At the end of the 2003-04 AHL season, Doug Lynch of the Toronto Roadrunners was named to the league’s All-rookie team. It’s a prestigious award, and many quality future NHL players used it as a stepping off point over the last 20 years.
It took 15 years, but fans finally have two more names to celebrate. Winger Tyler Benson and goalie Shane Starrett were named to the team yesterday. Cooper Marody surely was strongly considered. It’s been an outstanding season in Bakersfield. How many AHL rookies who performed this well go straight to the NHL the following 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: The Oilers possible summer trade pieces, and which longtime players might be saying goodbye.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ten prospects likely to be available when the Oilers make their first-round pick.
- New Corey Pronman: The Athletic’s 2019 NHL Mock Draft (lottery edition): Devils get the No. 1 pick.
- New Jonathan Willis: Bob Nicholson mostly says the right things, but stalls on making changes to the Oilers.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: The pressure’s squarely on Bob Nicholson to make right GM hire for Oilers.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers Report Cards: Few passing grades remain in season full of failure.
- Lowetide: How winning the draft lottery and drafting Jack Hughes could transform the Oilers.
- Lowetide: The Oilers have a trio of Condors blue pushing and all three are tracking well. How does this group compare to the Petry, Chorney, Wild college men from a decade ago?
- Lowetide: The Edmonton Oilers, the republic of Finland and the 2019 draft.
- 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.
- 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.
Tyler Benson’s numbers (66, 14-51-65) are impressive, but have recent all-stars with similar numbers moved up to the NHL in the following season? I’m looking at forwards, age 20, who made the list.
- Dylan Strome made the 2017-18 list and played 78 NHL games the following season. Clearly not a match in terms of draft pedigree.
- Daniel Sprong made the 2017-18 list and played 63 NHL games the following season. A second-round pick (like Benson) and I believe a match (Sprong went 63, 14-9-23 in the NHL at 21).
- Charles Hudon made the 2014-15 list and played three NHL games the following season. Not a match for a few reasons, including a lower AHL point total (57 points in 75 games) and lower draft number (fifth round).
- Connor Brown made the 2014-15 list and played seven NHL games the following season. Not a clear match for the same reasons as Hudon.
- Ryan Strome made the 2013-14 list and played 81 NHL games the following season. Not a match due to draft pedigree (similar to his brother).
- Ryan Spooner made the 2012-13 list and played 23 NHL games the following season. He’s a match in terms of AHL points at 20 and draft pedigree.
- Jason Zucker made the 2012-13 list and played 21 NHL games the following season. He’s a match in the same way as Spooner.
- Tyler Toffoli made the 2012-13 list and played 62 NHL games the following season. He’s a match like Spooner and Zucker, although this was the lockout season.
Uncertain about using Spooner, Zucker and Toffoli as comparables due to the lockout and increased quality of the AHL in that season. Also, these men might never have played in the AHL without the lockout.
I’ll suggest the only pure comp is Sprong. Fair? Sprong is 18-10-28 after 89 NHL games.
Shane Starrett’s save percentage is .919, that’s No. 4 in the AHL and No. 1 among rookies. He is 24.
- Ville Husso had a .922 SP and made the 2017-18 AS team. He spent this season in the AHL.
- Casey DeSmith had a .926 SP and made the 2016-17 AS. He spent 14 games in the NHL the following season (injury).
- Joni Ortio had a .926 SO in 2013-14 and spent six games in the NHL the following season.
Starrett may have an NHL career, but I expect he’ll need to build on his impressive season with another one in Bakersfield.
ALL THOSE BLUE
There are a growing number of young defencemen pushing for NHL employment in the Oilers pipeline. A good guess would have Caleb Jones and Joel Persson making the grade at the start of the 2018-19 campaign, with Evan Bouchard, William Lagesson and Ethan Bear trying to get to the NHL a-sap. Poor Lagesson not only has Jones ahead of him, but Dmitri Samorukov pushing from behind.
How many of these kids will emerge as NHL regulars? How many will play the heart of their careers in Edmonton? History suggests very few. The Oilers become impatient with their own defensemen at around the time when they need to be paid $4 million or more. We’ll call it the Jeff Petry Challenge rule.
A coach has to be careful on this stuff, too many young blue and he’s out on his ass. I will never forget Punch Imlach trying to move out a ridiculously strong group of aged blue (Tim Horton, Allan Stanley, Bob Baun, Marcel Pronovost) in favor of youth. Here’s how Imlach tried to do it:
- 1966-67 (final Stanley team): Jim McKenny six games, Duane Rupp three games. McKenny was a pretty good Orr knockoff with defensive issues, and Rupp was (according to my Dad) a career minor leaguer only in the NHL because of expansion.
- 1967-68: Duane Rupp played 71 games, Mike Pelyk 24, Darryl Sly 17 and poor McKenny just 5. Pelyk was a jewel in Toronto’s crown, Sly a minor league player who did get some time due to expansion.
- 1968-69: Jim Dorey (61 games) was my favorite Leafs defenseman from the moment he stepped on the ice. He had talent and was also a half bubble off plumb. You would have loved him. Pat Quinn played 40, Rick Ley 37 and poor old McKenny 5. Quinn was an experienced minor leaguer but he could play and had a career. Ley was an undersized but physical two-way defender who would also have a career. Imlach got his ass fired, partly because he was rebuilding on the fly (and partly because he told Stafford Smythe to shove it. Imlach wasn’t all bad).
- 1969-70: Brian Glennie played 52 games. He was a tough shutdown defender and the master of the hipcheck. A bunch of kids (Randy Murray, Gordie Nelson, Chris Evans, Ken Murray, Larry McIntyre) would also get a cup of coffee.
- 1970-71: Brad Selwood would play 28 games, he was a solid offensive player who had his moments defensively. Ken Murray got four more games.
- 1971-72: None.
- 1972-73: Joe Lundrigan and John Grisdale played 49 games, Larry McIntyre 40 and Dave Fortier 23. The Leafs were forced to play so many rookies because Ballard was too cheap and got raided by the WHA. Stupid Stupid Stupid.
- 1973-74: Borje Salming played 76 and Ian Turnbull 78 games. Salming was a watershed addition, I cannot possibly communicate how important he would be to the Leafs in the 1970’s. Turnbull was an adventure with the puck and without, my Dad called him a double agent.
I think there’s more than a chance this happens. The new general manager will be pushed to trade JP, and there may be a market for him. However, by the time the new GM is named Puljujarvi may have already decided on his immediate future. I sincerely hope the player does what is best for him.
I’m not doubting Dustin’s sources or his credibility here, I’m certain both are solid. There are a couple of things that make me wonder if this is an organizational ‘counter trey’ (I describe that as an attempt to deflect).
First, if Keith Gretzky has been told he isn’t getting the job, then why bother with the charade at the media avail? Surely you remember Nicholson’s kind words and KG saying he had a plan but wasn’t going to share it? No, I think Gretzky is proceeding as if he is a candidate and that an interview is forthcoming.
Second, the organization needs Gretzky for the draft and possibly beyond. Why would they run the risk of having him bolt the organization? Makes zero sense to me. If the Oilers don’t hire Gretzky as general manager, after what I think we can agree is teasing the possibility, one would expect KG to resign on the spot. I would. You can’t allow anyone to run over you like that, especially in a situation so public.
My opinion is this: Nicholson is between a rock and a hard place. There’s a percentage of the fan base who would like to see Gretzky as the new general manager. The verbal (planted by the team) that Chiarelli went rogue on those bastage fargin’ trades has resonated with many, and those same people believe KG has done a good job building the prospect pipeline and Bakersfield. If Nicholson doesn’t hire him, and KG quits, there’s a portion of the fan base who will balk.
On the other hand, Nicholson is going to interview many qualified candidates. These men aren’t coming for a cup of tea, they’re going to discuss an important career change and are going to want control. If all of the quality candidates insist on control of what the front office looks like, I doubt the conversations go deep. If one of these men is willing to step into what is clearly a flawed management structure, is this the person you want to hire?
I think Keith Gretzky showed well the other day. I also think that complicates Bob Nicholson’s job. If I’m Nicholson, I’m cheering like hell for a San Jose sweep. If he can get Kelly McCrimmon as general manager, the fans will be pleased, the new GM will have long relationships with all of the hockey ops people, and an eye for pro scouting (as seen during the expansion draft). If McCrimmon wants to see change, it can be massaged as opposed to being a public shift. That’s the Oilers way.
Failing that, it’s a sea of grey and several miles of active candidates. I believe that list includes Keith Gretzky.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
Thursday already, we have a sweet guest list and a lot to talk about. TSN1260, 10 this morning, scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal. Who is leaving? How many new faces in the fall?
- Andrew Peard, Oil Kings play by play. The EOK roll over Calgary and now I’m wondering how far they can go?
- Frank Seravalli, TSN. Opening night playoffs and oh my GOD were there some surprises.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. I have 90 minutes to shower, shave, shampoo, dress, prep, drive, arrive. Will I make it?