It seems as though every time the Edmonton Oilers and “playoffs” are mentioned in the same sentence, there’s a veteran LH defenseman with some kind of malady. It was Andrej Sekera in the spring of 2017, the Peter Chiarelli-Todd McLellan Oilers derailed the day of his injury against the Anaheim Ducks and never got better.
Four years later and Edmonton is hurtling toward a playoff series against Winnipeg, Montreal or Toronto, and it’s Oscar Klefbom whose health has poked a hole in the depth chart. We talk about No. 3 center, goaltending and scoring LW being addressed at the deadline, but what about LHD?
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: Evan Bouchard’s season of inactivity — what is the risk for the Oilers?
- Lowetide: Oilers futures watch — how new arrivals are making an impact at AHL Bakersfield
- New DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers ahead of the trade deadline
- Lowetide: The Oilers’ big decision on defence — Caleb Jones or William Lagesson?
- Jonathan Willis: Finding the ideal centre for the Oilers at the trade deadline
- Lowetide: Oilers March report card
- 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: 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: 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 39 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 15-21-3, 33 points; goal differential -22
- Oilers in 2016-17: 19-13-7, 45 points; goal differential +4
- Oilers in 2017-18: 17-19-3, 37 points; goal differential -12
- Oilers in 2018-19: 18-18-3, 39 points; goal differential -7
- Oilers in 2019-20: 20-15-4, 44 points; goal differential -3
- Oilers in 2020-21: 23-14-1, 47 points; goal differential +14
Edmonton is just 1-3-0 against Montreal, so there are no guarantees this evening. In those four games, Edmonton has scored four and allowed 12 goals, so there’s room for improvement.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM APRIL
- At home to: Calgary (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- 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)
- At home 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: 1-0-0, 2 points in 1 game
Patrik Nemeth is a free agent at the end of the year and his Puck IQ DFF% Rel numbers have consistently been in the black over several years. His GA/60 against elites is 1.50 and he has played 159 minutes against the league’s best already this season. He’s legit top four, Dave Tippett might be able to slide Nemeth-Bear and Jones-Larsson in behind Nurse-Barrie for the postseason.
I looked at other lefty defenders, including Jamie Oleksiak, but honestly Caleb Jones numbers are better. In my opinion, the optimal usage is Nurse-Barrie, Jones-Bear and Lagesson/Russell-Larsson. Bear is more effective than Barrie with Nurse, but there’s no other spot for Barrie that works and it’s too late in the year to audition. I’d make a trade for Nemeth, though.
This blog has promoted NHLE work from Gabriel Desjardins, Rob Vollman, Kent Wilson and others over the years, and in our own way I believe have promoted the cause. I’m thrilled to introduce to you NNHLE from CJ Turturo. I won’t give away the process, it’s an easy and informative read and the premise is easy to understand (the formula something else). Here are the NNHLE’s from a select group of Oilers prospects:
- Tyler Benson (AHL) 40.9
- Cooper Marody (AHL) 38.6
- Ryan McLeod (AHL) 29.0
- Dylan Holloway (Big-10) 28.8
- Kirill Maksimov (VHL) 23.8
- Matej Blumel (Czech) 21.3
- Raphael Lavoie (Allsvenskan) 15.8
- Maxim Berezkin (MHL) 15.6
- Ostap Safin (AHL) 15.4
- Maxim Denezhkin (VHL) 14.3
- Evan Bouchard (Allsvenskan) 13.2
- Carter Savoie (NCHC) 12.1
- Philip Broberg (SHL) 11.8
- Tyler Tullio (Slovak) 11.7
- Markus Niemelainan (AHL) 10.7
- Filip Berglund (SHL) 10.0
That pushes the AHL and Euro leagues up and fades the college men. Edmonton doesn’t have much in the way of CHL talent these days, so there’s no real consideration. Tullio’s OHL draft season was 13.5 NNHLE, suggesting a major market correction for the CHL.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning on TSN 1260 as we get back to work and head toward the trade deadline. At 10:20 we’ll tee up tonight’s important game, and at 10:40 it’s Kaitlyn McGrath from The Athletic to discuss a wildly successful opening weekend for the Toronto Blue Jays. At 11 Jason Gregor from TSN1260 talks Oilers-Habs and the deadline, and at 11:25 we welcome Julian Edlow from Draft Kings to tee up Baylor-Gonzaga in the NCAA National Championship game tonight. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!