Every few months I like to do a post where I tell you my thoughts. During the season there’s little time and during the early summer we’re building to the draft, so now, in the ultimate rain delay, this seems a good time. Stand back!
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, check it out here.
- New Lowetide: Projecting Oilers prospects Raphael Lavoie and Kirill Maksimov
- Lowetide: What does Jesse Puljujarvi’s Liiga season tell us about his future?
- 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: Q&A: GM Ken Holland on Oilers’ playoff push, offseason plans and Hart thoughts
- Jonathan Willis: Evan Bouchard, Tyler Benson and more: 20 observations on the Bakersfield Condors
- Lowetide: Caleb Jones represents Oilers template for development success
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Determining Connor McDavid’s linemates remains a pressing and perplexing problem
- Jonathan Willis: Which players pose the biggest threat to Leon Draisaitl winning the Hart Trophy?
- Lowetide: Is the OHL still the Oilers’ primary resource at the draft?
A reminder this is my opinion, so will run counter with my other posts when I talk about what Ken Holland might do over the offseason. All kinds of things I don’t know, such as interest in Edmonton by free-agent goaltenders.
I entered the season thinking one of Mikko Koskinen or Mike Smith would not return. Buying out Koskinen was an option for me, but now I’m thinking keep the Big Finn and set sail on Smith. I have plenty of math to back me up and some money to sign someone like Linus Ullmark. Would you consider spending over $8 million on two goalies?
At the AHL level, I think Stuart Skinner and Olivier Rodrigue will emerge as the best in a group. They’ll have one year to prove themselves before Ilya Konovalov comes over and flattens the entire depth chart.
This is such a different conversation compared to one year ago. The emergence of Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones changes the entire depth chart in a big way.
I’d find a way to offload both Adam Larsson and Kris Russell, effectively ending the ‘pure shutdown’ era of Edmonton defense. A strange item for me to endorse, but I’m trying to catch the ‘mobile blue’ train and am guessing the team can get better results with strong outlet passing and transportation.
So, I deal Larsson for a legit scoring winger, and we’ll call him Brett Connolly. Russell is dealt for a pick and there might be some retention but I bet you he returns a pick far better than most people think (let’s say a third).
My NHL pairings are Klefbom-Bear, Nurse-Mike Green (who signs) and Caleb Jones-Matt Benning. I start Evan Bouchard in the minors and use either William Lagesson or an inexpensive veteran as No. 7D.
My AHL pairings are Ryan Stanton-Evan Bouchard, Dmitri Samorukov-Filip Berglund, Philip Broberg-Paul Ladue (free agent pickup). My No. 7D is CHL grad Noel Hoefenmayer, an OHL overager who is a free agent at this time.
This is the key to Edmonton’s success, because the top two men are so damned good other teams simply cannot compete. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are impossible for an opponent. The key acquisition of summer (along with Ullmark and Connolly) is the third-line center. I choose Erik Haula, your mileage may vary. I also run Jujhar Khaira as No. 4 center, pass on Riley Sheahan if the money is too tight but if he’ll sign for $900,000 again Oilers should be able to afford him. That’s McDavid-Draisaitl-Haula-Khaira/Sheahan at center.
In the AHL, Colby Cave, Cooper Marody and Ryan McLeod can all play the middle and the team can sign someone to a minor league deal for the other spot. I also sign Brett Neumann out of the OHL. Small, but fast and skilled.
LEFT WING 2020-21
I think Ken Holland had the right idea at the deadline, and my first choice (Taylor Hall) is likely too expensive. So, on the portside I’m going to borrow from the great Winnipeg philosophers BTO and Let it Ride. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored 22 goals, James Neal 19, Tyler Ennis 16, Andreas Athanasiou 11. Let it ride. If push comes to shove for the cap, buy out James Neal and run Joakim Nygard or Tyler Benson.
I’ll say LW in the minors has Benson to start the season, plus Joe Gambardella and Ostap Safin. Maybe Ryan Kuffner returns.
RIGHT WING 2020-21
Brett Connolly is my big forward addition, I figure Dale Tallon wants a tough defender (Larsson) enough to move a pretty good winger who scored 19 goals last season. Kailer Yamamoto scored 11 goals in 27 games, doubt that happens again but he’s a bona fide NHL skill winger. Josh Archibald and Zack Kassian return and Anton Slepyshev signs to make things interesting. Alex Chiasson is dealt for a pick.
Kirill Maksimov and Raphael Lavoie would join Josh Currie as the skill options, I liked Aapeli Rasanen as a center option but as a winger he’s not as strong a prospect. I’ll sign him and we’ll see.
In the coming days I’m going to drill down on the prospects and the 2020 draft. I don’t think we’ll see a lot of college and CHL signings in this part of the year, although typically we’d start seeing those things go down in the next six weeks. What would you like to read, here or at The Athletic? Please let me know. I have plenty of ideas but would like to hear yours. And to add, and hopefully without sounding like an egomaniac, I have been told by writers from other sites that the comments section is a goldmine for ideas. So, your opinions are being read!
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning on the Lowdown, beginning at 10 this morning, TSN1260. Our plans are to deliver you two hours of entertainment while also informing you of the latest, most accurate information about coronavirus and its impact. Guests today include Zig Fracassi from Sirius/XM NFL, we’ll talk free agency. Jason Rogers from NBC Washington and Japers Rink will have the news from the Capital, and Jason Gregor from TSN1260 will chime in on one of the weirdest Mondays of my life. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!