First Blush

Ken Holland inherited a fixer upper with some enormous gifts included, but was forced to shop at the bargain store all summer. His biggest move involved trading Milan Lucic (who was not working out) for James Neal (who may work out better) and we’ll see how it goes.

It falls to Dave Tippett to cobble the roster and we saw first blush at practice yesterday. It’s an interesting first glimpse into what the coaching staff is thinking.


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 Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Eight key questions for the Oilers to solve at training camp
  • New Jonathan Willis: Predicting the winners of the Oilers’ top-six and top-nine forward jobs out of camp
  • New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: In, out or on the bubble: Breaking down positional battles at Oilers camp
  • New Lowetide: Evan Bouchard and the Calder Trophy: The Oilers’ pursuit of the elusive rookie award
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Alex Chiasson prepares to return to scoring form for Edmonton Oilers
  • 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.


Leon Draisaitl—Connor McDavid—Zack Kassian. We could see a shuffle on right wing when an option comes available, my guess is James Neal plays at least some of the season with 97. Can McDavid-Draisaitl score 90+ again? I’m betting yes.

Sam Gagner—RNH—James Neal. This is why I love training camp and preseason. It’s like all the ingredients have been on the counter all summer and now the chef is starting to mix them, boil the water and pouring the wine. I don’t think this line a good idea, mostly because of foot speed and defensive acumen on the wings, but Dave Tippett is the chef. Gagner is the most likely player to capitalize offensively.

Jujhar Khaira—Riley Sheahan—Josh Archibald. Tippett talked about a heavy line and a skill line on his bottom six forward group. Khaira is a edgy player, Sheahan is a bigger man and Archibald is a small buzzaw. This line could work.

Markus Granlund—Gaetan Haas—Cameron Hebig. My guess is that Tippett identified pairs and then tacked a third on the side. Granlund-Haas might be a pair opening night, there’s speed and some experience. Nice reward for Hebig’s strong rookie camp showing.

Tomas Jurco—Cooper Marody—Alex Chiasson. I’m not sure there’s a pair here, more like Chiasson tacked to a couple of hopefuls. Still, all three should compete for a job so this line might not make sense but they have to start somewhere.

Joakim Nygard—Colby Cave—Patrick Russell. Both Nygard and Cave have a chance at the NHL opening night lineup, and Russell has some utility. I think Nygard makes the Oilers.

Tyler Benson—Ryan McLeod—Kailer Yamamoto. This could be an opening night Bakersfield line, although McLeod might not get a feature offensive role early in California. Oilers badly need the wingers to cash eventually.

Joe Gambardella—Brad Malone—Josh Currie. All three could play in the NHL this season, all three have some utility. To my mind, Gambardella’s style is a good fit for a Tippett team.

Ostap Safin—Luke Esposito—Anthony Peluso. This is the first trio without a true NHL recall option (that I can see). Peluso has NHL experience but my guess is he’ll play mostly against the Colorado Eagles.

Raphael Lavoie—Nolan Vesey—Kirill Maksimov—Beau Starrett. One imagines these four men get optioned out this weekend or Monday. There may be an NHLer on this line, but it won’t be this fall.


Oscar Klefbom—Joel Persson. I think there’s a good chance we see these two men together opening night. Oilers seem quite invested in him, even early. If he plays well, suspect he gets at least 20 games.

Darnell Nurse—Adam Larsson. Probably the biggest tweak by Tippett entering camp. Larsson needs a recovery season, Nurse needs a repeat of 2017-18. If this works, music!

Brandon Manning/Kris Russell—Matt Benning. This is the third pairing and I believe the chances of trade during the season are high for this group. Will Russell’s dutchies improve from the left hand side? I’m a fan of Benning and wonder if Tippett’s arrival could give him new life. Manning lined up with Benning because Russell was hurt and he has a chance to win 7D job imo. Not a good chance, but it’s there.

William Lagesson—Evan Bouchard. Both players in this pairing have a substantial chance to make the Oilers, so it’s worth noting they begin camp together. It’s important to find out about Lagesson in the next 12 months. Bouchard is the one defensive prospect whose skill is at a level where he could blow the whole damn bunch out of the water.

Dmitri Samorukov-Caleb Jones. Notable that Jones plays RH side based on depth chart and that could be a tell. I think Jones can win a spot with a solid camp. Samorukov was pedestrian at rookie camp and will want to avoid two lacklustre camps in a row.

Keegan Lowe—Ethan Bear/Vincent Desharnais. Bear is an interesting player in this defensive group, he has a little NHL experience and could slide into the third pairing if healthy and effective. Coverage and speed issues are things to watch for in preseason. Has he improved? Remember: Defensemen do not develop in a straight line. Struggle can mean motivation. Injuries are a concern.

Jake Kulevich-Logan Day. Holy crap this team has a lot of depth if Day is on the seventh pairing opening day at camp. He’s a good player.

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201 Responses to "First Blush"

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  1. OriginalPouzar says:

    defmn: Thanks. The RH shot makes sense although it seems to be agreed here on the blog that you always take BPA – at least in the first round.

    General, although not universal, consensus on this blog. Of course, what this blog “thinks” is right, is not necessarily what Steve Yzerman thinks is right.

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