The Oilers signed Patrick Russell yesterday, adding another name to the 50-man list. I’ve always wondered how unsigned RFA players who are possibly bubble types react when a UFA gets a contract. Make no mistake, the deck chairs are running out, and RFA’s are waiting for deals. A contract means a training camp and a roster spot in Edmonton (or Bakersfield). No contract means Europe or an invite without any guarantees. No fun, this.
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, here’s an incredible Father’s Day Offer!
- New Lowetide: Looking at the Oilers’ options for the No. 8 pick at the 2019 NHL Draft.
- New Jonathan Willis: How many of Sam Gagner, Zack Kassian and Jujhar Khaira can play top-nine minutes for the Oilers?
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A with Ken Holland: On the draft, buyouts, free agency and how to have a successful offseason
- Lowetide: Trading for Loui Eriksson: What makes sense for the Oilers?
- Jonathan Willis: Differing needs of Oilers, Jets could create a trade fit
- Lowetide: How will Ken Holland build around Connor McDavid?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: The top five players the Oilers could lose in the expansion draft
- Jonathan Willis: What a trade involving Edmonton’s No. 8 pick might look like given Ken Holland’s history
- Lowetide: Hard Target Search: Finding the Oilers a centre who can penalty kill, help shape a useful third line, and serve in a mentor role
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How a third-line grinder launched the star-filled Oilers to their first Stanley Cup and a hockey dynasty.
- Lowetide: Is Zack Kassian the answer for the McDavid-Draisaitl line?
NEW 50-MAN LIST (42)
The list is up to 42, with only two slide rules (Bouchard and Rodrigue) in the entire lot. Bouchard will turn pro, and the Oilers will sign fewer than 50 total, so let’s say we’re at 41 of 48 — seven names to sign.
RFA’s who remain unsigned include Jesse Puljujarvi, Jujhar Khaira, Tobias Rieder, Ty Rattie, plus three minor leaguers (Colin Larkin, Robin Norell, Tyler Vesel). Sail on Hayden Hawkey and Vincent Desharnais, and we’re looking at some turnover with the restricted men (same as it ever was).
If the Oilers plan to trade, or are in conversations with teams about trading one of the rfa’s, it’s likely they don’t get signed. Let the next team make their own decision.
KEITH GRETZKY, BOB GREEN, BAKERSFIELD, DRAFT
Keith Gretzky will remain Asst. GM in Edmonton and will be the GM of the Condors. Based on the words and music from yesterday, he’ll spend the fall and early winter focusing on the Condors, while Bob Green and the scouts drill down on the 2020 draft. Somewhere in the new year, Gretzky will begin focusing on the draft and be a part of the decision making.
Every swinging Dick has an opinion on the Oilers drafting, I think the last truly poor one was 2012 — partly because it was a poor year and partly because the Oilers were drafting players out of order. The 2013 draft saw only Darnell Nurse emerge, but I’ll go to my grave believing MacT was on the right track making that crazy trade for five picks. They should have signed Marco Roy. The 2013 draft shows you that an organization can do the right things and still have things work out wrong. It doesn’t mean you flush the right things.
The 2014 draft is Leon Draisaitl and William Lagesson but could have been much more. Edmonton dealt for Nikita Nikitin, Victor Fasth, Mike Brown, Ben Scrivens and David Perron.
The 2015 draft was more of the same, although I’ll give the scouts tremendous credit for adding Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear and John Marino after the Connor McDavid selection. I count this draft as Bob Green’s first.
The 2016 draft has Jesse Puljujarvi, Tyler Benson and Dylan Wells as the only three men who signed a pro contract (among nine selections). Although JP is struggling, there’s still time to get something from what is now an unusual list.
The 2017 draft has a lot of promise, notably Dmitri Samorukov, and 2018 boasts Evan Bouchard, Ryan McLeod and Olivier Rodrigue but there’s miles to go.
LAST FIVE DRAFTS
There’s no fair way to measure a draft until the five year mark, but we can count arrows. Although you can’t give any credit for walking to the podium to select Connor McDavid, he is part of the draft record. Here’s my take on 2014-2018 drafts:
Generational Talent: Connor McDavid
Impact Talent: Leon Draisaitl
Quality Prospect: Dmitri Samorukov, Evan Bouchard
NHL Prospect: William Lagesson, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, John Marino, Jesse Puljujarvi, Tyler Benson, Dylan Wells, Kailer Yamamoto, Stuart Skinner, Kirill Maksimov, Ryan McLeod, Olivier Rodrigue
Is it good enough? By eye, it looks better than 2008-12, but we have arrows not concrete results. Holland will make his changes to the scouting staff this summer, seems Gretzky and Green will be part of the future. I believe the results since 2017 are strong enough to retain, and know that is a minority opinion. I am hopeful we can have a conversation and not a food fight.
Aside from Russell, the organization added a couple of AHL contracts to the group this week. The Condors have signed Luke Esposito and Steven Iacobellis to AHL contracts. Ryan Holt (pbp man for Bakersfield) said “Esposito took an enhanced role late in the season and seized the opportunity. Effective center and PK guy as well. Iacobellis was named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team following an injury last year.”
These AHL signings can be important and the current procurement group can boast Josh Currie and Logan Day as men who came through the AHL-only deals to land NHL contracts. I keep wondering about Evan Polei. Jared Wilson has signed with an Sm-Liiga team and Braden Christoffer is off to Norway. (Source)
June 15-30 is the first window and Ken Holland told DNB that he was mulling buyouts and hadn’t made up his mind. Because these things can get confusing, and because the reason for buyouts is most often immediate help, here are the cap savings for 2019-20 on various contract buyouts:
Kris Russell $3.083 million
Andrej Sekera $3.0 million
Milan Lucic $2.375 million
Sam Gagner $2.133 million
Brandon Manning $1.33 million
Melancholy is my mood this morning, they’re going to turn off the lights after tonight’s G7 SCF and it’s summer. I love summer, but miss hockey already. My whole life people have said “come on, you can’t possibly want more hockey” but they don’t know. When the final credits roll tonight, the business of hockey will be front and center and I’m grateful. But the game itself will be at rest, and I’ll be it until September.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun morning that will give way to a massive sports night, we get started at 10, TSN1260. Kris Abbott will join us from OddsShark to talk SCF and NBA finals, and Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal will pop in for a discussion of the Oilers draft plans. I’ll also have a special announcement at 11:05 or so, when Bruce is on the show. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!