by Lowetide

In the spring of 2019, in the weeks before the Edmonton Oilers hired Ken Holland as general manager, there were rampant rumours surrounding Mark Hunter as an option for the top job in Edmonton. I looked at Hunter’s drafting record, 2015-2018, and compared it to Edmonton’s at that time. Almost two years later, it’s an interesting conversation for a whole new reason.


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.


  • Oilers in October 2015: 1-4-0, goal differential -5
  • Oilers in October 2016: 4-1-0, goal differential +4
  • Oilers in October 2017: 1-4-0, goal differential -8
  • Oilers in October 2018: 3-2-0, goal differential -3
  • Oilers in October 2019: 5-0-0, goal differential +8
  • Oilers in Month 1 2021: 1-3-0, goal differential -5

The October 2015 and 2017 teams were 1-4-0 after five, this year’s model can climb toward daylight with a win against Toronto. Recent seasons have been unkind to the Oilers when facing the Maple Leafs, but this is a new year and (as we’ll see in a minute) early indications have both teams a little loose in five on five goal suppression.


  • At home to: Vancouver, Vancouver (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
  • At home to: Montreal, Montreal (Expected: 1-1-0)(Actual 0-2-0)
  • On the road to: Toronto, Toronto, Winnipeg, Winnipeg (Expected 1-2-1)
  • At home to: Toronto, Toronto, Ottawa (Expected 2-1-0)
  • Overall expected result: 5-5-1, 11 points in 11 games
  • Current results: 1-3-0, 2 points after four games

Through four games (all numbers five on five), Edmonton is 7-11 (-4) goal differential and owns a 47 percent shot share. Also through four (at five on five), the TML is 6-8 (-2) goal differential and have a 55 percent shot share. Save percentages at five on five are .899 (Edmonton) and .889 (Toronto).


When I looked at the Hunter picks over those four drafts (the article is here) it seemed to me that any Toronto advantage in spring 2019 had more to do with local knowledge of Mitch Marner and some luck (Jesse Puljujarvi wasn’t working out because of usage by the Oilers). It also appeared at that time TML had more prospects trending in a good direction.

These years later, things have changed. Toronto’s 2015 draft has the jewel of Hunter’s drafts (Mitch Marner) and Travis Dermott, who is an NHL defenseman who played third pair. I thought Dmytro Timashov and Jeremy Bracco had a chance but neither man is established going on six years later.

At the time, Edmonton’s 2015 draft looked like Connor McDavid and four distant bells, but as it turns out three defensemen (Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, John Marino) have developed. All of them play tougher minutes than Dermott, and that gives Edmonton the edge. Toronto had two second and two third-round picks, Edmonton had none in those rounds. Distinct advantage for the Oilers, even excluding the first rounders (as we should).

Toronto’s 2016 draft included Auston Matthews, who is a stunning hockey player. Edmonton, selecting just three picks later, grabbed big winger Jesse Puljujarvi. As time passes the entire draft has a meh feel, but Toronto has more hopefuls (Yegor Korshkov, Carl Grundstrom, Joseph Woll, Adam Brooks) than Edmonton (Tyler Benson, Filip Berglund). Edge to Toronto but Puljujarvi’s re-emergence gives Edmonton’s 2016 a more hopeful look.

The 2017 draft looked to have some momentum for Toronto, as first-round pick Timothy Liljegren had been rated highly but fell because teams were grabbing forwards early and then the run on blue started just before Toronto but they did well.

Edmonton’s 2017 draft is looking good currently, with Kailer Yamamoto and Dmitri Samorukov leading the way.

Toronto in 2018 drafted Rasmus Sandin (he has played in the NHL) and a few players who are matriculating (Sean Durzi, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev). Edmonton has Evan Bouchard (he has played in the NHL) and players who are pushing (Ryan McLeod, Olivier Rodrigue).

Edmonton’s 2015 draft was not expected (McDavid aside) even two years ago. Waiting five years is an important element in evaluating drafts and scouting directors.


I run these twice a year or so, it isn’t all inclusive but gives us an idea about how well Edmonton is covered at each position. Here’s the list and then we’ll talk about positional draft targets for 2021:

If your favourite prospect isn’t there I missed him, don’t hate him. Oilers possible position targets at the 2021 draft include complete D, goalie, two-way defense, skill center.


At 10 this morning, TSN 1260, we’ll hit the ground running with a strong guest list. Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal will discuss the third goalie carousel, Bear/Jones and Jesse Puljujarvi. At 10:40 Andrew Stoeten will talk Blue Jays and their major signing (George Springer). At 11, it’s Joe Osborne from OddsShark to talk NFL playoffs. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!


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Let’s have some real talk on Darnell Nurse. I can acknowledge he’s an absolute unit skating the puck through the neutral zone, third only behind 97 and 29.

He also showed a touch more creativity on at least one cycle shift with a subtle pass to the high/middle of the zone that extended the pressure for a good 30 seconds instead of the patented muffin-wrister shift ender.

But by Gods will the defensive zone reads ever improve:

  • overplay on Marner that led to the PP
  • completely oblivious on the PK down low play twice in succession. Once Nylander passed it behind him to a wide open Matthews and then seconds later he lay prone for 10 seconds allowing Nylander to just flip it over him forcing Koskinen to rob Matthews
  • completely blown coverage on a d-zone face off leaving Marner wide open in front of the net. (This was probably missed unless you were watching closely as it didn’t go anywhere). Actually kind of funny to see him stand beside Bear in the corner before the light went on and he high-tailed it to the front of the net


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Well that game had more grinding than a strip joint but I’ll take the win. Maybe having zero chemistry on your forward lines is some sort of mad geniality from the coaching staff…

Koskinen let in a weak one but made up for it and more on the game as a whole.

The defensive effort was good but the offense was just bad outside a couple of shifts. Tippett is going full Coyote hockey right now.

The highlight of the game for me was Jesse cleaning out Marner in the neutral zone. Man he’d be a monster if someone could teach him to deliver hits like that consistently, his balance without the puck is incredible and oddly poor with it though in part I think that’s still partly jitters, haven’t seen it as much in Finland or international games, it excists but not as pronounced.

In other news Raphael Lavoie, who had an assist and 8 shots on goal in a game yesterday, has been fined for not wearing a neck guard. It was made mandatory this season and they’ve clamped down hard on it. Kemp had an assist as well in a rare win for Väsby.

In sadder news former Oiler Tommy Salo was sentenced to two months in prison for dui. Says he’s been seeking help and has been sober since it happened so that’s good. Fight the good fight Tommy!


Some good and bad in there but thanks for the update.


My level of concern with Turris grows with each passing game.

I don’t mind guys not hitting the score sheet and there are plenty of good players who haven’t scored yet around the league.

Unlike the likes Kahun, JP, and others, I just haven’t seen much offensive spark. I wonder if the wheels are there to get into the soft areas. Or forecheck. Or even back check at times.

By eye it seemed as though Jason Spezza, at age 37, is a faster skater than Turris.


Encouraging to see them win a game like this. You have to win games several ways, it can’t all be dangles and backdoor plays every night.

Also thought the 4th line had a stronger game. The third line needs work however these three guys have NEVER played with each other before. They need time to create a little chemistry. I think JP ends up on the top line before long, and I actually think Kass would be a good fit on that 3rd line with Archie. Some love for Archibald tonight too, solid hit that took Jumbo out of the game.

I also am loving the new stats they have on the broadcasts. Shift lengths, shot speed, possession time. As soon as these stats are publically available, this is the new possession metric the advanced analytics community has been waiting for IMO.

Harpers Hair

This, as I suggested years ago, right here, could have been solved by employing a couple of monkeys with stop watches.

Instead, we’ve had to wade through Corsi, Fenwick and a gaggle of other nonsense.

Baseball has been tracking pitch speed for about half a century staring with the Jugs Gun and now can show you speed, pitch selection, spin, and curve in a heartbeat.

This information in hockey was already readily available but the Statzis were too lazy to do the actual work instead relying on spreadsheets of specious numbers to “approximate” possession.

Progress I guess.


My recollection is that the NHL used to employ monkeys with stop watches to measure zone time aeons ago.

When they stopped, someone (?Vic Ferrari) showed Corsi correlated well with zone time, so it was used as a proxy.

In other words, blame the NHL, not the analytics community.


So you know this because they tried to recruit you? Asking for a friend.


I thought is was a much improved effort. They had more quickness tonight, especially noticed speed from Kahun and Nygard. Everybody seemed to be playing quicker and sharper with the puck.
A quick note on Kassian I know he made a poor play in the corner on the GA but his shifts after that I thought were his best hockey of the season so far, smashed the crossbar should have been a goal for him there.


That play in the corner is going to happen with elite players like Matthews on the ice. Kassian got Datsyuk’d. It happens.


Its going to happen but it can’t happen – not in the third period when defending a small lead. If Kassian is giving full effort, that doesn’t happen – end stop.


I agree with you, but elite guys will find strange and unusual ways to kill you. The safest play for Kassian, in retrospect, may have been just eating that puck.

But hockey is a fast game. Mistakes happen at breakneck speed, and the efficiency with which Matthews stripped that puck away was vintage Datsyuk.

Koskinen should have had that, but here again, it’s one of the top EV goal scorers in the league with one of the heaviest shots and quickest releases picking a hole that’s maybe 4 inches with his head up, as if we were contemplating a pass.

For me, I tip my cap to the other guy.

I agree wholeheartedly on the play that led to extended Leafs zone time and the penalty to 97. That kind of play pisses me off, because Kassian had passing options, a dump option, and really didn’t have to try and dangle there.


Except #MarshmellowMan makes those same mistakes all the time, for his entire career, except for brief moments when he is in need of a new contract.


It wasn’t his only weak play of the game that hurt the team though. There was the turnover at the Leaf blue that had the puck going back the other way and led to an Oilers penalty. He also did turn the puck over after his gaffe – behind the Leafs net – not a bad place to turn it over but it gave possession back to the Leafs in the dying minutes.

Yes, he almost scored but he also should have scored – he needs to bury that.

I’m not trying to go all Godot here but while he did have some good moments, he made glaring mistakes and that has been a theme for too long of a time now.


A few thoughts…

Larson owes Koeokoooekkoo a socially distanced dinner for his desperate recovery/scramble on top of the crease after Larson’s horrific pass to the low slot. No harm, no foul?

Wrong…Larson looked fragile on his next shift…had an easy short pass option out of the corner to a stationary Drai but instead chose to flip a puck up in the sky which, If I recall correctly, didn’t get out of the zone and resulted in a turnover.

I loved seeing Pulluuujjjarrriviii blow up Marner in the 3rd…that poor guy has grown 17 inches in the last 5 years, his coordination and fine motor skills need time to catch up to the Lankiness…reminds me of watching Chara in Long Island in 1998…he could barely handle a pass because his stick blade was 9 feet away from his brain.

Shore is excellent in the 4C role….Turris is shite in the 3C role….I wouldn’t be surprised to see them balance out as 3CL and 3CR.

Koski Is fine…looking back…as long as he stays healthy, it might be a benefit for him to have played the first 12-15 games to get dialed in.

Bear is looking mortal this year, but I have no doubt he will continue to improve to his 300th game.

K Russel, for all his faults and detractors….seems to have adapted his game a bit since Tippett arrived, I see him make a nice breakout pass once in a while.

After Larsson terrible display in the early shift of the 3rd period, he came back strong after the empty net…he’s a perfect dman to put out in the dying minutes of a game when you’re holding a lead….If I was tipp, I would play 7 D, put Bouch on the 3rd pair for most of Larsson’s shifts…let Larsson play huge PK mins, and close out games…


You mention a gaffe by Larsson and then a strong play at the end but he made WAY more strong plays tonight. He made a gaffe – almost all d-men do every game unless their last name is Pronger.

I though Larsson was fantastic tonight overall. He made a couple breakout passes that were skilled. I will take that player every night.

Yes, Mikko was fine but, damn, he can’t let that goal in. Ya, Zack started it with the brutal effort but that can’t go in – we are lucky that goal didn’t kill the entire night’s effort.


I believe it was Shore who tried to flip the puck out of their end and muffed.


I think that was indeed Larsson.


The next step is to have both a structure and offensive creativity…I agree with figuring out the structure first with the talent on this team. Still hope to see DRY reunited for next game. If they’re practicing tomorrow, perfect time for some auditions on McDavid’s LW.


The Kahun/Drai/Kailer line was fantastic tonight.

The biggest forward fix currently needed is a Kass replacement – he can’t play that many minutes with the mistakes he is making. He is hurting the team.


Barring a couple of mistakes it was Kassian’s best game of the season. He appeared to me to be much more tuned in. This was to my viewing Barrie’s best game as well as he was more aggressive and was playing proactive versus reactive D. A workman effort by the team as a whole.


To say it was his best game of the season isn’t saying much. Aside from the assist in game 1, he’s done very little of notice on the positive side.

Also, the mistakes weren’t just mistakes, they were glaring mistakes with negative consequences. Its not like they were “one-offs” – they’ve been happening nightly, for a while.


5 games in. No even strength goals for Draisaitl. Kahun and Yamamoto can’t get him the puck to shoot in scoring areas. Yamamoto is an elite 3rd guy in the top six. He is not a #2 (yet). Kahun is a very similar player…to similar.

Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl can both make plays and shoot/score from range.

Without Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers most powerful weapon, Draisaitl’s shot, is neutered. And neither Kahun, nor Yamamoto can score from distance, which neuters Draisaitl’s playmaking ability. Nuge can score from range.


Scoring has been changed – Jesse given the assist on the Drai’s goal (along with Nuge).


Good god. Was he dehydrated? That’s some seriously drai poo.

Minister D-

There should be some kind of moratorium on Adam Larsson handling a hockey puck.


Human or rubber, he’s there to maim…


Larsson was fantastic tonight and made a couple really nice passes – one diagonal outlet pass across the neutral zone and another in the offensive zone.

I take tonight’s Adam Larsson every game.


Shore much better than Khaira😊


dac189: Sportsnet poll on who will have the most points by end of season.
Draisaitl 7%
Marner 21%
Matthews 31%
McDavid 41%
Surprised to see Marner ahead of Drai

Sportsnet karma: 1st star Drai


The biggest issue tonight was, sigh, Zack Kassian. The man had some nice shifts (could offensive zone bangs and good passes) but two egregious mistakes – the offensive zone/blueline turnover leading to the PK and the lazy defensive zone board battle leading to the goal against (Mikko shares that culpability for sure – awful goal).

I thought he would sit for the game and Friday but he got a TON of ice time after that so I guess Tip isn’t overly concerned.

Other negative, damn Mikko, you can’t let that goal in. Lucky!


Tough giveaway, but I’ll take tonight’s Zack over his last 20 games.

Bulging Twine

I don’t believe there were any breakaways or 2 on 1’s against.



yea tight game for both teams. See what happens in the next one. No style points but was a huge win for a team that really needed one..


Boring hockey. Love it!!! Bring on the trap😊


Well, that wasn’t a trap but a better commitment to defensive zone coverage and getting in shooting lanes and battling in the defensive zone and net front (mainly).


Exactly. Imagine what they could do playing the trap. I don’t remember anybody complaining about beating Detroit in 2006. You?


I don’t care how they win as long as they win – I was just pointing out that tonight was not a trap based defence.


Ugly ugly win

but we needed that

Decidedly Skeptical Fan

I’ll take the ugly win … I am tired of the ugly losses.


Like a pug. So ugly it’s kinda cute?


Cool, great to get the win!!


Regulation wins are the best!

Huge game for Adam Larsson – he was huge.

Loved the 4th line.

Loved Kahun.

Loved Larsson.

Bear back to being last season’s Bear




That’s so 2 minutes ago


took a while to find an explanation point under the sofa cushion.


Ugly game but sweet 2 points!!!!!


Please tell me that did NOT break Larsson’s hand….


The curse of the Belanger triangle at 3c


Atta boy Josh – do what Zack couldn’t do a few minutes ago – put the game on ice.

With that said, he didn’t quite reach center – that was a potential icing if he missed.




Great defensive play by Drai there.




Oh, for eff sakes Zack – bury that.


Shore has gotten better game after game – nice positive. I’ve even seen some of that good skating we had discussed a few days back


Will someone take the skate guards off of Turris feet please?


And ruin a perfectly good set of blades?


He has the lucic effect

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Tip giving Kassian some love with a Baby shower gift of a shift. .🤯


Shocked Kassian is on the ice – after his offensive blue line turnover than the ultra terrible defensive zone effort…..


Its game management time – pucks get and pucks get deep – every time.


That was the ugliest powerplay I’ve ever seen McDavid take part in.


You weren’t watching on Monday?

Decidedly Skeptical Fan

That’s more like it.


Jesse will get himself a PP assist by being in front of the net and battling.


Unfortunately, they awarded assists to RNH and Connor


They may change it – I thought it went off Jesse’s skate – maybe not though


They just did. happy for JP. A pretty good hit on marner a shift later. Overall a pretty good night for the young lad


but this pp is struggling


It seems I can’t even think shutout for Koski. Was hoping for some redemption for him…



WOW we really needed that one!


PP looking terrible but they are so talented, they got themselves a nice looking PP goal – Drai!


Yet another Oiler PP

Have to convert


Really like Kahun


Matthew’s!!! Oh, right…

Godot punching drywall as we speak…


Kahun continues his plus game and draws a PP – an important PP – it needs to at least create momentum if it doesn’t score.


Zack Kassian and Mikko Koskinen


Kassian shouldn’t see the ice again in Toronto.


BAD goal


Kassian loses a defensive zone battle and Matthews puts in a weak one on Mikko.


I’ll take commitment to defence and game management winning over creative losing….


You’ll have neither, just pain.


Great shift by Larsson – tought battle win, zone exit, solid pass in the offensive zone – his best game of the year – very solid to this point and some nice passes – about 3 of them.


Yes, Joe, when you get to our age, everything hurts, all the time….