As much as I shake my fist at his memory, Sam Pollock taught my generation about team building and planning for tomorrow. Pollock made some great trades in keeping his teams at the top over the years, none more impressive than the deal he made with the Detroit Red Wings on January 13, 1971.
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: Lowetide’s Oilers trade deadline quiz: Test your knowledge
- Lowetide: Scouring the hockey world for a left winger for the Oilers’ skill line
- Lowetide: How the Oilers could benefit at the trade deadline from relaxed quarantine rules
- Lowetide: Every major transaction Ken Holland has made as Oilers GM
- Jonathan Willis: Five questions the Oilers need to answer by the NHL trade deadline
- Lowetide: Carter Savoie’s college season suggests Oilers could have a real goal scoring prospect
- Lowetide: Has Oilers goalie prospect Stuart Skinner turned a corner?
- Lowetide: Where does Zack Kassian fit on the Oilers, now and in the future?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ midseason depth chart informs their needs for trade deadline and beyond
- Jonathan Willis: A position-by-position look at the Oilers after 30 games
- Lowetide: How will Oilers GM Ken Holland make room in the lineup for Evan Bouchard?
- Lowetide: Are the Oilers and Elvis Merzlikins a trade match?
- Lowetide: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Dominik Kahun, Dylan Holloway and a perfect storm on the Oilers’ left side
- Lowetide: Why Oilers GM Ken Holland shouldn’t wait for the deadline to make a trade
- Lowetide: Three Oilers prospects form hottest line in the AHL
- Lowetide: Oilers’ top 20 prospects, trade deadline edition
- Lowetide: Why are some Oilers fans hesitant to give Darnell Nurse his due?
- Jonathan Willis: Can Oilers improve enough to beat TML it in May?
- Lowetide: Top trade targets for the Oilers at the 2021 deadline
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers 2021 trade value rankings
- Lowetide: Is this peak Connor McDavid?
OILERS AFTER 36 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 15-18-3, 33 points; goal differential -16
- Oilers in 2016-17: 18-12-6, 42 points; goal differential +5
- Oilers in 2017-18: 17-17-2, 36 points; goal differential -5
- Oilers in 2018-19: 18-15-3, 39 points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in 2019-20: 19-13-4, 42 points; goal differential -1
- Oilers in 2020-21: 22-13-1, 45 points; goal differential +17
The Oilers have been fire since losing three in a row in the before time, and brought everything full circle back in the Big Smoke by grabbing three of a possible four points over the weekend. We’re on to Montreal.
OILERS AFTER 37 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 15-19-3, 33 points; goal differential -18
- Oilers in 2016-17: 19-12-6, 44 points; goal differential +6
- Oilers in 2017-18: 17-18-2, 36 points; goal differential -6
- Oilers in 2018-19: 18-16-3, 39 points; goal differential -3
- Oilers in 2019-20: 19-14-4, 42 points; goal differential -2
- Oilers in 2020-21: 22-13-1, 45 points; goal differential +17
The 2016-17 club is the closest match to this year, the only two teams who have a goal differential on the plus side. Even the 2019-20 club was on the blue side of lonesome at this point (December 19, 2019) last campaign. This is the good stuff, and projects as 70 points over 56 games. That’s a team pushing for the top of the division, 103-points pace in an 82-game season.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MARCH
- At home to: Toronto, Toronto, Calgary (Expected: 1-1-1) (Actual 1-2-0)
- At home to: Ottawa, Ottawa, Ottawa (Expected: 2-1-0) (Actual 3-0-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver, Calgary, Calgary (Expected: 2-1-0) (Actual 1-2-0)
- At home to Winnipeg, Winnipeg (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual 2-0-0)
On the road to: Montreal, Montreal, Montreal (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Toronto, Toronto, Montreal (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 1-0-1)
- Overall expected result: 8-5-1, 17 points in 14 games
- Current results: 8-4-1, 17 points in 13 games
The 3-0 run against Ottawa and the 2-0 stanza against Winnipeg really set the month up, but I was impressed with Edmonton’s determination in Toronto. There’s a lot of talent on this team and the Oilers can win more than one way. They proved it last night.
LINES, LAST NIGHT
- McDavid-Draisaitl-Puljujarvi played 15:58, going 7-10 shots, 0-1 goals, 1-10 HDSC and 12-17 Corsi five on five. This line didn’t have much going and were hemmed in several times, especially early. Got a steady diet of Muzzin-Holl, and the Matthews line. McDavid had the only HDSC and the first assist on the winning goal. Draisaitl had an assist on the same OT goal, turned the puck over and didn’t seem to be as sharp as normal. Puljujarvi had a shot, a giveaway, and several nice moments where he derailed an opposition rush and helped get the puck back.
- Nuge-Turris-Yamamoto played 11:39, going 7-6 shots, 1-1 goals, 3-1 HDSC and 13-10 Corsi five on five. Nuge had an assist, four shot attempts and hunted the puck aggressively. He had one HDSC on the evening. Turris scored, just his second goal of the year, and looked more involved. Yamamoto was the best player of the three, getting the puck out, passing well and forechecking like a demon. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him move up to the No. 1 line in the next shuffle.
- Shore-Khaira-Archibald played 10:01, going 4-2 shots, 1-0 goals, 2-0 HDSC and 5-4 Corsi five on five. Shore had his best game, including one HDSC and lots of good work getting the puck out of Edmonton’s zone, plus a clean 1:03 on the penalty kill. Khaira picked up another assist, won eight of 13 in the dot and played a physical game. Archibald scored an early goal on a nice breakaway deke, he has six goals from the quiet part of the roster and that’s impressive.
- Ennis-Haas-Kassian played 7:18, 0-4 shots, no goals, no HDSC and 3-8 Corsi five on five. Ennis tried a lot of things and nothing worked but he kept slugging. Haas was quiet, Shore took his PK time. Kassian has the steam engine going and my guess is he is going to move up the depth chart at some point in April.
PAIRINGS AND GOALIE
- Nurse-Barrie played 20:09, going 3-17 shots, 0-1 goals, 1-11 HDSC and 8-26 Corsi five on five. Like the top line, the numbers are ghastly. They didn’t look sharp, especially early when the TML had all kinds of jump and Edmonton looked slow. The trick is to survive and they did it. Nurse scored the winner, he is money this year with the puck on his stick. He did everything right on the two on one, including a quick release. Barrie had several chaotic moments, it was not his best night. He was not effective on the Marner goal in any way.
- Russell-Bear played 16:10, going 4-4, 1-0 goals, 1-0 HDSC and 12-9 Corsi five on five. Russell had an assist, a shot, three giveaways and four blocks. He’s playing in the defensive end. Bear is playing well everywhere, great passing and standing up at the blue line well. Two shots, lots of good decisions. He couldn’t get the puck out at one point in the third period and worked for 20 seconds to recover, then sent a quality pass down the ice for a change. Such a fine young player.
- Lagesson-Larsson played 10:22, going 5-4 shots, 1-0 goals, 3-0 HDSC and 7-8 Corsi five on five. Lagesson made a great pass to Shore for a chance, and was much improved in his decisions over Saturday night. Larsson had a big moment when he shot the puck from the blue line and had it bounce off Turris for a major goal in the game. He hit seven guys and got an eight count on Tavares before showing some mercy.
- Mike Smith had a fantastic night, really in a zone. Stopped 29 of 31, .935 and stoned a talented Toronto group after some early wobble. He’s a big story in this season. His stop on Mikayev was incredible.
JANUARY 13, 1971
The Montreal Canadiens played the Philadelphia Flyers on January 10, 1971. It was a Sunday. The club was mixing in youth and experience all over the roster, and it was less than impressive (4-2-3 since December 20). The Saturday game against Los Angeles was a 1-0 victory, speedy Yvan Cournoyer scoring the only goal with assists from the establishment (Jean Beliveau) and the department of youth (Marc Tardif).
On Sunday, the Habs scored first on the power play, Jacques Lemaire from Beliveau and Cournoyer. Bill Collins, who was a good player (29 goals with Minnesota North Stars in 1969-70) but a fringe contributor with Montreal, scored his sixth and final goal as a Hab (assists Claude Larose and JC Tremblay) to make it 2-0.
At that point, against an expansion team, you’d start to look ahead to next week. As a Sunday game, it might be on the CBC Radio, and if it was I’d have been listening to it in my Dad’s car, running the battery down, thinking about the Bruins and the week to come. Early in the second period, Bill Lesuk (a masterful penalty killer) scored at even strength for Philly, and Serge Bernier (the first draft pick in Flyers history) counted another to make the score 2-2. In the third, one goal (Lesuk again) decided the game and sent Montreal to a 4-3-3 record in the team’s last 10 games.
I think that might have been the most nervous time in Sam Pollock’s run as Habs general manager. Montreal missed the 1970 playoffs, the kids (rookies that year were Marc Tardif, Guy Lapointe, Rejean Houle, Phil Roberto, Bobby Sheehan, Fran Huck, Phil Myre, and at the end of the season, Ken Dryden) were good but inconsistent, and Pollock couldn’t afford to miss the playoffs twice.
I’ve thought a lot about what Pollock would have been going through during that Philly game. The Lesuk goals, the Flyers win, appear to have been the final straw. On the following Wednesday, Pollock pulled the trigger. He gave up:
- Mickey Redmond, 23, a sharp-shooting RW who had delivered 14-16-30 in 40 games with Montreal. He was one of the most promising young scoring wingers in the league but wasn’t building on his 27-goal season in 1969-70.
- Bill Collins, 27, who had scored all those goals for Minnesota, was a part-time C-W and posted just 6-2-8 in 40 games with Montreal.
- Guy Charron, 22, who had been up and down between the NHL and the minors, scoring 2-2-4 in 15 games.
Detroit sent Frank Mahovlich to Montreal. Gulp. Mahovlich turned 33 on the day Philadelphia beat Montreal. His numbers for the Red Wings (35 games, 14-18-32) that year were similar to Redmond’s and the Big M would be out of the NHL just a little over three years after the deal.
Didn’t matter. Mahovlich would play for the Canadiens against the Minnesota North Stars the following day, January 14, 1971. He scored in the first period, assists to Cournoyer and Terry Harper. Montreal would win Stanley, Pollock would keep his job and win more silver before he left the game. That Stanley, 1971, lives with me and shall be there for eternity. Credit Pollock for getting the guy when he needed it.
So, to my point. What would you consider a reasonable set of assets out in order for Ken Holland to acquire Taylor Hall from the Buffalo Sabres?
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, we hit the ground running on TSN 1260 with a preview of tonight’s Oilers-Canadiens game. We’ll chat with Andrew Stoeten about the Blue Jays roster, expectations and season to come. At 11, Joey Alfieri from TSN690 Montreal will give us the latest on a complicated game for the Canadiens after a long week of activity. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!