Oh, I’ve been waiting. All the discussion and the rage, the arguments that start and end with ‘feelings’ and the gigantic wall called summer have all washed away.
You may have chosen your favourite, you may have reasons, you may know in your heart of hearts. Experience tells me that you should also light a candle, pray to the God who listens and be a good human all through September. I don’t know if those things matter, but I don’t know if they don’t either. Better be safe. Here is the camp invite list.
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 Athletic, we are celebrating our 2-year anniversary this week. To mark the occasion, you can get 40% off subscriptions until Sept. 19 here.
- New Lowetide: Evan Bouchard and the Calder Trophy: The Oilers’ pursuit of the elusive rookie award
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Alex Chiasson prepares to return to scoring form for Edmonton Oilers
- New Jonathan Willis: Kyle Brodziak defied the odds, and then the Oilers, to carve out a significant NHL career
- Lowetide: Can Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith stop enough pucks for the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Shutdown success by Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson is a key for the Oilers in 2019-20.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Even if he’s unsure about his return, Oilers’ Connor McDavid looks and sounds like his old self
- Lowetide: RE 19-20: How can the Oilers’ bottom six close the gap in goal differential?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Kailer Yamamoto and Tyler Benson address respective highs and lows as Oilers rookie camp begins
- Jonathan Willis: Riley Sheahan is a prudent signing by the Oilers in more ways than one
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers’ defensive hopes will rest on the new shutdown pair of Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: With Evan Bouchard as the headliner, here are the players to watch at Oilers rookie camp
- Lowetide: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the configuration of the Oilers second line
- Lowetide: Connor McDavid’s 2019-20: Pushing for 50 goals while Dave Tippett loads up the Oilers’ top line
- Lowetide: Estimating reasonable expectations for the 2019-20 Edmonton Oilers: A difficult journey
- Jonathan Willis: How much money will Darnell Nurse make on his next NHL contract?
- Corey Pronman: Oilers No. 9 farm system.
- Lowetide: Oilers coach Dave Tippett might have to take drastic action in order to find a second outscoring line in 2019-20
- 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 percent chance of making the team.
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, I think there’s a chance we see an addition at the position during the season. 100%
3 Shane Starrett, 25. Posted a great season in Bakersfield (.916 save percentage) and is the first recall option entering camp. I’ll be watching to see how much work he gets in preseason.
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. He was outstanding in Calgary Game 2 rookie camp.
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 interested to see how coach Dave Tippett proceeds. An offensive pairing led by Klefbom sounds promising, depending on partner. 100%
2 Darnell Nurse, 24. A growing number of people who are convinced Nurse should be dealt, I’d like to see the team get four better blue before doing so. Nurse is easily top-4D with this team, and posted a strong 2017-18 (often with Adam Larsson). 100%
3 Kris Russell, 32. The prevailing wisdom has him starting on the left hand side, but that could change. He’s an NHL veteran defender, that has value. 100%
4 Caleb Jones, 22. Jones is in a terrific spot and I have him on the opening night roster. His speed stands out in this group and he can move the puck. He’s young but could be around a long time. 60%
5 William Lagesson, 23. There’s a lot of buzz about Lagesson, he has shutdown utility and some puck moving ability. A range of skills is a good thing. 27%
6 Brandon Manning, 29. He’ll be a recall option and I imagine Manning will play a top-6D role in Bakersfield.
7 Dmitri Samorukov, 20. He was so strong in the second half, and sometimes a late surge represents real progress. His uneven play at the rookie camp resembles his short stay in main camp a year ago.
8 Keegan Lowe, 26. Solid veteran will spend the season mentoring the AHL kids again. Important role.
9 Jake Kulevich, 26. He’s been in pro hockey since 2017-18, first in the Winnipeg Jets system and now the Oilers. Big shutdown blue.
1 Adam Larsson, 26. Shutdown defender had a difficult season, and the Oilers badly need a rebound. I still think he and Klefbom will play a lot together. 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. May get a shot with Klefbom. 60%
4 Evan Bouchard, 19. He’s a pure talent with the puck and his speed has improved. Defense is the question and 40 games in Bakersfield is perhaps the best course of action. 46%
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. 26%
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.
7 Vincent Desharnais, 23. Big defender turned pro with an AHL contract, he looked pedestrian with the puck at rookie camp.
1 Connor McDavid, 22. Per 82gp: 37-69-106, the injury issue will be front and center until he plays. I’m expected a gigantic year, with a spike in goals. 100%
2 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 26. Per 82gp, he has scored 22-36-58, it’s vital he deliver at least those boxcars in 2019-20. His linemates are going to be an important decision for the coach. 100%
3 Riley Sheahan, 27. Per 82 gp for his career, he has scored 11-16-27, somewhere between Alex Chiasson and Zack Kassian (meaning he is not an efficient offensive player). Can win faceoffs and he’ll be on the PK. 100%
4 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. 50%
5 Cooper Marody, 22. Skilled, smart and coming off an outstanding AHL debut. He can make it at center or on the wing. 30%
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. 20%
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 is likely to be on injured reserve this season.
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. He played very well in the rookie games.
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. Brilliant speed is going to get him chances.
11. Luke Esposito, 25. Proved to be quite useful in Bakersfield a year ago, he could play for the Condors or the ECHL (or both) this season.
12 Beau Starrett, 23. Giant forward showed well in rookie camp, there’s some useful skills with this forward.
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. I also think Neal gets plenty of time on McDavid’s right wing. 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 Jujhar Khaira, 25. 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%
5 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. 70%
6 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. 55%
7 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%.
8 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%
9 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. 10%
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. 10%
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. 2%
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 Ostap Safin, 20. He’s lost a lot of time due to injury, but whenever he’s healthy the man is a load. Much like Benson a year ago, you’re just hoping for a complete season.
10 Raphael Lavoie, 18. Scoring forward likely headed to junior over the next few days. Promising goal scorer.
11 Anthony Peluso, 30. Big man with plenty of NHL experience, he’s ticketed for the AHL.
ESTIMATED OPENING NIGHT ROSTER
Leon Draisaitl—Connor McDavid—Zack Kassian
James Neal—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Alex Chiasson
Markus Granlund—Riley Sheahan—Josh Archibald
Jujhar Khaira—Gaetan Haas—Sam Gagner
Joakim Nygard, Colby Cave
Oscar Klefbom—Matt Benning
Darnell Nurse—Adam Larsson
Kris Russell—Joel Persson
Mikko Koskinen, Mike Smith
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we talk training camp and the season to come. Frank Seravalli from TSN joins the party for another winter and Ben Kramer from CFL Weekly will tee up the weekend’s action. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Let’s get this party started!