Dave Tippett’s regular season had a lot of shining moments and the post-season thought process shouldn’t take away from a strong first season for the coach. What does he need to build on for next season?
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What was his record? The first Tippett Oilers were on pace for 96 points, that would have been the highest point total for an Edmonton team since 2016-17.
What was his biggest accomplishment? I’ll say his handling of unproven talent. Ethan Bear, Kailer Yamamoto and Caleb Jones played well and were slotted into feature roles. There are 12 foundation positions (top two lines, top two pairings, No. 3 center, No. 1 goalie). Three new solutions to foundation positions arrive from the AHL in one season? That’s a big deal. Jones doesn’t play top-4D yet but he showed he can when the team trades one of Klefbom or Nurse. I don’t think that day arrives in 2020.
What else? Special teams were brilliant, we’ll be quoting the numbers from last season for years. In Todd McLellan’s first season, Oilers had 43 power-play goals (6 GA on the PP, +37), 48 GA when on the PK (5 goals for, -43)
Under Tippett this year? 59 power-play goals (10 GA on the PP, +49), 31 GA when on the PK (3 goals for, -28).
What does that mean? In 2015-16, McLellan’s first year, Edmonton went 48-54 (-6) on special teams. In 2019-20, Tippett’s first year, the Oilers delivered 62-41 (+21) with the man advantage. That’s a fantastic season by Tippett’s gang.
Even strength must have been a mess. McLellan’s first team was 155-188, -33. Tippett’s, in fewer games of course, went 160-173, -13. Improved, but plenty of work to do.
Where would you start? Goaltending. Oilers had a .9055 overall SP (No. 14), .908 five on five SP (No. 22). Improve the even strength save percentage, add some points, finish higher in the standings. Too simple an explanation but the goaltending needs to be upgraded.
And Ken Holland signs Adam Cracknell. Great! I’ve seen a few tweets fretting over the signing, it’s kind of silly. Cracknell played in the KHL last season, that’s the best league in Europe and many feel it’s the second best league in the world. He played center, scored 10-14-24 in 52 games, went 26-25 at even strength on ice goal differential, scored 7-2-1 EV-PP-PK goals and averaged 17:35 a night. Teams have to find veteran forwards who can play center in the minors, it’s the reason Josh Currie’s minor league salary was $160,000 last season. You. Need. Centers. in the AHL.
Yeah but the 50-man, man. They won’t be able to pick up that good forward who is on waivers for the first time! Okay, among folks who write about the Oilers the only person who follows the waiver wire more closely than me is Willis. So, allow me to let you in on a little secret. The Oilers aren’t going to take Daniel Sprong on waivers because they like Kailer Yamamoto more, Josh Archibald can do more things plus Zack Kassian and Alex Chiasson do other things. Here’s what Holland’s white board might look like today:
See! They’re screwed! NO they’re not! The list above contains four goalies, 15 defensemen (Broberg a possible slide) and 22 forwards. That’s 41 names, 40 if Broberg stays in Sweden. Edmonton can add seven or eight names and still have room.
Daniel Sprong was the one, too. I just know it. I hate you.
I would suggest to you that Mr. Rishaug has cornered the truth in regard to Jesse Puljujarvi’s future. I’ll guess he fetches a pick inside the top 40, that Holland hopes Jan Mysak is available but settles for Jake Neighbours instead. Neighbours is a fine young prospect but that’s a bitter pill for value-wise consumers.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A big day on TSN1260, beginning at 10. We have Frank Seravalli at 10:20 and Jason Gregor at 11, we’ll breakdown the playoffs, the trade market and drill down on Ken Holland’s summer and Jesse Puljujarvi’s future. We’ll also have the $20,000 Mystery Moment at 10:15, your chance to win cash with that gigantic sports brain of yours. Text in at 10-1260 with the secret word, then we’ll call you, play a clip from a famous sports moment and ask you for a detailed answer. Use all the words! Reach me @Lowetide on via text at 10-1260. Tune in and win!