In theory, Peter Chiarelli’s major roster bet (build up the middle, with improved centers, defense and goaltending by trading wings) made sense. His problems came in undervaluing Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, while employing a large number of hopefuls who simply couldn’t establish themselves.
Chiarelli traded Hall, Eberle and Teddy Purcell, bought out Pouliot, and replaced them with Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Mike Cammalleri and Zack Kassian. He bet on youth, in two cases unready teenagers, and for the most part the youngsters failed him. In theory, the idea made sense. Larsson, Strome, Sekera, Russell, Talbot. In the end, he traded one of his two drivers and the team could not recover.
Ken Holland’s job this summer is to address as many needs as possible, inside an impossibly difficult cap situation. Where will he go for solutions?
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 Offer!
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers plan to skew younger on defence could open the door for Evan Bouchard, Dmitri Samorukov
- New Lowetide: Taking stock of Oilers prospects ready to graduate with a clear shot at an NHL job in 2019-20
- New Jonathan Willis: Oilers keep two, cut five, and potentially add new targets as qualifying deadline passes
- New Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects summer 2019.
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Raphael Lavoie’s QMJHL coach is confident the Oilers’ No. 38 pick will prove worth the wait
- New Jonathan Willis: Having added top KHL stopper Ilya Konovalov, how will the Oilers handle a crowded goalie pipeline?
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ken Holland doesn’t lose sight of the big picture in drafting defenceman Philip Broberg over a forward
- Lowetide: The heat is on Ken Holland’s Oilers for Day 2 of the NHL Draft.
- Lowetide: Oilers Draft Day 1: Getting it right at No. 8 overall and multiple trade winds for Ken Holland.
- Willis and Mirtle: Are the Oilers and Maple Leafs good trading partners?
- Lowetide: Are these Jesse Puljujarvi’s final days with the Edmonton Oilers?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Analyzing the early Edmonton Oilers’ 2019-20 depth chart.
- Lowetide: The Oilers’ conundrum in taking Philip Broberg with the No. 8 overall pick
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ranking the Oilers’ trade assets from the high-priced diamonds to those needing fresh starts
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Evaluating the pros and cons of potential Oilers buyout candidates
- Lowetide: Oilers GM Ken Holland is shopping for 20-goal scorers on a budget. What will he find?
2015-16 wingers (by 5-on-5 per 60 scoring)
I included Leon Draisaitl, he also played center (Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Mark Letestu and Anton Lander also played pivot). Oilers scoring wingers ran deep. Hall, Pouliot, Eberle and Purcell (basically counting Leon as a center) would be outstanding for the current Oilers.
2016-17 wingers (by 5-on-5 per 60 scoring)
Both McDavid and Draisaitl were over 2.00/60, but the regular wingers couldn’t manage anything close to 2.00. Part of that was the absence of Hall and I do think we saw some failure in the young group that Chiarelli needed to step up (Slepyshev, Caggiula). I don’t fault Puljujarvi, he was a teenager, but Slepy needed to have more impact. The gap from Hall to Lucic is a knife to the heart.
2017-18 wingers (by 5-on-5 per 60 scoring)
This is tough to look at, what with Mike Cammalleri the second most productive scoring winger. The number four regular winger (Khaira) scored at a rate equal to the number six winger in 2015-16. None of the young skill wingers (Slepyshev, Caggiula, Puljujarvi) were able to push up the depth chart. Edmonton needed Slepy to land where Cammalleri is on this list and to build from there. It didn’t happen.
2018-19 wingers (by 5-on-5 per 60 scoring)
Three men at 1.50/60 or better, and Chiarelli traded one of them. One of the key issues for Ken Holland is to acquire more wingers who can move the needle. I understand Alex Chiasson scored 22 goals last season, but he wasn’t efficient at 5-on-5, nor was Zack Kassian. Folks, even a younger Teddy Purcell would be a massive improvement.
Possible 2018-19 wingers (by 5-on-5 per 60 scoring)
Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts mentioned Connolly and Tanev, both men would be top-six forwards based on performances a year ago. For Holland, as was the case with Chiarelli, the need is for kids like Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, Benson and Marody to emerge. Holland’s patience may help these players, although this team badly needs young wingers who can score while representing value deals.
Who has the best chance of stepping in? I wrote yesterday at The Athletic about this, and to my eye Tyler Benson has the clearest shot. Left wing is an offensive wasteland behind Leon Draisaitl, with Nygard, Lucic and Khaira the likely competition. Signing Tanev might muddy the waters, but I suspect Tippett will see Benson’s vision and passing in training camp and work to keep him on the big team. Holland could change the equation with trades and in free agency in the coming days.
These two men are not similar in quality. Mrazek’s save percentage last season at even strength (.929) ranked him No. 9 among goalies who played 25 or more games. Smith’s number (.907) was No. 45. Last season, Smith (.922) was stronger at evens than Mrazek (.914). I think Smith might sign at a reasonable rate for one year, with Mrazek possibly seeking a Jonathan Bernier deal. I don’t think this is an easy decision. Money and term have to be considered. If they sign Mike Smith, safe to assume Shane Starrett will see NHL action this coming season. I don’t believe $3 million times three years for Mrazek is wise, perhaps I’m wrong.
THE TRADE BOARD
Frank Seravalli posted a new TSN trade board this morning, Jesse Puljujarvi and Milan Lucic are on it. It is here. The Puljujarvi chatter seems to be reaching something close to a crescendo, although it’s uncertain this will amount to anything. The Tampa Bay Lightning are an interesting option, minor league team (Syracuse Crunch) are loaded with prospects. I’ll take Alex Barre-Boulet, please and thanks.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
TSN1260, 10am. We do a round table discussion twice a year, and today’s first hour will see Bruce McCurdy, Darcy McLeod and Tyler Hupka bring logic and reason to the Oilers current state. We’ll chat about the hiring of Ken Holland and Dave Tippett, the choice to approach this summer in a measured way and what free agency may bring. Frank Seravalli drops by at 11, we’ll talk about the new trade board, free agent destinations and the impact of the new cap on buyouts. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!