Jari Kurri was a fantastic player, brilliant in all important areas of the game. He could pass the puck with a deft touch, had a quick, accurate release and was both tireless and deadly effective as a checker. On any other team of his playing lifetime, Kurri would have been more famous, won awards. He landed with the Oilers, who were blessed with his enormous talent and exceptional attention to detail.
Jari Kurri set a high bar for Finland in this town, and damned if that little European party nation delivered time and again. In 2016, the Oilers drafted Jesse Puljujarvi and handled him badly. Since then, the Oilers Finnish karma has taken a powder. Time to get back on the right track at the 2020 draft? Voi olla.
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: How can Andreas Athanasiou — Ken Holland’s big bet — help the Oilers?
- Lowetide: What are Evan Bouchard’s chances of making the Oilers in 2020-21?
- Jonathan Willis and Lowetide: Who are the Oilers’ top 10 prospects and where do they project in the NHL?
- Jonathan Willis: How do Connor McDavid’s first five NHL seasons compare to the all-time greats?
- Lowetide: Oilers 2020 draft: Are fans ready for Oil Kings’ Jake Neighbours?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers need to keep feeding their currently rich pipeline of defensive prospects
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How a series of oddball jobs prepared Ken Holland for his front-office career
- Jonathan Willis: 2020 NHL offseason goalie market: Team needs, free agents and trade possibilities
- Lowetide: Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins far more than ‘also in photo’ contributor
- Jonathan Willis: Building the best all-time Oilers roster, with a twist
- Lowetide: What are Tyler Benson’s chances of making the Oilers in 2020-21?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘They were looking outside the box’: Oilers’ distinctive third jerseys still stand out
- Lowetide: If Oilers draft for skill, Seth Jarvis likely to be best available
- Jonathan Willis and Lowetide: Should the Oilers pursue Taylor Hall this summer?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis: The results are in: How you voted in our inaugural Oilers fan survey
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: How the Oilers are preparing for an NHL draft in June
- Jonathan Willis: How Gaetan Haas, Joakim Nygard and Riley Sheahan draw calls that lead to goals
- James Mirtle: Ranking every NHL team’s salary cap situation, from best to worst
- Lowetide: Can the Oilers find Connor McDavid’s ideal winger this summer?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: The two coaches who had the biggest influence on Dave Tippett
FINLAND’S BEST FOR 2020
- LC Anton Lundell. A nice range of skills and is showing nice growth in his second Liiga season.
- RW Kasper Simontaival. Unusual skating style but he’s quick and has high-end skill.
- LC Roni Hirvonen. Undersized two-way forward, scored four times in three games at the Hlinka.
- LW Veeti Miettinen. Not a great skater, but he fills the net with pucks.
- RD Topi Niemela. Niemela skates well but has some chaos.
- LW Roby Jarventie. Size, speed and a good shot.
- LD Eemil Viro. Small, fast offensive defender.
- RW Wiljami Myllylä. Gaudy scoring numbers for several years.
- G Joel Blomquist. Strong numbers (.929), confident goaltender, good glove.
- LC Juuso Mäenpää. Small, skilled playmaker.
- LD Sami Niku. Undersized blue with skill and speed. I like the numbers.
I’m not sure about most of these names, I have only Lundell in my top 50 overall. It’s unlikely he is available (more on that in a minute) at No. 20 overall.
- R Kaapo Kakko. He’s 6.02, 190, Scouts rave about his advanced two-way game.
- LD Ville Heinola. Two-way talent with good speed and calm feet. Excellent passer.
- RD Anttoni Honka. Draft Analyst: Swift skating puck rusher.
- L Patrik Puistola. High skill, consistent scorer who also plays a responsible game.
- L Antti Saarela. ISS: Smart and gifted, quality stick skills. Noticeable on PP and PK.
- R Leevi Aaltonen. ISS: “Slick offensive play-maker, undersized but highly skilled.”
- LD Mikko Kokkonen. Two-way defender who adjusted quickly in Finland’s best league.
- R Tuukka Tieksola. Small skill winger, great passer and skating.
- R Wiljami Myllylä, HIFK (Jr Sm-Liiga). Speed demon.
- RD Antti Tuomisto. Puck moving blue, good skater and has an excellent shot.
- R Aku Raty, Karpat (Jr Sm-Liiga). Skill winger who also provides solid play without the puck.
Myllylä didn’t get drafted last summer but I’ve got him on this year’s list. You think that’s stubborn? I wrote about Veini Vehvilainen for three draft years in a row. I’m crazy, man!
TOP 20 MOCK, 2020 DRAFT
- Detroit: L Alexis Lafreniere, QMJHL
- Ottawa: LC Quinton Byfield, OHL
- Ottawa: LC Tim Stuetzle, DEL
- Los Angeles: LC Marco Rossi, OHL
- Anaheim: LC Cole Perfetti, OHL
- New Jersey: RHD Jamie Drysdale, OHL
- Buffalo: LW Lucas Raymond, SHL
- Montreal: LD Jake Sanderson, USHL
- Chicago: RW Alexander Holtz, SHL
- New Jersey: RW Jack Quinn OHL
- Minnesota: LW Dylan Holloway, Big 10
- Winnipeg: RW Seth Jarvis, WHL
- NY Rangers: LC Anton Lundell, Liiga
- Florida: LD Kaiden Guhle, WHL
- Columbus: LC Hendrix Lapierre, QMJHL
- Calgary: LC Connor Zary, WHL
- New Jersey: RW Dawson Mercer, QMJHL
- Nashville: RW Noel Gunler, SHL
- Carolina: LC Jan Mysak, OHL
- Edmonton: RC Mavrik Bourque, QMJHL.
I think the Oilers will have at least one quality forward prospect still on the board at No. 20. The question for Ken Holland at that point might involve trading down. My list has several good forwards after this lot is gone (Jacob Perreault, Lukas Reichel, Tyson Foerster, Rodion Amirov). Maybe trading out is a better plan.
Lundell’s NHLE (31.1) and range of skills make him an ideal target, Kasper Simontaival would be an interesting target with the third-round selection. Mavrik Bourque, who I see as McDavid’s eventual right winger, has an NHLE of 33.7. Bourque averaged 4.12 shots per game, 2.45 of those judged to be dangerous shots. Oilers are going to get a good player. I don’t know that they’ll get two. Need a second round pick.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN 1260. Sunny days, baseball on the way and perhaps some news today on the NHL draft. At 10:20 Jonathan Willis from The Athletic will join us to talk NHL return, shakeup in LA and are we all burned out on the games from the past? Ryan Rishaug from TSN pops in at 11 to chat about Edmonton as a hub city for the NHL’s return, the draft’s status and how the league will handle a compressed offseason. Randy Hansch, Buffalo Sabres amateur scout, will drop by at 11:25 to talk about the 2014 Edmonton Oil Kings (he was GM of that team) and the run to the Memorial Cup. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!