The Oilers are home for the next week plus a little, as the season ends Saturday afternoon with a home date and the playoffs will start at home a week or so from today.
It should be a chance to take stock, make sure everyone is healthy and heading in the right direction. Edmonton can’t assume a quick exit from the playoffs because winning a round or even two is possible this spring. If you remember 2017 or 2006 or 1990, you know winning a Stanley Cup takes a village.
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: 35-18-2, 72 points; goal differential +23
Most enjoyable regular season, for me, since the 1980s. I haven’t been this calm since Pronger was defending two-on-ones. If this team does some playoff damage they’re going to be among my favourites of all time.
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 2-0-0)
- 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: 6-1-0, 12 points in 7 games
I don’t have much to say about last night, there was some giving from the defense and Mike Smith both scared the hell out of Oilers fans and did the wave all by his lonesome. McDavid is at 1.89 points-per-game for the season, music! Mike Smith’s .923 save percentage is the league’s No. 7 total and best among regulars in the Northern Exposure division. Draisaitl has 83 points for No. 2 on the scoring list, Tyson Barrie leads defensemen in points and Darnell Nurse is second in even-strength points (29) among NHL defensemen, tops in the Blue Northern. A special nod to Adam Larsson, who is an absolute hammer on defense.
LOWETIDE’S TOP 75
My list is based mostly on math, and defensemen take a hit because I don’t trust that the guys at the top will be the best in the group five years from now. They’re harder to predict. One more thing: I’m genuinely trying to find the right range for players who enter draft day with questions surrounding their skating.
In 2015, I had Mathew Barzal No. 8, in 2016 Alex DeBrincat was No. 15, Arthur Kaliyev No. 5 in 2019. The player I have to figure out this year is Mason McTavish. He is going to score a pile of NHL goals, figuring out where he should go is going to be a challenge.
- (1) RW Dylan Guenther, Edmonton Oil Kings. Great skater, has pure goal-scoring ability. Shoots right. April 2003.
- (2) LW William Eklund, Djurgardens. Exceptional offensive talent already in SHL.
- (3) LC Mason McTavish Peterborough Petes. He’s a pure goal scorer, PF’s tools. Reports on skating are mixed.
- (4) RD Brandt Clarke Barrie Colts. Puck-moving defenseman with terrific speed and good size (6.01, 185). Feb 2003.
- (5) LW Matthew Beniers, Michigan Wolverines. Two-way center with impressive skill. Plus shot, great passer.
- (7) LD Owen Power, Michigan Wolverines. Great skater, terrific two-way ability and a great passer.
- (6) LW Kent Johnson, Michigan Wolverines High skill level, impressive numbers, October 2002.
- (18) RW Nikita Chibrikov, St. Petersburg Small skill winger can stickhandle in a phone booth. Massive U18’s in Texas.
- (8) LD Simon Edvinsson, Vasteras IK Huge (6.05, 207) two-way blue with great mobility.
- (10) LD Luke Hughes, U.S. National Development Team Terrific skater with complete range of skills.
- (9) LC Zachary Bolduc, Rimouski Oceanic. A fairly complete talent, his offense is the main calling card.
- (11) LW Zachary L’Heureux, Halifax Mooseheads Power forward is a streaky scorer, I like his numbers.
- (13) LC Francesco Pinelli, Kitchener Rangers Smart, high skilled center who passes well and has plus speed.
- (12) RC Xavier Bourgault, Shawinigan Cataractes There’s just too much offense to ignore.
- (14) RW Chaz Lucius, U.S. National Development Team Great shot, high skill, good speed. He could be a steal.
- (15) RC Logan Stankoven, Kamloops Blazers 5.07, 165. Demon on the forecheck with plus skills.
- (16) G Sebastian Cossa, Edmonton Oil Kings. He’s a giant goaltender had a .941 save percentage this season.
- (17) G Jesper Wallstedt, Lulea. 6.03, 214, 22 games and a .908 SP in the SHL.
- (19) LW Eric Alarie, Moose Jaw Warriors 6.01, 196. Big PF with plus skill. I expect Tyler Wright likes him.
- (20) LW Matt Coronato, Chicago Steel Pure scorer, great release, headed to Harvard.
- (21) RW Fabian Lysell, Lulea. Breathtaking skill winger, great release.
- (22) RW Oliver Nadeau, Shawinigan Cataractes More bull than beauty, he is effective.
- (23) LD Daniil Chayka, CSKA Moscow Two-way defender who will play big minutes wherever he lands.
- (24) LW Brennan Othmann, Flint Firebirds Best first-shot scorer among wingers in the OHL. Skating?
- (25) LW Fedor Svechkov, Ladia Togliatti. Smart two-way winger who can push the river.
- (26) LC Aatu Raty, Karpat Talented center who struggled in the Liiga but has a solid junio resume.
- (27) RC Ryder Korczak, Moose Jaw Warriors A top play-making center in the WHL. Good speed, elusive.
- (29) LW Oskar Olausson, HV 71. Skill winger, great hands and 6.02, 181.
- (40) RD Corson Ceulmans, Brooks Bandits. Tremendous offensive defenseman, has size, overager.
- (30) LW Ayrton Martino, Omaha Lancers Small speedy winger, September 2002.
- (31) LW Conner Roulette, Seattle Thunderbirds He has good hands/speed, has a sixth sense for offense.
- (32) LD Carson Lambos, Winnipeg Ice A big man already (6.01, 200) he is a fine skater. Two-way blue.
- (33) RW Chase Stillman, Sudbury Wolves At 5.11, 170 he has plus speed and is effective in all game disciplines.
- (34) RW Isak Rosen, Leksands. Speedy playmaker, March 2013. Sixth sense offensively.
- (35) LD Olen Zellweger, Everett Silvertips He is undersized (5.09, 165) but very skilled.
- (28) LC Brett Harrison, Oshawa Generals A two-way center with good speed. Texas tournament hurt his ranking here.
- (36) RW Simon Robertsson, Skelleftea. Bert’s boy, has a powerful shot. Feb. 2003.
- (37) LC Cole Sillinger, Sioux Falls Stampede Dangerous shooter, fine passer. Average skater.
- (38) LD Evan Nause, Quebec Remparts Two-way defender is 6.02, 186 and spiking offensively.
- (39) RC Connor Lockhart, Erie Otters. Probably the best skater among draft-eligible forwards in the OHL this year.
- (41) LW Alexander Kisakov, Moscow Dynamo Just 5.10, 141, terrific skill.
- (42) LW Sasha Pastujov, USNDTP Plus shot, offensive winger. Average speed.
- (43) LW William Stromgren, MoDo Big skill winger with good wheels.
- (NR) RC Riley Kidney, Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Another skill pivot, a good skater.
- (NR) LD Stanislav Svozil, Brno. Outstanding outlet passer, patient, impressive with the puck, solid without it.
- (44) LC Oliver Kapanen JYP Smart offensive player who drives offense.
- (45) LC Wyatt Johnson, Windsor Spitfires Skill center showed second half improvement
- (46) RC Justin Robidas, Val d’Or Foreurs. He’s Yvan Cournoyer small, an absolute bullet on skates.
- (NR) LD Sean Behrens, USNDTP. Undersized blue is very skilled and makes smart plays with the puck.
- (NR) LC Lorenzo Canonica, Shawinigan Cataractes. Another skill center, one of the best skaters in the QMJHL
- (47) G Alekesi Kolosov, Minsk. KHL goalie, .911 SP and still a teenager.
- (48) RW Samu Tuomaala, Karpat Good shooter, average speed, two-way resume.
- (49) RW Prokhor Poltapov, Moscow. Skilled winger plays NA style. 25 goals in 61 games.
- (50) LD Ethan Dal Mastro, Mississauga Steelheads A big, strong shutdown blue with good speed.
- (NR) LC Sami Päivärinta, Lukko. Small two-way center, fine playmaker.
- (NR) LC Zach Dean, Gatineau Olympiques. He is going in the first round, numbers have him as a second-round pick.
- (NR) LD Artyom Grushnikov, Moscow. Big shutdown blue, mobile, great passer.
- (NR) LD Nolan Allan, Prince Albert Raiders. A big (6.02, 190) D with good speed, lots of skill but the numbers are shy.
- (NR) RW Mackie Samoskevich, Chicago (USHL) Speedy skill winger.
- (NR) RD Logan Mailloux, Lejon. Big offensive defenseman with a hammer shot.
- (NR) LC Cole Huckins, Acadie-Bathurst Titan. He has size, can skate and posted 32 pts in 33 games. May 2003.
- (NR)LW Matvei Petrov, Moscow. Big winger (6.02, 178) can score, great shot.
- (NR) LD Graham Sward, Spokane Chiefs. He’s 6.02, 169. Physical shutdown blue with mobility.
- (NR) LW James Malatesta, Quebec Remparts. Speedy winger is small (5.09) but plays a rugged style.
- (NR) LD Vladislav Lukashevich, Yaroslavl. Another shutdown blue, he’s a good skater, good shot.
- (NR) LW Viljami Marjala, Quebec Remparts. C-LW is highly skilled and a creative playmaker.
- (NR) LW Nikita Buruyanov, St. Petersburg. Small winger, terrific speed and aggressive play.
- (NR) LD Aleksi Malinen, JyP. Fantastic skater, skilled, some chaos.
- (NR) LC Victor Stjernborg, Vaxjo. Two-way forward, aggressive forechecker, great passer.
- (NR) LD Vasily Machulin, Moscow Dynamo (MHL). Good size, dynamic skater, impressive player.
- (NR) RD Jack Bar, Chicago Steel. Good size, plus shot, some skill.
- (NR) LW Jeremy Wilmer, USNDTP. August 2003, great passer, high skill.
- (NR) LC Samuel Helenius, JYP. Huge checking center already in the Liiga.
- (NR) LW Tristan Broz, Fargo Force. Nice range of skills, fine passer good skater.
- (NR) RC Ryan Winterton, Hamilton Bulldogs. Solid prospect, skilled and September 2003.
Holloway has his entry deal that kicks in this fall and an ATO that will allow him to play tonight. I’ll be watching and am certain others (Wilde, OP) will be chiming in here and or on twitter. I’ll tell you what I saw tomorrow morning in this space.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we’ll review yesterday’s game and look forward to the playoffs. At 10:20, Erik Erlendsson from LightningInsider.com talks about an all-Florida playoff series and the chances of a Stanley Cup repeat. At 11, Frank Seravalli of TSN will talk Oilers playoffs, the Adam Larsson contract and TSN’s free-agent list from earlier this week. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!