2020-21 Game 56: Canucks at Oilers

by Lowetide

One of my favourite things about the end of every season is looking back on the young players to see if they progressed. Today we’ll look at this year’s candidates, but first let’s look back at the 2016-17 group.

Feature article at The Athletic today: Adam Larsson arrived in Edmonton with fans outraged over the loss of Taylor Hall. Almost five years later, he is universally popular with fans. (Click on link for incredible subscription offer). Link is here.


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 LowetideAdam Larsson contract talks give us a glimpse into Oilers’ offseason plans
  • 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: 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 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: 24-27-5, 53 points; goal differential -21
  • Oilers in 2019-20: 30-20-6, 66 points; goal differential +2
  • Oilers in 2020-21: 35-18-2, 72 points; goal differential +23

In terms of winning percentage, using the Bettman math, this is the best Oilers season since 1987. I wore dockers and Hugo Boss. Should have invested. Anyway, this has been a fun year.


  • 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

It’s been a wonderful year. I’m looking forward to the postseason, not in a “they better win or else” or “if they lose it’ll be due to not playing Evan Bouchard” way, but more in a “I’m genuinely curious to see if Holland’s bets work” kind of way.

I mean, Holland arrived in Edmonton spring 2019, hired several depth penalty killers, Mike Smith to play goal as 1A, and got lucky when Ethan Bear and Kailer Yamamoto arrived on time.

In the most recent offseason, he rehired Mike Smith, used the Oscar Klefbom money on an insane value deal (Tyson Barrie) and made a nice signing of Dominik Kahun. He also benefited both seasons from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl playing out of this world hockey.

And it worked, or at least to a point.

I’m curious to see how it plays out. Look, I know some of you want the GM to be John Houseman from The Paper Chase, but God sent Harry Morgan from Mash. Ken Holland is a good man. He’s not your dream choice, but he’s closing the gap. Lets see how this plays out.


I projected Evan Bouchard to play 18 games, William Lagesson to play 20, Jesse Puljujarvi to play 45. How did they do? Before that, let’s look back to the 2016-17 season and see how the non-regulars entering that year performed. The words below were written right after G82, 2016-17:

  • F Drake Caggiula (60, 7-11-18). It took him forever and a day to finally catch a wave, but this young man was a late season delight. Went 3-5-8 in his final 15 games and we’ll see where he lands during the playoffs and in the fall. I still haven’t marked him as an offensive player, but am curious to see him over another full season.
  • F Anton Slepyshev (41, 4-6-10). I’m not certain he’ll make it, seems the Oilers have a bunch of wingers looking for work and they are obscured by each other. For me, Slepy is the guy who looks to be emerging, but his handling suggests the coach prefers another. These things happen, but there’s a player here. Pretty sure.
  • R Jesse Puljujarvi (28, 1-7-8). Our mannish boy learned the blues during a cold California winter and we’ll see what the fall brings to us. As is the case with Caggiula, I can’t mark JP as an offensive player yet. He was 0.59/60 scoring 5×5 without McDavid (200 minutes) and that’s not a big sample size and he’s 18 and and and. Edmonton needs him to be a legit scorer and there’s a pile of bonus money here too. I don’t think they can send him to the AHL again this fall without admitting the bloom is off the rose. People keep telling me his AHL numbers are fine, and that may be. I am less bullish on this player than on draft day, while remaining hopeful he’ll be a long term answer.
  • Matt Benning (62, 3-15-18). A tale of two seasons, with the early (larger) portion being sublime play with and without the puck. After his concussion (and recovery) there has been more wobble in his game, but overall this was a terrific addition.
  • Laurent Brossoit (8, 1.99 .928). Impressive numbers, but he remains untested. The Oilers have to play him 20 games next season to find out about him.

Puljujarvi is just emerging now, but that’s on the 2016-19 Oilers organization. Brossoit, Benning and Caggiula played depth roles in 2020-21 and Slepyshev could play in the league but has been flourishing in the KHL instead.


The Oilers deployed just three pure rookies for 10 games or more:

  • Evan Bouchard 13 games, 2-3-5
  • William Lagesson 19 games, 0-2-2
  • Ryan McLeod 10 games, 0-1-1
  • Stuart Skinner 1 game

Bouchard and McLeod could be 5-10 year solutions, Lagesson went from fringe to feature to distant bell so it’s uncertain where he lands next season. The players who spent time in the NHL previous to this season but still had some work to do in establishing themselves:

  • Jesse Puljujarvi 54 games, 15-10-25
  • Kailer Yamamoto 52 games, 8-13-21
  • Caleb Jones 33 games, 0-4-4

Puljujarvi had a strong season, he has reached a point where you can see several areas of productivity (goals, turning pucks over). He’s an important part of the line.

Yamamoto is doing everything right but his scoring totals are a little shy. He isn’t the next Caggiula but he isn’t the next Eberle either. I love the entire Yamamoto story, his being drafted represented a sea change for the Oilers organization, but he has to score goals, contribute to goals and deliver outscoring (32-24) numbers five on five. In his most recent 82 games, Yamamoto scored 19-28-47. If he can do that again, he’ll be an established NHL player.

Jones is having a tougher year than last season, inconsistent play has been an issue. In his most recent 82 NHL games, his on-ice goal differential is 41-51. He is 11-18 this season. I remain convinced he’ll have a career, but I’m not certain he’ll play a regular role in the postseason.


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Hunter1909’s Death March Playoff 2021 

follow the link: 


you have to: 

1- predict number of Oilers playoff wins(called points on the home page)

2– predict the tie breaker(add up the total goals of McDavid, Draisaitl and Jp in the playoffs)


Downbeat to end the season, but it was a pretty good one all things considered.

11th overall finish.
7th in goals, top power play.
12th in goals against, top 10 PK.

Top 2 scorers in the league.
Top scoring defenseman in the league.
A couple of guys top 10 in +/-

And a little more focus on McDavid’s historic season…
-He lead the league by 21 points, and 36 more than any non-Oiler
-36 more points, in 56 games. That’s a lot!
-#2 in goals to Matthews. Draisaitl was #4
-4th in shots. Definitely not just a passer anymore
-#1 in assists, more than any non-Oiler had points (not quite in Gretzky territory but definitely reminiscent)

-1.88 points/game.
-Never mind era-adjusted, it’s the highest scoring rate since before McDavid was born (Lemieux, 95-96)
-#22 points/game season in the 50+ years since original expansion (the top 16 of those are Wayne/Mario)
-Had McDavid played 82 games at the same rate: 82-48-106-154

I could go on, but I’ll stop there.


Thinking, as the top deadline acquisition, Sam Bennett’s playoff debut for his new team likely goes better than Taylor Hall’s did tonight.


In a 3-2-1-0 points system. Overtime is 2-1.

Toronto 106 points
Edmonton 103 points
Winnipeg 83 points
Montreal 79 points
Calgary 72 points 3 games remaining
Ottawa 69 points
Vancouver 63 points 3 games remaining

I was actually kinda hoping Edmonton would come out first.
Other than Calgary not being eliminated yet, this is pretty much the same.


If it was 3-2-1-0 though, this game would have resulted in a W, not just avoiding injury. Roster would have been the playoff roster too. The Dys are a truly horrible team. The Sens deservedly will finish ahead of them in the final standings.


Missed game.
/checks score
/checks to see if score resulted in HH predicting 2021 Stanley for Nucks
/checks for posts refuting this possibility
/checks for HH moving goalposts…

Playoffs boys!


i was definitely wrong in my preseason predictions
I did not think Calgary and Van would still be playing when the playoffs started





1st place – Balzams 72 points, 46 total goals between McDavid+JP

2nd place – Tapdog 72 points, 51 total goals

3rd place – hags9k 72 points, 39 total goals

Congratulations to all the winners!

Last edited 4 months ago by hunter1909
Gerta Rauss

Congrats to Balzams for a fine season


Balzams says thanks.

New Improved Darkness

Back in my misspent youth—my doddering decade of double OT—I might have frittered away an entire diurnal cycle attempting to scratch out an epic haiku consisting of nothing but a brief roll call of baroque names.

My third and final syllables five would have been Niels Leakey-Glover, a gangling lion of gravid ganglions, gassing his glory in the greatest of games.

[*] No relation to Niels Bohr, no relation Louis Leakey, and especially no relation to Crispin Glover.

[*] 1 – double OT = vaguely On Topic, here and there

Alternate treatment: Niels Bohr, Louis Leakey and Andy Capp walk into a Syncrude pub.

Oh, the embarrassment of riches for the tiny mind.


Hunter1909’s Death March Playoff 2021 

is here:

follow the link: 


Here’s all you have to do: 

1 – log in/register

2- predict number of Oilers playoff wins(called points on the home page)

3 – predict the tie breaker(explained on the homepage) 

Its easy!

Harpers Hair

The Athletic NHL (@TheAthleticNHL) Tweeted:
Blues winger David Perron has been placed on the COVID-19 protocol list, two days before the team’s playoff opener.




I am contemplating moving out to the island. Any chance that I could contact you to get some info?

Harpers Hair

Sure….any time.


I presume you are looking for info about why goal posts appear to suddenly move on the island. The strangest thing, that.

Ice Sage

Seismic activity, no doubt. No envy of real prairie hockey out here, nope!

Ice Sage

Shelter Point isn’t a topographic feature but is a fine distillery halfway between the Comox Valley and Campbell River. Best contribution DSF / HH has made – here’s hoping he’s a better Island ambassador!

Todd Macallan

Let’s try and not let a few mins of Koski ruin our night. Like Tip just said, this game was a win if no one got hurt, and no one got hurt. And hey OP, Matty Blumel has officially made the Czech WC team!

Last edited 4 months ago by Todd Macallan

Awesome – thank you for that.

Great season for the arrows up prospect.

Harpers Hair

After leading his SKA St. Petersburg team in playoff scoring, Vasili Podkolzin is on the Russian team.

Thought you would want to know. 👅


Not really, maybe post it on a Canucks blog.

Todd Macallan

One is a high 1st round pick while the other is a 4th rounder who didn’t get selected his first yr eligible. Both made their national teams but I do not think these accomplishments are created equal when taking into account draft pedigree and expectations.

“Please do not take the fact I am speaking about this as my having any interest whatsoever in discussing Canuck prospects on an Oilers blog. End of speech”
– Ron Swanson

Harpers Hair

They are also unequal in that making the Czech team is far easier.


Vascatori Possolini just needs to get all the success he can before he comes over and is forever tainted. We all wish the kid success.


SKA St Petersburg… … … Isn’t that the team that was lead in scoring this season by none other than the undrafted but previously signed then unsigned Vladimir Tkachev?

That’s likely the thing you should mention about SKA St Petersburg on an Oilers blog if you want anyone to care.

btw anyone, This has likely been already discussed, but since his contract was mutually terminated so he could pursue an NHL career, anyone see him play lately? Could he help the Oilers?


I anticipate:





Tip also confirmed that McLeod will be ready for the playoffs.


Good takeaways for me:

  • the speed of Archibald and Nygard make a potent bottom 6 option. Haas too.
  • Neal and Chiasson look engaged and are exactly the type of player you have an roster all year to lift for playoff hockey. I feel like Neal was injured for most of the year, his skating looked better to me and he is definitely more involved in the play.
  • Koekkoek looked healthy his depth could prove invaluable.
  • Bouchard had his rook moments but I haven’t seen a player who’s such a threat from the blue line in a very long time.
  • RNH and Kahun had their moments and were stoned by a red hot Demko

My 2 cents, I agree with all of this, except Neal. I have seen molasses move faster on ice.

Harpers Hair

You saw a threat from the blue line just today.

Jack Rathbone had 5 shots of goal.


Why didn’t he have 5 goals? What about Quinn? What about Bromley Raspointing? Given up on them? The overwhelming might of Jack Jason Bourne Rathbone.


Maybe if the Oilers weren’t playing as though they were going through the motions Koski wouldn’t have all those goals trickle in. He looked good for the remaining 95% of the game. The Oilers play tighter hopefully he’ll be alright if he needs to dress. That glove is an issue though


Tip said in the post-game that, if it was playoffs, Yamamoto would have been able to play.

Here is hoping he’s 100% by Wed.


They better hope Conklin is ready if he gets the tap.


Bring back Eddy Mio there’s no way you let Mikko see ice time unless your looking to get fired.


Or if Roly gets hurt.

Gerta Rauss

Well that’s too bad

Bring on WPG and let’s get this party started

I’ll have to get my liver into playoff shape

Victoria Oil

Before the game, I was hoping that Koskinen would have at least a .900 save percentage to bump up his confidence a bit. Well he did that, but this wasn’t what I had in mind. Would have been nice to see Stalock in the third. Oh well, at least no injuries today, I believe.

Decidedly Skeptical Fan

Anyone else not want to see Koskinen in even a single playoff game? Tip is going to have nightmares about how he couldn’t figure out how to get Stalock into a single game. Nice work there.


At least we can use Koski’s 4.5mil for Nurse’s raise.
For all the love he gets on here…I’m very excited to see if anybody signs him after next season. I predict his NHL career is over…good riddance.


Can’t rely on Mikko if something happens to Smith. He plays back in his net on his knees and hunches his back so he looks like he is 4 ft 11 inches tall


Atta boy Mikko let’s send us into the playoffs on a high note maybe we hit paydirt with the pick before the Bruins.


I think Nuge doesn’t pass enough. Maybe all the years of fans screaming shoot first mentality has gotten to him
Every time he gets the puck he settles it down and tries a quick direct wrist shot from wherever he is. Usually resulting in an easy save or a bar and then leaving the zone.

Almost like he’s scared to actually do anything with it.

Is it just me or does anyone agree


In a contract year, I’m not surprised he’s putting whatever he can on net. Goals help make negotiating much easier.
I also he think he’s been told to shoot more especially on the PP…sort of a role they gave him.
But I do agree he looks to be “playing slower” somehow. Hope it’s not due to him playing his last season as an Oiler…


Gerta, you were right about playing Stalock in the third. Lol.


If nothing else, this likely puts to bed any thought Tip may have had re: playing Mikko in game 4 on Monday.


At least it wasn’t glove hand a small victory for Mikko



Gerta Rauss

hoo boy


I don’t invoke the name Tommy Salo lightly.


Tommy Salo.

The yips are a real thing.


Really hope the Flames want some Koskinen for themselves in the off season.


I don’t see any reason why another NHL team will want Mikko.


I thought that about Lucic


So Koskinen for Markstrom, Flames retain 1M per season? You know you wanna Sutter…


I was thinking they would tandem.

Harpers Hair

Bouchard and High Glove Mikko are a lethal combination.


How can somebody so big look so small.


Bouchard wasn’t responsible for his first minus. The forwards were.


If it’s one of your favourites it’s never their fault.

if it’s not one of your favourites it’s always their fault.


The Oilers need to find a way to prevent the other team from shooting glove side on Mikko.


By not playing him?



Gerta Rauss

comment image


McD and Drai had their chance, just roll the bottom 2 lines, Bouch and Kookoo out every other shift


That was a couple quick minuses for Bouch….


Just end his misery and buy him out are bury him in the ECHL


says Barrie’s Mom.

Barrie made a worse blunder on the shorthanded goal against than Bouchard did on either of his minues. He was blameless on one, and Bouchard had the puck cleared by Khaira stupidly stuck his hand in the air and blocked the puck. None of the forwards were back, so Bouchard was safely clearing the puck out of the zone, but Khaira went and stuck his hand up in the air. Khaira was out of position, and neither of the other two forwards were back to provide support along the walls.


You can like one player and not like another and still be objective. Just saying.


And another – ha.


Game over


Drai can’t cash on another high danger chance and then one gets over Mikko’s shoulder and in.

Gerta Rauss



Does Yamamoto know if the Oilers don’t bring Nuge back he’s the next whipping boy?


Both Drai and McDavid have failed to score on clear breakaways today.


Demko continues to be the first star of the game.


That was pretty awkward Drai – was wondering why he missed the net by such a wide margin.


How many goals would RNH have if he just hits the net instead of trying to go roof and missing the net on countless shots from the kill zone this year.




Canadiens not having Kotkaniemi and Caufield in their playoff lineup is reminiscent of the ending to Dumb and Dumber.


It’s the Frenchie rope a dope.


Lol, once something has been compared to Dumb and Dumber, there is no possible defense or justification. It’s literally comparable to the dumbest movie ever as the movie title conveniently conveys.

Last edited 4 months ago by TheGreatBigMac

Nuge doesn’t/can’t one time passes in tight, sure would help his stats


I think Nuge could stand to play with a touch more pace/urgency at evens. I don’t think it’s a physical decline…just seems a touch slow with decision-making. Very deliberate.

If it was getting results I wouldn’t criticize, but the approach is clearly not working.

Gerta Rauss

I’d consider putting Matlock in net for the 3rd period

Mikko has been good, he/team can feel good about his performance today


I understand the premise but can’t imagine Coach T. does that.


They should have followed your advice.


Thatcher Demko the primary star of the 2nd period.


Nygard continues to draw powerplays.


Damn, Bouch hesitated on that back-door pass to Archie or it probably would have cashed.