Many believe the best No. 3 center in the Connor McDavid era in Edmonton was Ryan Strome. He scored 9-10-19 boxcars five on five in 1014:05 (1.27 pts-60) and went 35-40 goal differential. Can Ryan McLeod come close to those numbers next season?
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.
- Lowetide: How the Oilers can improve their depth in a trade with the Rangers
- Lowetide: Ideal Edmonton Oilers lines and pairings for the 2021 NHL playoffs
- DNB and Jonathan Willis: ‘It’s kind of Gretzky-like’: Oilers star Connor McDavid’s 100-point season puts him in rarified air
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers’ Mike Smith is putting himself in the all-time old-guy goalie conversation with a stunning season at 38
- Lowetide: Oilers’ Adam Larsson playing his best hockey with playoffs on horizon
- Lowetide: What should the Oilers do to get Kailer Yamamoto back on track?
- DNB: How Jesse Puljujarvi 2.0 is making an impact
- DNB: What are the Oilers’ pressing questions ahead of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft?
- Lowetide: Oilers complete April report card
- DNB: A 2nd Hart Trophy is firmly in Connor McDavid’s grasp
- Jonathan Willis: Which Oilers need to step up down the stretch?
- Lowetide: A look at the best value contracts on the 2021 Oilers
- Lowetide: An early look at ideal Oilers’ free-agent targets for the offseason
- DNB: Re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Free-agency targets? Oilers mailbag
OILERS AFTER 55 GAMES
- Oilers in 2015-16: 21-29-5, 47 points; goal differential -31
- Oilers in 2016-17: 29-18-8, 66 points; goal differential +10
- Oilers in 2017-18: 23-28-4, 50 points; goal differential -27
- Oilers in 2018-19: 24-26-5, 53 points; goal differential -20
- Oilers in 2019-20: 29-20-6, 64 points; goal differential +1
- Oilers in 2020-21: 34-18-2, 70 points; goal differential +22
The Jets win last night means the final two games don’t matter. However, Edmonton’s current winning percentage (.648, even though it’s really .630) is the best number since 1987 according to Hockeydb. No matter how unusual the format, this team delivered a fantastic result against the schedule presented. It has been a memorable year.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MAY
- At home to: Calgary (Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual 1-0-0)
- On the road to: Vancouver, Vancouver (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual 2-0-0)
- At home to: Vancouver, Vancouver (Expected 1-0-1) (Actual 1-1-0)
- On the road to: Montreal, Montreal (Expected 0-1-1) (Actual 1-0-0)
- At home to: Vancouver (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Expected May record: 4-2-2, 10 points in 8 games
- Actual May record: 5-1-0, 10 points in 6 games
Edmonton has covered my bet, have to say the run after 3-6-0 (31-12-2) has been just about the most fun I can recall during the regular season. When was the last time this team rattled off four winning months in a row?
BRAND NEW DAY
Now, we have to talk about something hockey fans have known for over 100 years: Searing heartbreak and the feeling of have been run over by a Mack truck after a loss in a playoff game or series.
The first post on this blog after the G7 2006 loss was called Brand New Day and featured Jari Kurri in a Scottish kilt. I talked about the things that mattered, about family and the good women who save all the clowns. I told you that I watched the last two periods of Game 7 with the sound down, my wife sitting beside me and distracting me with talk of the kids and the summer holidays ahead. Kindness is remembered, friends.
It’s a game. It’s a leisure activity. It isn’t a heart attack or cancer or Covid-19. Chances are the 2021 NHL playoffs are going to knock you right on the ass and then pierce your heart with a pain that you will never forget. Why do normally reasonable humans put themselves through this? To feel alive, to experience the thrill of victory after decades of the agony of defeat.
NO. 3 CENTERS SINCE 2015
Using faceoffs as a proxy, here are the No. 3 centers each season in Edmonton ranked by five on five pts-60 (all numbers five on five):
- Jujhar Khaira 2020-21: 9:42 TOI; 1.79 pts-60; 48.2 percent goal differential
- Ryan Strome 2017-18: 12:03 TOI; 1.46 pts-60; 47.1 percent goal differential
- Mark Letestu 2016-17: 9:20 TOI; 1.4 pts-60; 50.0 percent goal differential
- Mark Letestu 2017-18: 8:37 TOI; 1.16 pts-60; 34.2 percent goal differential
- Riley Sheahan 2019-20: 10:07 TOI; 0.9 pts-60; 31.5 percent goal differential
- Kyle Brodziak 2018-19: 9:43 TOI; 0.7 pts-60; 32.6 percent goal differential
- Mark Letestu 2015-16: 10:54 TOI; 0.6 pts-60; 29.6 percent goal differential
I count Strome as being more valuable, but Khaira this year and the 2016-17 version of Letestu are in the conversation. Ryan McLeod is averaging 10:34 at five on five, has an 0.63 pts-60 and 33 percent goal differential. I think he might be the No. 3 center next season, perhaps sharing the role with Khaira. Do you agree?
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we deliver the Lowdown in front of a rare afternoon edition of Oilers hockey. Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal will discuss this article and what we’ve been watching this season. Joe Osborne from OddsShark will talk NBA, NHL and MLB and about changes in betting in Canada and what that might mean to things like reporting injuries. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!