Life comes at you quickly when the pipeline sends Evan Bouchard, Dmitri Samorukov and Joel Persson down the chute in one summer. It’s happened before—in 2017, when Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones turned pro, and William Lagesson damned near did, too. What will the Oilers depth chart, and the Condors depth chart, look like on defense opening night?
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 OFFER IS HERE!
- New Lowetide: Dmitri Samorukov is off to the Memorial Cup and is the Oilers’ fastest rising prospect
- New Jonathan Willis: Craig MacTavish leaves the Oilers, signalling the first major front office change under Ken Holland
- New Lowetide: What kind of coach should Ken Holland hire for the Oilers?
- New Jonathan Willis: Every Oilers AHL prospect, rated by how close they are to the NHL
- New Jonathan Willis: A resurgent Andrej Sekera gives the Oilers much-needed defensive options
- New Lowetide: Is Joe Gambardella destined to become the Oilers’ next Fernando Pisani?
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Protector, supporter, confidant: Connor McDavid’s mom, Kelly, is his off-ice rock through good times and bad
- Lowetide: An offseason plan for Ken Holland to remodel the Oilers roster.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ken Holland steadfast that buck stops with him as new Oilers GM.
- Lowetide: How will Ken Holland proceed in Year 1 as Oilers general manager?
- Jonathan Willis: What does the arrival of Ken Holland mean for the Oilers coaching search?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Prioritizing the roster issues that await Ken Holland in Edmonton.
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s procurement list for his rumored move to Edmonton will include front-office personnel
- Jonathan Willis: A Milan Lucic trade is at the top of the to-do list for the Oilers’ next GM.
MOVE ‘EM OUT, RAWHIDE!
Opening nights can change in a quick hurry when the farm system is producing at a rapid clip. Consider the 2015-16 opener for the Oilers and Condors, with a pack of blue on the way 12 months ahead. Here’s ’15-16 opening night:
Edmonton deployed veterans on the top two pairs, a rookie in Reinhart (who would soon lose his job to Nurse) and another rookie in Brandon Davidson. In the minors, it was go time (NHL or gone) for Brad Hunt.
So when we (I) say “damned Oilers gave up on Hunt!” the fact is there had to be turnover to make room for new talent. Once a defenseman sees his entry deal end, highway to the Danger Zone. Here’s ’16-17 opening night:
Chiarelli totally reworked the NHL RHD, and gave himself more options for recall from the minors. Benning was on both opening night rosters, but the Condors had some good recall options on the opening night depth chart. This group is the playoff team and the biggest difference in quality was injury. Until Sekera went down against Anaheim, the team was close to flush was qualified blue. Here’s ’17-18, again both teams opening night:
The injury to Sekera happened in spring, but by fall Chiarelli had talked himself into re-signing Russell as good enough to cover the position. It didn’t go well. I always thought Todd McLellan missed an opportunity by not using Auvitu properly. That guy was skilled, the power play needed help. This was a tough season for the top pairing, they needed more substantial help. None was coming. Here’s ’18-19:
Todd McLellan’s final Oilers team featured more youth than he would have been comfortable with, owing to Andrej Sekera’s late summer injury. Chiarelli spent the winter trading assets to tweak but in the end there were no survivors. This team needed a second pair to slot in before Nurse-Benning. Here’s projected ’19-20:
One thing that hits me when looking at the projection: There are more good things here than ’17-18 opening night. What does that mean? Well, two things. First: Ken Holland could deal from strength to address weakness, using (possibly) Ethan Bear or William Lagesson as trade bait. I wouldn’t use Benning until one of the kids forces the issue.
The second item is this: Holland could stand pat on defense and it wouldn’t be a disaster. The team needs a second pair RH option who can move the puck, but waiting a year might give the team an internal solution in Evan Bouchard. Maybe less than a year. I’m not saying stay the course no matter what on defense, but do believe it’s an option worth considering.
There are several interesting names on this list that make sense for the Oilers, including Colin Miller and Connor Brown. Milan Lucic makes an appearance, that will be a creative deal should it come to pass.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260. We kickstart a long weekend with a great lineup of guests and a beautiful forecast. Steve Lansky from BigMouthSports will join me to talk MacT in Russia and the NHL officiating controversy. Gerry Moddejonge from PostMedia talks Eskimos and 2019 expectations, while Matt Iwanyk stops in to talk golf, CFL and personal improvement. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Friday bitches!