There have been many roster changes since the train left the station opening night 2019-20, and the Oilers are closer to balance now than they have been in years. How close is this team to winning the Pacific Division? Making the final four?
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: Ideal style pairings for the 2020-21 Oilers
- New Jonathan Willis: The Oilers are better with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl apart at 5-on-5
- Lowetide: The Oilers and the Calder Trophy: 5 rookies, 1 strong contender
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations for 2020-21: The results
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations for 2020-21: Goals against
- Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations for 2020-21: The Goals
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers defensive prospects are impressive overseas, but what comes next?
- Lowetide: Oilers pick up an intriguing addition in free agent Dominik Kahun
- Lowetide: How close is Ryan McLeod to an Oilers roster spot?
- Lowetide: Jay Woodcroft oversees a spike in Oilers prospect development
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers’ organizational depth chart: Where does Edmonton stand today?
- Lowetide: Dmitri Samorukov’s KHL impact and what it means to the Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers extend Kris Russell, solve expansion issue
- Lowetide: Can Kyle Turris centre an outscoring No. 3 line in Edmonton?
- Lowetide: Tyson Barrie’s skills and how Oilers coach Dave Tippett will deploy him
- Jonathan Willis: Can Oilers unlock James Neal’s scoring potential at five on five?
- Lowetide: Why is Ilya Konovalov no longer starting in the KHL?
- Lowetide: Oilers Top 20 prospects, post-draft edition.
THE COFFEE KLATCH
Barry Boyd was a legendary broadcaster who had major career success in Edmonton and San Diego in his many years in the industry. Every week I knew him, he would invite me to the Sunday ‘coffee klatch’ he and his friends would have at Tim Horton’s in the west end.
I didn’t go often, but it was fun. I thought it might be an idea to name the conversations I have with the grumpy guy from time to time, but couldn’t call it “Rain Delay” even though the Bill James’ Abstract chapters inspired the back and forth I use here.
So Coffee Klatch it is.
Well, that happened! Yes, it was an unusual offseason.
Which crushing disappointment do you want to discuss first? I think we’re going to disagree on some things here.
They blew the first-round pick! It was not my choice (I had Holloway No. 25), Dawson Mercer has my No. 10 prospect and I do believe he’ll have a more productive offensive career. New Jersey drafted Mercer No. 18 and he’s off to a strong start in the QMJHL (5 games, 4-3-7) but Holloway has a story to tell.
Sure: “How I worked my way into the banking industry by playing hockey” Holloway scored nine points in his final 10 games of the season and was five or six years younger than some of the men in his league. I think we’ll get a much better idea about this player in the coming year. I don’t think he’ll push the river offensively upon reaching the NHL, he could be a fine complementary winger for 97 or 29 in a couple of years.
Why did they sign Tyson Barrie instead of inserting Evan Bouchard? Honestly, that’s the best question you’ve ever asked me. I expect it has to do with wanting to improve this coming season and wanting to make sure Bouchard is over-ready. I would argue there’s nothing left to prove, but I believe the management and coaches would like to see him get better in the ability to both stand up at the blue line and then beat the competition to the end boards in order to get the puck secure. I’m not sure Bouchard will ever be outstanding in this area and also believe he can flourish without that gear. I would have him on the opening night roster. Either way, Larsson and Barrie are a year from free agency so Bouchard is close. I would argue he should be on the opening night roster.
The best question I ever asked you was ‘why are you such a dink?’ can’t believe you forgot that one. Anyway, the rest of the draft was strong on skill. Carter Savoie is an excellent prospect, he’ll hit college and have success. If he can improve a little in terms of foot speed, could be two and done on his way to an NHL career. Tyler Tullio is also two years away from a pro career, love his season and can’t wait to see how much offense he can post this season. The other player to watch is Berezhkin, he could be a fast riser.
Holland blew it with the goaltending. It was a poor bet in signing Mike Smith based on his last two seasons. I think he gave himself a potential hurdle but he won’t sacrifice a season for goaltending. In fact, I can see the Oilers dealing for an Adin Hill as soon as training camp, and Anton Forsberg may also see action.
He did nothing to improve the skill lines. Well, actually he did quite a bit. A year ago, Riley Sheahan’s on-ice goal differential was 21-37 (-16). Kyle Turris with Tyler Ennis and Jesse Puljujarvi may give up 37 goals at even strength, but should put more in the GF column. Skill should be welcomed on all four lines, and since 2005 Mike Peca wasn’t waiting in the crawl space, I can understand what Holland is thinking here.
What are the biggest potential improvements? When Dave Tippett moved Leon Draisaitl to center, that opened things up. Holland grabbed some more wingers (Yamamoto from the farm, then Athanasiou and Ennis at the deadline, finally Ennis, Puljujarvi and Kahun in the offseason), opened things up. Holland also added Tyson Barrie in free agency, increasing the number of good-to-great outlet passers to three with Evan Bouchard on the way.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we’ll have live updates constantly on the Masters tournament. They’re back underway after a long rain delay. Reid Fowler from Draft Kings will join us at 10:20 to talk Masters and who we expect to see in the final group on Sunday. Frank Seravalli from TSN drops by for his weekly visit, sounds like there’s some progress to report on negotiations between the league and players. We’ll also talk to AJHL commissioner Ryan Bartoshyk about his league’s start to the 2020-21 season. Plus you could win $4,200 in the $20,000 Mystery Moment! 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.