I look forward to June 1 every year, because it’s normally the date I drop my “Here Comes the Sun” annual list. For me, that means (usually) a full month of reading draft lists and rankings, with verbal, from Corey Pronman, Scott Wheeler, Bob McKenzie, Craig Button, Red Line Report and others. So much fun!
My interest in the draft goes back to 1971, and my interest in why teams draft differently goes back to Bob Gainey’s selection in the top 10 during the 1973 edition. I don’t get a lot of leisure time (stop laughing) and love this time of year as the draft approaches.
One of the reasons I publish my final list before the experts is that my list is math based, so tweaking it would be silly. If I get a strong indicator on a player, then I’ll move him but it has to be (probably) two sources. Anyway, I’m enjoying my reading time, and first stop this year is a newer player, HockeyProspecting.com.
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 Lowetide: Oilers enter free agency as a major buyer. Is third time the charm?
- New DNB: Oilers could look quite different next season after departure of several players
- Lowetide: It won’t be easy, but the Oilers need to re-sign Darnell Nurse soon
- DNB: Ideal Oilers free-agent targets
- New Lowetide: An early look at the Oilers’ options for the 2021 draft
- New DNB: The pressure is on Oilers GM Ken Holland
- New Lowetide: What now for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?
- New DNB: Connor McDavid shows his frustration as another year of his prime is lost: ‘We’re a group that expects more’
- New Jonathan Willis: The NHL gifted the Oilers Connor McDavid; six years later, they have yet to adequately support him
- New DNB: The Oilers’ 10 biggest offseason priorities after a disastrous first-round playoff loss to the Jets
- Lowetide: The 5 biggest stories from the Bakersfield Condors’ 2020-21 season
- DNB: How Jesse Puljujarvi’s return to Finland primed him for Oilers success
- DNB: Darnell Nurse is on ‘another level’
- Lowetide: Jesse Puljujarvi has arrived for the Oilers — again
- Lowetide: Oilers final 2020-21 report cards: A regular season to remember
- DNB:What are the Oilers’ pressing questions ahead of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft?
- Lowetide: An early look at ideal Oilers’ free-agent targets for the offseason
I expect many of you follow Byron Bader on twitter or read his blog/prospect tools at HockeyProspecting.com. I enjoy his player comparisons and wanted to delve into the site this summer to see what he’s cooked up.
The comparison tool compares the player vs. every other player that played 100+ games in the NHL and finds the closest five. I had Dillon Dube as Benson’s comp, but the age gap made Dube a better NHL bet. At the end of draft +3 (Bader tracks for five years), the most similar player was Jean-Gabriel Pageau. You see some interesting names in the closest comps as well, giving on a good idea about the wide range of possible outcomes.
Bader also tracks ‘star and NHLer probability’ and updates until the end of draft +3. Puljujarvi went from 41 to 6 percent star probability in the years after the draft, but also went from 61 to 92 percent NHLer probability. Tyler Benson’s NHLer probability increased slightly (45 to 53 percent), Filip Berglund increased from 20 to 29 percent. I’m just getting a feel for this stuff but it’s interesting to see his results across all areas, and the things he measures. Haven’t jumped in to the 2021 draft but will in the coming days. Website is here, very reasonable annual fee. His predictions are ballsy, you’ll like them. Example: Philip Broberg is ranked No. 3 in NHLer probability from the 2019 draft among Oilers picks. That’s brazen!
UNSIGNED PLAYERS FROM THE 2019 DRAFT
After a small flurry of signings, we have the list of players who are either free agents or will re-enter the draft. There are some interesting players in the group, the best (imo) being second-round selection Filip Westerlund (NHLE: 11.9) a Swedish defenseman who played in the Allsvenskan.
- Goalie: Alex Stalock
- Defense: Darnell Nurse, Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones
- Skaters: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Dominik Kahun, Jujhar Khaira, Tyler Benson
BENSON, MARODY, BOUCHARD, SKINNER ET AL
In 2015-16, Ken Holland’s Detroit Red Wings had a pile of rookies. Here’s a list, with the AHL GP career total previous to fall 2015 in brackets:
- Landon Ferraro (268 AHL games)
- Anthony Mantha (132)
- Xavier Ouellet (122)
- Alexey Marchenko (100)
- Andreas Athanasiou (83)
- Tomas Nosek (55)
- Dylan Larkin (6)
That’s a lot of AHL games for some players who have enjoyed later NHL success. Larkin was famous at the time for going right to the NHL as a teenager, a true rarity in Detroit during the Holland era. In his two seasons with the Oilers, Holland has managed to keep teenagers out of the NHL.
I know we’ll watch Bouchard in the NHL this season, and think we’ll see Benson in 2021-22, not sure about the rest.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN 1260, we have Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal lined up to talk weird penalties and Oilers this summer. Joe Osborne from OddsShark will talk revised Stanley Cup odds and a wild start to the NBA playoffs. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!