Now that we’re through the process of finding the general manager and coach for next season, it’s time to start discussing the roster population in 2019-20. It’s easy to get bogged down with “needs” and “assets” lists, which is counterproductive if you haven’t done an inventory of what is already on the premises. How many Condors can fly north this fall? How many disappointing seasons were delivered in Edmonton by heroes disguised as villains? Let’s have a look.
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: NHL Combine brings Oilers dual problems into focus for Ken Holland
- New Lowetide: Analyzing the Oilers roster to see which players fit Dave Tippett’s ‘aggressive, fast team’ approach
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Dave Tippett’s coaching philosophy, how he relays information to his players and why information is king
- Lowetide: What will Ken Holland see in Evan Bouchard?
- Lowetide: Does Oilers’ signing of Joakim Nygard signal a measured approach to summer 2019?
- Lowetide: Dave Tippett’s roster deployment in Arizona and what it might mean for the Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: Why Ken Holland’s worst years in Detroit tell us the most about how he’ll fare in Edmonton
- Jonathan Willis: Three offseason scenarios and how each one would affect the Oilers salary cap
- Lowetide: Examining the Oilers’ goaltending options in free agency.
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s Oilers could go the high octane procurement route but will need a driver
- Lowetide: How much can Connor Brown help the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Dmitri Samorukov is off to the Memorial Cup and is the Oilers’ fastest rising prospect
- Jonathan Willis: Craig MacTavish leaves the Oilers, signalling the first major front office change under Ken Holland
- Lowetide: What kind of coach should Ken Holland hire for the Oilers?
- Jonathan Willis: Every Oilers AHL prospect, rated by how close they are to the NHL
- Jonathan Willis: A resurgent Andrej Sekera gives the Oilers much-needed defensive options
- Lowetide: Is Joe Gambardella destined to become the Oilers’ next Fernando Pisani?
- 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.
FLY CONDORS FLY
The first thing we have to agree on is this: There are a limited number of opportunities that will be made available to Bakersfield’s best at Oilers’ training camp this fall. Ken Holland’s Oilers will have new faces from outside the organization and (likely) more than one dozen returnees from last season’s disappointing club.
Cooper Marody has the best chance to make the leap from Bakersfield to Edmonton in my opinion. Why? Age, experience and roster opportunity. Marody’s regular season numbers in the AHL (58, 19-45-64) suggest he’s ready for the next level, and Edmonton’s needs (No. 3 C, RHC, complementary wingers) all dovetail for him. He turns 23 in December, his possession and shot numbers were good in a very brief NHL look and at this point he has a clear shot at NHL employment this fall.
Caleb Jones is (imo) the most NHL-ready in the group, but his path is blocked. On the LH side, there’s Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Andrej Sekera. On the RH side, Adam Larsson, Kris Russell and Matt Benning stand in the way. It’s easy to say Jones should make the team, but with another season of AHL eligibility before waivers, and considering he’s still developing, you want Jones playing everyday (here or there). Holland is likely to make room for him this summer, but until he does we can’t call Jones a slam dunk.
Joe Gambardella just signed a contract with Edmonton and has a chance to make the grade out of camp this fall. His aggressive forechecking acumen may give him the edge over some of the other candidates who will be in camp. His 29 goals in 50 AHL games also suggest he’s figured out where the goals are. Smart player.
There are a pile of prospects who are not waiver eligible this season, most of whom are blocked by NHL roster players. Here they are.
Tyler Benson posted 66 points in 68 games, placing him as the top scoring 20-year old in the AHL one year ago. You can make a case he is blocked by Leon Draisaitl, Milan Lucic, Jujhar Khaira and Joakim Nygard — not exactly a mur-diddly-urderer’s row, but Holland will no doubt add. His 5-on-5 points-per-game (0.59) and primary points per game at 5-on-5 (0.49) both rank No. 3 among AHL forwards at 20, 2018-19. I think he could push his way on the roster in time for opening night but he’s more likely a mid-season recall.
Josh Currie played more than most recalls last season, dressing for 23 games and scoring 2-3-5. I really liked his play, especially on the wing. He scored 1.65/60 at 5-on-5 and PDO at his back (103). He’s a strong recall option.
Patrick Russell is unsigned and a UFA (Group 6). He was very effective in Bakersfield (51, 18-22-40) and had six games at the NHL level. He’s at the end of the “guys who can help in a pinch” list but has enough talent to carve out a small NHL career. Scored 14-14-28 5-on-5 in 51 games for the Condors.
Ethan Bear posted good numbers (52, 6-25-31) overall and at 5-on-5 GD (41-28) but had a hard time staying healthy. Important to remember defensemen don’t develop in a straight line, but he’s a year away from waiver eligibility. A big season ahead.
William Lagesson was a revelation this season, absolutely found money. His boxcars (67, 8-19-27) showed more range than expected, and his 5-on-5 goal differential (48-37) lined up nicely with Bear and Jones. I expect he’ll make his NHL debut sometime over the winter.
HO-HO-HO IT’S MAGIC
Music! Jay Woodcroft turned four or five legit NHL prospects into a dozen in one season, and will be counted on to do the same in 2019-20. Here are the names he may spend time with in the coming year, and what we can hope to see.
Kailer Yamamoto scored well (27, 10-8-18) when healthy, his six power-play goals for Bakersfield leading the team. Oilers fans should look for increased playing time, a spike in 5-on-5 scoring, and a more prominent role.
Logan Day (64, 7-27-34) has signed an NHL contract and Woodcroft is no doubt looking at him as a prime contributor for the power play (3-8-11 one year ago). I don’t know where this is going but it’s an interesting journey.
Our friend Eric Rodgers broke down the goaltender performance last season in Bakersfield. Fascinating results, Starrett’s quality starts percentage is outstanding.
Woodcroft will be the first pro head coach for Evan Bouchard, Dmitri Samorukov, Ryan McLeod, Kirill Maksimov and Ostap Safin. Based on how much production he drew from names like Marody, Jones and Gambardella one year ago, the Woodcroft return is one of the major positives of summer 2019.