As we get closer to the NHL regular season, it’s important to reacquaint ourselves with the established quality of the Oilers, the acquisitions and the lost players plus injuries that will impact next season. I get the sense many of you are down on Edmonton’s chances in the Canadian Division. Where do you think they’ll finish?
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: Seattle Kraken expansion mock draft 5.0: Who could the Oilers lose?
- Lowetide: Oilers prospects off to impressive starts worldwide
- Lowetide: Which late-value or tryout players should the Oilers invite to camp?
- Lowetide: Why McDavid and Nuge together could be key to Oilers’ playoff success
- Lowetide: Projected training camp roster for the 2020-21 Oilers.
- Jonathan Willis: Will the Oilers repeat their power play magic in 2021?
- Lowetide: Why Dmitri Samorukov is an Oilers prospect with a big future
- Lowetide: Why hasn’t Ken Holland pursued college free agents for the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Increase in skill wingers adds mystery to Oilers preseason
- 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
- 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
- Lowetide: Oilers Top 20 prospects, post-draft edition.
- We should start with the Klefbom injury. Yes, that’s a tough one and there’s no guaranteed solution. Caleb Jones is my pick to slide in and replace him, but we’ll see how things go.
- Why did Holland sign Mike Smith? Holland seems to be decisive in his work. I expect he made a list, and tried to get Markstrom, then checked down, and then down again, finally landing on Smith for goal and spent the money ticketed for Markstrom elsewhere.
- Why did Holland sign Mike Smith? Well, Smith’s stickhandling resulted in four fewer shots per 60 at five on five, and he allowed much fewer rebound chances.
- Why did Holland sign Mike Smith? He ran out of options and his coach likes him.
- How many defensemen are they going to keep? I think nine. Nurse-Bear, Jones-Barrie, Russell-Larsson, Lagesson-Bouchard and then Lennstrom as the extra. Maybe Lensstrom passes Lagesson. I do think they’ll carry at least one extra blue and also believe Evan Bouchard will play in 2020-21.
- Who comes out for Bouchard to slide in? We have this conversation every year. The No. 7D plays a lot in an NHL season. Bouchard will be fourth up on the right side, and that means he’ll play quite a bit even in a 56-game season.
- How many games did the RH side miss last season? Larsson missed 22 games, Bear missed none, Matt Benning missed 28 games. Defensemen get hurt. Lots.
- Barrie is going to eat his lunch on the power play. I agree, Bouchard won’t see five on four time, but coach Dave Tippett could use the RH side for the outlet passing (Bear, Barrie, Bouchard) and the left side (Nurse, Jones, Russell) as the defenders. It’s not strict template, suspect Jones will flourish as a passer, but I remember San Jose running everything in their zone to the right side so Dan Boyle could get it out under control. Maybe we’ll see something similar in Edmonton with these three talented righty passing blue.
- You think they’re better? I think the move of Leon Draisaitl to center is the truth that sets them free. Adding Turris hopefully helps the No. 3 line and the added skill wingers make it easier for Tippett to find chem.
- How much difference will it make? At five on five in the second half, Draisaitl’s line outscored opponents 33-16, McDavid’s line was 20-20, Riley Sheahan 9-20, Gaetan Haas 4-4, Jujhar Khaira 7-12. The changes made will improve McDavid’s line (I believe) and the top two lines should be able to outscore opponents significantly. I think Kyle Turris can beat the Sheahan line and their -11 gap from one year ago and Haas/Khaira should have more imaginative wingers on the fourth line to help close the gap on the -5 from the final group.
- If you could make one addition to this team, with no regard for cap, who would it be? Mike Hoffman. You’d have to run Nuge and 97 with him so RNH could mind the store but Hoffman’s rockets from McDavid passes is a dream.
- If you could make one addition to this team, that is reasonable, what would it be? Slater Koekkoek, who could help on the LH side and possibly fill a top-4 role at times in the coming season.
- Will Holland make a deadline deal? Yes. Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta.
- What will the opening shift look like in 2020-21? Oilers lose the draw, Flames punch it in to Edmonton’s zone on the left side. Caleb Jones races back and beats Andrew Mangiapane to the puck. Sends it right side, where Tyson Barrie threads the needle past Matt Tkachuk’s forechecking and sends a perfect pass to McDavid in full flight. The captain shoots the gap and fires a wicked back hand shelf to beat Markstrom on the first shot he faces in a Flames uniform. Markstrom’s shoulders sag, a miserable start to his season and a moment of regret for not signing in Capital City.
- Do you think they make the playoffs? I do. The move of Draisaitl to center, added to the additional wingers and the push of prospects from below make this team more balanced than in the past.
- Will we see the balance photo? Possibly. The goaltending is the worry.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy show on the way, we might even get some news from the NHL and NHLPA. We get rolling at 10 this morning, TSN, with Russell Baxter from Fansided and NFL Spin Zone to talk about the two games yesterday and a wild playoff race joining us at 10:20. At 11, Gerry Moddejone from Post Media talking CFL and the world’s longest list of free agents, plus your comments at 10-1260 or @Lowetide on twitter. Any breaking NHL news, we’ll have it. See you on the radio!