Let the River Run

by Lowetide

One of the early rumours out of the chute as we enter a crazy rumor window (many need to be signed, money is tight and there’s no time to do these deals before training camp because people gotta move right damn now to get to their isolation booths) has Travis Hamonic signing in Western Canada. Bet Vancouver, then Calgary, then Winnipeg. Edmonton? Unlikely, unless there’s an injury we don’t know about it. However, Ken Holland has zero worry about signing older players and playing them in key roles.


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.


Here are the 2020-21 ages of Edmonton’s likely roster:

  • Age 21: Evan Bouchard
  • Age 22: Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi
  • Age 23: Connor McDavid, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear
  • Age 24: Leon Draisaitl
  • Age 25: Dominik Kahun, Darnell Nurse
  • Age 26: Jujhar Khaira
  • Age 27: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Joakim Nygard, Oscar Klefbom
  • Age 28: Josh Archibald, Gaetan Haas, Adam Larsson
  • Age 29: Zack Kassian, Tyson Barrie
  • Age 30: Alex Chiasson
  • Age 31: Kyle Turris, Tyler Ennis
  • Age 32: Mikko Koskinen
  • Age 33: James Neal, Kris Russell
  • Age 38: Mike Smith

We’re more likely to see an older Oilers team in the future than a younger one. Holland’s first Edmonton team averaged 28 years of age, the sixteenth oldest team in the league. In 2018-19, the last Oilers team before Holland averaged 27.2 years, while his final Detroit team averaged 29.3 years (third oldest).

So when someone mentions Hamonic as an Oilers possible, the age works. I don’t think it’ll happen because Hamonic isn’t a fast player. I can’t see him signing in Edmonton unless Adam Larsson is heading out of town or injured.


Terry Jones has a tweet about Edmonton possibly being a hub city again. That tells me we’re going to have a season for sure and that it might start with 20 games or so in a bubble.


  • Nuge-McDavid-Ennis
  • Kahun-Draisaitl-Yamamoto
  • Nygard-Turris-Kassian
  • Puljujarvi-Khaira-Archibald
  • Nurse-Bear
  • Jones-Barrie
  • Russell-Larsson
  • Koskinen (Smith)


A fun and busy show gets started at 10 this morning, TSN1260. Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal will pop by to talk about the COH just completed prospect series, about great World Juniors moments and Oilers opening night roster ideas. Joe Osborne from OddsShark will talk NFL weekend and playoffs, but NBA odds as we get ready for the season. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Breaking news and lots of Oilers talk!


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OP, a question for you (or anyone else who’s watched the Condors regularly in recent years).

I guess Jones and Bear played together a fair bit in Bakersfield, but 1) how much (were they a main pair), and 2) how well?

Just thinking about how plausible it is that Jones-Bear could form a pair for the Oilers this coming season (since as I’ve said I think Barrie is likely to take Bear’s spot with Nurse).

If Nurse-Barrie ends up actually being a thing, it would be wonderful (and ideal, skill set wise) if Jones-Bear could be an effective 2nd pair.


They played quite a bit together as a pair in 2018/19 and they were indeed a high end top pairing in the AHL. At the same time, lets not forget how good that team was – almost setting records for winning in the 2nd half of the season and, while that pairing was part of it, they were also a function of the team. That team spent very little time defending in the 2nd half of the year, they were offensive possession time monsters.

Also, they didn’t simply play together all year – Jones spend material time in the NHL, Bear spent time hurt. Lagesson may have been the best d-man that year.

I’d also caution on extrapolating chemistry in any other league to the NHL. Everything changes in the NHL – guys that can play their offside effectively in other leagues can’t necessarily do it as the NHL.

I’m not against having them together if it works for Playfair’s deployment – I’m not worried about the “experience” – but I wouldn’t put too much stock in to AHL success as a combo.

Benson and Marody were dominant offensive players as a combo in that season, I wouldn’t be for putting them together in that role in the NHL.


Thanks. I’ll try not to over-extrapolate 🙂

But maybe Jones-Bear is an option at some point. And perhaps it’s more likely we see them together than we realize.


Great article by Matty on Broberg. Lots of quotes from Holland, Broberg and Tip including:

I talked to Philip a week ago and I told him he will go back to Skelleftea until the end of their season and then come back to Edmonton or Bakersfield once they’re done,” said Oilers GM Ken Holland.
“We had a long discussion about what was best for me and the future,” said Broberg. “I think I played really well for the training camp for the (August) playoffs and was looking for a spot on the team but I respect their (Oilers) decision and I’ll go back develop more and I’ll be ready for the NHL when I come back. We have a strong team. I believe we can win it all.”


Last edited 10 months ago by OriginalPouzar
Darth Tu

Seems the right play to me. Let him blow the doors off when the time is right.


Guess that shoots a hole in part of my off the wall thinking from the other day.


Broberg has been a minus or even player in line 13 straight games.

Yes, he’s played solid minutes, 18 plus, but it seems pretty clear that he’s simply not NHL ready – not that he should be at 19.

I have only seen small bits and pieces but Dave and Bruce at the Cult have watched many of his games and the recent reports are lots of good but lots of not so good.

I would hope that Bakersfield is where he ends up in April to get some solid North American games in – that would likely help him get ready for camp in the fall. I would also anticipate that he starts 2021/22 in the AHL but that’s too far out to project.

I think Samorukov has a better shot at opening night 2021/22.


Thanks for that. Love the comments from Broberg, Tippett & Holland.


This is as per Stauffer and no surprise at all (and, of course, Broberg likely to head back after World Juniors – maybe some camp time first – TBD):

Several of @EdmontonOilers
signed prospects are headed back from Europe.
Here is a list of who is staying in Europe:

Kirill Maksimov-KHL/VHL
Raphael Lavoie-Vasby SWE-1
Dmitri Samorukov-CSKA KHL
Filip Berglund-Linkopings SHL
Philip Kemp-Vasby SWE-1
Olivier Rodrigue-Graz EBEL


It makes a ton of sense for Rodrigue to stay the year. He’s the only ‘surprise’ we didn’t already know about I think.


Lowetide said:

We’re more likely to see an older Oilers team in the future than a younger one.

I’m not convinced of this. Do you think this because that is what happened in Detroit or is there some other reason?

The league was not getting younger and faster for most of the time Holland was in Detroit and although the success of many years led to a lot of contract extensions – for better and worse – I don’t see that as a preference for older players so much as a hope that what won in the past could win again and a drafting strategy that dried up prospects due to that focus.

I guess I just don’t buy that Holland prefers older players. I think any GM would tell you they prefer good players and that age is as relevant as hair colour.

Or is there another reason you think this as I have seen you mention it before I believe.


So you’re saying Kris Russell is our Chris Chelios? He’s going to be here another 12 years, just to troll some members of Sir Lowetide’s community.


OK, thanks. I was wondering because I think the team is going to get younger before it gets older. Broberg, Bouchard, Samorukov, Lavoie, Holloway are all guys I expect to see on the team within two seasons with guys like Neal, Smith, Chiasson, Larsson and maybe Klefbom moving on or retiring.


I think I gave poor LT an aneurysm.



I think he’s less worried about birth certificates. It isn’t like the old days when Chris Chelios was mid-40’s and still playing but the Kris Russell signing (as an example) surprised some and I don’t think that (or Hamonic being signed) should be considered shocking.

I definitely agree with this take re: Holland generally. Smith is clearly another example.

Though defmn also makes a solid point about the makeup of the current Oilers specifically, and the prospects that are pushing.

Last edited 10 months ago by jp

Terry Jones reporting that, after three nights since all the teams arrived from Europe, no positive tests – not officially announced but its the case. That’s FANTASTIC.

Listening to Rishaug the other day, everyone in the bubble is wearing tracking devices.

During his 4-day quarantine, he’s not even allowed to go out of his hotel room to get ice down the hall – an alarm would go off.

The tracking devices even provide notifications/alarms if the person is in close contact with another for longer than a specified period of time.

I can’t wait for Sunday.


Nugent-Hopkins Draisaitl Yamamoto
Kahun McDavid Neal
Ennis Turris Puljujarvi
Khaira Haas Archibald

Nurse Bear
Jones Larsson
Lagesson Barrie


I don’t mind that at all but:

1) we just know that Nuge is going with McDavid, its all but a given

2) I don’t see both Neal and Chiasson being scratched and they were no insignificant pieces of last year’s PP. I don’t think they can simply be replaced by JP or Kassian or Yamamoto or Turris on the PP and be as effective. One will likely dress

3) I think there will be some “load management” with Russell but I don’t imagine he’s healthy scratched on day 1 – I’m all for Willie getting that shot (if he has a good camp) but don’t see it.

Shit, scratch point 2 – just realized you have Neal there and scratched Kass. Well, if Kass has a bad camp….. A fresh Neal on the right side could be good. He did have awful numbers with 97 last year but who knows what a new year brings.


Sometimes I go sneaky with my Kassian disses.


I thought of you yesterday when I was mentioning who could be waived in order to get cap compliant for Day One & wondered if you would chime in suggesting Kass. 😉

Last edited 10 months ago by defmn

Not going to lie to you – can’t wait until Sunday at 4pm for Canada/Sweden pre-tourney game.

Todd Macallan

Mon. Dec. 21 no? Also very excited, Holloway v Broberg!


Well, shit, Monday it is.

Todd Macallan

USA/SUI and CZE/FIN on Sunday still though.

Harpers Hair

Jim Matheson
· 2h
Philip Broberg will return to Sweden after world juniors and won’t be at Oiler camp, but will rejoin either Oilers or Bakersfield after Skelleftea season ends.


We are having a “Christmas Day” at work today, and I needed some Christmas joy. So, naturally I came to good ol LT for some smiles…

Mr. Troll really does bog things down on here sometimes…and almost ruined my experience.

So during my lunch I decided to up the joy again, and only one guy guarantees pure bliss…here he is:

Connor McDavid “Playing On Rookie Mode” Moments – YouTube

I forgot just how amazing it is to be able to cheer and watch him every night. This was a nice reminder.

HH….fast-forward to 4:33 😉


What an absolute joy. I was out of country for some of these so it’s so great to see them. Thanks for the Christmas link Solly!


My guess for the blue line is a little different. The bottom two pairs will play pretty even 5vs5 mins, so not a 2nd/3rd pairing, but match-up pairings. Some games Russell/Bear play more 5vs5, other games Jones/Larsson.

McDavid plays with Nurse more than any other dman, so put Barrie with him and have him with McD more often. Also, let’s Nurse concentrate on the defensive side more than trying to do too much offensively.
Get a young puck-mover with a veteran defensive dman on the other two pairings.


I think those pairs are likely as well.


I don’t know about Barrie on the top pair. I don’t think he is suited for defending against top comp and think the team sees him the same way. Tippets great challenge this year is how does he get Barrie sending passes to McDavid (or Dri) but not matched against the other teams top attackers. I think he keeps nurse and bear together because they can defend against top comp and bear still moves the puck well. I see Barrie with Russel where tippet tries to get them on the ice every time McDavid is on and not matched against the other teams topn ttackers.


Of note, Barrie has generally played 28% to 32% of this TOI vs. elites through his career and, aside from the one year the Avs were historically awful, and the Babcock minutes, his team has generally won those minutes.

He’s not Vlasic but he can play tough comp.


I haven’t looked myself, but someone probably knows offhand. How much of McDavid’s time was against the other team’s top attackers, and how often was he out against a shut down line? Having Barrie out there against the other team’s best <40% of the time still means he’s out there 60-65% against a team’s non best. As pouzar pointed out his success against elites, even if he is out there against them, it’s not a bad thing. Especially if he’s shooting passes up ice to McD. Don’t have to defend if puck is moved up ice the majority of the time.


The last 3 years McDavid has been between 36.6% and 39% with respect to TOI vs. elites.

Off the top of my head, I’m not sure how Puck IQ tracks that – is it just forward comp or is defence factored in as well?

This leads to one of my two criticisms of Coach T. from last year – I found that Coach T. didn’t do a very good job at trying to get McDavid “clear air” – he was active in trying to get him mis-matches and seemed generally content for McDavid to got up against the other team’s top players or the other team’s shut down players, whoever the opposition coach chose.

Ya, there were some extra shifts after the PK, etc. but, generally, at least to my eye, it didn’t seem like Coach T. was too interested in working to get McDavid certain matchups.


I’m more old school I guess. Put your best out against our best and I’ll bet on one of the best players like McDavid winning the matchup. Let’s him keep his rhythm in-game. Plus, if they’re sending out their shut down line out as often as McD is out, that’s less time for their top scoring line. A player like McD I imagine wants to be out against the best, most greats do. Trying to get clear air is better used for the lesser players on the team.


I get it and I don’t necessarily disagree but there were many games where McDavid wasn’t winning his minutes and/or was getting stifled, no clean air, no space or room, could get any speed through the neutral zone which is a key to his game, etc.

There is also something to be said to for having McDavid not have to battle for clean ice every shift (i.e in those games where he seems to have no time or space out there



I don’t know about Barrie on the top pair. I don’t think he is suited for defending against top comp and think the team sees him the same way. Tippets great challenge this year is how does he get Barrie sending passes to McDavid (or Dri) but not matched against the other teams top attackers. I think he keeps nurse and bear together because they can defend against top comp and bear still moves the puck well. I see Barrie with Russel where tippet tries to get them on the ice every time McDavid is on and not matched against the other teams topn ttackers

I’m not sure Bear is ‘ideal’ for defending top comp either, though he showed he can do it.

As OP said Barrie has faced other teams top lines lots and done well. And what he brings in the offensive end is elite. There’s no question Tippett and Holland want him out there with McDavid and Draisaitl.

My guess is Barrie plays the most even strength TOI of the right shot D this season. And that he’ll be fed (with McDavid) lots of Ozone starts, but not sheltered from strong opposition.

We’ll see soon enough what Tippett really thinks. I think he agrees with me 🙂


I believe the terms “hubs” and “bubbles” are often used interchangeably when they are not the same thing.

Are we talking a “secure zone bubble” like we saw in the summer RTP and like we are seeing at the World Juniors? Players not allowed out of a gated off zone and essentially confined to hotel and rink?

Contrast that with the “hub city” where teams fly in for a period of time to play a series of games but the players are not confined to a “secure zone” but are generally free to move around as per local government permitted protocols. No, they won’t be out and about clubbing, etc. but, perhaps could go out for dinner or whatever (if permitted in the jurisdiction”.


I think it depends on how things are going with the pandemic. Even as bad as things are in Edmonton right now, at least they had (very) successfully set it up to deal with the playoffs. If it was a short-term thing, like shorter than the playoffs, it probably makes more sense to have a bubble. Especially if fans aren’t allowed in.


Edmonton has proven they can do a true bubble, a secure zone, as has Toronto, and those are likely choices if the league does need to go that way for a Canadian division.

If its a hybrid-hub city, which is not a bubble, then I’m not so sure Edmonton is a good idea given the Covid-issues. With a real bubble, Covid-numbers should be irrelevant but the are definitely relevant if its anything less.


Yes, it might “make sense” but that doesn’t mean the players will be amenable to it – they may have to accept it but won’t be happy – even if its for 2-3 weeks.

Not to mention the cost – from accounts, its hugely expensive. I’m sure hybrid-hubs (less than bubbles) are also hugely expensive but not to the same extent.

With both bubbles and hubs, the cost to the league is higher as they will take on the cost of testing, etc. I believe, when teams will be playing in their home arenas, much of the cost will be borne by the teams, including testing.


So much enthusiasm from our host on the radio this morning – love “hearing the joy”.

Interesting that blog mentions Holland not afraid to sign veterans to key roles and then proposes an alternate lineup with Chiasson and Neal both scratched.

I have much time for someone winning the 1RW spot over Kassian. I have little time for Jesse being moved (a) to the fourth line and (b) to the left wing.

I don’t see a Hamonic to Edmonton signing – on its face, it makes little sense. I am fully confident Ethan Bear will be signed and in the lineup (if not hurt) for game 1. Holland did say, just last week, with regard to Bouch “we need to see what he can do”

Elgin R

On Hamonic

Canucks: Currently $1.5 over with not relief in site. They also have future Norris winner Brogan Rafferty waiting to play – so no need.

Flames: $1m under but need to sign Kylington. Could use a RD.

Jets: $700k over and still need to sign Roslovic. Could use him.

Oilers: Larsson > Hamonic so unless there is an injury concern – no.

He ends up with one of the bottom feeders (Sens, Wings, Kings etc) for 1 year. Unless something major happens I do not see him in Western Canada.

Harpers Hair

The Canucks will put Ferland on LTIR, assign Baertschi to the AHL and open up about $4 million in cap space.

Darth Tu

Do the Canucks have any bonuses to account for as well? That will eat up a bit of the cap space next year too if so.

Thinking out loud, I’m wondering if bonus overages is one of the things the league looks at ignoring to make that expanded roster thing work for next year. Everyone feel free to shoot that down as a garbage idea.

Harpers Hair

Yeah they do.
Pettersson and Hughes are both likely to hit their bonuses and there is a chance Jack Rathbone might qualify if he makes the team out of camp although he may not play enough games.


I think they might pro-rate for performance bonuses under ELCs – did they end up doing that for this past season? I think so but can’t remember for sure.


Yikes, just Pettersson and Hughes are eligible for $3.65M in performance bonuses. Not sure if there are others.

That’s 3 or 4 times the bonuses the Oilers have to worry about. Pretty good reason why they may not be able to sign Hamonic.

Elgin R

But they have Brogan Rafferty!

Eh Team

Sounds like the issue with the Canucks is not the cap but the reluctance to spend actual real dollars.


How so? Seems they’ve already spent all the cap dollars…


So Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal appear not to be at all concerned with Pettersson and Hughes’ performance bonuses (as far as I can’t tell they’ve ignored those bonuses, as well as any sort of cushion for day to day operations though the season).

Seems like an oversight to me. It looks like the Canucks will probably use up the bit of cap from the Ferland LTIR, and then some, even without adding a player. The Aquilini’s may have money problems but I’m having a hard time seeing what the Canucks could do otherwise (unless they go into the season planning to go over the cap and have a bonus overage next year).

They’re way more optimistic about what the Canucks have left to spend then I am about the Oilers lol (and many seem to think I’m smoking the drapes).


Ferland saves them $3.5 MM, Baertschi saves them ~1.075 MM l(league minimum + $375,000) so that would lower the Canucks to about $78.4 against the cap or $3.1 million in space with 21 players on their roster. They could really only risk using all of that if a) they can put Ferland on LTIR on the first day of the season and b) if they assume he will not be reactivated any time during the year or they can find a way to dump another salary when he gets reactivated.


Yup. Depending on what comes out of the current league/PA negotiations for this coming return to play it looks like dumping salary will be very costly this season.

I can see most GM’s being reluctant to put themselves in that position anymore than they already have.


I do see that Vancouver can choose to kick the can down the road one year if they split their 2019/20 bonus overage over the next two seasons, saving them another $850,000 this season, but then if as you say, both Hughes and Pettersson hit their Schedule A bonuses again, which seems reasonable, they would have $2.55 MM next year or $1.7 MM next year and $850,000 in 21/22 minimum. And it would get worse next year, if Elias earns any of his unique schedule B bonuses payable by the Canucks. Yikes another $ 2 million. At least most of Hollands cap difficulties he has inherited (which still indicts previous Oilers management), Jim Benning is fully responsible for all the Canuck’s cap problems.


Will Baertschi even clear waivers?


I think the Canucks would be happy if he doesn’t.


It would be absolutely shocking if he didn’t. He cleared last year and I don’t think any team is taking on that player at $3.6M – there are better players on the UFA market that will be available for less.



John Chambers

Winnipeg lost Trouba, Byfuglien, and Myers in a single offseason – the aggregate cap hit for those three RD’s exceeding $20M.

Cheveldayoff may end up replacing them with the trio of DeMelo, Hamonic, and Pionk, a slight downgrade in quality but for around $9M.

As Larry David would say: “pretty pretty pretty nice”


*”pretty, pretty, pretty good”*

Elgin R

Alternative (Alternative) Lineup for Opening Night

RNH – McDavid – Kassian
Kahun – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Ennis – Turris – JP
Neal – JJ – Archi

Nurse – Bear
Jones – Barrie
Lagesson – Larsson


Note: Tippet probably goes with KRusty over Lagesson

Doug McLachlan

Lagesson would really have to wow to dress ahead of Russell.

Like the player combos this line-up creates thought:

PP1 is RNH, Draisaitl, Neal, McDavid and Barrie
PP2 is Ennis, Turris, Yamamoto, JP and Bear (Bouchard if he dresses)
PK1 is RNH, JJ, Russell and Larsson
PK2 is Draisaitl, Archibald, Nurse and Bear

First shift after PK or TV timeout:
Draisaitl, McDavid, Yamamoto, Jones and Barrie


Kahun is better than Ennis. I’d have him on PP2 instead.


What is a PP2??????


My goodness no to Drai on PK2, not even a little bit.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s very good on the PK but he can’t be a top 2 pairing PK guy and take on those minutes.

To me, he’s an emergency PK guy (when PK guys are in the box or out with injury) but he can’t be primary.

Fatigue is real.

Yamamoto killed penalties down the stretch. Haas killed a bit and is known as a good PK guy in Europe. Both Holland and Coach T. have noted they plan on Turris killing penalties.


Totally agree on this. One of the real advantages of depth is that playing time becomes a commodity for the coaching staff.

Don’t get me wrong. I think some guys are more suited to PK than others but a lot of it is a willingness to do the hard things involved in a successful PK. Blocking shots, getting in the way, fighting for the puck on the boards etc. It isn’t the fun stuff for a lot of guys.

But when you have depth and playing time is hard to get the reason to do those things gets stronger.

If the Oilers need Drai to play on the PK they have the wrong guys in their bottom six imo.

Last edited 10 months ago by defmn

Yes with JJ on a short leash
And Jones-Lars
(Although I want Laggs to get in there instead)

Last edited 10 months ago by GordieHoweHatTrick
Harpers Hair

Two NHL teams are taking an innovative approach to goaltending by expanding the staff and resources devoted to the position.
One of them is the Florida Panthers.


Harpers Hair

Panthers gotta recoup some ROI on that juicy Bob contract


I agree Hamonic to Edmonton is unlikely, but if he’s willing to sign for $1M or $1.5M then it would be good business for Holland.

Presumably accompanied by some form of Larsson trade, though other scenarios are also possible.

Hamonic aside this should be an exciting few weeks of player movement around the league.

Darth Tu

Puljujarvi on the left wing, eh? Has he been playing much there in Finland? I’d be tempted to flip Archibald and Puljujarvi if we’re sticking him on the 4th line.

No Chiasson or Neal as well – I’ll be very surprised if that actually happens for game 1.

Harpers Hair

Thank you for this.


The NHL will have the advantage of watching and taking from the other 3 major leagues that all be playing before them. I would guess they’re talking to the other leagues to see what protocols worked best, which ones got most pushback from players/coaches/managers/owners, and which ones didn’t work as planned.
Hopefully they can take and use the info to not only get started soon, but complete the season as well.

Harpers Hair

Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) Tweeted:
@FriedgeHNIC @cotsonika @NHLdotcom Boy, anytime you’ve got a chance to be secluded in Newark you really need to jump on it



Newwark..Newark… so big they named it twice.

Harpers Hair

Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) Tweeted:
@cotsonika @NHLdotcom Potential hubs could be Columbus, Newark, Vegas and Edmonton/Toronto. But, as Bettman indicated, not permanent bubbles as we saw last summer