You’ve probably come here for the break down of the breakdown. I’ll try to be brief.
I expect we’ll spend the day discussing Archibald’s penalty (it will be remembered a long time) or Smith’s reaction on the fourth goal (I’m going to ask Joacquin Gage about it today on the Lowdown at 10:20), or any of several wobbly plays by Ethan Bear. Or maybe the lack of a timeout after the 4-3 goal.
Eventually, we’ll begin to hammer on the lost opportunity that was Evan Bouchard’s season and everyone will hit the sofa for a 7:45 game that seems a foregone conclusion.
It was a bad beat, you can’t put it any other way. Parsing is pain and yet necessary. I cheer for Ethan Bear and man he had a tough game, sending a wayward pass that landed in a breakaway, deflecting a puck into his own net and getting rocked more than a few times by hard and effective hits.
Connor McDavid, who contributed so much on this night, made an uncertain rim around the net that quickly turned into the 4-4 tying goal. The captain is normally unerring in judgement of time and space (the play was to stop, turn and carry) and finding fault with 97 without acknowledging his outstanding overall effort in the game, series and season would be wildly unfair.
I could go on, but choose not to because this team won’t look the same the next time things matter.
I picked the Oilers in seven games. This is not what winning in seven games looks like. I didn’t see the club getting out of the North Division but did see them winning the first round, showing progress. As it is, most of us will file this mess next to last year’s Chicago series and consider it a trend.
Ken Holland said at the deadline “you pick and choose. I don’t know that you can be all in every year. I made a decision last year, to try to get in. The hope is we’re going to do it again next year and try to make bigger noise.”
That’s a practical decision in an emotional sport. Hard to sell that today or later in the week, but on the first day of free agency it may have appeal. I would encourage you to watch the game tonight, if only to enjoy the intelligent play of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins one more time.
I thought this team would go deeper, but they made the playoffs and found their outer limit in a quick hurry. This summer, Ken Holland will go to market and sign free agents to address goaltending and scoring on the wings. After the fourth loss in the series, the focus will be on those choices and the draft.
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’s the latest!
- New DNB: Blame Josh Archibald’s ‘poor penalty’ for a season-turning loss, but there’s much more that ails the Oilers
- New Jonathan Willis: Lineup changes, Zack Kassian’s goal and other Oilers observations on an epic Game 3 collapse against the Jets
- New Lowetide: Is Oilers coach Dave Tippett overreaching in search of goal suppression?
- Lowetide: The 5 biggest stories from the Bakersfield Condors’ 2020-21 season
- DNB: Oilers running out of answers to solve offensive woes
- Jonathan Willis: Mike Smith great, Connor McDavid pointless as Edmonton digs a hole
- DNB: How Jesse Puljujarvi’s return to Finland primed him for Oilers success
- Lowetide: The seeds of Oilers’ 2015 orientation camp forms heart of current team
- DNB: ‘We need to bear down’: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl can’t carry the Oilers, going scoreless in Game 1 loss
- Jonathan Willis: Jesse Puljujarvi scores, Leon Draisaitl thrives and Edmonton falls in Game 1 vs. the Jets
- DNB: Darnell Nurse is on ‘another level’
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi has arrived for the Oilers — again
- Jonathan Willis: What the Oilers need to do to beat the Jets
- Lowetide: Oilers final 2020-21 report card: A regular season to remember
- New DNB: ‘The biggest transformation I’ve ever seen in an elite player’: How Connor McDavid took the next step
- New DNB: Are the Oilers botching Evan Bouchard’s development?
- New DNB: What Leon Draisaitl learned in Bakersfield
- Lowetide: Adam Larsson contract talks give us a glimpse into Oilers’ offseason plans
- Lowetide: Ideal Edmonton Oilers lines and pairings for the 2021 NHL playoffs
- Jonathan Willis:Oilers’ Mike Smith is putting himself in the all-time old-guy goalie conversation with a stunning season at 38
- DNB:What are the Oilers’ pressing questions ahead of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft?
- DNB: A 2nd Hart Trophy is firmly in Connor McDavid’s grasp
- Lowetide: An early look at ideal Oilers’ free-agent targets for the offseason
THE 93 BEST PLAYERS IN THE 2021 DRAFT
I’ll land at 125 again, have to make another sweep through Europe but am satisfied that the CHL, USHL, NCAA and North American overagers are represented below. It is such a weird process this year, my bet is that half my list remains when the draft is complete.
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.
- (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.
- (6) LD Owen Power, Michigan Wolverines. Great skater, terrific two-way ability and a great passer.
- (10) LD Luke Hughes, U.S. National Development Team Terrific skater with complete range of skills.
- (8) RW Nikita Chibrikov, St. Petersburg Small skill winger can stickhandle in a phone booth. Massive U18’s in Texas.
- (3) LC Mason McTavish Peterborough Petes. He’s a pure goal scorer, PF’s tools. Reports on skating are mixed.
- (9) LD Simon Edvinsson, Vasteras IK Huge (6.05, 207) two-way blue with great mobility.
- (7) LW Kent Johnson, Michigan Wolverines High skill level, impressive numbers, October 2002.
- (11) LC Zachary Bolduc, Rimouski Oceanic. A fairly complete talent, his offense is the main calling card.
- (12) 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.
- (14) RC Xavier Bourgault, Shawinigan Cataractes There’s just too much offense to ignore.
- (15) RW Chaz Lucius, U.S. National Development Team Great shot, high skill, good speed. He could be a steal.
- (16) RC Logan Stankoven, Kamloops Blazers 5.07, 165. Demon on the forecheck with plus skills.
- (21) RW Fabian Lysell, Lulea. Breathtaking skill winger, great release.
- (17) G Sebastian Cossa, Edmonton Oil Kings. He’s a giant goaltender had a .941 save percentage this season.
- (18) 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.
- (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.
- (32) LD Carson Lambos, Winnipeg Ice A big man already (6.01, 200) he is a fine skater. Two-way blue.
- (27) RC Ryder Korczak, Moose Jaw Warriors A top play-making center in the WHL. Good speed, elusive.
- (28) LW Oskar Olausson, HV 71. Skill winger, great hands and 6.02, 181.
- (29) 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.
- (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.
- (37) RW Simon Robertsson, Skelleftea. Bert’s boy, has a powerful shot. Feb. 2003.
- (38) LC Cole Sillinger, Sioux Falls Stampede Dangerous shooter, fine passer. Average skater.
- (39) LD Evan Nause, Quebec Remparts Two-way defender is 6.02, 186 and spiking offensively.
- (36) LC Brett Harrison, Oshawa Generals A two-way center with good speed. Texas tournament hurt his ranking here.
- (40) RC Connor Lockhart, Erie Otters. Probably the best skater among draft-eligible forwards in the OHL this year.
- (42) LW Sasha Pastujov, USNDTP Plus shot, offensive winger. Average speed.
- (43) LW William Stromgren, MoDo Big skill winger with good wheels.
- (44) RC Riley Kidney, Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Another skill pivot, a good skater.
- (45) LD Stanislav Svozil, Brno. Outstanding outlet passer, patient, impressive with the puck, solid without it.
- (46) LC Oliver Kapanen JYP Smart offensive player who drives offense.
- (47) LC Wyatt Johnson, Windsor Spitfires Skill center showed second half improvement
- (48) RC Justin Robidas, Val d’Or Foreurs. He’s Yvan Cournoyer small, an absolute bullet on skates.
- (41) LW Alexander Kisakov, Moscow Dynamo Just 5.10, 141, terrific skill.
- (49) LD Sean Behrens, USNDTP. Undersized blue is very skilled and makes smart plays with the puck.
- (50) LC Lorenzo Canonica, Shawinigan Cataractes. Another skill center, one of the best skaters in the QMJHL
- (51) G Alekesi Kolosov, Minsk. KHL goalie, .911 SP and still a teenager.
- (52) RW Samu Tuomaala, Karpat Good shooter, average speed, two-way resume.
- (53) RW Prokhor Poltapov, Moscow. Skilled winger plays NA style. 25 goals in 61 games.
- (54) LD Ethan Dal Mastro, Mississauga Steelheads A big, strong shutdown blue with good speed.
- (55) LC Sami Päivärinta, Lukko. Small two-way center, fine playmaker.
- (56) LC Zach Dean, Gatineau Olympiques. He is going in the first round, numbers have him as a second-round pick.
- (57) LD Artyom Grushnikov, Moscow. Big shutdown blue, mobile, great passer.
- (NR) G Benjamin Gaudreau, Sarnia Sting. Impressive U18 (.919 SP) has him here.
- (58) LD Nolan Allan, Prince Albert Raiders. A big (6.02, 190) D with good speed, lots of skill but the numbers are shy.
- (NR) RC Daniil Tesanov, Yaroslavl. Big center with speed and range, he’s 20.
- (59) RW Mackie Samoskevich, Chicago (USHL) Speedy skill winger.
- (60) RD Logan Mailloux, Lejon. Big offensive defenseman with a hammer shot.
- (61) LC Cole Huckins, Acadie-Bathurst Titan. He has size, can skate and posted 32 pts in 33 games. May 2003.
- (62) LW Matvei Petrov, Moscow. Big winger (6.02, 178) can score, great shot.
- (NR) LD Anton Olsson, Malmo. Big, sturdy shutdown defender. Mobile.
- (63) LD Graham Sward, Spokane Chiefs. He’s 6.02, 169. Physical shutdown blue with mobility.
- (64) LD Janis Moser, EHC Biel-Bienne. Overager, fine skater and complete skill set.
- (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) G Brett Brochu, London Knights. Under the radar goalie who delivered a .919 SP as a rookie.
- (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) LW Ville Koivunen, Karpat. Smart winger with 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.
- (NR) LD Aidan Hreschuk, USNDTP. Solid two-way defender, effective in coverage.
- (NR) LW Owen Pederson, Winnipeg Ice. Big winger with goal-scoring ability.
- (NR) RW Zakhar Bardakov, Vityaz Podolsk. Big PF with some skill. He is 20.
- (NR) LC Theo Rochette, Quebec Remparts. Undersized two-way center, intriguing offense.
- (NR) LC Cameron Berg, USHL. Good speed and skill.
- (NR) LC Juuso Mäenpää, Kalpa. Very small but highly skilled playmaker.
- (NR) RC Josh Pillar, Kamloops Blazers. Fast player, scored well and is draft re-entry.
- (NR) LD Dave Ma, USHL, Chicago Steel. Tremendous skater and very creative.
- (NR) RW Oliver Suni, Lukko Rauma. Strong winger with range of skills.
- (NR) RD Roman Schmidt, USNDTP. Huge shutdown blue with some offense.
- (NR) LW Ilya Nazarov, Yaroslavl. Big winger with skill, May 2003.
- (NR) RC Ethan Cardwell, Surahammars. Two-way center with skill, effective forechecker.
OILERS MOCK DRAFT
- No. 39 overall: LW Eric Alarie, Moose Jaw Warriors. If I have figured out Tyler Wright’s drafting style (voiceover: He has not) then Alarie has to be a possible target. Strong and creative, he’s a great passer and a good skater owing to good edges He is 6.01, 198. Alarie posted 10-10-20 in 19 WHL games during 2020-21. Oilers could trade down to get this player, that’s what I’ve done (trading No. 21 for No. 39 and No. 71 with LAK).
- No. 71 overall: LD Aleksi Malinen, JyP. He is a great skater and that skill got him to the Liiga before his NHL draft day. Quality at exits and entries either via pass or (more likely) carry. He is 6.0, 185 and would give Edmonton a different look than Philip Broberg or Dmitri Samorukov.
- No. 117 overall: RW Zakhar Bardakov, Vityaz Podolsk. He is an overager (20), expect a pile of them in this year’s draft. A big power winger (6.02, 198) who drew attention at the WJ’s and scored eight goals in the KHL this past season. He is an effective grinder, I expect that to be the theme for Edmonton at this year’s draft.
- No. 181 overall: G Kirill Gerasimyuk, St. Petersburg: He’s 6.02, 180 and has a great glove. Oilers fans deserve a quick glove from their goalies for the rest of time.
- No. 189 overall: RW Wiljami Myllylä, HIFK. Speed demon, gaudy scoring numbers for days. Re-entry. He is 20.
- No. 213 overall: LC Michal Gut, Sokolov. Skill center, average speed, August 2002.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
TSN 1260. 10 this morning. Joacquin Gage, goalie insider and Jason Gregor, plus your comments at 10-1260 or @Lowetide. Heaven and hell in the NHL at 10.