The Oilers played a game in Montreal but it might have been better to fly home and send the points via Canada Post. People get upset when their favourite team loses, but a game like that one (schedule loss) gives the viewer a chance to move along to something else. And so I did.
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 Jonathan Willis: Who says no? NHL execs evaluate your Oilers trade proposals for Taylor Hall, John Gibson and more
- 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 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: 22-14-1, 45 points; goal differential +13
As it turns out, the 2016-17 season is a quality match for 2020-21. In the coming days I’ll look at that team, the decisions made by Peter Chiarelli at the deadline and the disaster that was Andrej Sekera’s injury.
WHAT WE EXPECTED 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 1-1-1)
- Overall expected result: 8-5-1, 17 points in 14 games
- Current results: 8-5-1, 17 points in 14 games
Well that’s top dead center as a prediction. Now, two of the games were cancelled but that’s not my fault. I’m going to call this a victory for hard science and blind guesses.
AHL OPENING NIGHT 2017
I have a fascination with opening night rosters that goes back to baseball days. In my lifelong effort to adopt nerdy interests with no financial or intellectual value, I have played close attention to hockey’s opening night rosters, too. The 2017-18 season debut for the Bakersfield Condors was especially enjoyable. The Stockton Heat, Calgary’s top affiliate, were the opponent and it was a chance for me to do some background work in my long-term effort to big Kent Wilson who wrote at that time for Flames Nation and later The Athletic.
Kent is a good man and a mensch. He’s one of the people in the world you’re better for knowing. For years I would tease him about the Flames horrible drafting (“Nice pick, Kent, that Hunter Smith is skilled!” and he’d retort with Mitchell Moroz’ latest stats) and we would send zingers back and forth along the QE2.
At some point, and by that I mean 2015’s draft, both organizations would straighten up and fly right (or better) and produce real talent. The 2017-18 opening night was the first chance to see how the young players could shine.
Here are the prospect rosters for each who played NHL games after that day. We begin with the Condors.
- RW Jesse Puljujarvi: First-round selection in 2016, a year later starting in the minors. Now at 147 NHL games since AHL opening night 2017.
- RD Ethan Bear was a fifth round pick from 2015 who has been in the NHL for 113 games and counting. A major draft success for a team that rarely saw a player chosen after the first round get an NHL cup of coffee.
- LD Caleb Jones: A fourth round pick in 2015, he has now played in 77 games and has a chance to enjoy a long and productive career. Always bet on the outstanding skaters.
- RW Patrick Russell is a college free agent signing who made the NHL and remains there at this time. All of his 58 NHL games came after his opening night appearance in 2017 for the Condors.
- RW Anton Slepyshev would play his final 50 NHL games (so far) after AHL opening night. He remains a player of interest, although Edmonton’s hold on his rights will expire in the summer.
- RC Josh Currie was an AHL contract signed to an NHL deal. He played capably in an audition with Edmonton (21 games in 2018-19) and has played one game with the Penguins this season.
- LD Keegan Lowe: A 2011 pick by the Carolina Hurricanes, he would play 2 games with Edmonton in 2017-18.
- Edmonton has graduated two players who hold down prominent roster positions (Bear, Puljujarvi) and the NHL GP total sits at 469.
Now let’s look at the Stockton Heat, and how many players have graduated since 2017-18’s opening night.
- LC Mark Jankowski has played 239 NHL games in a depth role.
- RW Garnet Hathaway turned into a solid player and has been in 236 NHL games. He plays a depth position but is a bona fide player.
- RD Rasmus Andersson is the jewel of that Stockton team, has played in 196 NHL games and plays an important position.
- RW Andrew Mangiapane has played 159 NHL games and at times plays a substantial role. He was a great draft pick.
- G David Rittich has played in 128 NHL games and is a backup goalie.
- LD Oliver Kylington has played 92 NHL games since and does not occupy a vital roster spot at this time.
- RW Spencer Foo has played 4 games.
- LW Morgan Klimchuk played 1 NHL game.
- Calgary has two prominent players (Andersson and Mangiapane) and a total of 1,055 NHL games. Flames with a wide edge in GP
Who drafted and developed better players? Question for the group: Assume you are the Seattle Kraken and all four of the quality names above are available. In what order do you place Jesse Puljujarvi, Ethan Bear, Rasmus Andersson and Andrew Mangiapane?
If you came here for the usual break down of last night’s lines and pairings, I apologize. Sometimes in a season old Lowetide just doesn’t feel like looking through the wreckage when the cause of the fire is so obvious. This was a schedule loss from an exhausted team, that’s a fact.
That doesn’t mean the Oilers should run the same lineup Friday against the Flames. There are three things we can take from last night’s game:
- Mikko Koskinen has to play more than once every 12 days but he also must be ready for his starts. He was not sharp last night. Alex Stalock is an option.
- The DRY line played 6:25 last night, won the shot share 3-1 and were 1-0 HDSC (6-3 Corsi five on five). I would expected to see that trio on Friday night. Edmonton needs one line going and McDavid has some nice pieces in Puljujarvi, Ennis and Kassian. It’s also possible Holland makes a trade.
- William Lagesson needs to see the game from the pressbox for a time. Coach Dave Tippett has been running him out there most nights in March and it’s time for Caleb Jones or Theodor Lennstrom. Lagesson was on the ice for a 3-14 shot thrashing last night five on five. He may well have a long career in the NHL, but he isn’t playing well and it isn’t necessary to continue the experiment at this time.
McDavid and Puljujarvi without Draisaitl have played 256 minutes together this year, 57.4 percent expected goals. In just 26 minutes without Nuge or Leon, 97-13 have an expected goal percentage of 54.46. Small sample, and the trio needs a substantial LW, but it’s a start. Kassian remains available if Puljujarvi continues to slump. I wonder about a Chiasson for LW rental deal.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, a short week and lots to discuss on TSN1260. Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal will discuss schedule losses, Darnell Nurse and his season and the weekend games to come. Joe Osborne from OddsShark will talk March Madness and MLB division winners for 2021. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!