by Lowetide

The best spot for a prospect in the Oilers system right now? Scoring left winger. Fun fact: Since he arrived in Edmonton, Ken Holland’s Oilers have traded for James Neal, Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Ennis; signed Joakim Nygard and Dominik Kahun as free agents; and drafted Matej Blumel, Dylan Holloway, Carter Savoie, Maxim Berezkin, Jeremias Lindewall. That’s a lot of left wingers.


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.


Ken Holland and Dave Tippett inherited a left wing depth chart that looked like this: Leon Draisaitl, Milan Lucic, Tobias Rieder (UFA), Jujhar Khaira, Tyler Benson, Joe Gambardella, Evan Polei (AHL deal), Braden Christoffer.

Heading into training camp 2020, the Oilers line up with Nuge, Kahun, Ennis, Neal, Nygard, Benson, Safin. The holdover is Benson.

Now, Holloway and Savoie are two years (or more) away from pro but both are interesting prospects who are getting the attention of the Oilers. Small sample for sure but three goals in two games (Savoie) and two in two (Holloway) is impressive full stop.


Clearly early days but some of these names are posting great totals. Konovalov, Lagesson and Bouchard are solid to excellent, Savoie super nova but small sample, Ryan McLeod terrific and anyone over 25 points NHLE among the forwards is doing well. For historical perspective, here are the top draft day NHLE’s by Edmonton’s high picks since 2010:

  1. Connor McDavid 25-42-67
  2. Taylor Hall 17-29-46
  3. Nail Yakupov 18-22-40
  4. Leon Draisaitl 15-25-40
  5. Kailer Yamamoto 16-22-38
  6. Ryan Nugent Hopkins 11-27-38
  7. Raphael Lavoie 12-15-27
  8. Ryan McLeod 10-17-27
  9. Tyler Benson 7-16-23
  10. Jesse Puljujarvi 10-11-21

Holy hell McDavid! It’s funny, you look at this list and wonder how in hell Yakupov missed, but he did. The top six are in a different tier and it doesn’t include young Jesse Puljujarvi, but there are plenty of ways to be useful and if he wins a job on a skill line in Edmonton he’ll score plenty (is my guess).

Does NHLE work? Well the junior numbers (as above) are pretty damn valuable, mostly because the players over 30 points NHLE coming out of junior are going to the NHL right away. Once a player turns 20 and then 21, there’s less of a chance that player will land on a skill line in the NHL. We’re seeing that with Tyler Benson now. Here are the 2018-19 numbers from March 2019. Notice the players over 30 points NHLE:

  1. RC Cooper Marody 12-30-42
  2. RW Jesse Puljujarvi 20-20-40
  3. LW Joe Gambardella 22-15-37
  4. LW Tyler Benson 8-28-36
  5. RW Kirill Maksimov 17-17-34
  6. RC Josh Currie 20-10-30
  7. RW Patrick Russell 14-16-30
  8. LC Ryan McLeod 8-19-27
  9. RW Kailer Yamamoto 15-11-26
  10. RW Dave Gust 12-11-23
  11. LW Ostap Safin 5-13-18
  12. RW Cam Hebig 8-9-17
  13. LW Evan Polei 8-8-16
  14. RC Tyler Vesel 4-10-14
  15. LW Graham McPhee 3-7-10
  16. RW J.D. Dudek 5-4-9
  17. LC Skyler Brind’Amour 3-6-9
  18. RC Aapeli Rasanen 5-2-7

Also notice the guy who made it, Kailer Yamamoto, didn’t have 30 points NHLE. That said, it was obvious to anyone who saw him in Bakersfield that Yamamoto was highly skilled. One of the questions I always have on these things is this: How many of the men listed here could rise to the level of pushing the river in the NHL? History suggests it’s extremely rare for a forward to spend extended time in the AHL and then emerge as an offensive force in the NHL.


You may also like

4.8 8 votes
Article Rating
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
unca miltie

yes, happy birthday to our host. many thanks for the great reads over the years.


Savoie was out there with the extra man on the ice needing a goal to tie – he was on the right side and set up for the one-timer but boom, stick shatters – damn.

Denver goes 0-2-1 on the year.

Savoie 5 points on the team’s six goals…..


Savoie off the post on a 5 on 3.


Savoie making more stuff happen at evens – calls for a breakout pass as he cuts though the neutral zone, receives it in stride, enters zone on a 2 on 2 and take the d-man wide, gets a step and a decent puck towards the net. He’s feeling confident now!

Richard Roma

You know there used to be this guy. He talked about shit like drafting for skill and something about NHLe and goal scoring being the hardest thing. I think he had a blog. I don’t recall what it was called.


So, I broke my son’s Darth Maul lightsaber and the website’s analytic department… both in the same day.

Obviously, I’m not off to a great start.

From Twitter, it looks like it’s Lowetide’s birthday?

Happy Birthday Al!!

Thanks for ‘bringing it’ with your terrific prose at this blog for all of these years.

Have a beer, and then another!

Harpers Hair

Agree with the Birthday wishes but don’t think you broke the analytics stream.

Every thought process should be open to inquiry or you end up with an echo chamber.


Happy Birthday Mr. Mitchell.


Savoie walks in off the left point on another PP, fires a great shot on net – goalie makes the save but can’t handle the rebound and Savoie has his 1st assist and 5th point….


Remember the days of yore when our gracious host, upon seeing RNH tear it up on the PP, referred to him as a “witch”?

Looks like we may have another in Savoie.

“Denver Sav-witch”, anyone?


He just drew a penalty late in the 2nd – he’s starting to make things happen a bit at evens to but, damn, he’s a weapon on the PP with that shot. Teams will start to take away his space though – he has probably got the puck at the point on the PP and walked in to the top of the circles 7 times already this season


Excellent and comprehensive article by Rick Westhead of TSN on the potential interpretations of the CBA, if the NHL chose to lock out the players.


Video of interview with Elliotte Friedman


1:25 – “the players are going to owe the league money…”

1:50 – the league says “we don’t want [the money we are owed] trickling in over the next six years”

2:15 – tradeoff between salaries of current players versus salaries of future players

2:50 – “some owners said this [summer] deal would be a problem but they chose to accept the commissioners recommendation”

3:45 – 5 to 12 owners would be ok with canceling the season to mitigate their losses

Harpers Hair

If the players stick to their guns there will a flat cap for 5-6 years.

Current players will make out like bandits but players entering the league will see a huge drag on their salaries.

Teams that have big money contracts expiring in the next couple of seasons will have a HUGE advantage as they can sign their own players to team friendly contracts while those with long term commitments will be fucked.


So you’re thinking Nuge re-signing for around $6M is a possibility?

Harpers Hair

Seattle can beat any deal that any teams offers.

What a a time to be an expansion team

Last edited 9 months ago by Harpers Hair

So teams that have big money expiring contracts will have a huge advantage re-signing those players to a discount except for the Oilers as Seattle will scoop any such players.

Got it!


Sure, if he wants to go to an expansion team instead of playing with two of the best players in the world.


That’s a beautiful damn goal.

Made it look easy from some distance. Pretty sure that’s a good sign.


Thanks OP. nice snipe. Think we could get Benning to come with him?:)


I’ve been pretty underwhelmed by Benning in these three games but, ya, I think Savoie can take Michael under his wing and mentor him….

Scungilli Slushy

“Kessel dominated the NCAA in his draft year and was taken 5th overall, and weighed 189 lbs as a six footer and then dealt with cancer in his draft plus one. Savoie was taken in the fourth round and legitimately looks like a bit of a chubber. Savoie had a draft year nhle of 22.5 out of a league not known for developing NHL talent. Kessel had an nhle of 36 in a division that produces a reasonable amount of talent.
I get the excitement with his small sample size production but we should probably try to find a more realistic comp than a future Hall of famer?”

Any skilled player (as in NHLe) can excel in the NHL. It comes down to personal drive and health. I also think health means more than injuries. Some people have really unfortunate family circumstances, allergies or sensitivities, or diabetes, whatever, and that makes it a harder road.

But, if you are a natural goal scorer, and not an unreasonably poor skater or small, it’s on your plate.


Boom – Savoie scores his fourth of the year – another PP goal.

Started off at the left point on the PP, after a clear he provided the clean zone entry. Eventually switched with Benning, got the puck at the right point, skated in to below the top of the circles and sniped it!

Last edited 9 months ago by OriginalPouzar

Savoie lining up at 3LW again for Denver tonight.

Do we think scoring 75% of the team’s goals is sustainable?


Curious CBA question
Since Holloway got drafted after first year can he be a free agent when his college eligibility is up in 3 years instead of the normal 4.


If a Player drafted at age 18 or 19 is a bona fide college student at the time of his selection in the Entry Draft, or becomes a bona fide college student prior to the first June 1 following his selection in the Entry Draft, and remains a bona fide college student through the graduation of his college class, his drafting Club shall retain the exclusive right of negotiation for his services through and including the August 15 following the graduation of his college class.


Speaking of left wing, from what I’ve seen of Holloway’s game (thank you Wheeler and US VPN), I salivate at the potential fit with him on McDavid’s left wing.

What’s the reasonable timeline for Holloway? This season and next at Wisconsin and then turning pro – potentially part of an AHL season in draft plus 3?

Is there a chance at signing after this season and spending draft plus 2 in the AHL?


Madison vs. Bakersfield is an easy choice for a 20-year old. Hockey, education, college town, party school, girls vs. the streets of Bakersfield.

Why would he leave Wisconsin until he is ready to step right into the NHL?

College hockey at an eltie program for a student athlete is fully equivalent to the AHL for hockey development, and probably superior for personal development overall.

Harpers Hair

And, of course, NCAA players have the hammer.

Thats why almost all of them get the first year of their ELCs burned off as soon as they sign.

If the team doesn’t agree to do so, they just wait and become UFAs after graduation.


The higher end NCAA players are not going to wait for 4 years to sign their ELC on that premise.

Zeegras, Wahlstrom – both signed and didn’t burn their first year.


Thanks OP. HH typical post half truths and lies!

Harpers Hair

Adam Fox and John Marino among many others say hi.


A 3rd and 6th round pick that were not going to be signed after after their draft plus 1 (or 2) years.

Not comparable to 1st round picks, not even a little.


$92,500 in his pocket would be one reason.

Turning pro, going to an NHL training camp, the possibility of a call-up to the NHL during the season (in his control really).

Perhaps the question should be asked of Oliver Wahlstrom, Trevor Zegras, Alex Turcotte, etc.

Harpers Hair

Players that sign an ELC after one year in the NCAA like Turcotte and Zegras are not looking for AHL pocket change…they have a clear path to the NHL and you have ZERO idea what their agents negotiated.

Covid has changed things dramatically for players who may have wanted to stay in college but decided to sign a contract to gain some certainty.

You mentioned Wahlstrom but it’s pretty clear he should have stayed in college where he didn’t kick out the jams anyway. He’s very close to a bust.


That is just a wild wild post.

Wahlstrom signed his ELC after his draft plus 1 having every much success in that draft plus 1 as Zeegras and Turcotte and, with the Isles, just as much a clear path.

I didn’t know that a guy that was 19 years old when his last season ended is essentially a bust.

Essentially, you have NO IDEA if Holloway would want to go pro and spend time in the AHL or not, just like none of us have any idea what Zeegras and Turcotte have discussed with management. They both could very well be in the AHL (if it was normal course).

Scungilli Slushy

Depends on the person.

If I wanted to be in the NHL as my life goal, I’d take the quickest route.

Holloway will be in the NHL. He has no tool missing from his tool kit.

If he fails as an NHL player, he’ll play at least 4 years as I see it, and make far more money than anything else he could do, unless he has family connections.

If he fails he’ll be still a young man with a bankroll, if he doesn’t blow it, and have every opportunity he wants with the financial ability to pursue it.

If it was my kid, a no brainer.


Another excellent article as always!


They always are and I will read it after the Denver game – save The Athletic for before bed usually.

From the title though, I think the options are limited. Camp will likely be 10-14 days with a max “roster” around 35 players and potentially no exhibition games.

There are lots of unsigned players out there that would be interesting but I don’t see any of Haula, Duclair, etc. coming on a PTA and I don’t think there is interest in AA at this point (Nygard and Benson are fine 5/6 LW depth).

Maybe a d-man but, again, Lagesson and Lennstrom at 4/5 LD and Bouchard at 4RD.

I don’t see the point of a Bowey or similar.


With respect to the unsigned guys, once the camp date is announced, I think transactions will heat up – including the Granlunds, Hoffmans, etc. getting signed and the teams that need to make cap compliance moves feeling the urgency.

Detroit is going to pick up some decent players and massive sweeteners.

Maybe Ottawa as well if they can “afford” the contracts.


One of the questions I always have on these things is this: How many of the men listed here could rise to the level of pushing the river in the NHL? History suggests it’s extremely rare for a forward to spend extended time in the AHL and then emerge as an offensive force in the NHL.

Fine question.

From that list I’d wager the best chances lie with Benson, Maksimov and JP.

Though, perhaps pushing the river is a bit of a tall order. There are few river pushers, and even fewer piss cutters to go around.

Benson has the tools to be a dynamite fit on a scoring line as a complimentary player — think a more skilled, less truculent Maroon — or as a strong player in the bottom six. Here’s hoping he’s been working on his first couple strides as that’s been the biggest knock on his skill set, as his top speed is suitable.

Maksi has the tools to carve out a role but pushing the river is probably beyond him. His ability to PK gives him a chance, and he’s got a dangerous shot which is a good tool to have in the kit. Can he find enough consistency to stick, is seemingly his biggest hurdle.

JP just needs to put it all together. He’s the one who could pop and drive a line, not surprisingly… given his draft pedigree. I would think he’s got good to even odds of finding chem with Turris and the eventual 3LW (Ennis? Neal? JJ? Nygard?) while playing mostly against bottom-6 competition. Of course, he’s got the best odds in a top-6 role too, but I’m a bit traditional in thinking that he’s best served to be broken in slowly and earn promotion(s) on merit. Confidence can be a fickle mistress, best to build slowly and sustainably.


Bouchard held off the scoresheet but continues to rack up the PIMs with another 22 – had a roughing penalty and a game misconduct (one of three with a game misconduct) – will need to do some research to find out what happened.

Broberg played just over 18 minutes, had 3 shots on net and an assist and was even in a 6-5 win.

Lennstrom with a PPG and an assist in a 3-2 win – just under 20 minutes – he is a real option as injury cover for the Oilers this year.

Lavoie with a lone assist today but it was a nice defensive play and stretch/outlet pass – a plus play for Ralph! He was plus 1 with 3 shots in the 4-1 win.

Kemp was even in just under 17 minutes – looks like he is playing the left side – had the most ice among LD.

Benson was held scoreless – rare for him these days as he leads the team in scoring with less games played (he had Covid earlier).


Haven’t had time to watch any of the games today but I’d be surprised if Kemp played LD as he’s one of only two RHS D on the team. The other one being former Minnesota pick Gustav Bouramann. Game reports tend to be real sloppy woth RD/LD.

A guy who has been playing his off side of late is Philip Broberg who’s played RD the last bunch of games.


Thanks for that – was just going on the box score and action reports.

As an aside, Sammy has also been playing the right side in the KHL.

Long live the rightorium…..


Maybe Bouchard was asked to show more aggression in his defensive acumen? 😇


University of Denver and Savoie play their third game tonight.

Looking forward to seeing if Savoie can build on last night’s performance which was materially better than his 1st game (which as a solid first college game for the kid).


Its interesting to read some of the NBA safety protocols that are coming out today and think about (and contrast) what the NHL may look like.

For example, Woj is advising that the league will be offering twice a week testing for household members of players and staff.

Contrast this with the NHL where, last I read/heard, each of the teams would be responsible for all testing of its staff and players (i.e. teams footing the bill for their contingent – not the league) – I assume if the NBA is paying for external household testing they are also covering the player/staff testing.


Thought I would re-post my non-expert game notes on Savoie from last night:

A great game for Savoie tonight:

– No major or apparent mistakes

– Two goals on the power play including one absolute snipe and one recognizing the danger area and creating the passing lane (also made the zone entry on the play and had an early shot towards the net)

– 3-4 additional offensive plays including (1) a great rush where he gain the zone, beat a defender and went in for a quick break, (2) a great area pass on a 2 on 2 setting up his linemate for a break which drew the PIM for his second PPG, (3) good quickness in 3 on 3 OT for a solid snap on net

– won a board battle in the defensive zone and a quick and slick pass to a teammate to start a one on one.

– was out there on the second forward group in 3 on 3 OT. A solid shot off the rush followed by some offensive zone possession – the puck went the other way and he was slow to recognize the danger and partially culpable on the GA.

Silver Streak

2020 Pre draft I had two players I wanted….got both….Holloway and Savoie…both AJHL grads, both in the NCAA, both came up through our minor systems….hmmm maybe we are onto something.


I have now watched them play a total of four full games, two each in college this year, and was impressed by both. Clearly Holloway is a few tiers above, the best player on the ice, bar none, across a pair of weekend games. Savoie not as impactful shift to shift but, as a rookie in college, a very solid first two games (and much more impactful in the 2nd game).

Love these guys in the NCAA – and not only because its actually happening.


Am I understanding correctly that the NHLE in the first table is based on the listed players’ scoring in their current 20/21 seasons? That is implied in the preceding paragraph, particularly based on the short sample size comment, but its not explicity referenced like with the other NHLE’s provided further below.

Last edited 9 months ago by Redbird62

Wouldn’t it be more interesting if Holland brings Hall back next summer.

Last edited 9 months ago by flyfish1168

Not possible to answer this unless you post how much for how long but my first impulse is ‘no’.

buck yoakam

no love for tullio on your chart?..I realize he’s a right wing but you have other right wingers there…


Remember those days when we had HOPE and we clinged to that? But it turned out to just be HYPE……

But now that we actually have some prospect
D (Dmitry) E (Evan) (P) Philip T (Tullio) H (Holloway).
it sure feels good, don’t it?

Last edited 9 months ago by €√¥£€^$

If one of Lavoie, Tullio or Savoie can “hit”, this team is going to be a force going forward.

I didn’t mention Holloway in that sentence as, in my mind, his floor is higher and he will have an impact at the NHL level – the question is how much.

Throw in the potential of one of JP or Benson maybe making a solid NHL impact….


Yes it does, best I’ve seen since the glory days. I highly respected slats, Holland is creeping up…

Silver Streak

Savoie was a standout at the 2019 Winter Games….everything flowed through him. Great vision with a plus wrister….player is earlily similar to Phil Kessel in size, skating style, body shape. Skating will be his issue, Kessel`s weakness as well, but they both find open ice and can score.


I was just going to write a reference to these players and their similarities, lol.


Kessel dominated the NCAA in his draft year and was taken 5th overall, and weighed 189 lbs as a six footer and then dealt with cancer in his draft plus one. Savoie was taken in the fourth round and legitimately looks like a bit of a chubber. Savoie had a draft year nhle of 22.5 out of a league not known for developing NHL talent. Kessel had an nhle of 36 in a division that produces a reasonable amount of talent.

I get the excitement with his small sample size production but we should probably try to find a more realistic comp than a future Hall of famer?

Richard Roma

He doesn’t look like a guy in great shape. Obviously, if he works on his conditioning, that’s an opportunity.

He looks really heavy at the beginning of this interview from 2019.



You set a very low bar for voted to hall of fame. He has been a useful part a couple of Stanley Cup winning teams but far from what I would consider a future Hall of Fame career.


Kessel led the WJC in points as a 17 year old, drafted 5th after being rookie of the year in the NCAA; won the masterton trophy in his rookie NHL season for overcoming cancer. 6 30+ goal seasons. multiple all star games. two stanley cups. led his team in scoring during the first cup. finished third in scoring but led his team in +/- in the second cup. olympic silver medal 2010. olympic best forward and most points 2014.

as a bonus, 2018/19 led the league in game winning goals with 10.

that’s not a low bar.

the point was that this blog is about realistic expectations and at this point in savoie’s career he is not tracking in line with Kessel’s and a better comparison needs to be made because these players are not similar.

Last edited 9 months ago by jfry

Kessel’s weakness is skating … ?


No, it’s cheese cake



Would you rather have the all-Canadian division and only play the other teams in Canada during the season, or would you prefer the Canadian teams to play out of the US like the Raptors are doing?

Assuming obviously no fan attendance at games.

Richard Roma

I like the idea of an all Canadian Division, if only for the current circumstances.


I am in the minority but I would prefer not to have the Canadian division – yes, it’ll be fun and cool for a bit but I want the Oilers to play more than just six teams. I want to see Pit (and Malkin and Crosby), I want to see them play Colorado (and MacKinnon and Makar and Rantanan), I want to see them play Carolina (and Aho and Schvechnikov), etc.


I would love to see an all Canadian division. It will be interesting to see the central Canada media when they actually have to stay up and watch the games instead or reporting off of the game sheet and a few highlights.


Sometimes I wonder how much a hot or lucky start can kick-start development.

Early days with Savoie but I’m sure he had some doubts after not getting picked until the 4th round. Got to feel good.


Wheeler has been bullish on Savoie for a while already.

In his pre-draft rankings, he had Savoie just outside the first round.


Of note, Wheeler had Tullio near the beginning of the 3rd round.

He’s a player I’m a bit more excited to keep an eye one because he seems to be more of an impact player on a shift to shift basis – more like Yamamoto where you notice his tenacity, etc. – as oppossed to Savoie who is more of a “puck on the stick” type guy.

On his way to the Slovakian league for a few weeks until OHL camps start up (in January, hopefully).


Early success is good, sustained and consistent improvement is even better. With Broberg, Sammy and Jesse’s hot early starts to their seasons it was very easy to get excited, but 2 games does not a season make.

With Savoie’s history of scoring, his PP push and his long-time partner in crime at his side and his wicked start, it isn’t an unreasonable expectation for us to think he can continue to score and put up big numbers.

However other factors will come into play like strength of competition, injury and the trust of coaches. If Savoie keeps scoring, but starts reverting to poor dzone habits, will this impact his deployment and development?

Holloway, I think, will make a splash at the U20 as both a scorer and in his own zone, but we wait…..

Last edited 9 months ago by €√¥£€^$

I was thinking about this early today – wondering if early offensive success will “go to his head” and developing his deficiencies don’t seem as important to him personally? Why focus on fitness if scoring at the next level comes easy?

I have no idea about his personality and that potential. I do trust his coaches though.