When you follow a good team, recalls matter. The Oilers are getting there. The list of rookies recalled from Bakersfield over the last two seasons—Ethan Bear, Kailer Yamamoto, Caleb Jones, William Lagesson, Evan Bouchard—have for the most part hit the ground running upon arrival in Edmonton. The newest farmhand is Ryan McLeod, the second man from the 2018 draft (Bouchard) to get the call. Was this expected?
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.
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- DNB: Ken Holland’s quiet NHL trade deadline sets up Oilers for big moves later
- Jonathan Willis: What the Oilers are getting in trade deadline pickup Dmitry Kulikov: A cheap solution to a nagging problem
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- DNB: To play them together or not? 97 and 29
- Lowetide: Are the 2020-21 Oilers better than the 2016-17 team?
- Lowetide: Oilers’ top 20 prospects, trade deadline edition
OILERS AFTER 44 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 17-23-4, 38 points; goal differential -26
- Oilers in 2016-17: 22-15-7, 51 points; goal differential +4
- Oilers in 2017-18: 18-23-3, 39 points; goal differential -25
- Oilers in 2018-19: 21-20-3, 45 points; goal differential -11
- Oilers in 2019-20: 22-17-5, 49 points; goal differential -6
- Oilers in 2020-21: 26-15-2, 54 points; goal differential +13
This is the last chance any of the trailing teams will have a chance to make the Oilers sweat. If Montreal wins the next two games, the Habs will trail Edmonton by three points with a game in hand. If the home team sweeps, Montreal will trail by 11 points with that meager one game in hand.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN APRIL
- At home to: Calgary (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: Montreal, Ottawa, Ottawa, Calgary (Expected: 3-1-0) (Actual 2-1-1)
- On the road to: Winnipeg (Expected 0-1-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- 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)
- Expected April record: 7-4-0, 14 points in 11 games
- Actual April record: 4-1-1, 9 points in 6 games
From the Oilers point of view, the current record this season against Montreal is 1-3-1. Edmonton was a winning record against everyone but Toronto and the Habs, and can’t do anything about the TML. In what has been a weird season, suspect coach Dave Tippett will be talking about those previous five games against the Canadiens.
Ryan McLeod was drafted on June 23, 2018. He has been recalled during his draft plus three season, albeit later on in the year. How many recent centers drafted by the Oilers have made it to the NHL as quickly?
Since 2010, the team has enjoyed three high selections used on centers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid. All arrived in the NHL immediately. After that, the list of centers drafted who made their NHL debut shows a substantial gap:
- Ryan Martindale third round 2010: Never made the NHL
- Travis Ewanyk third round 2011: Never made the NHL
- Jujhar Khaira third round 2012: (1252 days). Drafted June 23, 2012 and made his NHL debut November 28, 2015.
- Marco Roy second round 2013: Never made the NHL
- Bogdan Yakimov third round 2013: (472 days). Drafted June 30, 2013 and made his NHL debut on October 14, 2014.
- Aapeli Rasanen sixth round 2016: Never made the NHL
- Ryan McLeod second round 2018: (1,031 days) Drafted June 23, 2018 and recalled April 18, 2021.
McLeod has to wait seven days and then there’s no guarantee he’ll play, but you’d have to think the club didn’t bring him here for nothing.
McLeod is one of four Condors prospect forwards who are having an impact run this season.
Benson and Marody are stuck in the middle a little, having proven they have the skill to play in the AHL but both lacking the foot speed Oilers management and coaching believes is needed for skill lines. Since the turn of the century, exactly two players have emerged as Oilers regulars of note from the spot Benson and Marody find themselves: Kyle Brodziak and Ethan Bear.
Both men spent an entire offseason working on weakness (speed, quickness) and arrived in camp with eye popping fitness levels. I have Benson as a lock for next year’s team (value contract, he can play third or fourth line LW) but Marody is behind a more established group of RW’s (Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, Archibald, Kassian) at this time.
Lavoie is the wildcard. The AHL goaltenders don’t appear to be having any more luck against him than the QMJHL or Allsvenskan guardiens. He has four goals in his last six AHL games. If Lavoie finishes the season with crazy scoring rates, they won’t keep him on the farm in 2021-22.
Oilers have had a tough time against the Habs and we don’t know if Nuge will be back for the game. Montreal’s forwards are a filthy combination of speed, skill and size, so there will be matchups that are frightening. The skill wingers (Tyler Toffoli, Jonathan Drouin, Josh Anderson) are potential nightmares, and their young centers are elusive and skilled. Eric Staal does not appear to be the gift we all imagined, but it’s early days. Expect Jeff Petry to shine, he always does.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we hit the ground running with a preview of tonight’s game. Ryan Holt, Bakersfield Condors play-by-play broadcaster, will join us to talk about Ryan McLeod’s recall and the strong play that earned that valuable transaction. Jason Gregor pops in at 11 and we’ll chat about McLeod, Nuge, Haas, and what the defensive pairings might look like when Dmitry Kulikov joins the group. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!