It’s always interesting to see a new general manager suss through the closets of the major and minor roster, plus the draft picks who have to be signed each summer. So far, Ken Holland has hit ‘retain’ surprisingly often, has one more player to decide on this summer.
Along with signing his own second-round selection from last summer (Raphael Lavoie), Holland inked Swedish free-agent blue Theodor Lennstrom plus two 2016 draft picks (Markus Niemelainen, Filip Berglund). Now, Graham McPhee is the last man to sign or not sign, and beginning tomorrow, another procurement opportunity arrives.
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: Oilers coach Dave Tippett’s track record in developing young players
- Jonathan Willis: Misguided priorities helped turn the Oilers’ 2010 rebuild into a debacle
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘It’s what’s best for the league’: Oilers accept challenge of play-in series
- Lowetide: Oilers greatest areas of need for the 2020 draft
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Six bold (and not so bold) predictions as the Oilers prepare for the Blackhawks
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers facing a bonus penalty for 2020-21 but the news isn’t all bad
- Jonathan Willis: Multiple choice: What might an Oilers trade at the 2020 NHL Draft look like?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers return to play guide: How the NHL’s 24-team format impacts Edmonton
- Lowetide: Mike Green’s playoff role and possible future with the Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers’ most likely recalls from Bakersfield for the playoff run
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘We rallied and regrouped’: How the Oilers won the 1990 Stanley Cup
- Lowetide: Why Kailer Yamamoto represents ‘Money Puck’ value for NHL teams
- Lowetide: Exploring hidden-gem draft options for the Edmonton Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘He set his place in history’: On Bill Ranford’s Conn Smythe run, 30 years later
- Jonathan Willis: Why NHL teams should gamble on defencemen over forwards later in the draft
- Lowetide: Oilers GM Ken Holland should shop for picks at the draft
50-MAN LIST (41, 32 signed, 8 RFA, 1 slide)
Holland’s year has given the group speed up front, more clarity and balance on defense, and, for this season at least, goaltending good enough to put them in a grand spot to make the postseason.
Gone in Holland’s first season: Milan Lucic, Tobias Rieder, Kyle Brodziak, Tyler Vesel, Colin Larkin, Sam Gagner, Jesse Puljujarvi*, Ty Rattie, Andrej Sekera, Joel Persson, Robin Norell, Ryan Mantha. *JP didn’t sign but Edmonton retains his rights.
Incoming during Holland’s first season: Andreas Athanasiou, James Neal, Joakim Nygard, Ryan Kuffner, Gaetan Haas, Alex Chiasson (re-signed), Josh Archibald, Raphael Lavoie (signed entry deal recently), Theodore Lennstrom, Markus Niemelainen, Philip Broberg, Filip Berglund.
Mike Smith, Riley Sheahan, Patrick Russell, Markus Granlund, Tomas Jurco, Josh Currie were signed, Tyler Ennis, Mike Green acquired, and all are free agents entering the offseason.
If Dave Tippett can find a way to get Tyler Benson into an NHL role next season, and accelerate Ryan McLeod’s development to the point where he’s playing NHL games by the end of the 2020-21 season, the Oilers will be close to balanced for the first time in one forever. If Evan Bouchard can make the jump, Holland will have excess defensemen he can market. I think both Holland and Tippett have done very well in year one.
David Gregory, Central Scouting: You immediately notice his compete level for sure. He goes out and gives you everything he has each shift. To me, he’s a coach’s dream in a sense that you can play him a lot of situations and you know what you’re going to get out of him from his work ethic.
Let’s talk about skill. McPhee’s college career didn’t see enough at even strength to suggest he’ll flourish in the NHL eventually. Here are the even strength numbers for his career:
- 2016-17: 39, 2-7-9 .231
- 2017-18: 36, 6-5-11 .306
- 2018-19: 29, 2-6-8 .276
- 2019-20: 34, 5-5-10 .294
There were some major issues for Boston College during McPhee’s time there, the team spent over a year being unable to score much at all. Whatever McPhee’s abilities may be, the math doesn’t catch him in a good light. As a comparison, here are Aapeli Rasanen’s even strength numbers for BC during the same period:
- 2017-18: 32, 3-9-12 .375
- 2018-19: 33, 4-2-6 .182
- 2019-20: 34, 6-9-15 .441
Rasanen spiked nicely in his junior season, but he’s heading for Kalpa in the Liiga next year. Edmonton has until next summer to sign him, the time in the Finnish pro league may give the Oilers are clearer view. His spike in scoring coincided with a move from center to wing, I need not tell you a righty two-way center would have high value to the franchise.
The free 90-day trial continues, I go back to the Dallas Stars days to identify just how many players Tippett helped along the way, and the players he may be able to help next year and beyond.
HERE COMES THE SUN 2020
It is complete and will publish at 8:30 Edmonton time tomorrow. There’s quite a lot of shuffling, the last post is the one where I slot the Euros. As there are no tournaments this year, math held all the power beyond a few late tips. There are 29 OHL, 22 WHL, 16 USHL 13 QMJHL and 11 SuperElite names among the 125 listed. I’ll have a mock, maybe two.