Burn Down The Mission

One thing is certain: There’s work to do. Ken Holland and Dave Tippett enter the offseason with a great deal more certainty about what works and what is needed before the 2020-21 season begins and will refine the roster with that in mind. I will have a piece up at The Athletic about my thoughts on the series later today but much of the future as I see it is here and I do have some overall thoughts at the bottom of today’s discussion.

First, let’s talk about something that is mere hours away and could impact Edmonton in a big way. The draft lottery goes Monday at 4 Edmonton time, and it is possible, amazing as it may be, that this team could win another lottery. Edmonton has chosen first overall four times: 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015. Is there another one to come?

THE ATHLETIC!

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 Daniel Nugent-Bowman: The Oilers have some disappointing lessons to learn — even in season of progress
  • New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Replacing Tyler Ennis: Ranking the best left wing and backfill Oilers options
  • New Lowetide: Oilers’ Andreas Athanasiou gets a push against ‘Hawks. Is it enough?
  • Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Bang for your buck: Ranking the Oilers based on contract expectations
  • Jonathan Willis: Is Philip Broberg on track to be a top-pairing defenceman?
  • Lowetide: Ken Holland’s roster construction options over the next five months

OILERS MOCK

If my math is right (a rare thing) the Oilers will pick either No. 1 or No. 14 overall in the first round. If that is the case, and assuming Edmonton chooses to keep its own third-round selection in 2020, the picks will be Nos 14, 82, 144, 175 and 206. I think there’s a chance Ken Holland trades down in the first round. For the mock draft below, I’ll project Holland trading No. 14 to the Ottawa Senators for No. 20 and No. 64 overall. Here’s the mock.

No. 20 overall: RW Jacob Perreault, Sarnia OHL (5.11, 182). Central Scouting via NHL.com: Strong skater with great balance. Hard, accurate shote that jumps off his stick. A dangerous shooter who can score from multiple areas of the ice. An intelligent player that puts himself in good positions to get scoring chances. Natural goal scorer. Brock Boeser listed as the comparable.

No. 64 overall: RC Jack Finley, Spokane WHL (6.06, 213). Central Scouting via NHL.com: Big body center who pays attention to details. Very good in the faceoff circle. Uses his reach and his range very well in both offensive and defensive situations. Brian Boyle listed as the comparable.

No. 82 overall: LD Anton Johannesson, HV 71 SuperElite (5.09, 144). Small puck mover is a wizard, could be a steal. His totals (20, 8-16-24) are exceptional, he is a dynamic player.

No. 144 overall: LW Yevgeni Oksentyuk, Flint OHL (5.08, 163). He turns 20 in February. Oksentyuk is a fine prospect, aggressive and speedy with a great shot.

No. 175 overall: G Sam Hlavaj, Sherbroke Phoenix QMJHL (6.04, 218). Boasts a .915 save percentage. Slovak goalie is an actual giant who (according to Red Line) is ‘scrambly like Spiderman’.

No. 206 overall: LC Daniel Ljungman, Linkoping SuperElite. (6.01, 161) Emerged from nowhere at the Hlinka Gretzky. Great release. He’s an April 2002.

PROSPECT NHLE’S

WINNING THE LOTTERY

I’ve seen a few ‘the shame of it all’ tweets and a surprising number of ‘trade the pick!’ tweets since last night’s loss. Both are wrongheaded.

Edmonton wins the lottery, you celebrate. The Oilers draft Alexis Lafreniere and add another skill piece at a controlled cost for three years. No brainer. Guilt? Screw that noise.

Trade the pick? Also crazy. Lafreniere could be one of the faces of the franchise. We don’t know what the future holds, but adding another elite piece who could be under control for as many as 11 years would appear to be the easiest decision since breathing.

ABOUT LAST NIGHT

I know Oilers fans are unhappy today. Understandable. It was frustrating to watch, the entire series was like a singer who begins in the wrong key and can’t get back on track for the entire song. Edmonton took forever to adjust, the things that worked for Dave Tippett in the regular season would not rhyme against Chicago.

All I want to say here is that, bottom line, there is nothing to be gained by doing anything rash or bold after these four games. Breathe in, breathe out small sample size. Breathe in, breathe out the ‘Hawks were a better team than their record implied. Breathe in, breathe out the too many men is going to live with you forever and that’s something you’re going to have to live with, friend.

Much was accomplished this season, it’s important to remember the progress of January-March, and to keep in mind the random nature of the bubble playoffs.

I think Oilers fans should be happy that Ken Holland is in charge of the club this morning, as a measured approach after the Chicago series is best. And no, they shouldn’t fire the coach.

Edmonton accomplished a lot in the 2019-20 season, led by the emergence of Ethan Bear, Kailer Yamamoto and Caleb Jones from the minors.

The club finished second in the Pacific Division, 37-25-9 with the top power play and the second best penalty kill. What’s more the team’s even-strength goal share was 48 percent, an improvement in what has been a difficult area.

Leon Draisaitl had a Hart Trophy season, Connor McDavid was brilliant despite the marathon run after a summer of rehab and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had his best (in my opinion) all around season. Yamamoto gave the skill lines a fourth member, filling the Jordan Eberle role after his recall.

The Oilers were the better team last night. Doesn’t matter. The club has flaws and they were on display in the series, plus losing your shutdown blue (Adam Larsson) is a big blow.

I’ll write on this later today but this team made significant progress in 2019-20, solving problems with drafted players who came through the system. The one thing you can hold on to this morning: The needs are obvious, the way is clear, and the Oilers have veteran men in management and coaching.

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206 Responses to "Burn Down The Mission"

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  1. ArmchairGM says:

    godot10: Max Domi wants $7.5 million per season.And in the Covid era, he is a horrible risk.

    Wait – I thought Covid was going to disappear by the spring?

  2. OriginalPouzar says:

    Fuge Udvar:
    I’m surprised there is so much fear in our drafting suddenly. We still have Keith Gretzky in the organization. Our drafting has been much better since he joined for the 2017, 2018 and 2019 drafts.

    Yamamoto, Samorokov, Maksimov, Bouchard, McLeod, Rodrigue, Broberg, Lavoie, Konovalov

    Plus dark horses: Kesselring, Kemp

    We’ve been sacrificing goats at the alter for years trying to get drafting like this.

    Yes, its heartening that Keith Gretzky is still around and involved but I would think, with the hire of Tyler Wright as Director of Amateur Scouting, that Gretzky is running the draft and Wright has the larger voice.

  3. OriginalPouzar says:

    who:
    Man. All it takes is 1 playoff loss and the wacky trade proposals and knee jerk reactions come flooding out here.
    I think this may be a good long term result for the Oilers. They got a little playoff experience, albeit in the goofiest of scenarios,and moved at least 6 spots up the draft order. With an outside chance at 1OV. The team I saw for the last 4 games did not look like a cup contender so what have they really lost?
    I see no need to “burn it down”. Most of the key players are in their early to mid twenties. I think they are ready to contend as early as next year.
    Here’s where I see the lineup heading next year:
    Nuge Drai Yamamoto
    Line looked great when Tippett finally got them back together. Classic case of overthinking it.
    AA Mcdavid Kassian
    Holland will be looking to upgrade one of these wingers but not sure he can get it done. AA showed enough in the last couple games to get the first shot on left wing. Kassian can play, no matter what Godot and OP say. An upgrade would be nice, but not essential.
    LWCJP
    Left wing could be Neal. If he gets bought out it could be Ennis, or other UFA. Center is probably a UFA, especially if they buyout Neal.
    Nygaard KhairaArchibald
    Doubt they bring back Sheehan.His skillset is basically duplicated by Khaira, who is already under contract.
    BensonHaas Chiasson
    2 of these 3 are the spare forwards.
    KlefbomLarrson
    They had a bad playoff.They are still a quality pair of young veterans. Either one, or both, could be gone after next season.
    Nurse Bear
    Bear is the goods. I think.Nurse or Klefbom are probably getting traded after next season.
    Jones Russell/ Benning
    One of Russell or Benning, but not both, will be traded this summer. Benning is cheaper. Russell is better, but harder to move
    Lagesson Bouchard
    Lagesson probably starts as the 7D because Bouchard doesn’t require waivers and may require another year in the minors.
    Koskinen
    UFA goalie
    Tippets biggest blind spot was his belief in Smith. I think/hope Holland will take that option away.
    Tippet stays as coach. There was marked improvement in the team year over year. There will also be a lot more pressure to go on a deep playoff run next year.

    Do not lump me with Godot with respect to Kassian.

    I have praised his play when its warranted and wrote a lengthy post in the fall about him being a material contributor to the top line – not just getting points by riding coattails but opening space, winning pucks battles, making plays, etc.

    The issue, of course, is Kass’ consistency and he only is able to do the above for short stretches and he is not good enough to be an 80 game top 6 winger. I don’t think this consistency is about to come as he approaches 30.

    The further issue is, when he playing poorly, he isn’t just not able to positively contribute as 1RW (or even 3RW) but he makes mistakes that hurt the team – not with bad penalties (although that does happen) but with mistakes on the ice that directly cost goals – poor battle level, missed assignments, etc.

    While he can contribute on a 3rd line if he plays his speed/aggression game, he doesn’t bring that nightly either.

    He can be a good player for stretches – hopefully we see that again in 2021 because 2020 was an awful year for him as a hockey player.

  4. jp says:

    The only guy who I feel really sealed their fate this series is Sheahan. Team low 5on5 TOI and outplayed by Khaira and (when he got a chance) Haas.

    Maybe Smith too, but a lot less sure on that one.

  5. who says:

    OriginalPouzar: Do not lump me with Godot with respect to Kassian.

    I have praised his play when its warranted and wrote a lengthy post in the fall about him being a material contributor to the top line – not just getting points by riding coattails but opening space, winning pucks battles, making plays, etc.

    The issue, of course, is Kass’ consistency and he only is able to do the above for short stretches and he is not good enough to be an 80 game top 6 winger. I don’t think this consistency is about to come as he approaches 30.

    The further issue is, when he playing poorly, he isn’t just not able to positively contribute as 1RW (or even 3RW) but he makes mistakes that hurt the team – not with bad penalties (although that does happen) but with mistakes on the ice that directly cost goals – poor battle level, missed assignments, etc.

    While he can contribute on a 3rd line if he plays his speed/aggression game, he doesn’t bring that nightly either.

    He can be a good player for stretches – hopefully we see that again in 2021 because 2020 was an awful year for him as a hockey player.

    You just described most players in the NHL.
    The difference between Kassian and some of the other NHLers is that Kassian actually has the skills to play with McDavid. He can keep up, he can control the puck in the ozone, and he can make a play.

  6. Tesla's Hair says:

    LT wrote: “Trade the pick? Also crazy. Lafreniere could be one of the faces of the franchise.”
    ====

    Is this always crazy? Can you explain this to me with your NHLe know how, gut feeling from past #1 (and trading up) or if you have seen any math done on the value of first round non-generational* pick.

    I wonder what is the balance (and risk) of having one face with an excellent NHLe value vs trading up for multiple picks with a chance at having a team with multiple great NHLe + high ranked Goalie and solid D?

    Is it better to have an Ace and a 5 or two Jacks? Is it risky to have all cap $ in one basket?

    Basic on the cap consequences and impact of one player does it at all make sense to trade up on LaF and offer the pick for multiple picks this year and next if there is a desperate owner/GM who must have LaF?

    If anyone else has any answers, I would appreciate your knowledge. Just so frustrating to have
    so many #1st picks creating an unbalanced and high cap team and now at our height of the McD & Drai combo we can’t beat a rebuilding team who wasn’t supposed to be in playoffs and whose goalie just recovered from COVID.

    *
    Bob McKenzie wrote: “Lafreniere is not viewed as a generational talent like Connor McDavid or necessarily labelled a franchise player.”
    https://www.tsn.ca/bob-mckenzie-s-final-ranking-lafreniere-the-surest-thing-in-most-uncertain-draft-year-1.1488272

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