If the season resumes in the next few weeks, the earth will move under our feet again. If things remain dormant through summer, then we have some conclusions to make on the current roster and the 50-man list ahead. Interesting times.
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: What does Jesse Puljujarvi’s Liiga season tell us about his future?
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How Oilers plan to help arena workers unclear with games postponed
- Lowetide: NHL season on hold might impact Oilers evaluations, summer plans
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis: Key questions surround Oilers in wake of NHL’s coronavirus suspension
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Murat Ates: ‘It hits you so hard’: Health crisis puts vital Oilers-Jets game in perspective
- Jonathan Willis: Mikko Koskinen vs. Mike Smith: Who starts Game 1 for the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has found a home as a winger
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: GM Ken Holland on Oilers’ playoff push, offseason plans and Hart thoughts
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers observations: Mikko Koskinen comes through in offensive power outage
- Jonathan Willis: Evan Bouchard, Tyler Benson and more: 20 observations on the Bakersfield Condors
- Lowetide: Caleb Jones represents Oilers template for development success
- Jonathan Willis: Rookie pros Dmitri Samorukov, Kirill Maksimov learning in Oilers’ system
- Lowetide: Oscar Klefbom’s return and usage a key element for Oilers stretch run
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How ‘little firecracker’ Josh Archibald went from unknown to vital with Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Determining Connor McDavid’s linemates remains a pressing and perplexing problem
- Lowetide: Reasonable expectations for Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Ennis over the next 15 games.
- Jonathan Willis: Ryan McLeod offers the Oilers size and speed. But will he score in the NHL?
- Jonathan Willis: Which players pose the biggest threat to Leon Draisaitl winning the Hart Trophy?
- Lowetide: How the Oilers deadline deals might alter summer plans
- Jonathan Willis: Splitting Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl saved the Oilers’ season
- Lowetide: Is the OHL still the Oilers’ primary resource at the draft?
- Lowetide: The Oilers’ 2017 draft and the value of waiting five years
THE 50 MAN
1 G Mikko Koskinen. His .917 save percentage is No. 12 among goalies who have played 30 or more games this season. His .921 EV strength save percentage has him No. 15 in the category. His cap hit is $4.5 million for two more years. I’d place him as NHL average as a goalie and we can argue about how much that should cost. I think he’ll be one of the two goalies in Edmonton next season.
2 G Mike Smith. His .902 save percentage ranks No. 36 among 45 goalies who have played 30 or more games. At even strength, he has a .903 SP, that has him No. 42 among those same starters. I don’t think his numbers warrant an extension but do believe he’ll get one. His 19-12-6 record is a selling point.
3 Stuart Skinner. He owns an .892 save percentage for the season, ranking him No. 45 among 49 ‘qualified’ goalies in the AHL this year. I think his January performance (SP over .920) shows promise, but overall the season has clearly been a struggle. I’d like to see him as a starter in front of a good AHL team. Best number since turning pro .903SP in the ECHL.
4 Shane Starrett. He posted an .874 save percentage in what was a disappointing and injury-riddled season. He is a free agent (Group Six) a year after he looked close to getting his first NHL cup of coffee. The life of a goalie, man. Had a .918SP in 42 AHL games in 2018-19.
5 G Dylan Wells. He posted an .878 save percentage in the AHL and .871 in the ECHL. Has one more year in his entry deal, highest pro SP is .912 (in 22 ECHL games).
6. G Angus Redmond. He is winding down the entry deal, spent mostly in the ECHL.
7 G Olivier Rodrigue. This is a slide player but he’ll turn pro in the fall. Rodrigue is a significant prospect, his .918 save percentage ranking No. 2 among QMJHL goaltenders this season. As there is no obvious starter for Bakersfield this fall, it’s possible Rodrigue plays a significant role as a rookie pro. He might be No. 3 on this list one year from now.
8 LD Oscar Klefbom. A true value deal ($4.16M with three full years to go) brings quality offense (62, 5-29-34) combined with big defensive minutes (six minutes a night of five on five time against elites). Music!
9 LD Darnell Nurse. Big man has a big deal and plays major minutes. Signed for the next two years at $5.6M, he’ll be free to go at that time. Nurse averaged almost seven minutes a night against elites in 2019-20, leading the team, outscoring elites 25-18.
10 LD Caleb Jones. An extreme value deal for the next two years ($800,000 per annum) he has surpassed Kris Russell this season and should be a lock for 3LD in 2020-21. I know the Oilers have had a hella rookie season but don’t overlook this player. Major development.
11 LD Kris Russell. He has one more year ($4M) left and is in roster peril with the development of Jones. It’s no longer a matter or like/don’t like, it’s a matter of roster efficiency.
12 LD William Lagesson. He has the talent to be an NHL regular but it might not be in Edmonton. We talked about the three men (Bear, Jones, Lagesson) who needed to play this season, in order to get a feel for what chores they could accomplish in the NHL. Lagesson is the odd man out in the group, but he has talent.
13 LD Brandon Manning. He played nine games with the Oilers this season and is a free agent this summer.
14 LD Keegan Lowe. Also a free agent, struggled in his role (AHL veteran and mentor) after doing a fine job previously. Uncertain he’ll be back.
15 LD Dmitri Samorukov. This a player who might emerge in a “Bear-Jones” manner in the next 18 months. He’s strong, has good wheels and a mean streak, plus can move the puck. Teams need a defense factory and damned if the Oilers don’t have one up and running efficiently.
16 LD Philip Broberg. I’ll be honest I don’t know this player any better now than draft day. I DO know that he had a better season at 18 than Oscar Klefbom. He played 45 games, averaging 14 minutes a night (1-7-8) and 23-24 on ice goal differential at even strength. Oscar played 33 games, averaging 13:44 a night (2-0-2) and 11-12 on ice goal differential at even strength.
17 RD Ethan Bear. I liked him on his draft day but would be a liar saying this was the expected outcome. Bear has been the Oilers best defensemen this year, full stop. Played over 6.5 minutes a night against elites, outscoring 25-19. Outstanding rookie.
18 RD Adam Larsson. He played against elites for six minutes a night and plays them to a draw. That’s very valuable in the NHL. I’m not sure he’s going to be able to hold back the water, prospects are arriving 10 at a time. I’m going to miss the shutdown blue when they’re gone.
19 Matt Benning. I’m a fan but he’s in the “Gary Lariviere” spot and that probably means he’ll be gone to a new town in the next 12 months. He is a productive NHL player, three minutes a night against elites and on the right side of goal differential from the beginning.
20 RD Mike Green. Deadline acquisition and a free agent this summer, I’m not certain he’ll be a one-off rental. Ken Holland likes old defensemen almost as much as he likes old goalies.
21 RD Evan Bouchard. He’s NHL-ready and when Bouchard arrives I expect power-play time to be a part of his usage. High octane forwards need sweet tape to tape passes and Bouchard is ideally suited to the role. Has improved defensively in the AHL.
22 RD Logan Day. He is RFA this summer and I’m uncertain he has done enough to earn another deal. Then again, like Stuart Skinner, I’m uncertain if the Oilers can get a read on any of these prospects in such a tough year.
23 RD Ryan Mantha. His entry deal ends this summer. It’s wildly unfair to see how his contract rolled out.
24 LC Connor McDavid. No matter what happens this spring and summer, the frustration of last April has been replaced with something better.
25 LC Leon Draisaitl. This could well be his peak season and represents one of the best in this team’s storied history. He’ll win the Art Ross now, will he win the Hart?
26 LC Jujhar Khaira. He is signed for $1.2 million next season and could land a job as a No. 4 center. He has struggled all year on the wing but showed well late as a pivot. Great PK helps.
27 LC Riley Sheahan. There was a rumor he (and Josh Archibald) was close to a contract but nothing lately. I wonder if Khaira ends up with the job next season. Doubt both would return. UFA.
28 RC Gaetan Haas. He’s an interesting player but may land a two-way deal over the summer. I’m not sure what role he can fill. UFA.
29 LC Markus Granlund. Split time between Edmonton and Bakersfield this season, not close to the role envisioned last summer. UFA.
30 RC Cooper Marody. Marody’s season is a wild disappointment. Injuries and illness derailed him at the exact point where he should have been pushing for regular NHL duty. Has one more year, opportunity might have passed him by ala Shane Starrett.
31 LC Ryan McLeod. I was impressed with his offensive numbers as a rookie (56, 5-18-23). He has the speed and two-way acumen to develop into a solid pro if there’s enough offense. He showed well.
32 LC Colby Cave. He played with the Oilers (11 games) and Bakersfield (44 games) and could be insurance at center again next season. RFA
33 LC Brad Malone. He delivered another solid AHL season but didn’t see the NHL. That might indicate moving on, and Cave’s roster presence makes Malone superfluous. UFA.
34 LW Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. I love watching him and this season his offense is alive. A generation of high picks who pack huge lumber to the plate, Nuge is one man who can flash the leather too. He belongs on that line with Leon and the Spokane Kid.
35 LW Tyler Ennis. He is UFA but won’t cost the moon and was on the way to a 20-goal season (or close) in 2019-20 when the break hit. Speedy and skilled, he will be a solid signing option.
36 LW James Neal. He scored 19 goals and the trade allowed Edmonton to get out from under the Lucic contract. He has three years left at $5.75M. Buyout possible.
37 LW Andreas Athanasiou. It would be a mistake to overreact to Athanasiou’s first 9 games as an Oilers player, but it’s also true any new contract will take up significant cap. A 20-goal man making $3 million is worthwhile but he scored 11 in 55 games this season. Holland’s handling of this player is one of the more interesting items of summer.
38 LW Joakim Nygard. Bullet train has already signed an extension ($875,000) and his five on five points per 60 (1.27) is solid considering his depth linemates. I suspect his second NHL season will be more impressive.
39 LW Tomas Jurco. I liked his play early in the NHL season (1.04 five on five points per 60 but solid in possession) but he got sent down and then was injured, so there was no second chapter in Edmonton. UFA, uncertain to return.
40 LW Tyler Benson. He played less than 70 minutes in the NHL at five on five (0.88 points per 60), had good possession numbers. He played mostly with Riley Sheahan and Josh Archibald, would like to see him higher in the batting order next time. He didn’t score in four AHL games after getting sent back and his totals in the minors are shy of his rookie season, but the Condors were born under a bad sign this season. I like him as an NHL player and soon.
41 LW Joe Gambardella. He was my pick to be ‘college man finds NHL’ from the 2018-19 Condors but Dave Tippett chose another. Gambardella fell from 29 goals last year to 14 this one. He has one more year on his two-way deal.
42 LW Ryan Kuffner. RFA who came over at the deadline from DRW, he had a solid college career but struggled (36, 6-5-11) in the AHL this season. Dobber says “has good size, is smart and quick with a nose for the net and finds the open spots to receive passes.”
43 LW Nolan Vesey. He scored 2-4-6 in 15 ECHL games and (over two seasons) 25, 1-3-4 in the AHL. RFA, unlikely to return.
44 LW Ostap Safin. An encouraging season from a young man who had injury issues during his final months in junior hockey. In 54 ECHL games, he scored 16-19-35 this year and we should we him in Bakersfield 2020-21.
45 RW Kailer Yamamoto. I always said the only worry was injury, but would be a liar if I said KY’s season was a reasonable expectation. I believe’s repeatable, although 3.16 points per 60 at five on five may not return. A massive draft and development win, kind of a forward version of Bear.
46 RW Zack Kassian. He had a weird year but the production (59, 15-19-34) was rock solid. Posted 2.21 points per 60 five on five and was productive while running some luck (16.67 shooting percentage). Signed a four-year, $3.2 million contract during the year, we’ll be talking about it for some time.
47 RW Alex Chiasson. Signed for one more year at $2.15 million, he was coming on late in the season (65, 11-13-24). Posted just 0.87 five on five points per 60, he was effective on the PP (5.44 per 60) and that may make a Neal exit easier for management.
48 RW Josh Archibald. He started slowly and has been a big part of the team since mid-season. Posted .65 goals per 60 at five on five and gave the team a reliable two-way winger.
49 RW Patrick Russell. Russell has five assists in 45 games, and I’m thrilled he made it to the NHL. Love the longshot. He scored a goal and it got called back, if there’s one thing I would change about this season it would be that goal being erased. He is UFA, coach likes him.
50 RW Josh Currie. NHL teams need players who can play center in the NHL and help along skilled prospects. They have to overpay for them because the carrot of recall doesn’t appeal to all (Europe pays well). Currie is UFA and a perfect fit for the role, if he wants to come back my bet is he will.
51 RW Kirill Maksimov. He scored 40 goals in the OHL a year ago and has a nice range of skills. His adjustment to the AHL occurred in a season when the Condors had very well difference makers offensively. Thus, Maksimov went 53, 5-8-13. I believe he’ll blossom if the team can place him with a center who can make a difference at the AHL level. Cooper Marody might be that player.
52 Cam Hebig. His second AHL season didn’t reach the levels of the first (that’s a theme) and the current management team didn’t sign him. Hebig is in a tough spot for an NHL contract with the Oilers but his 11 goals as an AHL rookie in 2018-19 probably gets him a deal somewhere.
52 names because of the slides (Broberg and Rodrigue), tomorrow we’ll talk about the new hires and possible additions, as well as the players unlikely to return.