Just Like Steve Kelly

by Lowetide

Joakim Nygard is settin’ the Swedish woods on fire with his goal scoring and has a good chance to force himself into the conversation at Oilers training camp. Despite having no draft pedigree, Nygard is in a better spot than Steve Kelly found himself in during the 1997-98 season. Signed by Ken Holland, a speedster with skill, scoring touch and a reputation for being responsible, he has a chance.

THE ATHLETIC!

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.

JOAKIM NYGARD

After a slow start (due to another injury to his hand and then surgery), Nygard has posted 4-2-6 in six games to push his yearly total to 4-3-7 in 13 games. The speedy Swede from Stockholm scored 21 goals in the SHL in 2018-19 before coming over. Looking closely at his injury-shortened NHL debut in 2019-20 there’s a lot to like.

The problem is competition. A left winger by trade, Nygard has to deal with all manner of competition this year in training camp. Here are the 2019-20 even strenth points-per-60 totals for the left wingers headed to camp:

  1. Dominik Kahun 2.55
  2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 2.30
  3. Tyler Ennis 1.86
  4. Joakim Nygard 1.44
  5. James Neal 1.16
  6. Tyler Benson .87

The Oilers could run a top 4 LW without Nygard (and Benson) but the Swedish winger can solve a lot of problems. He doesn’t score like Kahun, Nuge or Ennis, and Neal is likely to play a bottom six role when healthy, but for me Nygard has earned a long audition.

STEVE KELLY

Kelly was drafted in 1995, No. 6 overall. He pushed for NHL work in 1996-97 but posted disappointing numbers in both the AHL and NHL that season. He would reach a point per game in his second season in the minors, couldn’t find the range in the NHL and was traded to Tampa Bay. This was his competition that season (even strength points per 60):

  1. Ray Whitney 2.11 (in 9 games)
  2. Dean McAmmond 2.01
  3. Todd Marchant 1.57
  4. Joe Hulbig 1.54 (in 17 games)
  5. Valeri Zelepukin 1.47 (in 33 games)
  6. Ryan Smyth 1.19
  7. Steve Kelly 0.94
  8. Mike Watt 0.42
  9. Bill Huard 0.32
  10. Doug Friedman 0.00
  11. Dennis Bonvie 0.00

I count the centers as Doug Weight, Mats Lindgren, Rem Murray, Jason Arnott, Tony Hrkac, although Marchant took a lot of faceoffs. The right wingers were Bill Guerin (who came over with Zelepukin from NJD for Arnott), Scott Fraser, Andrei Kovalenko, Kelly Buchberger, Mike Grier, Dennis Bonvie.

Smyth would emerge from this pack of youngsters, Marchant would move to center, McAmmond was part of that massive trade with the Chicago Blackhawks that saw Ethan Moreau as part of the return. The rest would fade away.

Despite being a very high draft pick, Kelly was never a factor.

Joakim Nygard is more of a factor now than Kelly was at any time.

Nygard doesn’t have a long relationship with the fan base but Ken Holland signed him and that gives the Swede an advantage over someone like Tyler Benson. Nygard’s foot speed, two-way acumen, scoring prowess and good numbers with Connor McDavid are all good arrows.

When everyone gets to camp, don’t sleep on Nygard as an option. He’s in a group with Ennis and Kahun fighting for playing time (I think Nuge and Neal play as regulars on the No.1 and No. 4 lines, respectively) on the Draisaitl and Turris lines.

If Tippett starts using him on the penalty kill this could be all over by mid-January.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we hit the ground running for the weekend on TSN1260. Steve Lansky from Inside the Truck Podcast will talk about the Canadian Division of the NHL and about the CFL’s return. At 11, Tom Gazzola tells us the latest from the rink, including new arrivals at Rogers getting ready for the 2020-21 NHL seasons. 10-1260 text @Lowetide on twitter.

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Scungilli Slushy

How many commenters here make ‘at least’ 700 000 US dollars a year?

Harpers Hair

6

buck yoakam

.when you were the hall monitor did you do believe it might impress someone…anyone?…I finally get it!…you are the anti alan…the real low tide…ah ha!

defmn

That’s just under a million Canadian. A lot of guys work their whole life for that much.

OriginalPouzar

I don’t get it?

Harpers Hair

Whoooosh!

OriginalPouzar

How many Oiler fans will be tuning in to Canada’s pre-tournament game on the 21st against Sweden?

Harpers Hair

6115

OriginalPouzar

Cool value add.

Not sure why you take such joy in being a dick – why can’t you let Oilers fans discuss Oilers topics?

Harpers Hair

When you ask a stupid question…

OriginalPouzar

Oilers fans talking about two of the Oilers top 3 prospects playing in the up coming major tournament is not stupid.

What is stupid is a grown man that is not an Oilers fan, spending his Friday night on an Oilers community blog with the sole intent of being a dick, adding nothing of value to a conversation and simply trying to ruin the enjoyment of others. Well, maybe stupid isn’t the right word but childish, immature, sad, etc.

Your sole purpose right of posting tonight is to try and reduce the enjoyment for others. I don’t care how smart or funny you think you are, if you are a good person in any way, you’d just stop and let others enjoy their evening.

Harpers Hair

I would write a letter to the Pope and complain.

wolf8888

Are you drunk?

jp

Not any Canuck prospects on the team?

wolf8888

I know one for sure! 🙂 Very excited about this year. I’ve always loved the WJC and this year it is all we have. Fingers crossed it all goes ahead as planned.

OriginalPouzar

Here is McLeod’s tying goal with 19 seconds to go. Key for me is his presence net front – going to the dirty areas is something he’s been asked to focus on. Nice tip as well – good hands.

https://twitter.com/TheOilKnight/status/1337539263337033728

OriginalPouzar
wolf8888

Sweeet!

OriginalPouzar

Ryan McLeod ties up the game for Zug with 19 seconds left and they win in OT!

Fuhr and Lowething in Vegreville

On what medium do you watch all of these games you report on?

(Thank you btw, I do like seeing the updates you provide)

OriginalPouzar

flea

I think we see bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto to start the year for the Canadian Division. I don’t see any other way they can actually make it work. Could they even play right now in Alberta with the current restrictions? I guess they are making it work for the WJC.

If the NHL was being creative, I think they could only schedule the first 20 games or so. Then figure out a way to bring some American teams north – maybe they play in

Edmonton or Toronto bubbles for mini tournaments. Ditto on the Canadian teams – each one would take a road trip south for bubble tournaments.

Doubt all the teams play the same number of games, it’s gonna be a weird year.

While they may need to start with the hub-city (hybrid bubble) it will 100% not be the secure-zone bubble that we saw in the summer (and which we will see with the World Juniors). They will not have the players locked down to that extent with the security, etc. The players have been VERY clear that is a non-starter. No, they won’t be out and about clubbing, etc. but they won’t be locked down in a gated zone they can’t leave.

There may be hub-cities where the division team flys into for 3 weeks and plays a bunch of games but, given its won’t be a secure zone/bubble, I don’t imagine it will be in Edmonton given current issues.

The NHL and the owners do NOT want to go with the hub-city model for various reasons (costs are greater for the league, they pay for most of it including testing, as opposed to travel between cities where testing would be for the account of the teams – also building owners have obligations to those that have bought naming rights, etc.)

————–

I too would like the NHL to include some flexibility in the schedule – release a partial schedule and allow for the potential for some inter-division games as the season goes on – if possible.

From what I’ve read/heard, they aren’t doing that though.

N64

Good summary. Players will want as close to normal as they can get. First choice is normal game hosting wherever and whenever provinces will allow. After that its as close to normal as they can get from temporary homes for some to hubs to mini half-month bubbles.

OriginalPouzar

Just to ensure that Holloway and Tullio don’t steal all the headlines today, some glowing words on Savoie:

https://www.nchchockey.com/news_article/show/1136680

jp

A freshman giving the team swagger and having a calming effect on the older guys. Cool stuff, thanks.

Last edited 4 months ago by jp
OriginalPouzar

Interesting:

1) 13th overall pick, Seth Jarvis – cut by Team Canada
2) 14th overall pick, Dylan Holloway – makes Team Canada

Todd Macallan

3) Undrafted, Brogan Rafferty – makes Team Canada and immediately granted lifelong exemption to act as Forever Captain. Not even Canadian.

ArmchairGM

Jarvis likely needs to be on a skill line to be useful. Holloway has multiple ways to make the team. Same goes for the NHL: he has a higher floor and is a virtual lock to have an NHL career.

godot10

“Rod Brind’Amour” arrives in two years.

dustrock

Yeah I think Jarvis has a better shot next year, ditto Mavrik Bourque et al.

Holloway is set for the 4th forecheck line.

OriginalPouzar

It looks like the Holloway/Newhook/Pelltier line may be given a more prominent role – at least at this point – two weeks until game 1.

jp

Nice write up LT.

I like Nygard. LW is crowded but if he can work his way into a lineup spot (and stay healthy) I feel like Nygard could be a real quality bottom 6 solution for some years.

OriginalPouzar

and Tullio scores early in the 2nd to put Liptovsky up 2-1.

Todd Macallan

Watch Tullio lead this bottom Feeder on a Ted Lasso-esque run up the standings.

As an aside, would highly recommend Ted Lasso, season 1 on Apple + now. Best new show I’ve seen in some time, positivity and heart that is much needed in these times.

godot10

Poll:

1) Jason Sukekis’s wife.
2) Colin Jost’s wife.
3):Dave McCary’s wife.

Comedians. Who knew?

godot10

Should we even discuss Pete Davidson!

Tarkus

Holloway has indeed made Team Canada.

OriginalPouzar

Can’t wait to watch – will be interested to see how he’s deployed and if he’s able to work his way up the lineup and get some more offensive looks!

Reja

Power forwards with hands don’t grow on trees like small skilled dipsy doodlers.

Durag

20 of the 22 skaters on that roster are 1st round picks. Is that some kind of record?

Harpers Hair

All 14 forwards are first round picks.

OriginalPouzar

Geno did an interview with Bouchad from Sweden:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7l7mdqcI6Ws&feature=youtu.be

OriginalPouzar

Todd Macallan

 December 11, 2020 6:33 am

As if the early arrows for Holloway and Savoie, among others, isn’t positive enough, word from TSN yesterday the Kenny Holland is part of Doug Armstrong’s mgmt team for the 2022 Olympics.

I wonder if that will help McDavid’s chances of making the team?

Reja

It might help Nuge if he pops this year which in a contract year I would be willing to wager on.

OriginalPouzar

Even if Nuge gets to a PPG this year, I think he would be a massive long-shot to make Team Canada.

Reja

The more the opposition takes away the down low play on the power play the better look Nuge will have at snapping the shot from the inner circle. He’s also going to be getting set up 5 on 5 by Connor or even sweeter passes by Leon right out of the blocks. Add in contract year plus I believe Nuge is a late bloomer if he pops 30 goals in 56 games it wouldn’t surprise me. If he follows it up in the Olympic year at 29 he will get a serious look.

OriginalPouzar

Tyler Tullio, set to play his first pro game for Liptovsky Mikulas this morning.

The team is, ummm, not good, as they have zero wins in 18 games……..

Looks like Tullio is lining up on the 3rd line.

defmn

I have to admit that the Liptovsky Mikulas are a team I did not know existed until this morning.

Thanks for the updates OP.

jp

Same. And there are exactly zero players on their roster (Tullio aside) whose names I recognize. Interesting landing spot I’m sure.
https://www.eliteprospects.com/team/170/hk-32-liptovsky-mikulas/2020-2021?tab=stats

Tarkus

Really? You’ve never heard of Lukas Hamracek? He has a chance to be this generation’s Juraj Halaj! 😉

Kidding aside, Oliver Okuliar played the ’19-’20 season in the Dub with Lethbridge. (Curiously, he played in Sherbrooke the year previous.)

€√¥£€^$

Oliver Okuliar is a name a recognize from the Draft, overager, played in Lethbridge, I thought he would be picked this season. Speedy winger with a scoring touch.

Interesting that two of Tullio’s teammates will be playing with him. I didn’t realize this was a men’s team, pretty impressive showing by Tullio in his first game.

OriginalPouzar

Allan McShane is Tullio’s teamate and also there on loan.

Similar numbers to Tullio in Oshawa last year (except he’s two years older and drafted in 2018 by the Habs – fourth round).

jp

And Tarkus.

Yeah I guess I’m not following the CHL guys so much unless they’re Oilers property. Also not out West so no real exposure to the WHL.

And I’m used to looking at nearly any European pro roster and seeing some former NHLer or farm hand i recognize.

Reja

Sounds like a Gold medal woman’s figure skater to me.

OriginalPouzar

Not to be overly-nitpicky but Nygard didn’t actually re-injure his hand.

When he played his first game back for Farjestad, he realized that the hand still wasn’t right from the original injury and it was determined that another procedure was needed. He was to be out for 4-6 weeks after that procedure but returned after only 3.

From accounts, he was playing well early notwithstanding the lack of production. As LT mentions, Nygard is now on fire.

Given the depth of forwards, for me, with a standard 23 man roster, subject to camp battles, I have Nygard as 15F and off the roster. Of course, rosters are likely going to be expanded to 26 plus a 4-man taxi squad.

Not sure if the Oilers will be able to use the expanded roster due to cap reasons (we don’t have official info on if there will be relief from the cap for the 3 extra players) but the potential extra 7 players will assuredly keep Nygard “in Edmonton”.

Holland re-signed Nygard to his extension after he was injured back in January – I think its clear that he sees “an NHL player” – real NHL depth has been accumulated and Nygard’s spot on the “23-man roster” and the “opening night lineup” is in question but he will be in play.

defmn

But OP you are the guy we count on around here to keep the “overly-nitpicky” content at a high level. 😉

Just teasing.

I think this may be the most competitive TC we have seen in longer than I can remember and I think I said the same thing about last years.

ArmchairGM

Last year it was 14 “actual NHLer’s” competing for roster spots for the first time in ages. This year its 9 “top-6 NHLer’s” + 6 “actual NHLer’s” competing for roster spots.

Progress!

defmn

And I am not completely certain that Holland is finished.

There are still a lot of FA’s out there without a place to play and teams looking for balance but lacking cap space.

I think I counted 13 RFA’s of some importance to their teams still waiting on contracts as of this morning. I would think those conversations are getting more serious now that a resumption of play is being discussed as only a month away.

jp

I was thinking similar. Moves (all of trades, signings, PTOs) would for the most part need to happen in the next 1-2 weeks to get players to new cities and quarantined in time for camps opening. Can’t wait till the last minute to decide on a PTO in the current world, for instance.

OriginalPouzar

I wouldn’t say 14 NHLers last year though – not with the likes of Jurco and P. Russell making the team.

This year, Nygard is 15F going in to camp (in my opinion) and I am comfortable saying he is an NHL player – add Benson at 16F and I’m close to saying the same about him.

Jaxon

I’ve made a spreadsheet to give a visual overview of how the divisions stack up.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1zk6ARlZc3sFosSXuREk6IYf8RH82_AJrT6VRbw0RKk8/edit?usp=sharing

Team Stats (from Natural Stat Trick) sorted by division and Points Percentage from Dec.31 (when Yamamoto joined the team) to the end of the regular season.

I think Edmonton has improved their roster and they were already the best Canadian team in the last 30 games. Edmonton won’t have to face any of the elite teams from the back half of last season (TBL, BOS, PHI, COL). The battle of Alberta is going to be epic. Every game will be important!

I feel for Detroit. That is a tough division.
The top 4 in the US West Coast division are going to feed on the bottom 4 and have major battles against each other.
Boston and Philadelphia shouldn’t have too much trouble emerging from their division.

godot10

Yzerman might be getting Killorn and Johnson for “free” in a couple of days.

leadfarmer

That would be a terrible piece of GMing.
If he doesnt come away with Cirelli I would be very dissappointed in him.
I would not take that Johnson contract away for free. Probably wouldnt do Killorn either

ArmchairGM

Everyone in the league had the opportunity to get Johnson for free when he was on waivers. All 30 GM’s declined.

Even stalwart TBL fans think the most they’ll get for Killorn is a 3rd.

I’d pick up Killorn (while noting he’s coming off a career season) but I’d make sure something was going back to mitigate the cap hit – Chaisson, for instance. But I can’t see BriseBois going for that.

Last edited 4 months ago by ArmchairGM
JimmyV1965

If Yzerman does that, he will get additional assets. He could have had Johnson for free when he was placed on waivers.

godot10

“Free” was in quotes, folks.

dustrock

I hadn’t really thought about the travel factors but believe Edmonton typically had one of the worst schedules in terms of travel as the most northerly team.

Yes you’d think every team would be more or less equally advantaged but many of those Eastern teams are within like 1 hour of each other and the travel isn’t as much of a slog for them.

OriginalPouzar

I think Vancouver has generally had the toughest travel schedule.

The cluster teams near the Eastern seaboard certainly do have a travel advantage in the normal course. I remember a stat a few years ago. I think it was apx 2/3 of the way through the season and WSH would not have to change time zones against while the Canucks would need to change time zones 62 more times.

Some believe that the league my look to keep the Canadian division going forward but I don’t see it. I can’t see power teams like the Habs and Leafs agreeing to add the massive travel to their schedule that would happen if they had Western teams in their division in the normal course.

hunter1909

A lot of casual fans are going to stop watching the same teams play each other over and over?

Elgin R

I don’t think so:
Kassinator vs The Turtle
McDavid / Draisaitl vs Matthews, Petterson, Scheifele
Oilers PP vs Price, Hellebuyck, Markstrom
Barrie vs Toronto
JP vs everyone
etc, etc, etc

Each and every game should have some drama and in this shortened season the points in Jan / Feb will be so important as not a lot of time to make a move if you fall behind. A game against any Canadian team is more watchable than any game against the Wild or Yotes! Looking at the Dmen and team defence should make for wide-open exciting and offensive hockey – finally!

pts2pndr

You must remember the six team league and I don’t recall any boredom. Fans will get to know the players better and this will be hockey more interesting for the casual fan. Due to the inter provincial and provincial rivalries there will be added interest. My feeling is that after a shortened season it may be hard for the NHL to go back to the old way. Canada will always be the center for the hockey world as I see it. Hockey is to Canada as Football is to the U.S as Soccer is to Europe. Just one fans opinion. I love your articles and your writing skills many times have brought back fond memories of family and the true meaning of community.

defmn

Of course you could only watch one game a week every Saturday evening in those days.

Reja

We could of had Halkirk finest in Shane Doan. To this day I still wonder why Sather pulled the trigger on choosing Kelly.

Tarkus

Likely because he fit the Oilers template–which hasn’t changed appreciably in many moons–of being fast and gritty.

I seem to recall that, in his draft year, he was one of only two players in the Dub (maybe even the entire CHL?) who had 100 points and 100 PIM.

And the Hockey News Draft Preview had him solidly in the top 10, so it’s not like he was a reach pick like [shudder] Jesse Niinimaki.

Reja

I think you hit the nail squarely on the head with that reply.

Jaxon

Not me, I’m going to love the rivalries and the standings impact of each game. But, as you stated, I’m not exactly a casual fan. But, I do think those aspects will spill over to the casual fan. Rivalries are great and they p[rovide plenty of narrative for the casual fan.

Brantford Boy

Agreed… I’m a die hard though. I’m really keen on the TV broadcast schedule. It might be the first year in about a decade I won’t need the NHL Centre Ice package if CBC and SportsNet air all the Canadian team games. Perhaps they will lift the blackouts. I think the magic number for me is 40 games, any less and I’ll probably be forking over some dough.

Elgin R

If the games were blowouts either way for a fan’s home team – then maybe. But the Canadian division is shaping up to have the ultimate Bettman goal – parity. Any of the top 6 teams could actually finish 1st (although I will state now that it will be the Oilers). This may turn out to be must watch hockey each and every game as the fight for the playoffs should go down to the wire for at least 4 teams.

flea

I think we see bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto to start the year for the Canadian Division. I don’t see any other way they can actually make it work. Could they even play right now in Alberta with the current restrictions? I guess they are making it work for the WJC.

If the NHL was being creative, I think they could only schedule the first 20 games or so. Then figure out a way to bring some American teams north – maybe they play in Edmonton or Toronto bubbles for mini tournaments. Ditto on the Canadian teams – each one would take a road trip south for bubble tournaments.

Doubt all the teams play the same number of games, it’s gonna be a weird year.

leadfarmer

Completely disagree
Playing the same team will increase the animosity between the teams much more than playing 1-2 games against each team in the league

Reja

It might water it down as well.

pts2pndr

I think you will see added personal investment. Your player that got run last week now gets to seek retribution less tan a week later. It adds all kinds of flavour and excitement. It will I believe bring back the casual fan. Once upon a time the battle of Alberta and the games between Montreal and Quebec were must see TV across the country.we wait.

N64

Even some talk of back to back matchups to reduce travel. By the time the next team comes in they’ll look novel by comparison. lol.

Who knows what 4 weeks will bring, but If this was starting today I’d guess the Canadian division would start in a bubble format in one city. Toronto?

Ryan

Oh yeah, that’s right. There’s so many other entertaining things to do rather than watch hockey these days… 😉

Last edited 4 months ago by Ryan
OriginalPouzar

I will definitely not stop watching but would prefer a more normal schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for the Canadian division and the games will be fun but I want to see the Svechnikov’s and the Hieskanens and the Makars and the Ahos and the Dahlins etc.

Of course, I will be super excited for every single game but I wouldn’t consider myself a casual fan.

It is what it is and I get it – only way to play – just hopefully the league allows for flexibility to move to some inter-division games mid-season – doesn’t sound like they will though.

defmn

A lot of this will depend on how they set up the TV schedule, though, will it not?

Is there any reason to believe that those of us who live in Canada will not have access to the other 3 divisional games? You might not be able to watch McDavid vs. Heiskanen but you should be able to watch all the teams.

OriginalPouzar

Not for me really – I will always have NHL Gamecenter so, yes, technically, I will have access to watch all those players but, in reality, there is only so much hockey I can watch and that includes every Oiler game – I add on Oilers prospects games (Condors and, now will be focussing Denver, Wisconsin and NorthEastern Games) so I don’t have a lot of “time” for non-Oilers NHL games. Its my choice but my preference would be to see them play the Oilers.