A rookie crop can take a team a long way. Oilers history tells us that much. What will we be saying about the 2019-20 rookies 40 years from now??
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: Will the Oilers rocket to Russia during free agency this summer
- New Lowetide: Will Oilers drafts be less reliant on the WHL under new management?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Connor McDavid on a ‘fair season’, working out and picking quarantine teammates
- Lowetide: Dave Tippett deploys unproven talent expertly in first Oilers season
- Lowetide, Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis: Oilers ABC: Picking the best players in franchise history, from Anderson to Zuke
- Jonathan Willis: If the Oilers need to clear money with a buyout, they have one real option
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: The 5 games that define Leon Draisaitl’s Hart Trophy-worthy season
- Lowetide: Final Oilers report cards: Second-half impact defines a successful season
- Jonathan Willis: Does Filip Berglund’s new SHL contract mean he’s done with the Oilers?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Evolution of a star: Why Leon Draisaitl was our Hart pick
- Lowetide: Oilers get good news from the farm as second-half performances spike
- Lowetide: Should Oilers prospect Philip Broberg play in North America next year?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis: Which former Oiler has the best argument to have his jersey number retired?
- Lowetide: Which Oilers veterans are in roster peril?
- Jonathan Willis: How good is Anton Slepyshev and what will an NHL return mean for the Oilers?
- New Lowetide: Oilers’ challenge could be finding relief with a low cap ceiling
Total Rookies: 9
Rookies of Interest: 3
1979 Draft Notes: No. 21 overall Kevin Lowe was ranked No. 12 among 1959-born draft eligible players. The Oilers had him rated ‘anywhere from No. 10 to No. 13 overall’ on draft day.
A Story: Kevin Lowe was told the 1979 draft (via telephone) was to start at 10am. He expected a call from Alan Eagleson around 10:15 to tell him which team had selected him in the first round. Lowe waited, and waited, and waited. By 10:45am the phone hadn’t rung and Lowe’s mom said “My God, they’re not drafting him.” A mixup in the phone lines caused a one hour delay, but the Lowe household was not aware of it. At 11:10, Eagleson’s secretary called with the news Edmonton had chosen Lowe—21st overall.
Longest NHL careers. Kevin Lowe (1254), Risto Siltanen (562) and Dave Lumley (437) represented a solid rookie crop.
Most memorable: Kevin Lowe. By his third year Lowe was helping his team in a big way and would continue to do so for the rest of the decade (when healthy). Dave Lumley hung around for two Stanleys, had a detour to the Whalers and returned. Risto Siltanen, a personal favourite, was traded after three entertaining seasons.
Wayne Gretzky wasn’t judged to be a rookie, but it was his first NHL season. He was the best player in the league. Although not technically a rookie, because the NHL decided it one day, the young man from Brantford, Ontario was beyond ridiculous from the start. Bruce McCurdy knew he was the best player who ever lived early on, and the rest of us caught up by the first NHL spring in Edmonton.
RD Bryon Baltimore was 27, and played his only two NHL games in this season. Another WHA vet, Baltimore hung around the minors for a little while afterward. He was well regarded by his teammates as a tough-as-nails defender and had a wicked sense of humor. Must have been smart, too.
Punch Imlach wrote about about Mark Messier, also disqualified as a rookie in 1979-80. In his book about his career with Toronto and Buffalo in the 1970s, Imlach wrote about the 1979 draft. He blamed his scouts (Imlach always blamed someone) for taking Laurie Boschman and not Brian Propp (both Brandon Wheat Kings) in the first round, and then threw his scouts under the bus again for sins not even committed in the third round. He wrote that he asked about Messier being available, and was told by scouts that 11 would not be taken in 1979. Only two picks before the Toronto turn, Edmonton called the Moose. That meant Imlach didn’t have a story, but the bugger used it in his book anyway. Lordy.
Glen Sather was impressed by Messier as he played AGAINST the Oilers in the 78-79 season (WHA). Edmonton’s Dennis Sobchuk was a pretty good player and legend has it he thought he could take the kid in the Cincinnati Stinger uniform. Messier apparently had a slight edge in punches. 12-0. Sather noticed and picked him 48th overall in the deepest draft in history.
Total rookies of interest: 2
Best player as a rookie: Ethan Bear. If you watched the Oilers this season, then you know how much the rookie meant to the team. It’s difficult to describe what Bear, a perfect fit, delivered in the games after Adam Larsson went down. Then, when Larsson returned, Bear just continued playing quality hockey.
Second best player as a rookie: Caleb Jones. He moved past Russell in the final weeks of the season.
Oldest rookie: Joel Persson. He was 25. Dealt at the deadline.
Anything else? Kailer Yamamoto isn’t technically a rookie but this season will be remembered for his impressive efforts after recall. He was a big part of the team’s success.
The 2019-20 season will be memorable for me because of the ‘big three’ who emerged from the system. Ethan Bear, Kailer Yamamoto and Caleb Jones were perfect fit options from the farm, inexpensive and ready to carry the load for a long time in their roles. None of the three was a lottery pick, all three represent astute drafting and development.
These are rare things in Oilers (recent) history and may indicate a change in the weather. If Evan Bouchard and Tyler Benson play 60+ games and fill a need, that will be five men who arrived from the system in a two-year span. Music!
WHERE IS THE CAP GOING?
I believe the player portion of NHL revenue remains 50 percent of overall dollars. If the cap in 2019-20 ($81.5 million times 31 equals 2.526 billion) is top dead center, that would mean the NHL’s revenue would be $5.05 billion this season. Is my math right?
Now, we know the 2019-20 season, as it stands, won’t reach those numbers and that will bring in escrow. By the time the 2020-21 season arrives, a new cap number will be established.
What if that new number is $60 million? How does the NHL tell the Oilers to get to $60 million when the McDavid, Draisaitl, Nuge, Neal, Klefbom, Larsson, Nurse, Russell and Koskinen deals represent $56 million? How does the league keep the integrity of the cap with this kind of chaos? I don’t have the answer. I’m asking the question.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun day as we begin talking cap, signings, free agency and 2020-21 season. Hart from Puck Pedia will help us through cap issues at 10:20 and Jason Gregor will talk Oilers roster into the future at 11. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!