There’s been a rabbit in my backyard every year since I moved to this house, and that’s 22 years. Sometimes there are four or five. My neighbour loves when they show up. The rabbits know they’re welcome here, it’s one of their spots in this area. I’m cool with it. Ziggy can see them from the deck and barks, but on the grass she can smell them but rarely sees them. It’s an unusual relationship but it works for all involved.
I have talked to a rabbit (either 22 different ones or one rabbit 22 times) about the NHL draft every year I’ve lived here. This year, we spoke Tuesday afternoon, I expressed some trepidation about how things might go with the Detroit wheels in charge.
The rabbit, as it has done 22 times (or 22 rabbits once), listened quietly from its comfortable spot by the fence. The rabbit doesn’t say much, but like all good friends gives me the gift of his time and listens intently. Every year, without fail, the rabbit guides me to the lesson of the draft year.
This year’s lesson: Get over myself. I control nothing, just like that rabbit. I’m worried about the town team making a bad pick, this rabbit has to be aware of every damn dog or coyote in Christendom, or a kid on a bicycle or a CAR!
The rabbit was telling me to enjoy the good times, chew on some grass and find a warm spot near the fence, because there isn’t one damn thing I can do about the Oilers 2020 draft. That’s one smart rabbit.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.
- New Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi signing overshadows a strong day for Oilers at draft
- Lowetide: Oilers draft Dylan Holloway on Day 1, with trades possible Wednesday
- Lisa Dillman: Dylan Holloway could be a ‘difference-maker’ for the Oilers
- Eric Duhatschek: Connor McDavid’s positive COVID-19 test stirs debate about the next NHL season
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers could benefit both now and in the future by adding a right-shot defender
- Lowetide: As Oilers exit the system, the situation is fluid
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What’s in a name? For NHL players, deciding on pronunciation can be a challenge
- Lowetide: Reconsidering Oilers’ offseason in light of Oscar Klefbom injury news
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s work week: Get good players, keep good players
- Lowetide: Oilers’ defence prospects are pushing, and changes are coming
- Lowetide: European leagues are open, and Oilers prospects are everywhere
- Lowetide: Ken Holland and Dave Tippett’s past players: Can any help the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Roster projections for Oilers, including trade and free agent targets
- Jonathan Willis: Why the Oilers should buy out James Neal
- Lowetide: Potential trades and partners for the Oilers’ offseason
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers third-line centre search should include other teams’ cap casualties
- Lowetide: Dealing a defenceman? Taking stock of Oilers’ blueline assets
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Oilers GM Ken Holland on improving internally, the flat cap and goaltending
- Lowetide: 10 free agent targets for the Oilers this offseason
- Lowetide: What if the Oilers went scorched earth in front of 2020 free agency?
- Lowetide: Oilers Top 20 Prospects, Summer 2020
- Jonathan Willis: Unqualified RFAs could be top offseason targets for the Oilers
LOWETIDE’S PROJECTED PICKS
No. 14 overall: RC Seth Jarvis, Portland Winterhawks (WHL).
No. 76 overall: LW Daniel Gushchin, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL).
No. 135 overall: RW Zayde Wisdom, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL).
No. 169 overall: G Devon Levi, Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL).
No. 200 overall: LD Peetro Seppälä (Liiga)
HARVEST MOON 2020
No. 14 overall: LC Dylan Holloway, Wisconsin (Big-10). NHLE: 13.3. There is an AJHL NHLE but I never use it, Holloway’s 16-year old season in that league had an equivalency of 20.4 using outlawed math. I think Edmonton drafted a complementary left winger for the McDavid line or a solid checking center for the No. 3 line. His NHLE says checker, but his splits in Wisconsin suggest he was spiking as the season ended: 5-4-9 in his last 10 games, with 31 shots on goal. I’ll guess he will do both throughout his Oilers career, kind of a hybrid. Red Line says he grinds and wins battles. Let’s revisit in five years.
No. 100 overall: LW Carter Savoie, Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL) NHLE: 22.6. Don’t run with that NHLE for AJHL, besides his boxcars (54 games, 53-46-99) tell us he will have success in college and beyond offensively. His scouting report reminds me of a combination of Mike Comrie (enormous offensive gifts) and Rob Schremp (also gifted offensively, but Red Line called out his lack of effort in a very pointed manner ala Schremp in 2004). One thing he has Comrie and Schremp did not: Speed. Red Line calls it a “game-breaking top-gear” and that’s something that will get him many chances. January 2002, 5.09, 192.
No. 126 overall: RW Tyler Tullio, Oshawa Generals (OHL). NHLE: 28.2 I think there will be a temptation for Oilers fans to downplay this selection. He’s not a big player (5.09, 161) but he’s an April 2002 who scored more than a point per game in the world’s best junior league. I had him ahead of Savoie on my list on merit. He has great edges, makes subtle passes and sees plays developing early. He doesn’t have a great shot but he’s an intelligent skill forward. Red Line compares him in style with Paul Byron, an interesting wrinkle. If you think teams can’t get NHL players at pick No. 126, I’d remind you that Ethan Bear went No. 124 in 2015.
No. 138 overall: LW Maxim Berezkin, Lokomotiv (KHL). NHLE: 15.6. He’s 6.02, 201, shoots right and is an October 2001. He is a plus passer, has a great wrist shot and at least one scouting report I’ve read suggests he displays some elements of a defensive game. Speed is the issue, so I imagine a Russian Teemu Hartikainen in my mind’s eye. Just as Hartikainen was a great bet where he was chosen, so too is Berezkin. I like this pick.
No. 169 overall: RC Filip Engaras, New Hampshire (Hockey-East). NHLE: 19.3 He’s an interesting prospect but there are plenty of gaps in the scouting report. 6.0, 190, another righty shooter and he’s 21 (May 1999).
No. 200 overall: LW Jeremias Lindewall, MoDo Jrs (Swe). NHLE: 11.8. He’s 6.02, 183 and a January 2002. He has played in four games this season and is 4-4-8, that’s a very nice start.
Using my list, the one that values skill heavily, Tyler Wright lands a first-round pick, two seconds and a fourth. Honestly, that’s a rock solid draft, far better than anticipated based on recent work with the Detroit Red Wings. We’ll see, but there isn’t a name on this draft list that can be considered a wasted pick. I don’t know what to say. I don’t give letter grades, but this draft was exactly what the pipeline needed at the 2020 draft.
I haven’t thought much about where these men will land on the prospect list or where to put them on the depth chart. The earliest any player needs to be signed is 2022, and I expect both Holloway and Tullio turn pro at that time.
Oilers fans have a hard time giving credit to general managers they’re angry with (which is always), but I believe Ken Holland’s handling of a difficult situation regarding Jesse Puljujarvi should be universally acknowledged. There will be some uncomfortable moments, and coach Dave Tippett is going to have to insist on buy-in from the team’s leadership, but the benefit to both sides could be enormous. The Oilers without Puljujarvi finished in second, and maybe he comes here and helps. Even if there are middling results, this is the best path forward from an asset point of view.
Mikko Koivu would be a very good linemate, in my opinion. I know it’s old school, but a veteran to guide Puljujarvi and keep communication open may be vital to success. Could an Joakim Nygard-Mikko Koivu-Jesse Puljujarvi No. 3 line go?
CUTTING LOOSE AA AND BENNING
I would have bought out Neal to sign Athanasiou, but would have moved on from Benning in the next few months (Evan Bouchard is NHL-ready).
It’s fair to mark Holland’s deadline harshly, it did not work out. I believe some allowance has to be made for the change in cap ceiling that came after the deadline, but there was risk and it didn’t work out.
For me, the bigger picture is what will he do with the $5 million saved from this? There’s plenty of opportunity in free agency and trade in the coming days.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning on TSN 1260, we have a mountain of things to discuss and breaking news is imminent. Steve Kournianos from The Draft Anaylst reviews the Oilers draft (he had Holloway No. 14 and Tullio No. 40). Frank Seravalli from TSN pops in with the latest rumours of trades and free agency. It’s going to be lit! 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.