There are dozens of takeaways from last night’s television premiere of ‘Whatever it Takes’, including the seriousness of the decision faced last spring by Connor McDavid. We learned he’s human, that people around are also concerned by his high speeds and possible damage from crashes, and that the young man heals like a super hero. We saw, perhaps for the first time, the real Connor McDavid. Raw, fragile, determined, purposeful. Impressive.
We learned that Ken Holland had a moment after being hired when he found out the true extent of the injury, and we can discuss whether or not that had an impact on his summer plans (I suspect it had to at least have some part in the process). That’s a lot from a television show.
Big questions: Where would this franchise be without McDavid? Does Ken Holland have trust issues? Does that change your opinion on Holland’s moves of summer? Do the Oilers approve of the verbal as it pertains to Nicholson? Is John Shannon the next big name to join the organization?
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, less than two coffees a month offer here.
- New Lowetide: Oilers prospects Evan Bouchard and Tyler Benson deliver best minor league performances in 20 years
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘Hey, Sparky, can you do that?’: How the Oilers’ AHL video coach got his start as the Islanders’ mascot.
- Eric Duhatschek: ‘He’s special’: The people who know him best tell the story of how Leon Draisaitl took the NHL by storm
- Pierre Lebrun: Where all 31 teams stand one month before the trade deadline
- Lowetide: What do Connor McDavid’s best lines tell us about his optimal linemates?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: I was an AHL coach for a day: Here’s what I learned
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis: Oilers player poll: From the serious to the silly, the players weigh in on best dressed, most superstitious and more
- Thomas Drance: Inside how ‘Okanagan boy’ Ken Holland helped bring back the Penticton Young Stars tournament
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers minor-league defenceman Brandon Manning suspended five games for racial slur
- Jonathan Willis: An updated list of which Oilers are most likely to be traded in 2019-20
- Lowetide: Kailer Yamamoto gives Oilers a midseason spark, one of the best in team history
- Lowetide: With the Oilers’ minor-league goaltending not good enough, Ilya Konovalov might be the answer
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Josh Archibald, Riley Sheahan show the upward trend of Ken Holland’s offseason moves for the Oilers
- Lowetide: Post-Christmas performance spike has Evan Bouchard pushing for an NHL job with the Oilers
- Lowetide: Central Scouting’s midseason list offers Oilers some strong draft options
- Jonathan Willis: The Oilers’ road forward — and perhaps to a Stanley Cup — requires trusting the kids on defence
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers make a smart two-year bet on Caleb Jones, who has done nothing but improve
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: 3 things from the latest Oilers win: A lacrosse goal, Mike Smith’s resurgence and Connor McDavid’s new linemate
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: A defiant Zack Kassian issues his latest salvo against Matthew Tkachuk: ‘He messed with the wrong guy’
- Lowetide: Dave Tippett’s deployment of Oilers defencemen indicates Kris Russell is vulnerable to trade
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers Notebook: Jujhar Khaira’s future, Caleb Jones’ adaptation to NHL speed
- Lowetide: Projecting William Lagesson’s future with the Edmonton Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: Kailer Yamamoto has impressed the Oilers and especially star linemate Leon Draisaitl
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: 10 bold predictions for the Edmonton Oilers in 2020
- Jonathan Willis: Inside a coach’s impact: How Dave Tippett gets the most out of the Oilers’ players
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Deciding what to do with Darnell Nurse, Mike Smith, Tyler Benson and Evan Bouchard
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s targets for his first trade deadline with the Oilers.
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s trade deadline options for the Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: Zack Kassian’s breakout performance presents Oilers GM Ken Holland with a familiar dilemma
- Lowetide: Complete Oilers top 20 prospects list, winter 2019
I watched most of last night’s game, came away with a few impressions. I like Stuart Skinner’s game, calm in his net, allowed two goals, one an unlucky deflection to a forward in the slot, and the other a screen shot. Skinner’s winning this job, and maybe an NHL look down the line.
Evan Bouchard is a brilliant passer, he is quicker getting back on pucks and maybe a little cavalier with the puck in his own zone (quick back pass in the second period behind the net was gobbled up by the enemy). Performed well during a 3-on-5.
Matt Benning was quality to my eye, had a strong game and played a lot. William Lagesson had a strong game, the only quarrel I had was a little hesitation on a shot from a spot that was promising. Dmitri Samorukov scored a nice goal that required creativity and impressed with his mobility.
Ryan McLeod’s speed is impressive, he stands out in a good way. Looks more comfortable with the puck than he did earlier in the year. Tyler Benson wasn’t in the play early, but made up for it with great work in the last 40 minutes. He raced to pucks, sent passes to good areas, creative and responsible in equal parts. Josh Currie can shoot the puck, nice goal. Brad Malone had a strong night, good at both ends. Cameron Hebig scored an impressive goal, he’s on a little run here this week. Another game tonight, wonder if they run Starrett.
OILERS FORWARDS FIVE ON FIVE SCORING
We’ll start back to NHL stuff today and build toward Wednesday and the next game. One of the interesting happenings just before the AS break is an increase in the number of forwards scoring at a pace that keeps them in the range of average top 6 forwards. You may recall the last time we looked at this the club had three first line forwards (97, 29 and Kassian) a third line player (Sam Gagner) and an acre of fourth liners. Lets’ see what things look like now.
- Connor McDavid 2.88 (first line)
- Leon Draisaitl 2.81 (first line)
- Kailer Yamamoto 2.58 (first line)
- Zack Kassian 2.33 (first line)
- Sam Gagner 1.66 (third line)
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.46 (third line)
- Joakim Nygard 1.29 (fourth line)
- Riley Sheahan 1.11 (fourth line)
- Josh Archibald 1.05 (fourth line)
- Gaetan Haas 0.99 (fourth line)
- Jujhar Khaira 0.92 (fourth line)
- Alex Chiasson 0.78 (fourth line)
- James Neal 0.76 (fourth line)
- Patrick Russell 0.69 (fourth line)
This is real progress, especially regarding Yamamoto (in a small sample size) and Nuge correcting like a demon. One of the areas we’re going to drill down on in the coming days: Who should be playing on McDavid’s wing? Here are the current numbers posted by winger. It’s clear that James Neal is so far off the pace that replacing him should be a priority.
- Nuge 3.87 (1-1-2 in 31 minutes)
- Leon Draisaitl 3.09 (10-17-27 in 523 minutes)
- Jujhar Khaira 2.68 (1-0-1 in 22 minutes)
- Josh Archibald 2.56 (2-1-3 in 70 minutes)
- Zack Kassian 2.48 (12-12-24 in 581 minutes)
- Sam Gagner 1.85 (0-1-1 in 32 minutes)
- Alex Chiasson 1.3 (one assist in 46 minutes)
- Joakim Nygard 1.1 (0-1-1 in 54 minutes)
- James Neal 0.61 (1-1-2 in 195 minutes)
Based on these numbers, and assuming the No. 2 line remains hot as a firecracker, how would you populate the lines in the second half? Here’s my thoughts:
- Joakim Nygard—Connor McDavid—Josh Archibald
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Leon Draisaitl—Kailer Yamamoto
- Jujhar Khaira—Gaetan Haas—Zack Kassian
- Tyler Benson—Riley Sheahan—Alex Chiasson/Sam Gagner
The alternate plan would have Benson with McDavid and Nygard on the fourth line. It’s time for Benson. We’ll talk more about it tomorrow.