“Meanwhile, what of the replacements (Sather) had been flying in from Wichita? For a while, he’d brought up Tom Roulston, a laughing redhead from Winnipeg with a gift for scoring goals and spreading good will—he was an all-night disc jockey in the summertime—but he hadn’t worked out. Now, he was going with Peter Driscoll, a big, tough schoolteacher’s son from northern Ontario who had played 39 games for the Oilers the year before.” (Peter Gzowski, The Game of Our Loves, during the 1980-81 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: Is this the season the Oilers take the plunge and draft a USHL player in the first round?
- Jonathan Willis: Top Oilers prospect Evan Bouchard stars in his first AHL game as Condors dominate.
- Lowetide: Adam Larsson’s importance to the Oilers and why trading him is a bad idea.
- Lowetide: Tyler Benson’s comparables offer Oilers fans plenty of hope for the future.
- Lowetide: Making the call on the Oilers’ RFAs with a new general manager on the way.
- Lowetide: Red Wings front office shuffle could impact Oilers’ future.
- Jonathan Willis: Potential coaching candidates and why the Oilers don’t need to rush the GM search to get one
- Lowetide: What would Glen Sather do with these Oilers?
- Jonathan Willis: Some creative solutions to address the Oilers’ goalie problem
- Lowetide: The Milan Lucic saga rolls into Year 4 for Oilers with no easy answers
- Jonathan Willis: Who stays and who goes? An early projection of which players will remain on the Oilers’ roster in 2019-20
- Lowetide: How high can these Condors fly?
- Lowetide: The Oilers possible summer trade pieces, and which longtime players might be saying goodbye.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ten prospects likely to be available when the Oilers make their first-round pick.
Ideally, you want a recall from the AHL to have an immediate, positive impact and to stay as long as required (usually until an injured regular returns). How did the Oilers recalls do in 2018-19?
OPENING NIGHT ROSTER
G Cam Talbot; G Mikko Koskinen; D Oscar Klefbom; D Adam Larsson; D Darnell Nurse; D Kris Russell; D Matt Benning; D Evan Bouchard; D Jason Garrison; D Ethan Bear (non-roster); C Connor McDavid; C Leon Draisaitl; C Ryan Strome; C Kyle Brodziak; L Ryan Nugent-Hopkins; L Milan Lucic; L Jujhar Khaira; L Tobias Rieder; R Ty Rattie; R Kailer Yamamoto; R Jesse Puljujarvi; R Zack Kassian; L Drake Caggiula; R Alex Chiasson.
Kevin Gravel was recalled October 19, played two games and was returned. He got another call on November 1, and hung around the rest of the season. He finished 36, 0-3-3, underlying numbers were solid and he should be in the NHL next season as a 7D or better. Unlikely with the Oilers. He is 27.
Cooper Marody was recalled October 21, he stayed up until November 2. In that first look, he played two games, playing less than 10 minutes both times (two shots in each game). His second recall came November 10 and he was dispatched on November 23 with the coaching change. He played four games, only one more than 10 minutes. He was recalled in December (6-11) but did not play, finishing 6, 0-0-0 on the season. He is 22 and we should see him more in 2019-20.
Patrick Russell was called up November 15, and would play four games in his first look without registering a point. He looked capable as a fourth line player (not a lot of offense) but was sent back November 30. A quick recall (Dec. 2-5) got him two more games, and he finished 6, 0-0-0. He is 26 and is a Group 6 free agent (UFA).
Caleb Jones is the star of our look at 2018-19 recalls. He got the call on December 12, and he returned to the AHL January 21 for the remainder of the minor league season. While in Edmonton, the young man impressed with his speed and guile, making smart plays with the puck and adjusting to the speed of the NHL game. Jones played some tough minutes due to injury, played over 20 minutes seven times. He is NHL-ready and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Edmonton’s new general manager make room for him via a summer trade. He went 17, 1-5-6 and he turns 22 in June.
Joe Gambardella was recalled December 30 and played his first game the next night—the same night his brother worked his first shift as a NYC police officer. He hung around the first time until January 15, playing in four games and not showing a lot. His second recall had more impact, as he arrived March 15 and played through the end of the season. An impressive forechecker, he showed skill as well, finishing 15, 0-3-3 on the year. I think he has a chance to play more games for Edmonton in 2019-20.
Brad Malone got a call January 31, and like Gambardella spent the rest of the season on the NHL roster. He played 16 games with no points. He is a free agent this summer.
Josh Currie received a late recall, February 18. I often wonder how many times he’d be in a conversation for the call to the NHL before. No matter, he took full advantage upon arrival and stayed for the rest of the year. He went 21, 2-3-5 and impressed, suspect he’s about where Gambardella is on the organization’s depth chart. He is 26.
The list is potentially outstanding. Evan Bouchard is likely to spend time in both cities, ala Juuso Valimaki’s 2018-19 season in Stockton and Calgary. Tyler Benson, Kailer Yamamoto, Ethan Bear, William Lagesson and Shane Starrett may see action, as well as names from last year like Marody, Gambardella and Currie. I think Jones has a chance to break camp with the big club, maybe Benson, too.
I do think the list is surrounded, which is a bit of a surprise because names like Pat Verbeek and Ron Hextall seemed to jump in and out quickly (one wonders if there was ever really a match). If the list has been pared down to two, and all the Oilers are waiting for is an interview with McCrimmon, this should conclude in the next week to 10 days. I think we might see a media avail next week.
The press conference announcing the new GM will be of interest to all Oilers fans. Peter Chiarelli mentioned “heavy” hockey about 50 times, I imagine we’ll hear “skill” and “speed” at least that many when the new man speaks.
I think the Oilers should try to maintain a balance in terms of roster makeup. Big doesn’t have to mean slow or without skill, it just turned out that way with Peter Chiarelli.
Leon Draisaitl, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Zack Kassian, Jesse Puljujarvi are all big men who can skate and have skill. It doesn’t have to be an ‘either or’ situation.
One area the new GM (Hunter or McCrimmon) will want to address is offense. Although he’ll have two incredible talents, the falloff from 97 and 29 is real and spectacular. Here are expected goals (from Corsica.hockey) from last season:
- Connor McDavid 60.1
- Leon Draisaitl 58.97
- Zack Kassian 40.71
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 40.5
- Alex Chiasson 35.36
- Milan Lucic 33.45
- Tobias Rieder 23.5
- Kyle Brodziak 22.31
- Jujhar Khaira 21.08
McDavid ranks No. 7 in the NHL, Draisaitl No. 10. Kassian is No. 120 league wide, Nuge 125. Khaira? No. 334. Offense. The new general manager needs to bring help for 97 and 29.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
We’re off on a gigantic sports day, beginning at 10 on TSN1260. Jason Rogers from NBC Washington and Japers Rink will join us to talk Capitals and what went wrong. We’ll also ask Eric Fawcett from NBA Canada about the Clippers and what they’re doing right. Frank Seravalli of TSN will make sense of the NHL’s first round of playoffs. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon.