The Edmonton Oilers LH depth chart without Oscar Klefbom is a little rickety and Klefbom won’t be back for many a day. It opens up some opportunity behind Darnell Nurse, but who among Caleb Jones, Kris Russell, William Lagesson and Philip Broberg will emerge? What do the Oilers have here? Specifically, who can coach Dave Tippett run against the other team’s best?
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: How many ‘peak seasons’ can Oilers fans expect from Connor McDavid?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ increased focus on drafting skill is key to future success
- Lowetide: A short history of Oilers’ impact prospects at the world juniors
- Lowetide: Why Dave Tippett’s training camp with Oilers will be so compelling
- Lowetide: Oilers first-round pick Dylan Holloway’s fast start has fans buzzing
- Jonathan Willis: A brief history of Oilers teams with goalie problems, and how they overcame them
- Lowetide: Ideal style pairings for the 2020-21 Oilers
- Jonathan Willis: The Oilers are better with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl apart at 5-on-5
- 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: Oilers Top 20 prospects, post-draft edition.
PUCK IQ ON THE ELITES
The blue, against elites five on five with McDavid and without McDavid. Some interesting results courtesy Puck IQ. All of the numbers below are 2019-20 and all are against elites. All of the smart math people tell me you need 200 minutes to make things go, so there’s a sample size alert on many of these items.
Nurse often gets criticism for loading up when on the ice with the captain, but last season things were far more calm for Nurse when he was away from 97. McDavid was strong away from Nurse (in 150 minutes, 52.80 DFF%, 6.42 DFF%RC and 2.36 GA-60). These numbers against elites are more than good enough to make Nurse a top 4D option on the left side on 2020-21.
It’s a damn shame we’re entering late 20’s and injury territory for Larsson. As you can see, he can be a very effective defender when with or without McDavid. A fine player when healthy. Sample size alert.
Bear played over 200 minutes with and 200 without McDavid, so we get a good view of this rookie. Lots of theories about why the possession and goals-against numbers with 97 had some wobble, I think part of it comes from the captain being a fast break champion. Often his sorties end up in the net, or a whistle, but there are lots of examples where the puck ends up going the other way. I think that’s part of these numbers. I’m comfortable with Bear anywhere on the depth chart, with the caveat being young defensemen don’t develop in a straight line.
Small samples both here, but Russell’s GA-60 shines like a diamond. I’m not sure coach Dave Tippett sees Russell as a top-4D option but we’ll probably see him playing there from time to time during the year. Many Oilers fans are down (and I mean down) on Russell, but it’s wise never to turn down a chance to have a veteran blue on the roster. His possession numbers without McDavid are comical but his GA-60 is good. Russell always has these wonky stats, he’s the human counter-trey.
This is what Edmonton needs to replace and it has to be Caleb Jones based on what I’ve filtered through my brain. Klefbom had some issues in the series against the ‘Hawks and he isn’t the players we saw in 2016-17. Hell, we may never see him again. That said, there’s a lot to like about these numbers, specifically his time on ice versus elites and with McDavid.
I wish we had more minutes here, but the absence of alternatives clears the mind. It’ll come down to Nurse and Russell/Jones for the top 4-D, suspect Jones and his speed plus passing wins the day. That 2015 draft was a damn Godsend is what it is.
Tyson Barrie will be on the right side on one of the pairings, and there’s a temptation to put him with McDavid. Those outlet passes to a streaking 97 will be a powerful weapon for Edmonton in 2020-21. Here we see Barrie was effective with Matthews and poor without him versus elites.
So, with Barrie part of the McDavid five at even strength, who do you pair him with? Caleb Jones is young and fast and can also pass. Darnell Nurse is used to playing with McDavid in the discipline. Kris Russell can defend.
Who would you choose? Or is there another shoe to drop?
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, we hit the ground running and report on all manner of sporting news, TSN1260. At 10:20, Paul Sir from Basketball Alberta will guide us through NBA free agency with a closer look at the Raptors activities. At 10:40, Ian McLaren from Locked on Bruins will discuss the Jake DeBrusk contract and where Zdeno Chara’s future lies. At 11, Ian Herbers, head coach of the University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey program, will drop in to talk about the big games this weekend against Canada’s World Juniors. The games are this Saturday and Sunday in Red Deer at 6 p.m. MST. Both games will be on TSN and we’ll talk about preparation in what is an unusual season. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!