Ken Holland can go to training camp with the roster as it currently stands and have competition in the uncertain spots. There is room to add on the 50-man list and I do think a right-wing will be dealt for a left-wing. There are some great value contracts out there, one imagines the team at least ponders on or two additions. The next two moves will likely be signing RFA’s Ethan Bear and William Lagesson. The weekend’s work gives us our first chance to construct next year’s roster and estimate the numbers. Let’s go.
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: Oilers bring back Mike Smith for another year.
- New Lowetide: Oilers sign Tyson Barrie to a team-friendly deal.
- New Lowetide: Oilers sign Kyle Turris, Tyler Ennis in early hours of free agency.
- Lowetide: Ken Holland will need to be creative in free agency
- 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: Ken Holland’s work week: Get good players, keep good players
- Lowetide: Oilers’ defence prospects are pushing, and changes are coming
- Lowetide: Potential trades and partners for the Oilers’ offseason
- 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: Oilers Top 20 Prospects, Summer 2020
July 8, 2019
On the date above, I wrote the following:
Looking long and hard for volume shooters to elevate to a skill line is damned difficult for the current Oilers. Tyler Benson (2.54 shots per game in the AHL), Joakim Nygard (2.94 shots per game in the SHL) and Sam Gagner (8.13 five-on-five shots per 60) are candidates for feature roles, but it’s a moving target for this Oilers team. He’s my first attempt at RE for 2019-20, understanding changes will come.
Leon Draisaitl —Connor McDavid —Zack Kassian 
Milan Lucic —RNH —Alex Chiasson 
Markus Granlund —Gaetan Haas —Joakim Nygard 
Jujhar Khaira —Colby Cave —Sam Gagner 
Tomas Jurco —Cooper Marody 
Oscar Klefbom —Adam Larsson 
Darnell Nurse —Kris Russell 
Caleb Jones —Matt Benning 
Brandon Manning 
Mikko Koskinen [.912]—Mike Smith [.905]
My estimate has Edmonton scoring 230 goals, allowing 252. That’s a massive year over year improvement, most of it defensively. In 2018-19, the Oilers were 229-271 (-42) and my initial 2019-20 RE has the team -22, owing mostly to a massive improvement in goals against (+19 season over season). How will they get it done? I’m giving a lot of credit to Dave Tippett and shot suppression. In the Coyotes final season before Tippett, the team allowed 2591 shots. The following year? 2427. He also increased shots for by 200, but the Oilers currently employ a group who are unlikely to take full advantage. We’ll see what the summer brings in terms of roster improvement.
As it turns out, the Oilers in 2019-20 did better than my 230-252 estimate, going 223-215 +8 in 71 games. The shots for and against don’t rhyme because of fewer games, but if I pump up the 2019-20 season to 82 games, we can get a reasonable idea about whether Tippett managed any kind of shot suppression. Remember, in 2018-19, the totals were 2392-2599 (-207 shots). This year, extrapolating 71 games to 82, the numbers would be 2425-2626 (-201 shots). So why did they improve? Part of it is in save percentage, improved from .896 to .905. Part of it is special teams. How will things look in 2020-21? Here’s my first look at RE.
RE 2020-21 FIRST BLUSH
Tyler Ennis —Connor McDavid —Zack Kassian 
RNH —Leon Draisaitl —Kailer Yamamoto 
James Neal —Kyle Turris —Jesse Puljujarvi 
Alex Chiasson —Jujhar Khaira —Josh Achibald 
Joakim Nygard —Gaetan Haas 
Darnell Nurse —Ethan Bear 
Caleb Jones —Adam Larsson 
Kris Russell —Tyson Barrie 
William Lagesson 
Mikko Koskinen [.918]—Mike Smith [.898]
That gives us (based on a slight increase in shots for and against) a goal differential of 254-246, +8. That is identical to the +8 differential of a year ago. I don’t think this team is better, and the kids who are going to be regulars (Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear) have a wide range of possible outcomes to their seasons. I think this is a playoff team, but Vegas has nothing to worry about, Calgary has improved and I’m sure Vancouver has plans, too.
If you’re playing along at home, no I don’t hate anyone on the list and yes there will be more players added to my final RE. This is the first blush, and Tyler Benson’s minutes are represented by Nygard’s presence, etc.
IS HOLLAND DONE?
Of course not. We’ll see a trade and probably a waiver pickup somewhere in the preseason. For the second year in a row, Holland is leaving enormous opportunities for the youth of today to break on through. I didn’t expect it a year after clearing the deck for Bear, Jones and Lagesson, plus recalling Yamamoto over making a trade after Christmas. Ken Holland’s answers are coming from Bakersfield, friends.