I’ve stared at this 50-man list all summer, and waited for the clouds to part and the pto’s to arrive. I’m early on this year’s Riesen to Believe, but it’s for my own sanity so it’s good.
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 Lowetide: Connor McDavid and optimal line chemistry: The Oilers need to abandon enforcer fixation and add a skill winger
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi’s biggest hurdles: Bad timing and the indifference of the Oilers.
- Lowetide: Projecting the Oilers 2019-20 Opening Night Lineup
- Lowetide: Revisiting the Oilers’ 2016 draft and the opportunities missed
- Lowetide: Examining the potential waiver-wire opportunities at hand for the Oilers
- Lowetide: Cooper Marody’s utility gives him an edge for an Oilers roster spot in 2019-20
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s roster construction options for the Oilers over the next seven months.
- Lowetide: Kailer Yamamoto has the talent to win a job with the Oilers on merit, if he’s healthy.
- Jonathan Willis: Jesse Puljujarvi still has upside and the Oilers’ patient approach is the right one
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Dave Tippett on rounding out his coaching staff, fixing Oilers’ special teams and using Connor McDavid
- Lowetide: Handicapping the Oilers’ young defencemen and their chances of replacing Andrej Sekera
- Lowetide: Is Kirill Maksimov progressing as the Edmonton Oilers’ next great hope for a true homegrown sniper?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers ease pressure on crowded defensive pipeline by trading John Marino to the Penguins
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What the 2021-22 Oilers might look like after their steady build toward contender status
- Lowetide: Joel Persson is ideally situated to win an opening night roster spot with the Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: Projecting the Oilers’ opening night lineup, line combinations and more.
- Lowetide: Oilers’ acquisition of James Neal could add badly needed scoring to the top two lines.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ken Holland puts his stamp on the Oilers with first big move in Lucic-Neal trade
- Jonathan Willis: Ken Holland ends an ugly situation for the Oilers by trading Milan Lucic for James Neal
- Jonathan Willis: Which Oilers defencemen can make an outlet pass?
- Lowetide: Looking ahead to Oilers training camp: 35 players for 23 jobs
- Jonathan Willis: Josh Archibald won’t fix the Oilers’ biggest problems, but he’ll help with some key issues.
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects summer 2019.
1 Mikko Koskinen, 31. He has an uneasy hold on the No. 1 job and will have to perform well if he’s going to keep it. Delivered in October and November (.924) but was overworked and spent by season’s end. I think he’ll perform well if used properly. 100%
2 Mike Smith, 37. Smith started slowly but had a .912 save percentage after the All-Star break. There’s all kinds of risk with this signing, but it’s textbook Holland to employ aged goalers. 100%
3 Shane Starrett, 25. Posted a great season in Bakersfield (.916 save percentage) and is the first recall option entering camp.
4 Dylan Wells, 21. Played 12 AHL games (.909 save percentage) and spent the rest of the year in the ECHL. I don’t know if there’s an edge for backup in Bakersfield but Wells might have the inside track (as a guess).
5 Stuart Skinner, 20. 41 ECHL (.903) games made him the Wichita starter, with just six AHL games (.879) during the regular year. Skinner caught fire for Bakersfield in the playoffs, with a .918 save percentage in four games.
6 Olivier Rodrigue, 19. 48 games in the QMJHL (.902) and he’s a consistent goaltender who may have the best pedigree among the young group. Headed back to junior for his final year.
1 Oscar Klefbom, 26. Four more years at just over $4 million, he’s a grand value contract. Per 82gp: 8-24-32. I’m interesting in seeing how coach Dave Tippett handles him. 100%
2 Darnell Nurse, 24. Oilers fans remain divided on him, for me his 2017-18 season was impressive and he’s easily one of the top 4D. If you want to trade him, find four better before you do it. Per 82gp: 7-19-26. 100%
3 Kris Russell, 32. The simplest way to improve the defense is to move Russell to third pair. It clouds the depth chart but history teaches us NHL teams employ way more than six defensemen in a season. 100%
4 Caleb Jones, 22. I have him making the team, but he isn’t a lock. Jones is at the very top of the recall list and his third pairing numbers in the NHL a year ago (over 56 percent Corsi for in just over 115 minutes). I like him plenty. 70%
5 William Lagesson, 23. I like him for NHL work this season, not certain it’s out of training camp. His shutdown ability in the AHL is impressive and I do believe he’ll spend time on the third pairing this year. 30%
6 Brandon Manning, 29. Wildly unpopular trade but he has NHL experience and the team doesn’t save much in sending him down. The team does have better options, though. 5%
7 Dmitri Samorukov, 20. He was so strong in the second half, and sometimes a late surge represents real progress. That smart play is to send him to Bakersfield, but there’s a sliver of a chance. 1%
8 Keegan Lowe, 26. You can’t mention him without people hammering the last name, but he has delivered two quality seasons for the organization and would be a worthy recall.
1 Adam Larsson, 26. Shutdown defender had a difficult season, and the Oilers badly need a rebound. I have argued it would be madness to trade him (here). 100%
2 Matt Benning, 25. I’m not certain where he’ll play on the depth chart, and he may not be with the team after the deadline, but entering camp Benning appears to be an important piece. 100%
3 Joel Persson, 25. He has a clear shot at the NHL job, it helps the organization to send the kids down. It won’t be easy but he has terrific puck moving skills. Who would be his best partner? 70%
4 Evan Bouchard, 19. It’s rare to see a more perfect fit for need than the marriage between Bouchard and the Oilers. Still, 30 games in Bakersfield is a strong option if the NHL roster can afford it. 50%
5 Ethan Bear, 22. He was effective when healthy, and has NHL experience. I’m confident in placing him here, but wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the team out of camp. 30%
6 Logan Day, 24. His impressive season has been overlooked with all of the other RH puck movers joining the chorus this fall. I don’t know where he’s heading but last season in Bakersfield was impressive.
1 Connor McDavid, 22. His injury appears to be in the past and we know his desire to win is enormous. I’m expecting a career season. Per 82gp: 37-69-106. 100%
2 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 26. Per 82gp, he has scored 22-36-58, perfect for a No. 2 center. Now, he can’t push the river so needs plenty of support and that’s going to be an issue again this year. Finally, he remains (in the words of Tyler Dellow) a power-play ‘witch’, only curtailed by the presence of power-play God McDavid. 100%
3 Jujhar Khaira, 25. There are absolute limitations in placing him here, but the absence of alternatives clears the mind. Khaira is a rugged two-way forward who has shown signs of being a solid PK man. Per 82gp: 8-14-22, which isn’t a lot but his career high in goals (11) is stronger than the other options. 100%
4 Cooper Marody, 22. He is one of the few players on the roster who can make the team in two positions, so he looks out of time here (but the percentage includes center and wing). Skilled, smart and coming off an outstanding AHL debut. 40%
5 Gaetan Haas, 27. RH center who has speed and two-way skills, we don’t know if his skills are a match for the NHL game and we don’t know if he’ll need a period of adjustment. Edmonton is vulnerable here. 35%
6 Colby Cave, 24. He has some utility but lacks any one strength to recommend him. He’s on the roster and he won 52 percent of his faceoffs. I don’t think he’s a long-term answer but he has a real shot at the roster. 30%
7 Kyle Brodziak, 35. He had a tough year, fell off demonstrably from previous level of performance. He was clearly not at full health, and so may surprise at camp. He’s 35. I think there’s a good chance he is on LTIR for the season. 30%
8 Brad Malone, 30. Malone serves as insurance at the position and has played 14 percent of his time with the Oilers in the NHL. If he’s recalled, something unplanned has happened.
9 Cameron Hebig, 22. It’s a big season for Hebig, who started last season as part of the Kid Line then faded away. He will need to find a role in Bakersfield.
10 Ryan McLeod, 19. I don’t think he’ll see the NHL this season and am interested to see how much he brings offensively in the minors.
1 Leon Draisaitl, 23. The big man scored 50 goals last season, a feat that puts him on a higher level. Don’t expect another 50, but something close to career average (per 82gp: 29-44-73) is reasonable. A real gem. 100%
2 James Neal, 31. I think Ken Holland made out like a bandit with this trade, even if it doesn’t work out. I think 16 goals is a reasonable expectation. You? 100%
3 Markus Granlund, 26. He’ll be in the Rieder role, PK man who can score some, check some and maybe move from pivot as required. It’s a good choice, although you worry he lands more of a feature role than warranted. 100%
4 Joakim Nygard, 26. He has speed, giving Nygard a major advantage over other hopefuls. His SHL scoring pace (he was among the league leaders) shouldn’t be overlooked. 75%
5 Tyler Benson, 21. I think he has a real chance to make the team. If Benson comes to camp, gets a chance with skill, and shows those passing skills, he can make the team. 45%
6 Tomas Jurco, 26. He has had some success (per 82gp: 9-11-20) in the NHL but it has been four years since he was a regular in the league 20%.
7 Joe Gambardella, 25. He scored 29 goals in the AHL last season and showed some ability in an NHL recall. A long shot, he could impress Tippett early and ride it to an NHL job. 15%
8 Nolan Vesey, 24. He hasn’t shown a lot.
1 Zack Kassian, 28. Per 82gp as an Oiler, he scored 10-14-24, which is excellent production for a role player but doesn’t warrant No. 1 line work. He does enter training camp as the top RW. 100%
2 Alex Chiasson, 28. Over the last three seasons, he output per 82gp is 16-15-31, and eight of his 22 goals a year ago came on the power play. He’s a bit of an odd match in this forward group (counting on 22 goals again is unwise). 100%
3 Josh Archibald, 26. One of my favourite offseason additions, Archibald can PK, score goals, skate and play a physical style. No real negatives. 100%
4 Sam Gagner, 30. One of the most interesting players on the roster, over the last three seasons he is delivering (per 82gp) 15-26-41. He could play on all four lines during the year. 100%
5 Josh Currie, 26. I think he could slide into a 13-14F job easily this training camp, so have ranked him here. No matter if Currie gets sent out, it’s better than even money that he plays in the NHL this coming season. 30%
6 Kailer Yamamoto, 20. I don’t think there’s much chance of Yamamoto making the roster out of camp, my suspicion is the organization wanted to see more a year ago. Wrist injury aside, he’ll have to show he can dominate the AHL before recall. 30%
7 Patrick Russell, 26. The more I look into his minor league season, the more impressive it looks. He’s a depth winger at the NHL level, but could see the NHL again this season. 4%
8 Kirill Maksimov, 20. I don’t see a path for him to make the opening night lineup, but a dominant first half in the AHL could see him recalled. He’s a perfect fit for a gigantic need.
9 Jesse Puljujarvi, 21. Per 82gp, he is 10-12-22 in the NHL. Nothing really to say.
Here’s the thing: There are so many candidates for the 21 skater jobs. Last year, the number of players who were 30 percent or better to make the Oilers: two goalies, eight defensemen, 14 forwards (here). This year? Two goalies, 10 defensemen and 18 forwards. Holy hell.