On the first day of Oilers training camp, coach Dave Tippett’s published lines had Tyler Benson listed as No. 5 on the depth chart on left wing. That’s a fair distance from an NHL game in the upcoming playoffs for Benson. He would need luck and more luck and that’s a bit much to ask in one playoff summer. Benson has no control on the events that might lead him to find his way into the lineup but does have an opportunity to show the coaching staff what makes him useful.
A strong showing in camp this summer may give him some momentum in for 2020-21 training camp in the fall. Same applies for Evan Bouchard, William Lagesson and, to a lesser extent, Ryan McLeod.
Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. I am proud to be part of The Athletic. Here are the most recent Oilers stories.
- New Lowetide: What should Oilers fans expect from Connor McDavid in the playoffs?
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers observations: Connor McDavid shines, Caleb Jones MIA and more
- New Jonathan Willis: Oilers get good cap news: Long-term outlook is tight but workable
- New Lowetide: The Oilers’ approach to Russians at the draft? Trust but verify
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Mike Green’s opt-out isn’t ideal, but Oilers defence should manage without him
- New Lowetide: Joakim Nygard’s Oilers season reveals speedster with range of skills
- Lowetide: Dave Tippett’s postseason strategy against the Blackhawks
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers notebook: Bear’s contract quandary, Broberg’s mini camp, bubble goalies
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi’s comparables suggest a possible future with Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: Every Oilers AHL prospect rated by how close they are to the NHL
- Lowetide: Setting the record straight on Oilers prospect Cooper Marody’s future
- Lowetide: Tough decisions face Oilers’ Ken Holland as cap forces painful choices
- Lowetide: How Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto can increase his value
- Lowetide: Everything you forgot (but need to know) about Oilers’ 2019-20 season
- Lowetide: Injury is biggest factor in the Oilers’ hopes for extended playoff run
- Lowetide: Tyler Benson’s struggle to score might affect future role with Oilers
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s second Oilers draft should deliver high-octane offence
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘It’s all surreal’: Kevin Lowe’s Hall of Fame nod nets surprise and satisfaction
- Lowetide: 10 things to look for at Oilers training camp and the 2020 playoffs
CERTAIN OILERS (20)
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Connor McDavid—Zack Kassian
- Andreas Athanasiou—Leon Draisaitl—Kailer Yamamoto
- Tyler Ennis—Riley Sheahan—Josh Archibald
- James Neal—Jujhar Khaira—Alex Chiasson
- Oscar Klefbom—Adam Larsson
- Darnell Nurse—Ethan Bear
- Kris Russell—Matt Benning
- Mike Smith (Mikko Koskinen)
This isn’t a normal training camp and the roster spots have mostly been spoken for at this time. The real intrigue comes in pecking order among the non-starters. The names above, 20 in total, could easily be the opening night lineup.
UNCERTAIN OILERS (5)
- Joakim Nygard—Gaetan Haas—Patrick Russell
- Caleb Jones—William Lagesson
I think these men land on the final roster and some will play. Not certain Russell and Lagesson get into action. Caleb Jones not being available for the opening of camp may signal Russell gets the starting nod on the third pairing but I still like Jones to win the job if he’s able.
DISTANT BELLS (8)
- Tyler Benson—Cooper Marody—Ryan McLeod
- Philip Broberg—Evan Bouchard
- Stuart Skinner (Dylan Wells) (Olivier Rodrigue)
I mentioned Benson needing to breaks, one that gets Nygard into the lineup and a second that allows another opening. From this group, Bouchard is likely in the strongest position to actually get into games. One item we can discuss now, as Bouchard is fairly close, is ideal partners and lines for the 2020-21 rookies.
I think Tyler Benson’s ideal spot is on a line with a fast center who brings some skill and forechecking ability, a Gaetan Haas or (eventually) Ryan McLeod. Benson’s a great passer, so it would help if both of his linemates delivered handsome shot volume. Fun Fact: In just three minutes of five on five play with Leon Draisaitl, Benson’s on ice shot differential was 5-0 and the Oilers scored. I don’t expect him to play in a feature role in the playoffs or even next season, but grabbing an NHL job by the end of 2020-21 is important for Benson.
Evan Bouchard is a young puck mover with exceptional passing ability and vision, but his apprenticeship defensively will involve growing pains in the NHL. Ideally you would run him with Adam Larsson but they’re both righties. Oscar Klefbom would be fab but he’s higher up the order as is Darnell Nurse. Caleb Jones is the likely partner on a very young third pairing 2020-21. I think Klefbom is the ideal match, not because of shutdown ability but rather because the duo would be so good with the puck playing defense would hopefully involve less defensive work than a normal pairing would endure.
William Lagesson would do well (I believe) on a third pair with Matt Benning. He played quite a lot during his NHL audition with Benning (35 minutes, 21-22 shots) and Adam Larsson (25 minutes, 10-14 shots) as well as Mike Green (20 minutes, 5-9 shots).
Ryan McLeod belongs on a line with a pair of veterans who can win board battles and play a good two-way game. On the current roster, based on shot differential relative to teammates, Joakim Nygard and Gaetan Haas would be ideal. Visually, I imagined James Neal and Alex Chiasson as ideal solutions. Math is often the wiser course.
My annual ranking of NHL draft-eligible prospects often turns up valuable talent that emerges years later. You may recall I have Andrew Mangiapane at No. 52 for the 2014 draft. No massive credit there, Mangiapane has certainly covered the kind of bet I suggested in 2014. One minor item: Mangiapane was drafted in 2015! In Round Six!
As we approach each draft day there’s always a push back on my list that involves lack of scouting. I’ve never said ignore scouts, hell hire more and pay them better. Arm the scouts with knowledge, the knowledge that informs them about the math of the draft. Here’s an article I wrote in June 2015 on the subject.
Last spring’s Lowetide final top 120 had a young man named Andrew Mangiapane on it and he wasn’t drafted by an NHL team. No big deal, I’m no scout and certainly not a math pro. Sussing out Mangiapane can be regarded as a curio.
However, it IS important in one way: Math led me to Mangiapane one year early, and that is something NHL teams have to respect.
Hire better math men than me, but listen to them.
NHL teams overlook players from a specific draft year but—increasingly—double back on those players in the following year. The 2015 draft will contain a fantastic number of 1997’s but there are plenty of prospects who’ve passed through once or more who should be taken.
Brock Otten, OHL Prospects: A shift in drafting philosophy has seen an enormous rise of these players getting drafted in recent years. This is mostly because drafting a second or third year eligible player gives NHL teams a lot of flexibility in their development under the new CBA. Source
There’s a seam there, an opportunity, for NHL teams to wait on these ‘tweeners’ and then grab them if they prove themselves worthy. It’s the opposite of draft and follow, something I’ve long felt warranted a look by NHL teams and a staple of baseball drafting.
Brock Otten, OHL Prospects: North American players have either two or three years to get drafted, depending on their birth date. For those born from January 1 to September 15, they will go through three NHL drafts. For those born from September 16 to December 31, they will go through two NHL drafts. Source
And with that, here we go.
- C Andrew Mangiapane, Barrie (OHL) Brilliant offensive player.
- L Vladimir Tkachev, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) Small W, extremely skilled.
- R Connor Garland, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL). Small, skill player.
- D Sebastian Aho, Skelleftea (SHL). Undersized, puck moving defenseman.
- G Adin Hill, Portland Winterhawks (WHL). .921 SP and he’s 6.04.
- C Pius Suter, Guelph Storm (OHL). A small, older, highly skilled C, scored 72 points.
- L Dryden Hunt, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL). Overage scorer, talented player.
- L Adam Helewka, Spokane Chiefs (WHL) Smart winger who can score goals.
- C Alexandre Goulet, Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL). A scoring center, good at evens.
- G Ken Appleby, Oshawa Generals (OHL) 50GP, 2.08 .924
- D Vladislav Gavrikov, Yaroslavl (KHL). Two-way defender with size and skill.
- C Tyson Baillie, Kelowna Rockets (WHL). Small two-way center.
- C Luke Philp, Kootenay Ice (WHL) Skill center can play a complementary role.
- D Christian Jaros, Lulea (SHL). A big, stay-at-home defender, massive wingspan.
- G Jordan Papirny, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL). His improved play this year may get him selected.
- R Karson Kuhlman, Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA) Two-way agitating winger with skill.
- L Rihards Bukarts, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL). Very small, impressive winger.
- D Stephen Desrocher, Oshawa Generals (OHL). Strong two-way D.
- C Tim McGauley, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL). Skill C. Improved markedly during junior career.
- R Matt Schmalz, Sudbury Wolves (OHL). Monster winger (6.06, 210) with some skill.
- C Reid Gardner, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) Two-way center, improving.
- D Layne Viveiros, Portland Winterhawks (WHL) Puck-moving defender finally got a chance.
This is a significant list of talent and there’s no doubt several of these players will be selected. Edmonton should certainly jump in and grab some of these fine players, but there’s also ample opportunity to draft and follow.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
We’re drunk with great guests today on the Lowdown, TSN 1260 beginning at 10. Laura Armstrong from The Score will talk Blue Jays at 10:20, Ryan Rishaug from TSN has an update from Oilers camp at 11 and Thomas Drance from The Athletic updates us on the Vancouver situation at 11:25. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!