2020-21 Game 38: Flames at Oilers

by Lowetide

The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames started building their respective futures at the 2015 draft. Edmonton took Connor McDavid No. 1 overall, traded for goalie Cam Talbot and signed defenseman Andrej Sekera in free agency. Calgary drafted extremely well leading up to it (Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan) and made a brilliant trade at the 2015 draft for Dougie Hamilton.

By 2016-17 both teams made the playoffs with rosters that boasted outstanding young talent. Calgary had a 23 and under group (Hamilton, Gaudreau, Monahan, Sam Bennett, Matt Tkachuk) that looked formidable, while the Oilers boasted McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse and three players who were 23 (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson) and had many productive years ahead.

As the 2020-21 season winds down, the empire remains under construction and several of the original key pieces are gone or going.

THE ATHLETIC!

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 AFTER 38 GAMES

  • Oilers in 2015-16: 15-20-3, 33 points; goal differential -21
  • Oilers in 2016-17: 19-12-7, 45 points; goal differential +6
  • Oilers in 2017-18: 17-18-3, 37 points; goal differential -7
  • Oilers in 2018-19: 18-17-3, 39 points; goal differential -6
  • Oilers in 2019-20: 19-15-4, 42 points; goal differential -4
  • Oilers in 2020-21: 22-14-1, 45 points; goal differential +13

Is this team better than 2016-17? Impossible to know because the opponents are so different this year. We can say it’s a conversation worth having.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN APRIL

  • At home to: Calgary (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • On the road to: Montreal, Ottawa, Ottawa (Expected: 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • At home to: Vancouver, Vancouver (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • On the road to: Winnipeg (Expected 0-1-0) Actual 0-0-0)
  • At home to: Montreal, Montreal (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • On the road to: Winnipeg, Winnipeg (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • At home to: Calgary (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • On the road to: Vancouver (make up game) (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • Expected April record: 8-5-0, 16 points in 13 games
  • Actual April record: 0-0-0

This would put Edmonton at 30-19-1 after 50 games, 61 points with six more games on the schedule. In other words, Edmonton should land safely inside the playoffs. I’ll say third, but any of the four spots is possible. Those Calgary and Vancouver games will be massive, I have it 4-1-0 Edmonton for the month against those two teams.

CHANGES

The Flames have delivered an uneven draft performance since Tkachuk was taken in 2016, although Juuso Valimaki (2017) looks like he’ll be something if he can stay healthy. The team dealt Dougie Hamilton but received good if not quite equal value in Noah Hanifan and Elias Lindholm. Many of the team’s trade targets (Alex Chiasson, Curtis Lazar, Brian Elliott, Mike Stone, Mike Smith, Travis Hamonic, Eddie Lack, Milan Lucic) were either a mixed blessing, an overpay, or no blessing at all.

The hiring of Darryl Sutter likely indicates a series of “Calgary trades Dillon Dube and a second round selection for Carson Soucy” deals designed to improve the short term and acquire rugged players that match his style. The price? Skill.

CHANGES

Frank Seravalli from TSN had some news on the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins negotiations yesterday on the Insiders. Seravalli said “no meaningful progress, but it’s not for a lack of trying. I’m told the Oilers tabled a recent offer to Nugent-Hopkins and his camp, but it was one that wasn’t flattering.” Huh. Ryan Rishaug from TSN was speculating previously he thought the contract discussions were in the $6.0 to $6.5 million range.

That’s a very large price to pay, has to be at least a little beyond the outer marker. I think, but I don’t know, that we might be heading for a large group of UFA’s being walked this summer, just as RFA’s were walked for fear of arbitration awards. Put another way, the Nuge-Oilers love affair may not survive Covid-19’s impact on the NHL salary cap.

POSSIBLE NON-NUGE ROSTER, 2021-22

The following moves were made to make room: James Neal buyout, dealt William Lagesson for a fourth-round pick, signed Ullmark, Barrie, Laughton, Tatar, Granlund, around $19 million. Did NOT sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson, Mike Smith, Alex Chiasson, Tyler Ennis, Gaetan Haas for a total of $15.7 million sent away. That plus the Neal buyout ($3.83 million) got me there. I have been informed by a very smart person there’s a better way than buyout out Neal, I’m still working on that idea and will have it for you on our next visit.

2021 DRAFT UPDATE

I am plugging along on the 2021 list, I should be able to provide you with a top 50 by the end of April. That means drilling down on the USHL, NCAA and Europe. I have managed to cobble together a top-10 overall for each of the Canadian leagues. Here they are.

OHL

  1. LC Mason McTavish Peterborough Petes and Swiss League. A pure goal scorer with a power forward’s tools. Fantastic shooter, good speed, hard worker.
  2. RD Brandt Clarke Barrie Colts and Slovakian League. Puck-moving defenseman with terrific speed and good size (6.01, 185).
  3. LD Daniil Chayka Guelph Storm and KHL. Fine skater, 6.03, 185, he’s a two-way defender who will play big minutes wherever he lands.
  4. LC Francesco Pinelli, Kitchener Rangers and Alps Hockey League. Smart, high skilled center who passes well and has plus speed. 5.11
  5. LW Brennan Othmann, Fint Firebirds and Swiss League. The best first-shot scorer among wingers in the OHL who are draft eligible.
  6. LC Brett Harrison, Oshawa Generals. A two-way center with good speed and a solid reputation for good penalty killing.
  7. RW Chase Stillman, Sudbury Wolves. At 5.11, 170 he has plus speed and is effective in all game disciplines.
  8. RC Connor Lockhart, Erie Otters. Probably the best skater among draft-eligible forwards in the OHL this year, his offense has lagged so far.
  9. RC Wyatt Johnson, Windsor Spitfires. Skill center posted solid offensive numbers and showed second half improvement.
  10. LD Ethan Dal Mastro, Mississauga Steelheads. A big, strong shutdown blue with good speed. He can transport the puck but is not a refined offensive player.

WHL

  1. RW Dylan Guenther, Edmonton Oil Kings. 6.01, 181. Has exceptional hands, very skilled, fast and quick. Great skater, has pure goal-scoring ability.
  2. RC Ryder Korczak, Moose Jaw Warriors. He’s 5.11, 170 and the top play-making center in the WHL this season.
  3. G Sebastian Cossa, Edmonton Oil Kings. 6.06, 207. He’s a giant goaltender with great athleticism.
  4. LW Eric Alarie, Moose Jaw Warriors. 6.01, 196. Big strong power winger with plus skill, he can pass well and is a good shooter.
  5. RC Logan Stankoven, Kamloops Blazers. 5.07, 165. He’s my kind of player, a demon on the forecheck with plus skills. Great passer.
  6. LW Conner Roulette, Seattle Thunderbirds. He has good hands and speed, can score goals and has a sixth sense for offense.
  7. LD Carson Lambos, Winnipeg Ice. A big man already (6.01, 200) he is a fine skater and can be deployed in any situation.
  8. LD Olen Zellweger, Everett Silvertips. He is undersized (5.09, 165) but very skilled and is enjoying a fast start to his season.
  9. LD Nolan Allan, Prince Albert Raiders. A big (6.02, 190) defender with good speed, lots of skill but the numbers are shy. It’s early.
  10. LD Graham Sward, Spokane Chiefs. He’s 6.02, 169 with plenty of room to grow. Physical shutdown blue with mobility.

QMJHL

  1. LC Zachary Bolduc, Rimouski Oceanic. A fairly complete talent, his offense is the main calling card but he is developing as a two-way center/wing. 25 NHLE
  2. LW Zachary L’Heureux, Halifax Mooseheads. Power forward is a streaky scorer who has an idea how to play away from the puck. 25.6 NHLE
  3. RC Xavier Bourgault, Shawinigan Cataractes. One of the older players in the draft (October 2002), there’s just too much offense (20-17-37 in 28 games) to ignore. 30.8 NHLE
  4. RW Oliver Nadeau, Shawinigan Cataractes. He is enjoying a splendid season, posting 33, 10-31-41 so far this year. More bull than beauty, he is effective.
  5. LD Evan Nause, Quebec Remparts. Two-way defender is 6.02, 186 and spiking offensively. He’s a fine passer, plays big minutes. 16.0
  6. RC Justin Robidas, Val d’Or Foreurs. He’s Yvan Cournoyer small, but a fantastic talent (17-17-34 in 34 games) and an absolute bullet on skates. 23.3 NHLE
  7. LW James Malatesta, Quebec Remparts. Speedy winger is small (5.09) but plays a rugged style and is a plus goal scorer. 16.7 NHLE.
  8. RC Riley Kidney, Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Another skill pivot, he’s 10-17-27 in 24 QMJHL games this season. He is a good skater.
  9. LW Viljami Marjala, Quebec Remparts. C-LW is highly skilled and a creative playmaker.
  10. LC Lorenzo Canonica, Shawinigan Cataractes. Another skill center, he is one of the best skaters in the QMJHL draft pool this year.

TYLER ENNIS

Non-zero chance he gets claimed. Ennis is a handy player. I’m onboard as liking Holland’s work for the most part, this move seems unnecessarily risky. We find out in 90 minutes.

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UnjustEnrichment

I see potential in Caleb Jones, but his style is best described as a kind of “scrambling” on the ice; despite his wheels, he always seems half a second late to the party. Physically, he seems shy and not sufficiently aggressive to raise the ire of opponents. I always feel uncertain and anxious when he is one of the team’s defenders. By contrast, Lagesson often inspires confidence. He plays well with simple structure and does not often scramble around the ice. If one is looking for a 7th defenceman, then Lagesson is the choice. If Jones ever settles down and develops calmness and confidence on the ice, he could be a top-four defenceman, but I think that his development has stalled (perhaps due to lack of playing time), and he really needs a new opportunity elsewhere. He has had a lot of time to fit in with the Oilers and he just can’t seem to improve in the ways he needs to improve. With Bouchard and Broberg on the immediate horizon, and other good young defencemen on the horison, I think that I would prefer hanging on to Lagesson if given the choice between him and Caleb Jones. I would try to convert Caleb Jones, via trade, into a promising young winger or centre.

godot10

Seattle will decide! -). Ron Francis’s decision. One wants to expose both Jones and Lagesson, so one gets to keep one.

The Oilers only have 8D inside their bubble. They can’t trade any of them at the moment.

Pouzar

Update:

Caleb Jones:

CF%: 52.85 (3rd)
xGA/60: 1.89 (T1st)
xGF%: 55.75 (2nd)
FF%: 55.86 (1st)

One more:
PDO: 0.950 (8th)

I apologize if the above numbers offend…by all means feel free to disregard and go with the ring leader’s eye’s instead.

Don’t even get me started on Ethan Bear…spoiler….his numbers are better.

KnightRain

Other than the turnover, I hardly heard Jones name called. I’m a fan of his skating and he makes a good outlet a lot of the time. He’s got a bit of maturing to do to clean up his game but he’s got all the tools. I’d like to see him get some games in. He’s not gonna get better unless he plays.

Ribs

Still not sold on these Oilers. *sigh*

Good news is anyone can make the playoffs and get to the finals with the right amount of luck!

Pouzar

Not sold on them either.

KnightRain

23-14-1, 4 points outta first in our division. What’s not to like? We got our warts but we’re heading in the right direction. Looking a lot better than the bottom three, that’s for sure. As for the playoffs, it’s gonna be A BLAST!!!!

Ribs

Better for sure! I need to see more at even strength before I get too excited about playoffs, though.

A quick glance sees 14 wins with at least 1 PPG and 9 wins without one. Those 9 include 3 wins vs OTT, 1 game with a GWG scored in the last second of play, and 1 OT win.
If we disclude those 3 things, we are looking at 14 wins w/a PPG to 4 wins w/o a PPG.

Not great.

Ribs

Just to compare… Toronto is 14 wins w/a PPG, 9 wins w/o (same as Oilers). Take away 3 wins vs OTT and 4 OT/SO wins and it is 7 wins w/a PPG and 9 wins w/o PPG.

hunter1909

Leafs currently have a more developed team than Edmonton, for sure.

If Oilers lose in the playoffs I’l probably hop on their bandwagon lol

OriginalPouzar

Are you not must excluding certain types of wins and successes to meet the negative narrative?

One could look at 21 regulation wins, tied for most in the league.

One could look at only 1 OT/SO point, least in the league.

Looking at the above, the Oilers seem to be full value for their points in the standings – no wins in shootouts, only two wins in 3/3 OT, zero wins in a shootout.

The Oilers are winning games the way they need to be won in the playoffs.

hunter1909

Oilers allowed the Flames to play hockey with them all last night right up until the late stages of the game when McDavid scored an impossible for any other player to score goal. The pick had a mind of its own the way it dribbled between the goalies legs.

McDavid will soon be doing that do in a Playoffs scenario. With exactly the same situation as vs the Flames – that is, a tied score late in the game.

hunter1909

I expect them to find a way to lose in a novel new way – just like they managed to come up with last season.

The question is: Whether McDavid and Draisaitl and the rest of the players learn that its down to the players in the end, and that no one not coaches or anyone else can either stop them or help them in the final analysis.

When they learn this, then they will be formidable contenders for years to come.

hunter1909

Apparently you never followed the team during its infamous and highly recent:

“Double Decade of Darkness”

Perhaps the team isn’t going to win the cup in 2021. Perhaps its going to make the playoffs from now on, and Holland/Tippett produce and direct players to eventually win the cup. Hopefully.

Take another angle: Compared to what Calgary in 2021 face in order to talk the same talk, the amount of ground Holland/Tippett/McDraisaitl have brought to the team to is remarkable.

ps: winning hockey oftentimes comes down to who has the best players. Which other NHL team can ice players of any calibre near Draisaitl and the other dude? Tampa, Colorado and the list is already starting to run short.

Last edited 5 months ago by hunter1909
JimmyV1965

Flames look like they’re done. Doesn’t seem like they’re even interested in winning.

hunter1909

Young Tkachuck aside, Flames have learned how to enjoy losing.

ps: Messier was a horror, but Glenn Anderson must have been hell to cheer against. Dirty as hell, waving that stick like a Kamikaze and scoring goal after goal after goal.

godot10

The thing about Glenn Anderson is that he skated full speed at anchored goalposts, and the D always called “no mas” in the game of chicken.

Rebillled

McDavid scoring through cheap Geo’s legs to win the game was the real icing on the cake for me. That cake being the flames season.

hunter1909

Flames Team Meeting:

“Todays Topic: How to defend against McDavid”.

Reja

Sutter will shift around the house and bring in more gamers.

Someone

Good win, but I’m nervous that the rubber might be about to hit the road…

Last edited 5 months ago by Someone
Side

Sutter hockey!!

winchester

Flames are slow and to my eye they generally play a slow game. Tonight that was their A game and it wasn’t enough.

Sutter hockey is going to take them the wrong way. And I just feel really badly about that. 😀

SK Oiler Fan

Barrie with way too many shots blocked tonight. Needs to can the clapper and sift it through at times

fistycuff

Barrie with 3-4 bad games in a row… needs to take head outta ass..

hunter1909

Felt like Flames were the MacT Oilers, untalented and desperately working to keep the score close…

Oilers played like the Dallas Stars; happy to wait until the 3rd for Modano to break hearts – yet again.

quade

God, that brings back hard memories of being a kid getting my heart broken by Modano & Nieuwendyk…happy to have the shoe on the other foot!

KnightRain

Ooooooohhhh…I hated those guys so much! Felt like they would just let’s us hang around then crush us for fun. I don’t think we are quite there yet but good comparison. Sometimes I’ll watch Marchant score that OT goal just to put myself in a good mood…

quade

We’re thankfully a lot better than the oilers of that era, at the very least! Which during the dark decade seemed beyond the realm of possibility!

Last edited 5 months ago by quade
Ribs

Captain Power saves the day (kudos to Mike Smith post-game) again. What happens in this game without that timely PP? I worry.

KnightRain

PP was the result of hard work. After the go ahead goal we shut em down with smart play and effort(save Jonesy being lackadaisical). We would have continued to fight for the next goal if we had not gotten that goal. We can always be better but we’re not crap, either. Enjoy the ride. Life is to short to be looking for negatives all the time. 👍🏽

Last edited 5 months ago by KnightRain
Ribs

Hoping for the best along with you! There a lot of nice things about this current team, but they appear to be very reliant on the powerplay to win games. Consistent calls are hard to come by on a good day in the regular season and powerplays are even harder to come by in the playoffs.

My take – We need to see more push at even strength in these remaining regular season games.

KnightRain

That was Awesome!!! Flamerz are 12 points back! We’re going to the playoffs!!!! BOOM!!! These are the Good Ol Days!!!

hunter1909

HUNTER1909’s Death March™ 

Update:

With Oilers now on pace for a 69 point finish, here are the current leaders in the Death March game which might pay out to all winners at the end of the season. 

Yeti; TOML;  agent_sid ; BONE207; PerryK; Indy; hunter9

Will replace previous various leaders:

Boil-in-the-Oil; Cowboy; Z Mac; Crazy Pedestrian 

JRizzer25; Hazwasted; KGB; Oilnc79; Unjustenrichment; Whale 

Brewha Ha

Woo hoo! Keeping pace with 5he div leaders…

Gerta Rauss

woot…!!!

another nail in Calgary’s coffin

prefonmich

Flames are cooked!

OriginalPouzar

Mike Smith is good at goaltending in 2021……

hunter1909

Number 1 with a bullet.

Shame to overwork him before the playoffs. On the other hand, he might want and need the work to stay sharp.

Another argument for a short season being a good idea this year.

fishman

Nice win!!!!!!!!!

jzed

Where’s Shore?

KnightRain

That was Intense!!! Keep it up!!!

OriginalPouzar

Odd seeing Drai shoot twice from the left point there…..

leadfarmer

And not moving closer when there was room

LMHF#1

Looked like a set play. Perhaps a new wrinkle from practice utilizing Leon’s heavy shot more often. It looks very tippable.

flyfish1168

Good call by the ref.

OriginalPouzar

I was just about to fade amazement that Kahun is out there with 5 to go….

Weak call on Monohan, no?

jzed

Jack Michaels with his best kiss o death remark about home winning streaks

prefonmich

Sooooo close Yamo

OriginalPouzar

Gone to the Nurse/Bear paring late.

Presumably they go exclusively with:

Nurse/Bear
Russell/Larsson

As the should.

Last edited 5 months ago by OriginalPouzar
KnightRain

Jones…you gotta be better than that, bro…

Reja

He owes Mike a steak dinner.

KnightRain

Where would we be without Smith, eh? He’s a Beauty!!!

OriginalPouzar

Plays like that is why Jones is playing deep 3rd pairing minutes.

Last edited 5 months ago by OriginalPouzar
Bling

Yeah he has to cut out those plays to stay in the lineup.

Pouzar

*rolls eyes

OriginalPouzar

Now, Oilers, smart plays in the neutral zone – playoff type hockey – every puck gets out, gets past the redline and goes deep.

KnightRain

BOOM!!! McDavid with the dagger!!!

OriginalPouzar

That was a quick PP goal…..

treevojo

Connor mcd with the dribbler

OriginalPouzar

McDavid doesn’t seem to keen to try and beat the defenders with his speed tonight – holding up and looking for passes pretty much every time.

prefonmich

Agreed. Not doing typical mcdavid things. Nice shot though!

Reja

Doesn’t want his knees taken out by Gio or Andersson.

leadfarmer

Is Jones playing?

OriginalPouzar

Just as much as Bear at 5 on 5 – the CLEAR 3rd pair tonight – about 6 minutes below the other two pairings.

prefonmich

Tippetts usage compared against numbers and eye test is interesting to say the least?? Not sure if we are watching different games than he is seeing

flyfish1168

10 shits only so far with 9:38 left

flyfish1168

Darnell hit the net please

OriginalPouzar

Nice rush guys – Kass could have shot there but not a terrible play and, damn, Nurse – great chance.

Last time Nurse missed a great chance in the 3rd, he ended up scoring the winner…..

OriginalPouzar

No shorties but a world-class PK – should be able to get some momentum off that kill.

KnightRain

Seriously. After that PK, the flamerz pretty much packed it in. That was wicked to watch. Pretty sure we had possession of the puck more than they did on that PP

OriginalPouzar

Great play JJ…. great play – and another.

OriginalPouzar

Its been a while since Shore scored that shortie….. think its about time.

flyfish1168

I hope you are right

KnightRain

If we ever learn how to break the cycle we will be awesome! Sadly, teams know they can just cycle endlessly…brutal. Bear is playing Awesome! Nice to see him making some good forays into the o zone. He’s got more to give, in that regard. Bad play by Zak. We can’t shoot out selves in the foot with plays like that. Big kill coming! This game is tight but we’ve had some good looks and I like our chances! Let’s Do This!!! GO OILERS!!!

prefonmich

Yup Bear back to his old self. Best passing d on this team right now. Need a big kill to start 3rd

Last edited 5 months ago by prefonmich
godot10

He’s baaack! Poor decision Zaaack!

leadfarmer

Kassian you so dumb

OriginalPouzar

Geezus Kass….. not smart, not at all.

That was dirty and you are lucky you didn’t get 5.

Bling

Stupid penalty Kassian

OriginalPouzar

Jesse’s offensive zone effectiveness has slumped a bit recently but damn if he’s not great in the defensive zone.

OriginalPouzar

TOR/WIN – 3 point game.

Can’t really complain too much since the Oilers went to OT twice in a row with the Leafs.

Harpers Hair

Jack Campbell now 8-0-0 and has only given up 11 goals in those 8 games.

jzed

I thought only Peel managed games……

SK Oiler Fan

Zebras in heavy game management mode tonight. Lots of obstruction uncalled

jzed

Archibald with a brain cramp diagonal instead of getting to center and dumping it in, sigh

OriginalPouzar

Damn, REALLY poor play by Archie going cross-ice in the neutral zone with an exhausted group and the long change.

Safe damn plays in the neutral zone.