was neither door nor window on the Thornton pass, I know that’s a massive degree of difficulty but that’s Larsson’s work place.
- Anthony Stolarz looked good, stopping 24 of 27, .889.
- NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.
FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT
- Draisaitl-McDavid-Kassian were 8-14 in 11:22, 4-10 shots, 1-2 goals and 2-1 HDSC. Leon was strong all night, although he failed to get the puck out on the first goal against. CMD was brilliant as always, but to my eye hasn’t been himself in terms of rushing the puck lately. Could be injury or by design, but he was more stationary in this game and I don’t think that’s the best deployment.
- Lucic-Nuge-Chiasson went 5-5 in 9:00, 0-1 goals and 2-1 HDSC. I prefer Gagner on this line, I thought they worked hard but needed more finesse.
- Rieder-Cave-Rattie went 2-1 in 5:51, 2-1 shots, no goals and one HDSC (from Rattie).
- Gambardella-Gagner-Currie were 2-4 in 3:49, 2-1 shots, no goals and 0-1 HDSC. Gambardella is an excellent forechecker.
Bob McKenzie’s Lottery Rankings
Bob McKenzie’s lottery rankings are out, there’s some movement among European players and that always happens toward the end of the year. We’ll see even more shuffling of Swedes, Finns and Russians after the April tournaments. Here are Mr. McKenzie’s rankings with mine alongside:
- McKenzie has Podkolzin about where I have Kaliyev and vice versa, and the Swedes are lower on my list (there won’t be much movement on my list now, will run the numbers one last time before final rankings in early June).
- My No. 12 player (Cole Caufield) isn’t ranked by BM, but would guess the sniper sits inside the top 20.
- My list is evil on goalies, so Spencer Knight’s ranking is a clear bias.
This is getting serious now. If the Oilers can get to No. 6 and stay there, we’re talking about a legit driver being available. He won’t arrive in 2019, but by 2020 Edmonton should have a quality Calder candidate. Here’s how things might go if everything stays as it is today.
- Colorado: Jack Hughes
- Los Angeles: Kaapo Kaako
- New Jersey: Bowen Byram
- Buffalo: Kirby Dach
- Detroit: Alex Turcotte
- NY Rangers: Vasili Podkolzin
- Edmonton: Dylan Cozens
Cozens would be a nice fit, my guess is that he settles in as an offensive right wing on one of the top two lines and begins his NHL career in 2020.
You can’t write the story of the Oilers without Glen Sather. I remember him first as a utility forward who found his way around many NHL cities. A throwback Toby Petersen without the power-play time.
Sather’s gift was timing (the Oilers were going to be very good based on luck, Nelson Skalbania’s need for cash and Barry Fraser’s early drafts). Sather pushed, bullied and intimidated them to new heights, and they didn’t break (partly because Gretzky-to-Kurri had no answer and partly because Mark Messier was a mythic piece of clay).
Like everyone from Napoleon in Saint Helena to Elvis at Graceland, Sather’s Manhattan coda obscured his early brilliance. There was a man who could evaluate a trade. He didn’t win them all, but he held his own over several decades of shifting sands.
I’ll remember the sneer and I’ll remember the Stanley’s. This city hasn’t walked with the same swagger since he left, despite opportunities that seem boundless. Sail on, Slats. You were an original.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, busy show as we head to the weekend. TSN1260, scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, BigMouth Sports. Remembering Slats, McDavid’s week, Cole’s goodbye, Blue Jays.
- Luke Pierce, Edmonton Oil Kings assistant coach. The Oil Kings handled the Hitmen easily during the season, what kind of challenge do they offer in the playoffs?
- Matt Iwanyk, TSN1260. Does he have more faith in the future or Alberta or the future of the Oilers?
- The 2019 24 hour charity challenge. Great cause, great time, we’ll tell you all about it (and you can check it out here).
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!