Smoke on the Water

by Lowetide

The day Ken Holland arrived, Oilers fans were talking about Milan Lucic and his contract, goaltending, secondary scoring, the next coach and trading the first round pick. Fans were talking about Connor McDavid’s comments at the end of the season and were worried (with reason as it turned out) about that Mark Giordano play in the final game of the season. Holland tweaked as much as possible, bought out Andrej Sekera, elevated some kids and signed some free agents. In his second offseason, he added Tyson Barrie and Dominik Kahun. Good moves, headed in a good direction.

The real fun is next summer.


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.


It isn’t just expansion next summer. Holland has to make decisions on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson, Tyson Barrie, Tyler Ennis, Joakim Nygard (UFA’s) and Kailer Yamamoto, Dominik Kahun and possibly Ethan Bear (RFA’s).


This is my idea of an ideal usage of dollars, probably unrealistic but I wanted to give an idea of what might be possible. Adding Coleman and Ullmark, as well as retaining Nuge, Kahun, Bear and Larsson, gives this team a smart look.

Why Larsson?

For me, Larsson’s shutdown ability (when healthy) has more value than Barrie’s puck moving, plus there’s a chance the Oilers can save enough (difference between Barrie and Larsson in cap) to sign Kahun or Coleman. You?

I know you all hate the Rel numbers but for me they have great value when looking at a team’s defense. A fabulous quick snap shot. This is Puck IQ versus elites, and shows Larsson averaged six minutes a night, had the best Dangerous Fenwick percentage and best best Fenwick Rel. I sign him over Barrie. We have another year to observe before making the decision.


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Can anyone suggest a VPN?


Express VPN


I have really no idea how the RHD are going to play out going forward. I could see any of Barrie, Bear, Larsson or Bouchard being retained long term or being traded/walked.

I think it’s likely that Barrie has a very productive year (55-65 point pace), plays a ton of even strength minutes and contributes to offense at evens and on the PP. I think Holland and Tippett want to add/keep what Barrie brings to the team and I’d guess he’s re-signed for something like 5 X $6.5M. Barrie has to actually produce this season of course, and it’s also possible he prices himself out of being re-signed. We’ll see.

Bear proved this past season he can play top 4 D on both sides of the puck. He appears to be a keeper, but it seems like Holland is negotiating with him as a player who’s going to see his role reduced (whether that’s what Holland really expects, or it’s just a negotiation tactic). It does look very likely that Barrie will eat into Bear’s minutes, and Bear is certainly going to be hard pressed to get cherry offensive minutes with Barrie on the team and Bouchard coming. It’s entirely possible he plays 3rd pairing with Russell this season and looks much less impressive than this past season. I think Bear is a long-term answer, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if were the player moved out for value if/when Bouchard has some success in NHL games.

Larsson… there definitely isn’t anyone who brings what he brings to the team. It’s valuable and he would obviously be great player to keep at a reduced rate. I don’t feel like they *need* him though. I could easily see a model going forward where the LD are the bigger, more defensive guys with the RD bringing more offense. Some combination of Nurse/Klefbom/Broberg/Samorukov on LD with Barrie/Bear/Bouchard on RD (Jones a possibility too, though he doesn’t fit this mold as well).

The other thing with Larsson is he’s a bit of a black hole offensively. As good as he is defensively, he brings nothing at all at the other end of the ice. And I do also think he’s a guy who may not age well into his 30’s. I wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed to see him retained, but he’s probably my guess for the odd man out among this group.

Bouchard should work his way into games this season. Hopefully he shows he’s fully ready for an NHL job and forces the team to make a move (off-season or even in-season). While he doesn’t resemble a shut down defender, he’s not at all small and won’t be pushed around. I also see zero issue with having Barrie and Bouchard on the same D corps.

All of these players play this season will have huge say in sorting things out. Likewise, what the contract demands are for 3 of them will play a big role. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how it plays out. Good problems to have, overall.

Harpers Hair

From Scott Wheeler:

The charter plane sent to pick up the Slovak, Austrian and Czech teams is stuck at the Vienna airport. The problem? Too much luggage, too small a plane.

Harpers Hair

Replying to @scottcwheeler
Sounds like the IIHF plan was to have social distancing in place on the plane, but the charter company wants to be able seat the players closer together to accommodate for the excess baggage. “All teams are waiting and there is no solution.”

Harpers Hair

· 12h
@HockeyCanada screwed up by booking a too small plane for team #Finland, #Sweden and #Russia supposed to fly today from #Helsinki to #Edmonton. Finland informed the organizers 2 months ago but they didn’t care.… #WorldJuniors

Harpers Hair

So, it appears that 6 teams are stuck in Europe because Hockey Canada tried to bring them (3 teams per plane) on Boeing 737’s.

What are the chances that carrying so many teams on one plane packed together might spark an outbreak.

With only 11 days until the tournament starts, there is no time for proper quarantines if any player among the 6 teams tests positive.


The players that are on those planes were all subject to very strict testing over the last two weeks and anyone that tested positive at any point in that recent period is excluded from the tournament.

Noone getting on those planes should be Covid-positive unless they are catching it on their way too or at the airport.

Any player testing positive (which there shouldn’t be given recent protocols) is excluded – there is no coming back from any positive test in, essentially, December

Harpers Hair

All it takes is one.


Which there shouldn’t be given the protocols they’ve had to follow. There have been 10 or so players, across 4 nations, disqualified from the tournament due to positive tests. A couple are even back playing for club teams but remain disqualified from the tournment.

It only takes one but there shouldn’t be one.

Given 9 nations flying in to Edmonton, I think the combined nation charters makes sense – they effed up the logistics (i.e. plane not big enough, etc.) but the premise makes sense to me.

Harpers Hair

The premise was profoundly stupid.

There are grounded jets all over the world and cramming 150 people on a 737 to save money is just obscene.

If there is ONE positive test on each plane, 6 teams are out of the tournament.


I disagree it was stupid – 2 charters as opposed to 6 makes perfect sense to me given the pre-charter protocols and testing requirements. They effed the planes up but the premise is valid.

Nope, that’s not how it works with respect to team disqualification.

All the protocols and requirements have been circulated online.

I encourage you to read them as opposed to speculating on how think the protocols should work.

Last edited 10 months ago by godot10

A master raconteur.


A great writer. RIP


Kesselring finished the game with the one assist, 4 shots on net and a plus 1 rating (along with being on the ice for a goal on the PP and a goal against not the PK).

Being used on both special teams, in particular the PP is a great arrow – moreso that PPG pace through two games!


Watching him last night, he was very effective with his stick swatting the puck away from would-be attackers in his own zone or just outside the blue line. He also was good at directing puck carriers to the outside, deep into the D-Zone

He was decent at moving the puck and I really liked that he keeps his head up when he skates the puck out of his zone, looking for the neutral zone outlet pass, rather than trying to skate it into the O-Zone.

Good arrows also with him being on the 1st pair and getting PP and PK time. He still needs to work on his defensive positioning, as I noticed he was boxed out on a few plays that luckily did not result in scoring chances. All in all, we couldn’t ask to see a better start from him. I expect he will show more confidence in his offense as the season progresses and he will put up 0.5 to 0.75 ppg this season. If he puts up more than this, that would be incredible.

I think it is safe to safe that he will be a significantly more substantial player than Kemp. If things work out, I can see him arriving in Edmonton as soon as the 2022-23 season.


Oh, I think Kesslring’s potential is much higher than Kemp’s.

I think Kesselring is the more physical player despite Kemp’s reputation – Kemp is plus defender based mostly on positioning.

Kesselring’s skating and mobility is the big plus – a big man that is very mobile – has hockey IQ and aggressiveness.

I also really like the hockey roots with his father – Casey is a substantial figure around US college hockey. If there is any current NCAA prospect that I have concern about signing, its Kesselring – not a player likely to warrant a contract early so, when it comes time to sign, he won’t be far from a UFA potential and has strong US roots.

One step at a time but, yes, I have him as the much higher rated prospect – and I like Kemp but he needs gain a step on that skating stride.


I think things will normalize next season in regards to contract sizes and cap space considering:
1. The Seattle expansion and its 80 million addition to the total NHL total cap space. ~2.6 million average per team likely replaced by 1 million players.
2. A year to get used to the flat cap and many contracts coming off the books. (Russell, Pouliot, Sekera just in Edmonton)

Giving away Nurse in order to get rid of Neal would test my limits with this team.
Considering Holland would have spent his cap on 6*6 Markstrom and 4*3.2 Kassian, I don’t put as much value on cap space. Definitely not enough to get rid of Nurse, Larsson or Bear

There will be space next year and I expect Holland to spend big on a UFA which will hurt in long term.


The Oilers currently have 12 players signed for the season after this one and $28 M to sign them. If Nuge doesn’t want to come back that frees up some cap space but it isn’t like Holland will be swimming in money.

A 1B goalie will eat a chunk ($3.5), Nuge will eat another chuck ($6.5) and all of a sudden he has $18 M to sign 10 guys. It goes fast.


If the Oilers can get Konovalov signed and over to the AHL in May to get some acclimatization time in, there is a small chance that he gives enough information to show he could be 1B ready for 2021/22 – unlikely but I’m not ready to commit close to $4M to a 1B goalie at this point.


Does the Oilers terminating the loan and recall of Bouchard show a tell? They didn’t go that route with Lagesson, yet. There is still time of course, but not much. Wonder if Holland will leave Lagesson on loan for rest of the year to have Bouchard as the 7D without having to expose Lagesson to waivers to make that happen? Or is this more of putting more pressure on Bear to sign a more friendly contract since Bouchard can step in if need be? Ken can use Bear’s own progression last year as leverage to say Bouchard could do it too.
As well, might allow Broberg to stay for camp and give him more ice time to show either way if he’s ready or not as well. If Broberg changes Ken’s mind about sending him back, leave Lagesson on loan, don’t expose him on waivers. He’d also play and develop more than sitting in the PB as 7D. As well, I believe his loan can be canceled and he can be recalled anytime, so if he does end up being needed, they can do that.
Its just interesting they terminated loan and recalled Bouchard and not Lagesson yet.


It is a short camp to prepare for the start of the season. It would be dementorish to bring Broberg to it. All you are doing is taking necessary reps away from your starters and your tweeners.

Broberg will be here soon enough.


They did bring him over from Sweden to attend the short RTP camp. He’s already going to be here when another short camp starts.


I’ve been talking about Broberg attending training camp for months now as I’ve gone on and on that I think it makes sense for NHL training camps to start right as the World Juniors end.

The timing is lining up perfectly.

With that said, Broberg has really zero chance of being on the Oilers for the start of the season in my opinion. In my opinion, he simply is not ready. I mean, he’s -9 in the SHL (although playing solid top 4 minutes at apx 18 min per game) and he’s been even or a minus player in 13 straight games.

Training camp would be a good experience but its not a normal camp – its going to be capped at apx 35 players, there will no exhibition games, it will be apx 10 days long. There isn’t time for the coaches to mess around – there is work to do, in particular with figuring out real pairings on the back-end with the loss of Klef and the acquisition of Barrie and the required increase in role/responsibility of Jones, etc.

I could see him there for a day or two mybe but I could also see him going straight back to Skelefftea when Sweden is done.


I haven’t watched any of his games to guess if he is or isn’t ready, so I’ll just say I guess we’ll see what happens. I know quite a few, you included, and Ken Holland, that thought he wouldn’t be going into the bubble for the play-Ins even and he did. Even got the call for the exhibition game ahead of a couple dmen that are ahead of him on the depth chart. He’s made Holland go back on his words before, maybe it happens again.

Richard Roma

Using Bouchard to create leverage over Bear?

That’s a nice play if so…


I don’t think too much should be read in to that.

Sodertalje had their next two games postponed and don’t play until Boxing Day. No reason for him to stay any longer – might as well get back to Canada and get his quarantine done so he can get back on the ice, etc.

I can’t imagine any scenario where Lagesson isn’t brought back. The entire reason he’s been playing in Allsvenskan, as opposed to the SHL, is because of the need to be able to come back mid-season. Its not like he’s not “good enough” for the SHL. He was a legit every-day d-man for for Djurgardens 3 seasons ago.

With the ability for expanded rosters and taxi squads, I’m confident that both Lagesson and Bouchard will be in Edmonton – Lagesson on the active roster. Bouch may be taxi squad depending on the final intel on how the expanded roster spots will effect the cap and if there can be taxi squad positions assigned if the full 26 man roster isn’t used.


Lagesson staying in Sweden longer just opens for more options. It could mean nothing, could mean something. I’d agree he more than likely will be brought back. It’s just something out of the box I was thinking about.


Maybe it opens more options but I think Holland wants his best and most NHL players available and that would include Lagesson. I just don’t think Bouchard coming back and Lagesson not quite yet means much – I think it was a function of Soderalje’s up coming games being cancelled/postponed.


In addition to Bouchard having no reason to stay in Sweden I wonder if he also wants needs to stop over in Ontario before heading to Edmonton for the remainder of the season.

I agree Bouchard heading back while is Lagesson still playing means nothing in projecting their roles/place on the Oilers this year. Lagesson will be in Edmonton soon enough.


Kesselring has himself a PP assist in the 1st period (he was on the ice for a goal against killing a penalty).

The goal was just an easy outlet pass in the neutral zone but the key is him being on the PP:

1 game and a period and 2 points for the sophomore.

Last edited 10 months ago by OriginalPouzar

You said yesterday you thought he was playing 1RW. Was that a typo (meant 1RD)? Or was it true? He looked like a D on that clip.


Reading more below I guess it was just a typo. I thought they’d moved him up front last night lol.


Yes, that was a typo – he’s a d-man not a winger.


Thanks. I knew he was a D but thought there might have been some changes at Northeastern over the summer. Good to hear he’s playing top pairing D and putting up some points. Definitely still a long shot as an NHLer but good arrows and a pretty interesting player.


I have him higher than a long-shot to be an NHLer – I think he has a reasonable chance to play in the NHL. Kemp, Niemelainan, etc. – those are long-shots but I have Kesslring a tier or two higher.

He’s a “long shot” in the sense that it will be 2 more full years at college until we have a real sense – long shot timing wise.


I was basing it mostly on draft position. 6th round/164th overall. Not good odds from there, though it appears he’s playing well in a key role already.

Scungilli Slushy

I think Larrson vs Barrie depends on how Holland sees his emerging D group and particularly Bear.

If he thinks Bear can do the shutdown role RD then they don’t need to retain Larsson.

Barrie will cost, but they potentially have Bouchard, Broberg and Samo knocking at the gates in a season from now.

That also means they have potentially 5 years of cap relief between ELC’s and bridge contracts if Barrie sings for 5 years.

Around here ‘we’ have always said defensive play is the cheapest and easiest to buy.

I think we’ll see, as Gretzky said, a move to faster more puck able players.


I think Samorukov has the ability to be that shut-down, son of a bitch to play against – the Larsson replacement. I’m not wiling to annoint him right side capable but he’s killing those right side minutes in the KHL – a GA at 5 on 5 is a rare thing.

I’m starting to think of Sammy as a potential Nurse/Larsson hybrid.

Richard Roma

Why do I always feel like I’m reading a Stieg Larsson novel when reading about Oilers’ prospects?


About to get around to my evening Athletic reading but I will say that Cult of Hockey guys, who have been watching the games in Europe (well, the shifts of the Oilers’ property in Europe) have been raving about Lennstrom – in particular Staples but McCurdy sees some potential for him to play in the NHL as well.


If he can stay healthy for the vast majority of this season, I agree to keeping Larsson over Barrie. Barrie has some of the same skills as Bear and Bouch. Larsson has some very unique and good qualities for a balanced roster. He is a mean SOB when necessary (most of the time) and can usually play more solidly in his own end then the others. We don’t really know if Bear or Bouch will continue to develop and improve in their own end and some sort of Defense first RD is a good idea, particularly if he can be paired with a good puck moving lefty…

How the longer term flat cap will affect contract offers and signings will be very interesting. I could imagine players taking a bit of a hair cut and 1-2 year deals to play where they want, i.e., contenders.


From what I have been hearing young Wm Lagesson has the same traits and a better passer. Also comes in much cheaper without the history of injuries.


He need to show it in the NHL before you start thinking of getting rid of Larsen


I don’t mind bringing Larson back, every defense corps can use a little hairy arsedness.

The way I would get there money wise though is different;

1. Trade Nurse next summer to the Kraken in return for them claiming Neal and a 2022 2nd round pick. This is a big sacrifice but it moves Oilers from Cap Hell to Cap Nirvana through the flat Cap/Mcdavid prime years.

2. Bring back Klefbom as 1LHD but have him on a load management program, with Broberg scheduled to play 20 games providing 3 long recovery breaks.

3. Give Samorukov a shot at 3LD, competing against one or two of the slightly older Swede’s for the role. He would bring a bit of the hairy arsedness to the Left side missing in Nurse’s absence, admittedly with pimples still on it.

This plan assumes Klefbom ever plays again, and that Jones can handle 2LHD. Both of which will be known by next summer. If either of these conditions is not met the Oilers will have too back up the Brinks truck to Nurse’s stall.


Bet the prime cup contending years of McDavid and Draisaitl on Klefbom’s wonky arthritic shoulder. Superb plan. Just genius.


Even with Klefbom’s wonky shoulder, which he has been nursing for years, he has been the equal of and in my view better defender than Nurse. More would be known by next summer at which point an informed decision can be made. Not genius, rational.


If Kelfbom doesn’t opt for a operation and takes the year off I say he LTIR it until his contract is finished in 21/2 years.


your dumping Nurse for 2 mil cap
alrighty then

John Chambers

Seattle Kraken opening night lineup:

Landeskog – RNH – Ovechkin
Hall – Danault – Palmieri
Expansion draft fodder
Expansion draft fodder

Martinez – D Hamilton
other teams’ trash
3rd pair D <$1M

Tukka Rask


You forgot that they got Stamkos & Pacioretty for their 2027 sixth and seventh round picks from Tampa & Vegas due to cap problems.

Should win the cup at least their first 3 years in the league.

Last edited 10 months ago by defmn

Does anyone know the answer to this: If NHL teams will have a 4 person taxi squad, does that mean it will be an easy substitution at each time that they can put in anyone from their taxi squad? And, if that’s the case, could a team easily carry a 4 person taxi squad with a 20 person active roster, thereby saving valuable cap space? If Edmonton only carries a 20 person active roster, it opens up a few more million to acquire another player or two and better players at that. It would be an interesting strategy if it indeed is legal. If that were to be legal, maybe we see a rush of signings once the rules are confirmed.


If they were able to do that, they could add Bowey for around 900k, and add another forward for almost $5M. That could be one hell of a forward in this market.


I’ve asked the same question but have never seen an answer. Not just the taxi squad but the rumoured expanded roster – how does that work with the cap?


I predict that there is no way the NHL will let you do that. The point of the taxi squad is covid relief not salary cap relief. 23 players will count towards the cap.


But even in a normal year, you don’t have to have 23 active roster players counting toward the cap. Most carry 23 because they need that flexibility at game time. But if you have a 4 person taxi squad, it should provide enough flexibility. So I doubt they will force anyone to carry 23 toward the cap now.


These are details that have not come out yet (and are probably still being ironed out).

As far as taxi squad to the active roster, I would anticipate that all regular AHL to NHL and return protocols would need to be followed. For example, to put Lagesson on the taxi squad I anticipate he would need to clear waivers.

As far as cap implication, I can’t imagine the NHL would permit that above-referenced situation. I’m not positive the NHL will permit taxi squad positions to be used if the expanded roster positions aren’t filled up first, let alone going below a 23 person roster but having a taxi squad.

These expanded and taxi squad rosters aren’t there to provide loophole cap relief but to ensure continued team operation within the current pandemic including travel restrictions and the desire to limit travel in any even (i.e. for all NHL teams but EDM/CGY/VCR, they have access to the AHL affiliate but the preference is for some potential call-ups to be “with the team” to limit the travel, even permissible travel within a country.


My thoughts on the projected lineup:

– $6.8M doesn’t seem unreasonable for Nuge if he has a similar season to last season but I am hopeful that it comes it a bit lower in the flat-cap (for years) world.

– $3M seems a bit high for Kahun as an RFA signing. I know he will have arb rights but I would think he’s got to be on a 50 points pace this season to warrant that deal

– $1.5M seems low for Yamamoto unless he regresses to less than 0.5 PPG. I know he will have no arb rights but that’s low unless we think he’s going at a 30 something point pace this year.

– If Kahun is worthy of a re-sign at a material amount, I’m not sure about spending $3.5M on a guy like Coleman when Holloway will be in the mix for a LW spot within a year thereafter (in my opinion).

– Does Coleman (and addition to Kahun) mean that Benson has been flushed? Lavoie will in the conversation on the wing as well

– I’ve to a lot of time for a Larsson re-sign if he continues his 2020 play (play-in disregarded) which mirrors his 2017 play. With that said, its a tough re-sign as, to me, the premise has to be 2RD to start the contract but likely 3RD (and 2RD fill-in) for much of it – with Bear and Bouchard behind ahead of him on the depth chart. I think that role is in the $2M range which is something Larsson probably doesn’t sign.

– I was looking at Ullmark this off-season, thinking of a trade with Buf. I like Ullmark but that cap hit is high. I haven’t given up on Konovalov as a potential 1B for next season.


Timing is favorable on resigning these players due to the flat cap. Kahun has some comps to Athanasiou who was due $3 mil as an RFA and now cant get a contract and if he does will likely be around $1 mil. I think a bird in hand (signing an extension) may be viewed more favorably next summer. Same for Larsson when you look at Hamonics situation. The wildcard is Seattle having a lot of cap to sign players.


I think money will be a problem with re-signing Larsson. If his health is good this year he will be in demand from a number of other franchises and unlikely to be interested in a decrease in his salary. If his back shows signs of being chronic that is reason to move along.

Bouchard’s season will be one key I would think. If he comes in and shows that he can handle 2nd pairing defence with little drop off from Barrie that will make things interesting. I wouldn’t conclude at this point that Bear is necessarily a long term Oiler, though. Lots of road before these decisions get made.


With two pending UFAs, a sophomore coming off a season of exceeding expectations and a high profile/high pedgiree rookie looking to be ready, there is indeed lots in flux when it comes to thinking about 2021/22 right side of the defence including:

– Larsson’s performance and health – if he plays a healthy season like he did in 2017 and 2020, that is a value players

– Barrie’s performance and bounce-back to career norms

– Bouchard’s progression and if he looks like he could play 2RD in the near future or will 2021/22 be 3RD with some PP potential time

– Samorukov’s progression and if the organization might see him as a RD in the NHL (I’m leary of projecting off-side success in other leagues to direct NHL transaction but this player has a lot of attributes that can replace Larsson)

– Not to mention the progression of the likes of Berglund (who could be 3RD option for next season), Kemp and even Kesselring.

At this point, I see Barrie as a one-year stop-gap to fill some Klefbom absence and the missing RD spot with Benning moving on.


Barrie for one year is all we know for sure. After that we are all just speculating.

Richard Roma

Darn. You’ve finally got it.

I had previously assumed that every time you misspelled ‘Kesselring’ an angel got its wings.


$3.5M for Coleman? I’d like to see the term, but that strikes me as an overpay. Money could be better spent elsewhere IMO.


The mid-tier is gone. No way he get $3.5 million. Mikhail Granlund is still walking around. There are going to be even more players next year stung because of the decision of the NHLPA in the last couple of weeks to defer their share of the pain.


Blumel seems to have come off his heater as he’s held off the scoreboard.

Tullio follows up the goal in his pro debut with an assist in his second game for Liptovsky – helping the team to its first win in 20 games, 4-3.

Maksimov with two assists in a 2-1 win for Zveda Moscow (VHL).

Nygard stays hot with a goal but Farjestad takes a 5-2 loss.

John Chambers

“I don’t carry Dapper Dan, I carry Fop”
“I don’t want FOP goddammit I’m a Dapper Dan man!”
“Watch your language young fella this is a public market. Now if you want Dapper Dan I can order it for you, have it in a couple of weeks.”
“Well isn’t this place a geographical oddity, two weeks from everywhere”

You can bet that the waiver wire will be pretty quiet this year, especially for Canadian clubs. It’ll be like the same as ordering that part, or other sundries, from Bristol.


Love that scene!

John Chambers

Nuge’s contract:

With the cap staying flat I can only imagine that RNH’s contract will have a modest cap hit (est $6M). The Oilers should be happy to pay him a signing-bonus laden contract to avoid escrow, while offering him term (5-6 years).

I don’t think the cap hit needs to exceed $6.5M at worst, and don’t think any teams will trip over themselves to pay him $7M or more.

Harpers Hair

You realize that Seattle has nothing but cap space and the leading analytics team in the league, right?

John Chambers

It’s too bad you’re a washed-up farce of a human living out his days as an internet troll instead of a valued member of their management team with an opinion that mattered in regards to which of the myriad 2021 UFA’s they could spend their cap space on.


If he wants to finish his career with a loser west coast team like Vancouver I’m sure he will sign with Seattle.

Richard Roma

Who runs their analytics department?


Do you think Seattle’s ‘analytics team’ is going to tell them to spend more than $7M on Nuge?

Richard Roma

Well played, sir.


Signing bonuses don’t escape escrow.


I’ve often wondered how that works considering they sometimes change the % mid season.

Do you know how they calculate escrow on a guy who is getting 90% of his AAV in a signing bonus?

Brantford Boy

Love me some Larsson…

Totally off topic… watching recorded 1988 Bruins vs. Oilers game 1 last night. The commentary on Cam Neely caught my attention.

They went on to say how much he bounced around in his early career and as such had multiple coaches over several early years. The point was, “it’s never a good thing for a young player to have that many coaches in early development”. Sound familiar? Moot point now, but how would the likes of our 2010’s first round picks fair in a world with Holland and Tippett at the helm? Just a thought.

And man, did that Oilers team struggle to get offensive breakouts without Coffey on the team, even on the man advantage. So yeah, we need Bouchard’s skills in a big way. Hopefully with a season on a taxi squad he can get some real minutes and learn whatever he can from Barrie before he’s shipped out.


The commentary on Cam Neely caught my attention.

They went on to say how much he bounced around in his early career and as such had multiple coaches over several early years. The point was, “it’s never a good thing for a young player to have that many coaches in early development”. Sound familiar? Moot point now, but how would the likes of our 2010’s first round picks fair in a world with Holland and Tippett at the helm?

And yet Cam Neely went on to be one of the most dominant players of his generation so to me the lesson would be more like, those who have what it takes overcome whatever hurdles are put in front of them.

I think we have to accept that Yak didn’t have what it takes. I guess we are about to find out about Jesse.


Makes me wonder if the Hoary Spector of Mark slid from the 3rd floor of the SUB that chill evening in May into the CBC gondola booth… to pass his trademark narrative notes chiselled in stone.


We have to accept Yak failed but what about his coach? And although his name escapes me, what about the GM who hired the coach?

Seems Oilers never tire of writing off 20 year old rookies. While dreaming about and chasing UFA’s who almost invariably never contribute Jack lol


The Oilers were not the only ones to write off Yak.

Some coaches help and some do not. The NHL is the pinnacle of hockey excellence. Against the best you need to be strong to survive. You are not competing against ordinary, every day 20 year olds when you are in the NHL.

It should surprise nobody that not everybody makes it. You can blame the coach & GM if you like but at a certain point it comes down to the player himself to figure out what isn’t working.


What I remember most was watching Boston play the Oilers in both Finals, and not caring a single fuck about any of their players since compared to /Gretzky/Coffey/Fuhr/Messier/Anderson/Kurri and a few others even with players like Ray Bourque and Cam Neely – man those Oilers simply steamrolled over Boston as if they were roadkill.

First OT game with Klima’s incredible heroics notwithstanding, neither series was remotely close to being a serious contest.


Low, I threw out the Coleman idea last Sunday (I’m sure it was mentioned many times before and after but it shows that great minds think alike). Here’s two others;
-If we don’t end up acquiring Kuemper sometime this season, signing Raanta next summer for around the same money.
-If klef is ready for the start of next season and Jones shows capable of 2nd pair this season, a nurse trade for an impact 3rd line center? Or draft picks and sign one of the UFA’s like Getzlaf or Danault.


There is NO D on the team with the skill set Nurse has. He is the one D that unless he prices himself off the team you keep.


I don’t disagree about skill-set of Nurse and it does seem he’s part of the core leadership group (moreso than Klef). I just wanted to reply to say that, as far as skill-set goes, I see a lot of Nurse in Samorukov!


One thing we know is that Holland will be trying to trade Kassian, Puljujarvi and Lavoie will be fighting for that spot next year. At the world juniors, Lavoie demonstrated that he will do what is necessary to win a spot and make himself useful. Ditto this year, being one of the first guys to trek off to Europe. Smart and determined prevails over clueless and indifferent really quickly. I think one training camp is all Lavoie will need to effectively displace Kassian in the coach’s mind. It might take Holland some time to dispose of Kassian though.


The Oilers got bounced by Chicago and it wasn’t all Kassian’s fault.

Kassian might be gone at the trade deadline but more likely in the next off season.

Victoria Oil

Unfortunately, to trade Kassian, I think the Oilers would need to retain at least 25% and/or take an another imperfect contract back.


I would expect Lavoie to be in the AHL for almost the entirety of 2021/22 (in particular if he spends the entire season in Vasby, which I think he might).


Unlike most around here I really have no idea re the defence, aside from the desire to see 2 or 3 new young “Keeper” defencemen added to the defence because the current lineup is seriously looking shaky. These new players will be able to skate all night long while carrying the puck better than any of the current defence not named Darnell “End to End and near the other goal Lose control of the puck” Nurse.

And I have always been a big Nurse fan lol maybe this season he turns up ready to rumble.


Encourage you to click the link as the data shows that Nurse’s zone entires lead to scoring chances at good rates:


A lot of talk about his back, is there more to it than missing 8 games in 2017 (upper body) and maybe 2 games last August (undisclosed)?


I’ve been saying this for over a year now.

I believe, last training camp, he sat out a day with a “tight back” but, other than that, I don’t believe he missed a game with a back issue until this past August (since 2017).

This doesn’t mean that he isn’t dealing with back pain generally. It doesn’t mean his is either.

My guess is much of the union deals with back pain on a general basis.


I only re-sign Larsson for a short term contract. When he loses a step in his 30s he’s gonna be a boat anchor


Wouldn’t it be great if Holland annouced the following this off-season (or early in to the coming season):

– Nuge resigned at $6.25M X 5
– Larsson resigned at 2.5M X 2 (or 3)

I think the Larsson deal is more unreasonable. I agree on the need to be short term but I also think the AAV needs to reflect the fact that he may be 3RD plus PK for most of the deal (so, < $3M and, preferably, closer to $2M).


I like Bear a lot. I just can’t see over 4M for him. Yes he has some very good attributes but he’s small and not fast. He won’t play PP1. I think Holland will do a 2 year bridge then trade him.


I believe that Bear will not be a long term Oiler however I do think that he is a top four right D with puck moving ability and high hockey IQ and that has value. He shouldn’t in my opinion be moved until there is a qualified internal replacement.


I think the premise would be a cheap one-year contract for this coming season but a longer-term extension for bigger AAV going in to the 2021/22 season.

Potential to have the long term extension agreed to and not signed (Lebanc style).

I’m also wary of $4M for term but is there much separation between Bear now and Rasmus Andersson when he signed his deal? I remember looking at it at the time and there wasn’t much seperation.

Andersson is a stud in my opinion. I don’t think Bear has quite the ceiling but the separation isn’t too large.

One thing that will likely hold Bear back is organizational depth at the position – mainly PP accumen (Barrie this year, Bouchard next year, Klef still around, Jones had as much success as Bear on the PP in the AHL, etc.).


I just read LT’s article at the Athletic about deploying elite talent and got to thinking about the defensive upside within the current Oilers system. Here’s my list of Oilers D in order of who I think has the highest ceilings going forward in case anyone else wants to play along. The top half of this list are D I can see playing complete roles, with the potential exception of Bouchard, with the bottom half more one dimensional:



Unfriendly Regional Arachnid Individual

For starters, putting our #1 Dman at the bottom of your highest ceilings among complete Dmen strikes me as a rather odd choice 😉


I believe that Nurse is the D you build your young D around. He is durable, physical and a first pairing D. He has leadership qualities and the requisite experience to help the younger D adjust. If you can, sign him long term for 6.5 or lower as soon as able.


We already know what Nurse and Klefbom are, and they are good, but I would say everyone above them on this list has at least a shot at being better at the end of their development curves. I was on the fence if I thought Jones and Bear could be, but I’m not ready to say their potential ceilings are lower than Nurse/Klefbom yet.


I think Nurse has another step that he could take – related to defensive zone awareness and (a) not leaving the danger area to go walkabout and puck chase and (b) identify the danger player and adjust.

I’m not sure if he’ll take that step but, if he could cut down the mental mistakes in the defensive zone, I think he could be a low end legit top pairing d-man. He’s not too “old” to take the step but who knows if he will.

Death By Misadventure

Larsson to me is the most fascinating decision of 2021 for the Oilers. If his back holds up, his value is undeniable.

However what are the odds his back holds up for even 56 games? Or the grind of the playoffs?

On the flip side is his trade value, which if, again, his back holds up, is a 1st round pick.

That’s a tough one decision.

A 1st round pick is worth a lot in a cap, cap crunch world.

Unfriendly Regional Arachnid Individual

I think you overestimate his trade value- even during the deadline. While I’m not about to suggest it’s impossible that he could return that (Tampa paid a 1st for Goodrow, after all), but I think setting that as anything other than a distant longshot of a trade return is setting yourself up for disappointment.


Also, trading him at the deadline would mean the Oilers missing the playoffs..


I don’t think so. If we trade with another playoff team that requires a Dman but his areas of strength that we may need it could be a fit for us even as a playoff team.


I can’t imagine Ken Holland selling off Adam Larsson at the trade deadline if the team is a playoff team.

If we know anything about Ken Holland, its that he believes depth on the back-end is very important especially heading in to the stretch drive and playoffs. See Mike Green acquisition for example.

Not to mention, it would be very tough to trade Larsson for a roster player of value at the deadline. Oubviously only playoff teams are interested in pending UFAs and, of course, those teams are generally looking to add to their roster without taking away. Pending UFA roster players for futures. It doesn’t mean a “hockey trade” can’t be made, but it would be unlikely, in my opinion.

Harpers Hair

What happened to James Neal? I think there would be cap implications involved in his disposition.

Todd Macallan

Seattle saw how he played yr 1 in Vegas and took us off our hands for free. One can dream.

Harpers Hair

They probably took on the $750K and the $1.5M cap hits owed to Lucic and Sekera in order to get their hands on Neal. 🙂

Why wouldn’t they?

Harpers Hair

I wonder if Seattle would take him and buy him out if a high end D prospect was included in the transaction.

Harpers Hair

Thinking more about this…perhaps including Ethan Bear who played junior hockey in Seattle in the transaction might convince the Kraken .

buck yoakam

too bad we don’t have blowgun rafflaugherty to offer instead!


After Holland signed Barrie on the cheap with the flat tax with Barrie knowing he’ll get all the primo minutes to pad the shit out of his points stats I thought it would be Bouchard hitching a ride out of town. I think your on to something with Bear going to the Kraken with Neal or even Kassian if he completely shits the bed or maybe Kosh. If you can dispose a shit contract with Bear and the pipeline that’s going to need playing time I think Holland does it.

Harpers Hair

Seems like a very strong possibility to me.

At some point the Oilers have to weaponize their D surplus.


Absolutely, I fully expect a material d-man out next off-season but I don’t expect that to be as a sweetener to get rid of a bad contract. I expect that disposition to be for acquired value in the return (not cap space value which may come indirectly in the trade if its a Klef/Nurse out and replacement in the lineup is Samorukov is similar).


If Bear has a “run in place” season, let alone actually improves, there is all but zero chance Holland would do that, in my opinion.

While I can’t say Bear is a legit top pairing d-man in the NHL, he did play that role last year (minutes wise at 5 on 5 and the PK and 36% TOI against elites) and did just fine for a rookie.

He is a legit top 4RD with the ability to play top pairing role and is still in development years.

There is all but zero chance that he is a sweetener to get rid of James Neal – even with depth of D in the org.

Harpers Hair

While he did okay for a young D…there are some worries.

At 5V5…GF 64 GA 70

FF% 48.62. The Oilers were outshot 717-689 with Bear on the ice.

I agree he looks like a second pairing D but you have that spot reserved for Bouchard.

If Barrie is extended, where does Bear fit?


He posted those numbers against top competition plaing mostly first pairing minutes for the season. He and Nurse played apx 36% of their TOI against elites and let the team in that regard.

Presumably, if he was deployed in a 2nd pairing role for the year, he’d kill those minutes to the positive.

Given his age and this was his first full season, while his progression may not be a straight line up (we don’t know), its reasonable to think he will be better in the next 5 years than he was this year.

He was a legit 2nd pairing D in his rookie season asked to play 1st pairing more often that not.

Harpers Hair

Actually…there is no guarantee he would be better against different competition.

Who you play WITH also matters.

Bear also had 197 OFF zone starts and 155 DEF Zone starts indicating he was somewhat sheltered in his usage.


Of course, can’t guarantee anything but, of course, one would think playing lesser competition would generally lead to better results.

Yup, who one plays with matters – he played top pairing comp with a good/not great d-man who has warts to his game (Nurse) – a legit top 4 guy but, like Bear, not a proven top pairing guy. Imagine if he had a legit top pairing guy to help with those minutes.

Yup, lots of McDavid time – of course, every top pairing d-man i the league is going to have material time with the top forwards on the team.

I’ll take 36% of TOI as a more material factor than zone starts as far a “sheltering” – this player was not sheltered.


Honest question.

I know that more OZ starts than DZ starts is always referred to as ‘sheltering’ but is that what is really going on?

I mean, what would be the sense of starting in the offensive zone wit Russell and Larsson on the ice? Just a wasted opportunity is what I would call it.

So do you ‘shelter’ players or do you just play them to their strength?

It would be the same with forwards. Why waste an OZ faceoff on Khaira, Nygard and PRussell if you have better offensive options?

Harpers Hair

I agree with all of this but one would assume that Tyson Barrie will now get those extra OZone starts since that plays to his strengths even more so which, on average, means Bear likely doesn’t get as many.

Its only sheltering in exactly the way you describe it but it is an advantage. That Bear lost the goal share in that state while playing with the best forwards is certainly not all on him but worth keeping an eye on.


Yeah. I wasn’t even thinking of what it said about Bear. First full year and all that although I always said I thought Jones would have the better career of the two.

I know it isn’t just you that uses the word ‘sheltering’. It seems to be the accepted view around here. I just find it peculiar that a coach playing a guy to his strength is somehow a slight on his defensive abilities.

I kind of agree with what Holland said recently. Anybody good enough to play in the NHL can play defence if they want to.

Scoring goals is harder.


Seattle can’t buyout players picked in the expansion draft until the year after the draft.


Do you think that Holland would go there if Neal had a reasonable season (I don’t know, 18G (pace), solid possession stats in the bottom 6, etc.)?

Holland spoke so vehemently against buyouts and the dead cap hit implications this off-season. I wouldn’t think his thoughts would change (which doesn’t mean he wouldn’t execute a buyout though but he wouldn’t like doing it).


Maybe Neal scores 27 goals next shortened Bubble Wrapped season.

Maybe Neal scores a hat trick vs Calgary.

People love to rag on Neal, but properly coached he can be a useful player who scores goals.


I think your salary estimations are reasonable, assuming similar performances from Kahun, Coleman, Ullmark, Bear, etc. Those salaries may even be lower in an extended flat cap era.
Agree with you on keeping Larrson over Barrie. I’m worried about Barrie having a big offensive year and milking a big long term deal out of the Oilers.
Two questions;
Did you buy out Neal?
What was the Oilers expansion protected list and who did they lose?

Harpers Hair

A mock draft from Matt Larkin.

He has the Kraken taking Kassian.


I just don’t see winning play-off rounds with;

Ethan Bear as the 1RW
Kahun and Yamamoto as undersized wingers on the second line.

Scungilli Slushy

Thankfully he’ll be 1 RD as last year. Not ideal, not terrible.

Richard Roma

I just don’t see winning play-off rounds with;

Ethan Bear as the 1RW


Kahun and Yamamoto as undersized wingers on the second line.

I agree.

I also don’t like the look of Ethan Bear on the top line as a 1RW.



Looking forward to the WJC to start. Wondering how many Oiler Prospects be playing in this year’s tournament besides our 1st round picks?


Injuries are a problem, no? Can you rely on Larsson for 70 games? How many of those games is he playing with a sore back?

That’s my worry.


I pick Larrson over Barrie for 2 reasons.

larrson will come in cheaper. I think 3.5M is a good ballpark estimation. Barrie will definitely get more.

and Barries skills will most likely be replicated by Bouchard. We don’t have a guy like Larrson with shutdown ability on the right side.

signing Larsson gets us closer to that balance photo


I like Larsson. But anytime someone started missing games like Adam has I would be leary of signing him. JHMO


That is my feeling as well. A shut down D with a bad back that has missed a number of games due his back is a huge red flag. To be effective he has to be physical. To be physical his back has to be 100%. Healthy Larsson it would be a no brainer you would re-sign him. Assuming Barrie can handle second pairing and his offence is as advertised he could be a good signing assuming shorter term and cap hit not above 5.5. This would allow Bouchard to break in at third pairing right D with some second pairing PP. if Jones proves able to hold down second pairing left D you leave Klefbom off the protected list and protect Jones Bear and Nurse.


Has Larsson missed that many games with a bad back?

He missed 2-3 weeks with his back a couple seasons ago and then not again until the play-in round.

His missed time this past season was due to broken fibula on a blocked shot.

His back may be a chronic issue, I don’t know, but it also might be a non-issue.


It is the more the fact the back issue has been made public and if there is a back issue a re-sign to me would not be the way to go. There are a number of issues with several players including Klefbom that we as fans don’t and quite frankly shouldn’t know. They should and will however weigh heavily on how the team moves forward with their young D.


Yes, if its true that Barrie turned down a higher offer to sign with the Oilers then he will definitely be looking for much more. He may want to go to free agency and see if Seattle has interest.


I think it depends a lot on the next 5 months. I don’t think Larsson will age as well. A short term contract at that number would be ok, but I don’t know that I’d go with either of them for more than a couple years, unless we’re all mistaken about how much Barrie will command.

You’re right about the depth but Samorukov may end up playing the right side and has some shutdown acumen.


I would say that Samorukov has more than “some shutdown accumen” – that is his primary skillset. I consider him a 2-way guy, with a board range of skills, but his primary skill is aggressive and high end defending including defence of the blueline and the gap.

I hear about him maybe “preferring the right side” and I know he’s doing it in the KHL but I’m always wary of equating d-man off-side success in other leagues to success on the off-side in the NHL. The speed of the NHL game is higher than an other league and the time for d-men to make decisions much lower than any other league (ice size difference between Europe and the NHL makes a difference as well).

He may be able to do it in the NHL but I would stop short of equating KHL success on his off side to NHL translation in that regard.

Victoria Oil

With the flat cap, I would take the under on $3.5 mln as Larsson’s next cap hit. I hope he proves me wrong this year on what his future value will be.