What would an ideal 2020-21 season look like for the Oilers organization? I’m sure a Stanley Cup victory would be at the top of the list, and more hardware for the impact players on the team.
What about development? Would strong debut seasons from Raphael Lavoie and Olivier Rodrigue help? An impressive second campaign from Kirill Maksimov? Stuart Skinner settling in? Maybe Markus Niemelainen showing shutdown ability in Bakersfield? All would be valuable. A more interesting question: What is reasonable?
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: Ken Holland’s roster construction options over the next five months
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Inside the bubble: Details on where and how NHL players will live in Edmonton
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Marco Sturm on Leon Draisaitl’s evolution and his impact on German hockey
- New Jonathan Willis: Evan Bouchard’s AHL debut has him on track to become a No. 1 NHL defenceman
- Lowetide: Philip Broberg fortunate to arrive with Oilers under mature management
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: A ‘different’ Oilers initiation leaves Olivier Rodrigue wanting more
- Scott Powers and Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What to know from training camps as Blackhawks and Oilers prepare to meet
- Lowetide: Though shy offensively, Gaetan Haas is an intriguing playoff option
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Setting the record straight: Why Caleb Jones revealed his COVID-19 test
- Lowetide: Zack Kassian’s role on Oilers top line must include responsible play
- Lowetide: What should Oilers fans expect from Connor McDavid in the playoffs?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers get good cap news: Long-term outlook is tight but workable
- Lowetide: Dave Tippett’s postseason strategy against the Blackhawks
THE SEASON TO COME
Raphael Lavoie had a strong final season in the QMJHL. You can find a couple of comparable players who came in the years immediately before him and get some kind of idea about what he should be delivering in the AHL during 2020-21: 59 games, 12-22-34, .576 points-per-game. Lavoie’s three comparables included one player who blossomed in his first AHL season, one who had a middling campaign and another who delivered a disappointing year. That isn’t a terribly unusual result.
Kirill Maksimov had a dreadful first season for the Bakersfield Condors. Finding three comparables for his first AHL season (age 20) is easy (his numbers were 53, 5-8-13 .245). I picked three from three different seasons who matched (or delivered slightly less at 20). In the year after (age 21) the trio posted the following AHL numbers: 47, 7-11-18 .383 points-per-game.
What does it mean? The names who are aligned with Lavoie have played 10 pro seasons and a total of 89 NHL games (10-18-28). All three have played at least one NHL game, with one seemingly on his way to a quality NHL career. In the entry years for each player (a total of eight seasons, one of the players will enter the final year of his first contract in 2020-21), the three men played a total of 508 AHL games. Based on his comparables, Lavoie is likely to spend a significant portion of his entry contract in the AHL. I think he’s above average, but the comparables suggest a patient approach.
The names aligned with Maksimov have played 16 pro seasons and a total of 157 NHL games (18-27-45). Two of three have played in the NHL but only one has played more than 40 NHL games. None of the three has an NHL job as a regular and two of the three did not play in the NHL last season.
As I’ve mentioned many times in ‘Farm Workers’ series, a player who falls behind at age 20 has some issues and will meander like a river through the Rockies.
Lavoie’s trajectory includes the NHL in his projected bell curve, Maksimov is less certain after being in a similar spot to Lavoie just one year ago. These AHL debut seasons are a big damned deal, Tyler Pitlick chased his for half a decade. We’ll revisit the conversation after the AHL campaign.
Olivier Rodrigue graduates junior hockey as a pretty big deal. His final season featured some impressive runs by the guardien and he ranks well in ‘goalies Edmonton drafted in their final junior season’:
- Tyler Bunz 61, 2.57 .921
- Olivier Rodrigue 39, 2.32 .918
- Jeff Deslauriers 50, 2.87 .916
- Devan Dubnyk 54, 2.54 .912
- Stuart Skinner 56, 3.07 .905
- Dylan Wells 56, 3.62 .892
- Keven Bouchard 41, 3.68 .877
It’s unfair to compare across several years, cruel to do it over two decades. Still, it’s a point of interest along the human highway of Oilers prospects. I see these names and think of their careers (Bunz: Concussions) and am reminded that a good draft pick has a number of ways to go sideways and look like a bad one in the guide and record book.
Rodrigue is a terrific prospect, and along with the Russian Konovalov I think the Oilers have the best prospect pool in net they’ve enjoyed in some time. There are members of the organization who still believe in Stuart Skinner too, the numbers aren’t flattering but he will get another big opportunity in Bakersfield. I think Rodrigue will win the No. 1 NHL job if the Condors play this winter.
We had a fatal event on the blog yesterday so had to turn the clock back a couple of days. Some things were salvaged, so I wanted to throw them on the back of this piece for those who didn’t see it. Here is what I wrote about Slava Trukhno in March 2008:
Slava Trukhno seems to be turning some kind of a corner. It looks like his role on the Springfield Falcons has increased and he is a strong option currently on the powerplay. This follows a rather slow start to his pro career.
Trukhno is one of several Oilers prospects in the AHL trying to build a resume strong enough for a recall to the Edmonton Oilers. It’s extremely unlikely that call will come this season but his improvement lately can’t have gone unnoticed by coaches and management.
In the summer when we were talking about the Falcons possible roster my expectation was that Trukhno was “a longshot to make the big club, but I think he’ll have a better offensive season as a 20-year old in the AHL than any Oiler prospect (at the same age) in recent history.”
That proved to be a little aggressive, since Trukhno is well behind the 1/1 points-per-game line in the sand. He has struggled for playing time for much of the year and despite showing flashes only recently has shown any sustain game over game.
Note: Trukhno would finish 61, 14-21-35 and did not play in the NHL. Lavoie’s reasonable expectation for his first AHL season is very close to Trukhno’s 2007-08 campaign, his first as a pro.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, we hit the ground running, TSN1260. Jeff Hamilton from the Winnipeg News will update us on efforts to kickstart the CFL season in Winnipeg. Andrew Stoeten from The Athletic will talk Jays, where they’ll play and a promising season to come.