A year ago, Ethan Bear, Kailer Yamamoto and Caleb Jones filled holes on the NHL roster and gave the Edmonton Oilers more quality and depth in important spots. It’s early, but this season Jesse Puljujarvi appears to be winning an NHL job on a top-9 line, and perhaps Evan Bouchard and William Lagesson will also find their way to NHL regular status. After those men, who’s next?
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.
- New Lowetide: Edmonton Oilers report card for January
- Lowetide: Oilers’ line chemistry finally coming into view
- Lowetide: Some of the Oilers’ Russian prospects less than a year from the NHL
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers need misfiring elements to come together — and fast
- Lowetide: 3 auditioning Oilers who should be given time to find their groove
- Lowetide: It’s time for the Oilers to play prospect Evan Bouchard in NHL games
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi is ready for his No. 1 line audition
- Lowetide: Oilers’ scoring wing prospects having an impact.
- Lowetide: Oilers Kailer Yamamoto is the real deal.
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers risers and fallers: Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones among those stumbling early
- Lowetide: Oilers goaltending depth in a state of flux.
- Lowetide: Oilers’ No. 3 line has been a source of anxiety early this season
- Lowetide: Is this peak Connor McDavid?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers opening night roster: A player-by-player breakdown
- Lowetide: Oilers risers and fallers and how they impact the opening night roster
- Lowetide: Will Ken Holland let it ride in goal for the Oilers this season?
Philip Broberg is the next top-10 overall pick on the way, from the 2019 draft. His year over year numbers, possibly impacted by injury, look a little flat (both seasons SHL):
- 2019-20: 45 games, 1-7-8, 56 shots, 13:59 per game, 13:19 even strength, 24-23 on ice even strength goal differential
- 2020-21: 31 games, 2-8-10, 77 shots, 17:42 per game, 14:23 even strength, 15-22 on ice even strength goal differential
He has increased his playing time and is facing tougher competition. His TOI on the PP (2:12 a game, 1-5-6, 4.84 points per 60) has increased markedly and he plays 1:07 on the PK. I think he’ll play in the NHL but am less convinced now that it will be in 2021-22. That’s partly due to the backlog of talent on LH defense.
Dmitri Samorukov may be ahead of Broberg on the depth chart for LH defense. He lacks draft pedigree (third round in 2017) but is a little older and his future NHL role is more defined after observing his performance in the KHL.
- 2020-21: 47 games, 2-6-8, 68 shots, 17:31 per game, 38-14 on ice even strength goal differential
Based on his season in the world’s second best league, Samorukov should be considered a strong candidate for plug-and-play third pairing in 2021-22. What that means for potential competition (Caleb Jones, William Lagesson, Kris Russell, Broberg) one can’t be sure. He does have one more year of waiver eligibility on his contract and that could be a factor in where he lands to begin next season.
Ryan McLeod is in a terrific spot for next season because his talent (speedy center) dovetails perfectly with a specific team need. I think he would have had an outside chance of playing in the NHL this season in a normal year.
- 2020-21 Zug (Swiss): 15 games, 4-7-11, 45.2 faceoff percentage, 12:24 TOI, 4-4-8 EV in 156 minutes (3.08 points per 60).
This is the first real chance we’ve had to observe this young man’s offense in a league that also publishes time on ice. As has been the case all down the line, his offensive output is a little better than might have been implied as he entered pro hockey.
I think names like Tyler Benson and Cooper Marody could emerge as contributors, but will need a little luck. Benson, as an example, would need names like Joakim Nygard and Tyler Ennis to move on in order to get a clear shot at a bottom-six role for next season.
I don’t expect Jesse Puljujarvi to score two goals every night for the rest of the season, but do believe the young man’s confidence will be high. Important for him to have success in these early months after returning to the NHL. It’s always been this way. Consider this passage about Dave Hunter, a young Oilers (WHA) winger who had a hard time scoring his first goal of the season. Quoting the December 8, 1978 Hockey News:
The rookie left winger, an accomplished checker despite his inexperience, moved into a position beside Gretzky and Flett and made sound contributions on almost every shift. It was clear that Hunter’s two weeks in Dallas (CHL) had restored his confidence. In that regard, his first pro goal helped too. “I was beginning to think I’d never score,” he said after beating Mike Liut with a high shot. “The longer you go, the harder it seems to get.”
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun show this morning, TSN 1260 starting at 10. Ryan Holt, Bakersfield Condors play by play broadcaster, will give us an idea about the current roster and the season to come. Frank Seravalli from TSN will update on canceled games and what that might mean to the final standings, plus McDavid-Draisaitl having a major impact on the scoring race. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!