King of the Road

If you believe, as I do, that the difference between the bottom 75 forwards in the NHL and the top 75 forwards in the AHL is marginal, then the Oilers should be getting more from the minor league system than we’ve seen this past decade. Ken Holland is probably going to get way more out of his AHL team than previous managers.

THE ATHLETIC

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: Adam Larsson’s Oilers future uncertain as ‘sexy’ options emerge
  • New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: One-on-one with Wayne Gretzky: On the time he visited Moscow during the Cold War
  • New Jonathan Willis and Lowetide: Discount forward options the Oilers could pursue in free agency
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘Oh my God, Edmonton’s picking first’: An oral history of the 2015 NHL draft lottery
  • Lowetide: Comparison of Oilers, Flames drafts 2010-19 closer than it should be
  • Lowetide: The most potent lines in Oilers history
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: On the time Dave Semenko fought Muhammad Ali
  • Lowetide: Why Jan Mysak could be a value pick for the Oilers at the 2020 Draft
  • Jonathan Willis: The Oilers overcame malice in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver to join the NHL
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Remembering Jacques Plante’s brief tenure with the Oilers at age 45
  • Lowetide: Oilers need to find (or get) real value in William Lagesson
  • Jonathan Willis: Flashback: When ‘Oil Change’ revealed key details of Oilers’ 1979, 2010 drafts
  • Lowetide: Edmonton’s Sports Hall of Fame should have 3 founding members
  • Jonathan Willis: What does the Oilers best possible playoff lineup look like?
  • Lowetide: Why Jack Quinn is a perfect 2020 draft fit for the Oilers
  • Lowetide: Oilers’ five-on-five with and without Connor McDavid is improving
  • Lowetide: Craig MacTavish’s most important Oilers moment? Picking Leon Draisaitl
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: If play does not resume, 5 notable questions that will go unanswered in Edmonton

OILERS FARMHANDS AT 20 2000-20

This is the group of top scoring AHL forwards at 20 and their total NHL games. So, Zack Stortini isn’t here, nor Colin McDonald nor Tyler Pitlick. The 10 men have played (so far) 2,840 NHL games. Notice just how many players stalled, from skilled men like Schremp to two-way players like Pouliot.

DRW FARMHANDS AT 20 2000-2020

DRW throw nothing away, and this list of their top 10 points-per-game forwards at 20 (AHL) has delivered 3,630 NHL games. Lots of good role players in there and I don’t see a bolting Bogdan Yakimov nor an Anton Slepyshev who chooses not to sign.

I get that it isn’t easy, the Oilers are not an organization that has established itself as a power. So, while DRW back in the day could (mostly) maneuvre players as they wished, Edmonton doesn’t get the same kind of room to wheel.

Will Holland change the weather in Edmonton? What would it look like? Well, for starters I think Holland might have found a way to keep Slepyshev, and Yakimov and even Paigin. Maybe he would have drafted Swedish players instead. Either way, the Oilers have been somewhat a farm team for the KHL in this decade and that has to stop. I believe Hartikainen could have had an NHL career, Omark too, hell maybe even Toni Rajala.

Rookies since 2015-16

The Oilers have been doing well in developing players in Bakersfield, especially since Jay Woodcroft took over. How does the pipeline compare to Detroit’s assembly line? Here are the AHL rookie numbers by men who have both played in the minors and made it to the majors since 2015. Ranked by NHL GP.

  1. Darnell Nurse ’15-16 9gp, 0-2-2 (350)
  2. Tyler Bertuzzi ’15-16 71gp, 12-18-30 (199)
  3. Jesse Puljujarvi ’16-17 39gp, 12-16-28 (139)
  4. Filip Hronek ’16-17 10gp, 1-1-2 (111)
  5. Anton Slepyshev ’15-16 49gp, 13-8-21 (102)
  6. Ethan Bear ’17-18 37gp, 6-12-18 (89)
  7. Dennis Cholowski ’18-19 25gp, 0-12-12 (88)
  8. Caleb Jones ’17-18 58gp, 2-15-17 (60)
  9. Kailer Yamamoto ’18-19 27gp, 10-8-18 (53)
  10. Patrick Russell ’16-17 68gp, 8-9-17 (51)
  11. Filip Zadina ’18-19 59gp, 16-19-35 (37)
  12. Taro Hirose ’19-20 35gp, 5-22-27 (36)
  13. Joe Hicketts ’16-17 73gp, 7-27-34 (22)
  14. Givani Smith ’18-19 64gp, 6-7-13 (21)
  15. Evgeni Svechnikov ’16-17 74gp, 20-31-51 (20)
  16. Robbie Russo ’15-16 71gp, 5-34-39 (19)
  17. Joe Gambardella ’17-18 50gp, 13-6-19 (15)
  18. Ryan Kuffner ’19-20 32gp, 6-3-9 (10)
  19. Kyle Criscuolo ’16-17 76gp, 17-24-31 (9)
  20. Dominic Turgeon ’16-17 71gp, 6-12-18 (9)
  21. Evan Bouchard ’19-20 54gp, 7-29-36 (7)
  22. Tyler Benson ’18-19 68gp, 15-51-66 (7)
  23. Cooper Marody ’18-19 58gp, 19-45-64 (6)

Oilers have been doing fine work on developing defensemen (Nurse, Bear, Jones, I didn’t include Benning) but the forwards stall out (Marody) or bolt to Europe (Puljujarvi, Slepyshev). Hopeful signs include Yamamoto and Benson. DRW forward Bertuzzi is a big win for the organization, and I’ll note the Detroiters are STILL treating Svechnikov like a developing talent. Holland’s one asset that should help Edmonton is that he appears to be stubborn as a mule in waiting for prospects to figure it out. Godspeed on that idea, one hopes Benson, Marody, Gambardella, Maksimov, Safin and others benefit from the long view.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we hit the ground running with a quality group of guests. Jonathan Willis from The Athletic will pop by to talk about the Oilers in free agency, Andrew Peard will talk about an Oil Kings trade and Dave Van Horne (!!!!) from the Florida Marlins broadcasts will join me at 11:20 to talk MLB, Marlins and Expos. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!

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51 Responses to "King of the Road"

  1. Woogie63 says:

    The Oilers should move the AHL Team to to Edmonton to play at Rogers.

    Young player (Jesse) would not have to move 3000 km to a new city/apartment as they grow into being pros, Older Vets (Malone) does not have to live apart from his wife and child as he is called to the NHL to be the 13th forward.

    Both teams would have the best facilities in hockey to train. Co-ordination between coaches and management would improve. Flying the players to California for two weekend games is nothing. Increase attendance and the rent from there own build for the Condor would more than pay for the extra cost.

    Does a 20 year old really want to move to Bakersfield and ride a bus to play hockey or is the allure of playing in Rogers, with all the Oiler brass watch attract more young players to spend 2 years learning their craft at the AHL level.

  2. OriginalPouzar says:

    There is the saying that the jump from the CHL to the AHL is harder and bigger than the jump from the AHL to the NHL.

    In the cap era, it’s imperative that there are graduating prospects from the farm club and, every once in a while, graduating farmhands that make a material positive impact in the NHL. Having these value contracts is key to balancing a cap structure that may be heavy at the top (and/or has some anchors).

    Trading picks and prospects for immediate help is indeed important in certain situations but drafting and developing is primary.

    We all have seen that the Oilers are starting to reap the benefits of better drafting and development.

    Holland starting Kailer in the AHL, keeping Bouchard in the AHL all year long, sending Benson down earlier in camp than anticipated, etc. in connection with signing older veterans that have to be leap-frogged by the graduates shows this focus.

    Of course, the better drafting started with the Chiarelli/Gretzky regime and even the better development (in certain cases – mostly the d-men).

    There is little doubt that Holland will continue to focus on drafting and development – he is a scout at heart.

  3. Elgin R says:

    Having a dedicated AHL team, with a coach that is there to develop at the expense of winning is starting to show results. Sharing an AHL team or playing older AHL vets, at the expense of younger players with NHL potential, hampered the Oilers for many years. Allowing younger players to grow and mature in the AHL requires not only a coach who will follow the plan, but upper management that understands this and will stick with it.

    The example of how Woodcroft is deploying McLeod is a tell. Developing him as a 3C with a PK role will allow him the opportunity to hopefully make the Oilers in the future (he has 2 years of ELC left).

    Marody and Benson both need to continue improving next year with the Condors. Injuries have slowed both men’s development, but they have a year of ELC left so we shall see. The Oilers have until training camp 2021 to decide if they can help the big team. There will be an opportunity as low salary cap contracts will be needed.

    If the Oilers can get 400+ NHL games out of 1 of these three (Jason Williams played 455) then it is a win.

  4. Kinger_Oil.redux says:

    – Perhaps skill wise there is little discernible difference between the bottom 75 in the NHL and top 75 in AHL. Practically however, in terms of actual difference to team performance if you took out your bottom 2 or 3 NHL players and replaced them with AHL players here’s what would happen:

    1) unfamiliar with they systems and teammates
    2) learning curve for mistakes that takes reps
    3) learning to be a pro
    4) being asked to play different minutes in different roles with less ice time against way better opposition is a massive adjustment

    – So in practice there is a significant difference between the ability for a AHLer to actually contribute in the NHL right away. Which is why those in the NHL tend to stay in the NHL: they just fit better for all the reasons I outlined above in terms of contribution to team.

  5. BONE207 says:

    LT…I believe Hartikainen could have had an NHL career

    I look at JF Jacques right above him (ZERO goal coke machine) & wonder how this could be. All the practice & physical training that players go through. How much mental assistance does a player receive to cope & build upon?

    One term that always bugs me is “confidence “.
    A 20 year old, after spending 3/4 of their life playing hockey should have a fairly good idea of what they can do or at least what they will need to learn to do. Mental strength should be well developed by then, no? In any case, I prefer the term “focus” , as it would be more apt. I would hope that teams help players develop that focus to improve both physically & mentally.

  6. geowal says:

    That DRW farmhand table throws out the idea that Detroit was only good because they hit it lucky drafting Zetterberg and Datsyuk late. Sure that helps, but they found and developed role players at a steady clip.

  7. BornInAGretzkyJersey says:

    BONE207,

    Confidence is a big part of the game, for sure.

    I never gave it much thought (for many of the reasons you mention) until Mike Peca was playing for us and asked about playing with confidence. He was very candid about how you go through ups and downs, and when you’re struggling it’s very difficult but when you’re feeling good things come naturally. I can’t find the interview (believe it was on HNIC in between periods), but it was in reference to him seemingly busting a prolonged slump and finding his game again.

    More recently, CFP was on Spittin’ Chicklets. He was talking about the year he won the Hart. He said that year he’d had a full off season of training and was in the best shape of his life, which he attributed to both commitment to training instead of partying and lack of injury. He said his summer set him up for success and he was playing with the utmost of confidence. If there was ever a guy who seemed filled to the brim with confidence, CFP was it. To learn that he’d had his ups and downs with confidence was almost shocking.

    To quote from an old LeBrun article after CFP was inducted to the HoF (he covers this era on the podcast too):

    Said MacInnis: “Chris is a smart guy, he realized who he was traded for.”

    “I’ll give him a lot of credit,” MacInnis added. “He was a young guy, he was in a tough spot. I don’t hear it very often but there were times when the fans here [in St. Louis] got on him a little bit. There were times when the coach at the time, Mr. Keenan, was extremely hard on him. But he was able to build some tough skin and some mental toughness to push through. And he became a heck of a player. I’m not sure how many guys would have pushed through, but he certainly found a way.”

    Pronger wonders, too. Coach Mike Keenan rode him hard.

    “That first year was very difficult. I was the whipping boy,” Pronger said. “I was in his office after every period, before and after every practice. I was beaten down. I think between getting booed every night and getting abused by him, I had no confidence whatsoever. … I got to a point where I saw a sports psychologist.”

    Keenan, via email, defended his treatment of Pronger.

    “Chris was involved in a major franchise trade,” Keenan wrote. “He was very young and needed direction. I treated him with a very firm hand and also asked his parents for support. He became an elite player in St. Louis and won the Hart Trophy. He was a player I really respected.”

    Eventually, Pronger just grinded through it.

    “It was a matter of turning the page and not worrying about expectations and what people think,” Pronger said. “Just read and react and play the game. Just leave it on the ice and don’t worry about it. You can get bogged down in thinking, ‘Why don’t people like me?’ You can dig yourself a hole.”

    Source: https://www.tsn.ca/pronger-overcame-rough-start-to-earn-spot-in-hall-of-fame-1.387374

    So there it is. Professional athletes are human beings just like us, as much affected by the (sometimes) fickle nature of mental health as anyone. I totally understand your premise, but think there’s so much more going on than we know about that make significant impacts on the on ice product.

  8. BornInAGretzkyJersey says:

    Something that’s often acknowledged here is that we have a stark lack of forwards on the farm.

    What I don’t see discussed as often is what strategy should be employed when drafting?

    Is it skill, skill, skill? A 200 ft game, chasing the Kopitars and Bergerons of the world? Surely, no more coke machines as that was a failed experiment.

    I remember hearing about the DET approach to drafting being that you use your top picks on quality prospects who are unlikely to wash out, and swing for the fences with your late round selections on high skill and potential. Makes sense when you’re drafting so late, so often. If you look at most of their star players during Holland’s tenure, they come from mid to late round picks. The higher picks tended to be either quality defensemen or bottom-six types with skill. Kind of an inverse approach/result to how the Oil have been drafting. And more successful.

  9. defmn says:

    Kinger_Oil.redux:
    – Perhaps skill wise there is little discernible difference between the bottom 75 in the NHL and top 75 in AHL. Practically however, in terms of actual difference to team performance if you took out your bottom 2 or 3 NHL players and replaced them with AHL players here’s what would happen:

    1) unfamiliar with they systems and teammates
    2) learning curve for mistakes that takes reps
    3) learning to be a pro
    4) being asked to play different minutes in different roles with less ice time against way better opposition is a massive adjustment

    – So in practice there is a significant difference between the ability for a AHLer to actually contribute in the NHL right away.Which is why those in the NHL tend to stay in the NHL: they just fit better for all the reasons I outlined above in terms of contribution to team.

    I see it differently. I am more with Lowetide on this.

    First of all any decent team in the NHL has their farm team playing the same system as their parent club so I don’t see that as a difference of any significance. They are playing with different players but it would be my contention that professional hockey coaches at the NHL level are capable of evaluating players independently of factors such as new line mates.

    I’m not sure I understand your second point. Is it that hockey is different in the AHL than the NHL in terms of things like making a pass or taking a pass? The difference most often cited is speed and I think the coaching staff know that takes time and are watching for adapting by the player.

    The third point that they are learning to be a pro is also confusing for me since they are pros at the AHL level and if we are talking about the bottom 75 have probably been pros for several years before they get their shot. We are not talking about 18 or 19 year old kids in this context.

    The fourth point is the one I agree with the most but again we are not talking about guys that come up and get plugged into 1st line or top pairing duty. These are the role players that grind away on the fourth line against other fourth lines. They make mistakes but mistakes made against the other team’s fourth line are just a likely to result in a shot that misses the net or hits the goalie in the chest as it it is to cost a goal. That’s why all those guys are on the fourth line or defending against fourth line forwards – no offence.

    For me the reason those 75 down in the AHL aren’t the 75 in the NHL is more about opportunity. There was a spot and they were the next man up when it happened.

    Knocking that guy out of that spot once he’s held it for some time is a little like a challenger to a champion in boxing. You don’t get the belt if you show to be equal of marginally better. You need to be clearly superior to the incumbent because the coach will always go with the known quantity if the decision is close.

  10. kelvjn says:

    Woogie63,

    Except the next problem becomes finding a bunch of opponents to fly or ride to Edmonton to play with the baby oilers. It takes two to dance and a few more to have a league.

  11. BornInAGretzkyJersey says:

    Kinger_Oil.redux,

    defmn,

    Couldn’t agree more. I was going to post something eerily similar on each and every point but you got there first and likely said it better with your reply.

    Those bottom/top 75 guys in either league are basically someone’s pet project either getting their chance, or waiting for one. That’s why there’s not much of a drop-off to speak of amongst them. Many of the ones who never get their chance are what LT refers to as the orphans who span one GM’s regime to the next. They often get punted in favour of the new guy’s guy. Which is why LT is so often rightly worried about players like Benson, KY, Bear, Jones etc when New Holland came to town. For those players, their time isn’t just now, it’s now or never (at least as far as with the Oilers is concerned).

  12. defmn says:

    BornInAGretzkyJersey:
    Something that’s often acknowledged here is that we have a stark lack of forwards on the farm.

    What I don’t see discussed as often is what strategy should be employed when drafting?

    Is it skill, skill, skill?A 200 ft game, chasing the Kopitars and Bergerons of the world?Surely, no more coke machines as that was a failed experiment.

    I remember hearing about the DET approach to drafting being that you use your top picks on quality prospects who are unlikely to wash out, and swing for the fences with your late round selections on high skill and potential.Makes sense when you’re drafting so late, so often.If you look at most of their star players during Holland’s tenure, they come from mid to late round picks.The higher picks tended to be either quality defensemen or bottom-six types with skill.Kind of an inverse approach/result to how the Oil have been drafting.And more successful.

    A lot of good questions in this post.

    I seem to remember a story or post from somewhere that addressed how a lot of second rounders turned out to be more successful than late first rounders drafted. The speculation – no idea if it is true – was that GM’s were still trying to find that high end offensive guy with their first pick even into the 20 and up pick but by the second round were content to look at two way kind of players. Two way kind of players, of course, have more job opening to apply for since they can slot up and down while offence first players live or die on the top two lines on most teams and maybe most drafts only produce 10-12 top end players.

    One of the questions that I have – also unanswered in my mind – is how much has first round drafting strategy changed since the cap was introduced and trades became so much more difficult to make.

    It seems to me that BPA has become tempered at least somewhat towards ‘BPA for our team looking at our current roster and projecting a year or two down the road’.

    A team used to be able to bring the young guy up when he was ready and trade the vet for the young guy in the position they needed to fill but that doesn’t seem as easy as it once was. I think teams are selecting for need within a context of similar ability.

    And that is actually how I saw the Broberg pick. I think Holland figured the team had so many holes that it was 4 years from contending and so started from the back end like every successful franchise has done since forever.

    Bear, Yamomoto and Jones surprised him.

  13. Harpers Hair says:

    kelvjn:
    Woogie63,

    Except the next problem becomes finding a bunch of opponents to fly or ride to Edmonton to play with the baby oilers. It takes two to dance and a few more to have a league.

    A western Canadian division could solve some of these issues.

    Vancouver is already considering moving the Comets to Abbotsford, the Moose already play in Winnipeg so, if the Oilers and Flames brought their AHL teams in house, it would go a long way to move this along.

    Of course that would require a re-alignment but now might be the best time to look at that since it would mean far less travel across international borders.

  14. JJS says:

    I believe there is a conflict with the Oil Kings

    Woogie63:
    The Oilers should move the AHL Team to to Edmonton to play at Rogers.

    Young player (Jesse) would not have to move 3000 km to a new city/apartment as they grow into being pros,Older Vets (Malone) does not have to live apart from his wife and child as he is called to the NHL to be the 13th forward.

    Both teams would have the best facilities in hockey to train.Co-ordination between coaches and management would improve.Flying the players to California for two weekend games is nothing.Increase attendance and the rent from there own build for the Condor would more than pay for the extra cost.

    Does a 20 year old really want to move to Bakersfield and ride a bus to play hockey or is the allure of playing in Rogers, with all the Oiler brass watch attract more young players to spend 2 years learning their craft at the AHL level.

  15. Harpers Hair says:

    JJS:
    I believe there is a conflict with the Oil Kings

    Winnipeg is home to the Jets, Moose and Ice.

  16. nelson88 says:

    Mirtle has an excellent article up at The Athletic regarding the financial implications of the suspension and possible cancellation of play.

    Lots of unknown variables but at this point it is safe to assume there is going to be a massive short term effect on HRR, players salaries, teams in potential financial trouble, etc.

    Let’s hope Batman has played his non hockey cards right and is still relatively flush from the sale of Rexall to McKesson and not pissed it all away on his movie mogul and other ambitions. If so the Oilers should be in “relatively” good shape compared to many other teams in the league and be able to use his financial resources to strengthen their competitive position.

    As an example. Compliance buyouts would seem to be a necessity for the league to even function and Neal is an obvious candidate. If you can trade Russell (normal circumstances that would not be a problem after his bonus is paid but with a contracting cap there will be few(er) teams who can even take on the $4M hit) that leaves plenty of juice to add a high impact winger on a short term “fire sale” deal. (ex. Hall for 1 year)

    I would also look to bet on the upside of young players at team friendly deals. ex. Sign Bear to a 6 x $3.5M deal. Que the “why would he sign it”. Well just like Bear I am a SK kid from modest means and while it sounds great to say “bet on yourself” a $20M guaranteed payday in this environment and for a player with a bit of a concussion history would be awfully tempting. He would still only be 28 when the contract expired and set up for another nice payday when; hopefully, the macro economic environment is better.

    The next 6 months are going to be fascinating from the “business of hockey” perspective and if Katz/Oilers have the resources/brains they can set this team up for a very long window of cup contention.

    stay safe all

  17. maudite says:

    To me:

    I think a player like Mantha tells the true tale of two cities without historic narrative of Det depth and luxury to ripen.
    . Draft fall to 20…big but some skating concerns for top pro level

    1. Back to the Q
    2. AHL
    3. AHL with end of nothing season cup of coffee
    4. Start in AHL 10 games murder those games. Never look back

    Team friendly bridge deal due to likely savvy player agent not willing to sell out client for guaranteed bank roll.

    I dont know why but the day he was drafted I started keeping my eye on this player.

    Kind of the how shitty are local atmospheric conditions baro eter.

  18. maudite says:

    It’s not, nor should be, rocket science:

    Make the kid kick door down before you worry about where to put him or what to pay him.

  19. OriginalPouzar says:

    This seems a bit odd to me. At least the Oilers can win the cup and still draft before the drop-off after 23/24:

    Pierre LeBrun
    @PierreVLeBrun
    Among the many possibilities Bill Daly says the NHL has discussed for the draft, one is to hold the draft in June before the potential season resuming. There are some obvious complications with that, draft order and conditional picks, etc, but it’s being discussed as an option

  20. OriginalPouzar says:

    Sounds like the Hilinka/Gretzky will be officially cancelled within the week.

  21. jp says:

    geowal:
    That DRW farmhand table throws out the idea that Detroit was only good because they hit it lucky drafting Zetterberg and Datsyuk late. Sure that helps, but they found and developed role players at a steady clip.

    Yeah they kept hitting often enough to keep it going. Role players AND skill players in the later rounds though.

    2002 6th Rd Jonathan Eriksson D 680 GP
    2002 3rd Rd Valtteri Filppula C 1018 GP
    Also Hudler and Fleischmann in the 2nd Rd 2002
    2003 4th Rd Kyle Quincey D 586 GP
    2004 3rd Rd Johan Franzen RW 602 GP
    2005 5th Rd Darren Helm C 697 GP
    2008 4th Rd Gustav Nyquist C/W 570 GP
    2009 5th Rd Nick Jensen D 278 GP
    Also Tatar at pick #60 of the 2nd
    Mrazek, Athanasiou, Janmark since then.

  22. Harpers Hair says:

    nelson88,

    Contraction may be on the menu.

  23. jp says:

    As LT alluded to with Svechnikov still being treated like a developing talent, the remarkable thing about Holland’s minor league teams is how damn long some of those guys spent in the minors (before eventually emerging on skill lines).

    Mantha and Bertuzzi 2 in Jr, 2 + AHL
    Tatar almost 4 full seasons (though he started there draft +1)
    Nyquist 3 years in college post draft then 2+ in the minors
    Abdelkader 3 in college, 1.5 in the AHL
    Hulder 1 year in Europe, 3 full in the AHL
    Fleischmann 2 in Jr, almost 3 in the AHL
    Filppula 3 seasons in Finland, another full one in the AHL

    Have ANY Oilers top 6 options emerged this far out? I can’t recall off hand any that resembled this trajectory that’s pretty much been the norm for the Wings for 20+ years. Bringing some of that west is a good thing, pretty sure.

  24. defmn says:

    Harpers Hair:
    nelson88,

    Contraction may be on the menu.

    Is that Mirtle speculating?

  25. OriginalPouzar says:

    Elgin R:
    Having a dedicated AHL team, with a coach that is there to develop at the expense of winning is starting to show results.Sharing an AHL team or playing older AHL vets, at the expense of younger players with NHL potential, hampered the Oilers for many years.Allowing younger players to grow and mature in the AHL requires not only a coach who will follow the plan, but upper management that understands this and will stick with it.

    The example of how Woodcroft is deploying McLeod is a tell.Developing him as a 3C with a PK role will allow him the opportunity to hopefully make the Oilers in the future (he has 2 years of ELC left).

    Marody and Benson both need to continue improving next year with the Condors.Injuries have slowed both men’s development, but they have a year of ELC left so we shall see.The Oilers have until training camp 2021 to decide if they can help the big team.There will be an opportunity as low salary cap contracts will be needed.

    If the Oilers can get 400+ NHL games out of 1 of these three (Jason Williams played 455) then it is a win.

    I agree with the premise above but the AHL vets are still required to provide shelter for rookie pros.

    The likes of Malone, Joe G. and Currie played ahead of Maksimov and McLeod as those two were finding their ways as rookie pros.

    I do question Jay W. and useage a bit:’

    – you alluded to developing McLeod as a 3C – well, he played more wing than center this year I believe

    – while McLeod and Maksi did see PK time, it was like pulling teeth to get them on the PP – Maksi in particular didn’t really get any PP time until year’s end – the likes of Cave, Granlund, Kuffner, etc. all playing ahead of him

  26. Harpers Hair says:

    defmn: Is that Mirtle speculating?

    To some degree..the rest in mine.

    How do the Coyotes, for example, survive this?

  27. OriginalPouzar says:

    BONE207:
    LT…I believe Hartikainen could have had an NHL career

    I look at JF Jacques right above him (ZERO goal coke machine) & wonder how this could be. All the practice & physical training that players go through. How much mental assistance does a player receive to cope & build upon?

    One term that always bugs me is “confidence “.
    A 20 year old, after spending 3/4 of their life playing hockey should have a fairly good idea of what they can do or at least what they will need to learn to do. Mental strength should be well developed by then, no? In any case, I prefer the term “focus” , as it would be more apt. I would hope that teams help players develop that focus to improve both physically & mentally.

    JFJ – I remember one time, he won a battle in the neutral zone on the boards and was able to get the puck in deep in the offensive zone with a dump and change – I thought to myself “that’s the best play he’s ever made in the NHL”……..

    To me, confidence is absolutely real in sports and makes a huge difference to an individual’s play.

    With that said, I don’t agree with statements like “can’t send him down, it’ll kill his confidence” or “Jesse needed that season in Finland to regain his confidence”.

    Jesse didn’t need a year in Liiga – confidence can come in an instant.

    He could have suited up for the Oilers this past October coming off a down season (no confidence) – he bangs one in off a linemate and then buries a rebound for 1G/1A and, boom, all of a sudden his confidence is sky-high and I bet ya he starts making plays with the puck.

    Just an example.

  28. OriginalPouzar says:

    nelson88:
    Mirtle has an excellent article up atThe Athletic regarding the financial implications of the suspension and possible cancellation of play.

    Lots of unknown variables but at this point it is safe to assume there is going to be a massive short term effect on HRR, players salaries, teams in potential financial trouble, etc.

    Let’s hope Batman has played his non hockey cards right and is still relatively flush from the sale of Rexall to McKesson and not pissed it all away on his movie mogul and other ambitions. If so the Oilers should be in “relatively” good shape compared to many other teams in the league and be able to use his financial resources to strengthen their competitive position.

    As an example. Compliance buyouts would seem to be a necessity for the league to even function and Neal is an obvious candidate. If you can trade Russell (normal circumstances that would not be a problem after his bonus is paid but with a contracting cap there will be few(er) teams who can even take on the $4M hit) that leaves plenty of juice to add a high impact winger on a short term “fire sale” deal. (ex. Hall for 1 year)

    I would also look to bet on the upside of young players at team friendly deals. ex. Sign Bear to a 6 x $3.5M deal. Que the “why would he sign it”. Well just like Bear I am a SK kid from modest means and while it sounds great to say “bet on yourself” a $20M guaranteed payday in this environment and for a player with a bit of a concussion history would be awfully tempting. He would still only be 28 when the contract expired and set up for another nice payday when; hopefully, the macro economic environment is better.

    The next 6 months are going to be fascinating from the “business of hockey” perspective and if Katz/Oilers have the resources/brains they can set this team up for a very long window of cup contention.

    stay safe all

    Good post.

    I read the Mirtle piece earlier today as well.

    I’m still not sold on compliance buyouts being agreed to.

    If the owners agree to an artificially inflated cap that is greater than 50% of projected HRR, I don’t see them generally agreeing to more money up front going to the players – they are already agreeing to be made whole over time.

    To your point about Katz, I’ve posted a dozen times that I’m not so sure he authorizes any major buyouts – even compliance. I’ve explained my rational (and can re-post if you wish) but I’m not as certain he agrees like I would have been six months ago.

    On Bear, i definitely agreement – I have this feeling for a while that he my take the security of a long term deal that doesn’t break the bank – seems like a kid that was raised with values, is humble as you say and is grateful for the opportunity he has been given – he may jump at $20MM and not try and grind.

    With that said, with a flat cap and assuming no compliance buyouts, I’m not sure Holland can fit in $3.5MM without some pain.

  29. defmn says:

    Harpers Hair: To some degree..the rest in mine.

    How do the Coyotes, for example, survive this?

    I don’t know enough about the Coyotes business plan or the league’s revenue sharing to answer your question. Not to mention some of the unknown’s surrounding the epidemic. There seems to be a new version of how long and how serious that changes every day.

    I was just curious about Mirtle’s take since he and I had a number of encounters over the lockouts many years ago. He, and a fair number of other sports writers blocked me over discussions of who was going to ‘win’ those battles and I remember Mirtle and Larry Brooks in particular because their understanding of financial issues was, shall we say, less than sophisticated.

    That was a long time ago, of course, but in general sports writers try to stay away from finance because they don’t like it and they aren’t very good at it.

    I doubt the league contracts though. The hard cap 50/50 split looks like genius for the league at this point and I don’t think Gary is going to give up his legacy all that easily although there are clearly hard times ahead.

    I know I would be very reluctant to renew my season tickets if I was still in Edmonton but there is a long ways to go yet before decisions about next season need to be set in stone.

  30. Harpers Hair says:

    defmn: I don’t know enough about the Coyotes business plan or the league’s revenue sharing to answer your question. Not to mention some of the unknown’s surrounding the epidemic. There seems to be a new version of how long and how serious that changes every day.

    I was just curious aboutMirtle’s take since he and I had a number of encounters over the lockouts many years ago. He, and a fair number of other sports writers blocked me over discussions of who was going to ‘win’ those battles and I remember Mirtle and Larry Brooks in particular because their understanding of financial issues was, shall we say, less than sophisticated.

    That was a long time ago, of course, but in general sports writers try to stay away from finance because they don’t like it and they aren’t very good at it.

    I doubt the league contracts though. The hard cap 50/50 split looks like genius for the league at this point and I don’t think Gary is going to give up his legacy all that easily although there are clearly hard times ahead.

    I know I would be very reluctant to renew my season tickets if I was still in Edmonton but there is a long ways to go yet before decisions about next season need to be set in stone.

    In general, revenue sharing is based on overall league revenues which are about to take a massive dump.

    Teams reap the benefit of local TV contract revenue but, in the case of Arizona, that’s a paltry sum.

    Considering AZ is spending at the cap, they’re likely to see a massive reduction in revenue with precious little in the way of relief.

    I suppose, if they can hang on long enough to get some benefit from the new US TV deal and the Seattle expansion, they may survive but it certainly is iffy.

  31. defmn says:

    My menu contribution.

    My wife made this for dinner tonight along with a thom yak soup and it was delicious as always. I copied, pasted and edited the recipe she uses rather than making it up so if it reads a little funny blame the editor.

    North eastern Thai food was my favourite when I lived in Thailand – quite different from the cuisine of Bangkok or the southern part of the country. Ahan Esan as it is known is famous for its lime, chile, fish sauce and sticky rice salads but I have to mention that you have to like sour and hot food to love this food the way I do.

    I never go to Thai restaurants in North America because they use so much sugar to mask the sour taste for the Canadian and American palate that it is inedible imo.

    Sticky rice is easy to prepare and you can find it anywhere these days. I like to make a little dipping sauce of thai chile, lime and fish sauce so that I can roll the sticky rice into a little ball thai style and dip it into for an extra kick of flavour.

    Enjoy.

    Spicy Grilled Pork Salad

    Ingredients
    2 lb
    well-marbled boneless pork shoulder

    1 tbsp packed grated palm sugar or granulated coconut sugar, or 2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar

    1 tsp salt

    2 tbsp Thai glutinous rice

    ½ cup chicken stock

    2 tbsp fish sauce

    ¼ c very thinly sliced shallots

    ¼ cup fresh lime juice

    Red pepper flakes or thai chiles

    ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems

    ½ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves

    3-4 dried red thai chiles for garnish

    Cooked sticky rice for serving

    Lightly marinated pork shoulder, grilled until smoky and charred on the outside and barely pink on the inside.

    This dish is cooked twice quickly—but twice nonetheless. So it’s important to use the right cut of pork: nothing too lean or too fatty or too tough to eat. Well-marbled boneless pork shoulder steaks are what I like to use.

    This grilled pork salad is served warm—neither piping hot nor at room temperature—traditionally with sticky rice.

    Directions

    Cut the pork into large slices 1⁄2 inch thick. Prick each slice a few times with a fork. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and salt. Add the pork and rub the sugar mixture evenly into the strips. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

    Meanwhile, in a dry small frying pan, toast the rice over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly, until the grains are golden brown and have a nutty aroma, about 15 minutes. Immediately transfer the rice to a small heatproof bowl and let cool completely.

    In a small food processor or a mortar or just a hammer with it inside a cloth, grind the rice to a coarse powder. Measure out 2 tablespoons for serving.

    When the stove is hot, place the pork in the pan and cook (with the lid off if using a kettle grill), flipping often, until lightly but thoroughly charred on the outside yet still rare on the inside, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.

    Cut the pork against the grain into bite-size slices about 1⁄4 inch thick. Transfer the slices along with any accumulated juices to a 2-quart saucepan (one that is wide and shallow works better than one that is narrow and deep).

    Add the stock, set it over medium-high heat, and heat, stirring often. When the liquid forms tiny bubbles around the edge of the pan, add the fish sauce and stir briskly to make sure every piece of pork is cooked—though ever so lightly. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and, while everything is still warm, stir in the shallots and lime juice.

    Taste and adjust the seasoning with more fish sauce and lime juice. Keep in mind that this is not a delicately seasoned salad—northeastern Thai dishes typically pack a punch! You want it predominantly sour, then salty, with a faint sweetness from the natural pork juice and what’s left of the sugar in the marinade. Also, don’t forget that you’re eating this with bland rice, so season accordingly.

    Once it tastes good to you, decide how spicy hot you want it and stir in as much thai chile as you like. Now, quickly stir in the cilantro and 1 tablespoon of the toasted rice and stir vigorously to wilt the herbs slightly and disperse the rice evenly.

    Arrange the salad on a platter. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon toasted rice on top, followed by the mint leaves. Garnish with the dried chiles, which you can crumble into the salad for extra heat. Serve immediately with warm sticky rice.

  32. defmn says:

    Harpers Hair: In general, revenue sharing is based on overall league revenues which are about to take a massive dump.

    Teams reap the benefit of local TV contract revenue but, in the case of Arizona, that’s a paltry sum.

    Considering AZ is spending at the cap, they’re likely to see a massive reduction in revenue with precious little in the way of relief.

    I suppose, if they can hang on long enough to get some benefit from the new US TV deal and the Seattle expansion, they may survive but it certainly is iffy.

    I understand all of that. The Hossa contract is insured I believe and Hall & Soderberg are probably gone. They might trade a dman if they can find a taker. There is no doubt they will bleed. I have no idea how much their owner can afford or is willing to lose.

    The league will pitch in and it has had a number of good years. I understand your reasoning. I just think they are far away from folding franchises at this time. If the league is still in distress in two years that will change but by then everything will have changed so hard to speculate on just hockey.

    We are living through an unprecedented time so, of course, there are no precedents to guide us.

  33. pts2pndr says:

    Woogie63:
    The Oilers should move the AHL Team to to Edmonton to play at Rogers.

    Young player (Jesse) would not have to move 3000 km to a new city/apartment as they grow into being pros,Older Vets (Malone) does not have to live apart from his wife and child as he is called to the NHL to be the 13th forward.

    Both teams would have the best facilities in hockey to train.Co-ordination between coaches and management would improve.Flying the players to California for two weekend games is nothing.Increase attendance and the rent from there own build for the Condor would more than pay for the extra cost.

    Does a 20 year old really want to move to Bakersfield and ride a bus to play hockey or is the allure of playing in Rogers, with all the Oiler brass watch attract more young players to spend 2 years learning their craft at the AHL level.

    They did this during the strike. The end result did not turn out well. I am not sure that they felt that Edmonton could draw fans to all of the NHL, AHL and major junior. What ever their reasoning they ended up with no AHL franchise and for a number of years shared Hamilton with the Montreal. This was an abject fail. There are those on this site that would be much more informed as per decisions made and the thinking at the time.

  34. pts2pndr says:

    Harpers Hair: To some degree..the rest in mine.

    How do the Coyotes, for example, survive this?

    They howl in the desert and find something different to eat. Coyotes have been able to adjust.
    In all seriousness there are some franchises that were put in non hockey markets. When things get tough you cut the fat first. There are a number of franchises that the league has been carrying. They let Winnipeg and Quebec go and their demise was due to 60 cent dollar as the fans were there. This could be a much needed adjustment of having teams in actual hockey markets.

  35. Harpers Hair says:

    defmn:
    My menu contribution.

    My wife made this for dinner tonight along with a thom yak soup and it was delicious as always. I copied, pasted and edited the recipe she uses rather than making it up so if it reads a little funny blame the editor.

    North eastern Thai food was my favourite when I lived in Thailand – quite different from the cuisine of Bangkok or the southern part of the country. Ahan Esan as it is known is famous for its lime, chile, fish sauce and sticky rice salads but I have to mention that you have to like sour and hot food to love this food the way I do.

    I never go to Thai restaurants in North America because they use so much sugar to mask the sour taste for the Canadian and American palate that it is inedible imo.

    Sticky rice is easy to prepare and you can find it anywhere these days. I like to make a little dipping sauce of thai chile, lime and fish sauce so that I can roll the sticky rice into a little ball thai style and dip it into for an extra kick of flavour.

    Enjoy.

    Spicy Grilled Pork Salad

    Ingredients
    2 lb
    well-marbled boneless pork shoulder

    1 tbsp packed grated palm sugar or granulated coconut sugar, or 2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar

    1 tsp salt

    2 tbsp Thai glutinous rice

    ½ cup chicken stock

    2 tbsp fish sauce

    ¼ c very thinly sliced shallots

    ¼ cup fresh lime juice

    Red pepper flakes or thai chiles

    ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems

    ½ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves

    3-4 dried red thai chiles for garnish

    Cooked sticky rice for serving

    Lightly marinated pork shoulder, grilled until smoky and charred on the outside and barely pink on the inside.

    This dish is cooked twice quickly—but twice nonetheless. So it’s important to use the right cut of pork: nothing too lean or too fatty or too tough to eat. Well-marbled boneless pork shoulder steaks are what I like to use.

    This grilled pork salad is served warm—neither piping hot nor at room temperature—traditionally with sticky rice.

    Directions

    Cut the pork into large slices 1⁄2 inch thick. Prick each slice a few times with a fork. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and salt. Add the pork and rub the sugar mixture evenly into the strips. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

    Meanwhile, in a dry small frying pan, toast the rice over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly, until the grains are golden brown and have a nutty aroma, about 15 minutes. Immediately transfer the rice to a small heatproof bowl and let cool completely.

    In a small food processor or a mortar or just a hammer with it inside a cloth, grind the rice to a coarse powder. Measure out 2 tablespoons for serving.

    When the stove is hot, place the pork in the pan and cook (with the lid off if using a kettle grill), flipping often, until lightly but thoroughly charred on the outside yet still rare on the inside, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.

    Cut the pork against the grain into bite-size slices about 1⁄4 inch thick. Transfer the slices along with any accumulated juices to a 2-quart saucepan (one that is wide and shallow works better than one that is narrow and deep).

    Add the stock, set it over medium-high heat, and heat, stirring often. When the liquid forms tiny bubbles around the edge of the pan, add the fish sauce and stir briskly to make sure every piece of pork is cooked—though ever so lightly. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and, while everything is still warm, stir in the shallots and lime juice.

    Taste and adjust the seasoning with more fish sauce and lime juice. Keep in mind that this is not a delicately seasoned salad—northeastern Thai dishes typically pack a punch! You want it predominantly sour, then salty, with a faint sweetness from the natural pork juice and what’s left of the sugar in the marinade. Also, don’t forget that you’re eating this with bland rice, so season accordingly.

    Once it tastes good to you, decide how spicy hot you want it and stir in as much thai chile as you like. Now, quickly stir in the cilantro and 1 tablespoon of the toasted rice and stir vigorously to wilt the herbs slightly and disperse the rice evenly.

    Arrange the salad on a platter. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon toasted rice on top, followed by the mint leaves. Garnish with the dried chiles, which you can crumble into the salad for extra heat. Serve immediately with warm sticky rice.

    A question…where do you find Thai glutinous rice?

  36. OriginalPouzar says:

    maudite:
    It’s not, nor should be, rocket science:

    Make the kid kick door down before you worry about where to put him or what to pay him.

    I generally agree with this and its why I don’t agree with the premise of having to move Benning, for example, to make room for Bouchard.

    One d-man needs to be moved for some cap space (Rusty) but I have no problem with Jones/Benning as the 3rd pairing, Lagesson as 7D and Bouchard starting in the AHL next season – it won’t be long before Bouchard gets his call-up – shit, before the end of October (normal season). When he does get the call, he’ll likely be brimming with confidence after tearing up the AHL Rafferty style!

  37. Harpers Hair says:

    OriginalPouzar: I generally agree with this and its why I don’t agree with the premise of having to move Benning, for example, to make room for Bouchard.

    One d-man needs to be moved for some cap space (Rusty) but I have no problem with Jones/Benning as the 3rd pairing, Lagesson as 7D and Bouchard starting in the AHL next season – it won’t be long before Bouchard gets his call-up – shit, before the end of October(normal season). When he does get the call, he’ll likely be brimming with confidence after tearing up the AHL Rafferty style!

    Well… not quite Rafferty style.

  38. OriginalPouzar says:

    Agree with that – once called up next season, within a week of his 21st b-day (give or take), he’s likely to solidify himself as an NHL d-man very quickly and never see the AHL again – not wait until he’s 25 to try and eek out an NHL career.

  39. defmn says:

    Harpers Hair: A question…where do you find Thai glutinous rice?

    Pretty much any chinese grocery will have it.

  40. Harpers Hair says:

    OriginalPouzar:
    Agree with that – once called up next season, within a week of his 21st b-day (give or take), he’s likely to solidify himself as an NHL d-man very quickly and never see the AHL again – not wait until he’s 25 to try and eek out an NHL career.

    But he’s still 19, right?

  41. Harpers Hair says:

    So, the world is changing.

    Three deer on our front lawn tonight and a massive racoon in the back yard.

    Don’t usually see them until fall when our grapes are ripening.

    As the streets are deserted, they are reclaiming the space.

  42. OriginalPouzar says:

    Harpers Hair: But he’s still 19, right?

    He was 19 when he started last season, 20 when he finished it.

    His 19/20 season.

    The equivalent season for Brogan Rafferty, where he was 20 for all of it, he was under a point per game in the USHL. Not quite AHL all-star levels but getting there – 4 years later.

  43. Harpers Hair says:

    OriginalPouzar: He was 19 when he started last season, 20 when he finished it.

    His 19/20 season.

    The equivalent season for Brogan Rafferty, where he was 20 for all of it, he was under a point per game in the USHL. Not quite AHL all-star levels but getting there – 4 years later.

    Just pulling your leg OP.

    I expect they’ll end up in the same place as they have comparable skill levels.

  44. OriginalPouzar says:

    I expect one to have a far far far superior career than the other as they have completely different pedigrees and potential.

    Have a great night!

  45. Harpers Hair says:

    OriginalPouzar:
    I expect one to have a far far far superior career than the other as they have completely different pedigrees and potential.

    Have a great night!

    Bet?

  46. Lowetide says:

    Harpers Hair:
    So, the world is changing.

    Three deer on our front lawn tonight and a massive racoon in the back yard.

    Don’t usually see them until fall when our grapes are ripening.

    As the streets are deserted, they are reclaiming the space.

    It’s like life after people, that show that rolls out 10, 20, 50 years after people are gone. Doesn’t take long.

  47. maudite says:

    Yeah I’m not worried about where Bouchard is next year unless completely gifted a roster spot as we dilute depth to point that Is beyond sense.

    Nurse bear
    Klef Larson
    Jones Benning
    Lag

    Russel seems easy to sort out to me. 1.5 really dollars. Hold 1 million back or 1.5. Pay for him to play somewhere else. I dont hate him at all but I’d rather put 2.5 million to work in other areas.

    When one of RD go down, Bouchard gets called up.

    Maybe it happens like bear and he never goes down again. Lardon might be tradable asset at deadline if that’s the case. Regardless he’ll likely see 15+ games. And in meantime should kill AHL beyomg point you have no need to even think who is replacing larson or Benning the following season.

    I hate when I listen to call in shows and people keep saying we need Bouchard up…edmonton has gotten so used to hitting crack rock type cheap buzz they are screaming for new hit.

    Sane for benson. When I look at Martha’s path…benson is right on schedule still. Why panic to throw him up?

    To reset the system and produce actual solid stream every kid should marinate. Eberle, Perry, bear, jones…literally everything we’ve drafted, outside Tball range, that turned into something paid longer dues.

    The 2003 entry draft seems like it should send a crystal clear message about developing properly over throwing kids I’m deep end and hope their shoulders hold up good enough at 18-20.

    OriginalPouzar,

  48. OriginalPouzar says:

    Harpers Hair: great n

    I’m not really supposed to gamble but, sure – lets do a donation to charity thing.

    With respect to the two, I’m HIGHLY CONFIDENT Bouchard will be the much more prominent player in 2-5 years but its tough to have a bet that last for that long so I’m guessing you want to do something for next season?

  49. VanIsleOil says:

    HH asks:
    A question…where do you find Thai glutinous rice?

    Go to Man Lee’s in Nanaimo. A treasure trove of Asian foods.

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