by Lowetide

I’ll plead guilty to missing Craig MacTavish’s media avails. He’s very bright but also a fine communicator. He married wit with clarity and a true gift for the one liner and it was magic. MacT also said things, smart things. Here are two:

October 2004: “We need, as an organization, an offensive player to step forward and become a star. We’re really hoping we have a number of players who have that capability. It’s still early yet for Ales Hemsky. It could be Raffi Torres. Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron has some pretty dynamic offensive skills. Defenseman Eric Brewer is a guy we need to step forward defensively to be an Adam Foote or Scott Stevens type of player. Those are lofty goals but you have to have that type of presence.”

August 9, 2007: “I think now we need either one more forward or we need one of our younger guys to develop, whether it’s (Andrew) Cogliano, whether it’s Robert Nilsson, whether it’s Robbie Schremp. It’s too early to put (Sam) Gagner in that list.


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!


MacT pursued that ‘star player’ as a coach and later as a general manager in drafting Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl. He would have drafted Connor McDavid too, given the chance.

My question today is this: HOW MANY young players, drafted 2016 or later, have the potential to be a star? How many have the potential to be a skill player? If the prospect isn’t capable of those levels, and projects as a checker/role player, were they drafted late enough to justify the selection?

I would draft skill with every pick. Seriously. My list often delivers mock drafts full of undersized forwards who are speedy and skilled. That’s what I’d do. Trade the surplus, deploy the best ones.

Star potential

  • RHD Evan Bouchard. I can’t wait for his first full season. I haven’t done the final RE numbers yet but even with third pairing minutes and No. 2 PP time I expect he’ll post impressive boxcars.
  • LW Dylan Holloway. His college season was so strong it looks possible Edmonton drafted a star player outside the top-10 overall. He could post strong offensive numbers as a winger on a line with 97 or 29, or possibly deliver as a two-way center.
  • RW Jesse Puljujarvi. He scored 15 goals last season in 55 games, and his five on five goal differential was 42-38. He’s 6.04, 201 and runs over people for fun.
  • LW Carter Savoie. His electric start for Denver (NCAA) confirmed what his AJHL numbers were screaming: Savoie is a natural born scorer. That skill is rare, and because of it Savoie lands in this category. He scored 13 goals in 24 games as a freshman, an outstanding total. If he tracks higher in year two, my guess is Edmonton signs Savoie and turns him pro. Goal scorers get the royal treatment every time.

Skill player

  • LW Tyler Benson. There’s nowhere else I can put him, so Benson lands where he belongs (among skilled men). If he gets a full chance in the NHL, say 50 games, I expect he’ll show enough to play 500. The Oilers have blocked him currently, suggesting to me that he will find his big league home elsewhere. If he comes to camp and does a “Brodziak 2007” we may see him thrive as an Oilers winger for years to come.
  • RC Xavier Bourgault. I think the Oilers made a brilliant choice in this player. Efficient scorer, he posted 20 goals in 29 games and on 107 shots (18.7 shooting percentage, in the same range as Yamamoto at the same age). Bourgault also had 73 “dangerous shots” which is an innovative QMJHL stat that reflects high-danger. His even-strength totals (13-13-26 in 29 games) are also encouraging.
  • LHD Philip Broberg. I expect much pushback on placing him here, but he’s tracking like Oscar Klefbom so what would you have me do? He’s big and fast, and last season in the SHL (3-10-13 in 44 games) showed offensive ability. Jay Woodcroft and Dave Manson will help his development in Bakersfield and we’ll see. Oscar’s AHL season (1-9-10 in 48 games) didn’t show much offense but Broberg may play a bigger role (Klefbom had just one power-play assist in 2013-14).
  • G Ilya Konovalov. I don’t usually rank goalies with the rest of the group, but in this case it makes sense. Konovalov has been playing very well in the world’s second best league for years now, and has a career save percentage in the KHL (.922) that should mean success in the AHL and eventually the NHL. He is small for an NHL goalie, so will need to overcome bias.
  • F Raphael Lavoie. On his draft day I think there was at least some thought he would be a star player and that may happen. It’s less likely now, as his two seasons after the draft have been solid but unspectacular. If he delivers 10 goals in his first 20 AHL games this coming season, this rating will be incorrect. I suspect his development timeline may be longer than hoped.
  • RW Kailer Yamamoto. He has posted 19-28-47 in 79 games over the last two seasons. A fantastic forechecker, he’s money with Draisaitl and he was 40-31 in five on five goal differential in 2020-21. Slumped last season, must show well, but I like his future if he stays healty.

Role player

  • LC Ryan McLeod. Speedster has already played in the NHL and should find a home in the bottom-six in the next 12 months. The best thing about McLeod is that he’s been able to improve during his two pro seasons. He does many things well already in the NHL, led by retrieving loose pucks quickly and showing good position in coverage. The offense improved year over year in his AHL time, that’s something we’ll need to see at the NHL level.
  • LHD Dmitri Samorukov. His shutdown ability may be front and center as early as this year’s training camp, as Tippett will be casting about in search of suppression help. Samorukov struggled in Bakersfield, flourished in Russia and I expect he’ll start back in California this fall. He could be an NHL player this time next year.
  • RW Tyler Tullio. I’m a fan of this player, you can project him as a bottom-six forward (Red Line compared him to Paul Byron) with enough skill to score 10-15 goals while being a pain in the ass for opponents.


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jtblack August 20, 2021 - 9:30 pm

When does rookie camp start?

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 9:44 pm

It hasn’t been announced but Gazzola is saying probably around Sept 15-20.

jtblack August 20, 2021 - 7:58 pm

I think Holloway finds a way on the opening night roster. He reminds me of Scott Hartnell. Has the physical NHL body already. Can skate.

Will be interesting to see if they automaticaly “slow play” him in AHL for half a season (which is fine); or if he is too good and starts opening night

Redbird62 August 20, 2021 - 8:14 pm

What is tough to tell in pre-season is how well and quickly he gets what the coaches are telling him about the team’s systems, especially in the defensive zone. He may look like a world beater in the exhibition games (which are not at regular season caliber/speed), maybe racking up a few points or more and looking good on offense, but the coaches will have very specific discussions with him on where he is to play, who he is to cover etc. that is not always obvious to us, since we don’t know what the coaches asked of him. It is too bad about his broken thumb, causing him to miss the chance to learn some of those things in Bakersfield at the end of last season. That would have increased his odds of making the team.

Maybe he is like Draisaitl if he gets sent down to the farm, which is likely, and knocks it out of the park in the first 2 weeks. The team Drai came back up to though was not nearly as deep as this one is now, so it will depend on how the team is faring and if injuries crop up.

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 8:21 pm

I agree with most of this and have long opined that its impossible for a young player to prove he’s NHL ready in training camp – we’ve seen so many players have great camps and exhibition seasons and be nowhere close – Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, Broberg, Bouchard – even McLeod – people were calling him to be 3C in his draft plus 1.

I have no doubt that Holloways will shine – big, fast with skill always shines in camp – doesn’t mean much for NHL readiness though.

What Hollaway can do is play well enough that he forces the team to give him a chance to prove it during real games.

jtblack August 20, 2021 - 9:29 pm

Lastly I will say. Most poo poo the idea of the 3C monsters.

but Edm has not had forward depth like this since 2006.

So RNH at 3C with Good wingers ; might make sense … versus putting him there in years past with 2 black holes

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 9:43 pm

I don’t poo poo Nuge at 3C and I don’t have any issue with him at 3C at his cap hit. Cap hit of any individual player on the 23 man roster should mean nothing as far as deployment.

I have said that, when Holloway arrives, it could/should/might permit Nuge to move to 3C.

Tampa just had a 3rd line of Coleman/Gourde/Goodrow

The Oilers equivalent could be Holloway/McLeod/Yamamoto (or Foegele) in time (if McLeod can “get there” or it could be Foegle/Nuge/Yamamoto if Holloway is in the top 6 or, shit, Holloway could be that 3C in a bit of time.

jtblack August 20, 2021 - 9:26 pm

Do u guys think that if he is Good enough, they find a spot for him?

I se RNH being moved around so Holloway can play 3LW …

Anyway..We have Options !!! For the first time in forever

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 9:40 pm

There are lots of ways to find room – as you say, Nuge can play center and both Foegele and Hyman can play the right side.

I do think he’ll be in VERY tough at camp if the lineup is healthy going in to the season.

As I’ve posited, a 20 year old rookie pro can’t prove he’s NHL ready at camp (well, other than the elite) but he can prove that he deserves a shot to prove he’s ready in game 1.

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 8:15 pm

Holloway could very well force a roster spot but it’ll likely need to be one heck of a camp given the depth at left wing (or an injury or two) – imagine if he did and he is ready and Holloway/Foegele are the 3rd line wingers?

€√¥£€^$ August 20, 2021 - 9:11 pm

Top end comparables in style will be similar to Chris Kreider or a Left-handed, but bigger and faster Patrice Bergeron.

I think he has a great chance to be 30 or 40 goal scorer. Nice player, he won’t take long to arrive.

Reja August 20, 2021 - 9:43 pm

Sounds like we’re the only 2 that think if Hollaway is ready then he deserves a spot on the roster. With the additions of Forgele, Hyman, Hollaway maybe Perlini and a fresh Kassian we should become a forechecking nightmare for the opposition.

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 9:46 pm

That is factually incorrect.

The key phrase there is “if Holloway is ready” and we don’t know the answer to that question – and it will be almost impossible to answer even at the end of camp.

Reja August 20, 2021 - 10:02 pm

Unlike Benson Hollaway is a Holland pick and he’ll get a big push just like Larkin did 5 or 6 years ago. I’m getting excited to see this forward group torch the opponent on any given night

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 10:28 pm

I think Holland and Tippett will select their 23 man roster for game 1 without regard to who drafted the players. I think Samorukov plays NHL games in 2021/22 before Broberg.

Reja August 20, 2021 - 11:07 pm

Hollaway is going to have a special camp and make the team. He’s exactly what we need the hobbit experiment failed miserably just like the Swarm did. It’s time bring old time hockey back where teams regret playing in our building.

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 11:12 pm

He might – seems less likely than likely but surely not out of the realm of reasonableness.

Of course, Holland did acquire two established top 6/middle 6 left wingers with a similar skillset.

Redbird62 August 20, 2021 - 10:20 pm

Other than the first overall selections, here is some background on the timing of Oiler first round forwards getting a permanent spot on the team.

Draisaitl, taken 3rd, shortly before his 19th birthday stayed with the team after his first camp in a somewhat unusual circumstance, driven in part by injuries and a stunning lack of NHL talent level centers, and then delayed getting sent back due to the team wanting to get him traded from the Prince Albert Raiders. Even coming back after a stellar Memorial Cup, he was sent down after the camp just before his 20th birthday and came back permanently after 6 games.

Yamamoto also a late birthday, played well his 19 year old and 20 year old camps, stuck around for some games, but got sent back down and finally made the roster after 21.

Puljujarvi, taken 4th overall, was even more unusual, but everyone probably know his history really well.

Jordan Eberle was taken 22nd overall, didn’t do well at his first 2 camps, but made the team on his 3rd try right after turning 20 and flourished pretty well out of the gate. He also got to play 20 games in the AHL over those first 2 years since the Pats missed the playoffs.

Sam Gagner drafted 7th, actually made the team as an 18 year old, not being returned to junior. While some would argue he was kept to early, that was a bad team and he received a lot of votes for rookie of the year. He was better than the other options they had, the issue was not working on his other development skills properly for the next several seasons.

Holloway making the team at around 20 wouldn’t be a shock, but his problem compared to all these others, is the team is way deeper now than it was for any of these other first rounders, and he hasn’t been to any previous camps or even had any AHL experience. I think a minimum of 20 games in the AHL, barring injury is going to be required.

jp August 20, 2021 - 11:25 pm

Holloway making the team at around 20 wouldn’t be a shock, but his problem compared to all these others, is the team is way deeper now than it was for any of these other first rounders, and he hasn’t been to any previous camps or even had any AHL experience. I think a minimum of 20 games in the AHL, barring injury is going to be required.

This really is the barrier I think. Holloway has a very different bar to clear vs recent Oiler comparables who cracked the roster at 19/20 years old.

And a related point, with that depth. The Oilers would need to waive an additional potentially useful player (Benson, Shore, Perlini, Marody, etc) for Holloway to make the team. Half of those guys are going to be waived regardless, so keeping Holloway could very likely mean Benson is waived.

The flip side (and more likely outcome IMO) is that you know Holloway can be assigned to Bakersfield and called up later, while the same decision on Benson has a good chance of being final.

Redbird62 August 20, 2021 - 11:57 pm

That is a very good added point. Roster decisions can be a complex algorithm with multiple considerations. Having excess players worthy of potentially being claimed is a better problem than the alternative.

Redbird62 August 21, 2021 - 12:00 am

The phenomenon that probably worked against Benson last season, may help him this season. And that’s why the NHLPA wanted that in the CBA for players after their ELC.

Tarkus August 20, 2021 - 7:15 pm

So…the Michigan Wolverines men’s ice hockey team will be pretty good next season. Having 4 of the top 5 picks from the recent NHL draft will help:

dessert1111 August 20, 2021 - 6:21 pm

I agree with your categorization, might place Samourukov with skills but might be better categorized as potential “high end” role player. Benson is absolutely a skill player, if they don’t give him a full shot they must really not believe in him making the jump – fills a huge area of need.

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 8:13 pm

Oh, Benson needs to get some real time with legit NHL skill players this camp/exhibition. Its tough for a player like Benson to “stand out” when he’s stapled to the likes of Shore, Griffith, Esposito, etc.

If he lines up on day 1 of camp with Cracknell and Griffith, well, that will be all she wrote.

Come on Tip – give him a game with McLeod and Yamamoto at the least.

Redbird62 August 20, 2021 - 4:01 pm

I see Lundqvist officially retired today. Great career just shy a Stanley Cup:

meanashell11 August 20, 2021 - 4:47 pm

I agree. I have met him several times after games, a friend of mine is Dave Maloney and after games there is a family lounge where the players meet up with family after games and eat. It is really nice. Had to remove our Oiler jerseys before going in but what a great time. He was a really nice to to chat with. Very gracious.

Reja August 20, 2021 - 5:44 pm

I always liked Dave he was Mr.Ranger they came close to winning it all with Davidson standing on his head back in I believe 79. When they won the first game 4-1 I thought they had the mighty Habs.

Redbird62 August 20, 2021 - 7:49 pm

That Rangers team was on a decent roll knocking off the number one seed Islanders (by 1 point over the Habs) who were not quite ready to ascend to the throne, but that was an incredibly experienced Habs team that was taking a breather from their game 7 OT thriller over the Bruins a few days before (sorry LT, I know the 3rd period Bruins bench minor is a painful memory for you). The rest of the series wasn’t really that close (Montreal outscored them 18-7 in sweeping the next 4). Most dominant dynasty in the NHL (not to be confused with Greatest team which is more open for debate). Their annual dominance for 4 season over their peers was unlike any in NHL history.

defmn August 20, 2021 - 12:42 pm

Over at The Athletic Boston,Fluto Shinzawa answered mailbag questions from Bruins fans, and one of the topics that came up was the future of Edmonton native Jake DeBrusk.

“I have heard Edmonton remains interested in DeBrusk. Calgary to a lesser degree. Combine that with the cluster of left-shot forwards and the shortness of cap space, and trading DeBrusk remains a possibility.

A No. 2 center would be the ideal return. But they are not in a great spot to trade picks. It would have to be someone of DeBrusk’s profile: an underperforming player with potential to play better elsewhere.

Redbird62 August 20, 2021 - 1:00 pm

I would think that with Hyman and Foegele added, Nuge re-signed and Holloway in the wings, the Oilers would not be suitors for DeBrusk. His contract and qualifying offer for next season would seem to make this an unnecessary risk. I heard some suggest Kassian and Yamamoto to balance the cost after next season, but a) that strikes me as an overpay based on players, and b) when 2 players are sent out to bring in one, you have to add the incoming player’s salary plus at least the league minimum for another player to run with a 23 man roster, which is greatly preferred.

Lots of silly season talk going on, and maybe that’s what this is, but I really don’t know what the Oilers are thinking.

defmn August 20, 2021 - 5:07 pm

Kassian & Yamamoto is too much. Kassian and a pick would be closer imo.

If DeBrusk rebounds he is worth his qualifier. If he doesn’t Kassian’s cap hit is gone & you let DeBrusk walk.

A long shot at best.

Redbird62 August 20, 2021 - 9:47 pm

If Kassian rebounds, he is still $3.2 million per season, if Debrusk rebounds, he is $4.8 million. Granted Debrusk is going to be 25 very soon and Kassian is already 30 so Debrusk is more likely to rebound, but at 5 on 5 the last 3 seasons, Kassian has scored .78 g/60 and 1.62 points per 6 and Debrusk has scored .76 g/60 and 1.64 points per 60. Debrusk was ahead 3 seasons ago, Kassian 2 seasons ago, and both were pretty bad last season. Yes Kassian played a lot with McDavid, but his time away was with Kyle Brodziak, Riley Sheahan, Juhjar Khaira and Gaetan Haas. Debrusk played mostly with Krejci, who is no McDavid, but has rebounded to once again be a very good second line center. His next most common center was Charlie Coyle who is far better the past 3 seasons than Kassian’s non-McDavid centers.

Another issue is Debrusk is a pure left winger, and Kassian is pure right and Edmonton is already pretty deep on the left. Hyman shoot right but has mostly played left. Plus Debrusk is not physical at all like his Dad or Kassian. His hits per 60 has been in the 2.5 to 4 range vs. Kassian at 10-14 per 60 the last few seasons. McDavid and Yamamoto give more hits per 60 than Debrusk. He is no more likely to get into the Oilers top 6 than Kassian, and he is less suited to a bottom 6 role. Plus adding another pick, which the Oilers are short on, would compound the issue. I still say pass. Besides, I want to see if Kassian’s position that the crowd helps him to get amped up actually plays out this season.

defmn August 20, 2021 - 10:19 pm

That is all reasonable. It is a risk. As with most risk there is an upside and a downside.

For those who think Kassian’s contract is a mistake it is a way to move on either with an upgrade or by walking away after a year of DeBrusk.

It also has the potential to add a player to the core by age.

I’m not too concerned about adding a third rounder. This team already has a young core that is tied up for a number of years. I’m not convinced that using a draft pick is all that big a deal.

For me it depends on how you view Kassian and his contract.

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 10:32 pm

Yes, DeBrusk is a pure LW (he played some RW as a Bruin this past season, against his wishes – he doesn’t like playing the right side) but, I don’t think there would be any issue adding another left.

Yes, Hyman has played mostly the left wing lately but that is due to playing with Marner – he’s a natural right winger and from many accounts better on the right side. Not to mention Foegele played 77% of him time on the right side this past season.

If they moved Hyman over to the right side and had Yammy at 3RW – that’s championship level depth on the right side.

jp August 20, 2021 - 11:00 pm

FWIW, DeBrusk’s QO will be $4.41M (recent contracts are limited to 120% of the AAV; Slightly cheaper, but still rather rich.

I generally agree with what you’ve said about DeBrusk and Kassian. I’ve also been more optimistic than the average Lowetide poster about Kassian rebounding and being useful going forward.

That said, I’d classify both of 1) Kassian being worth $3.2M and 2) DeBrusk being worth $4.4M as ‘not probable’. Having DeBrusk instead of Kassian most likely results in more cap flexibility going forward (if DeBrusk doesn’t command $4.4M he’s gone after the season, if Kassian continues to struggle he’ll be a $3.2M cap hit you don’t want for 2 seasons beyond this one; Kassian carries all of the possible negative risk here).

Risk mitigation aside, the possible payoff (and lineup spot) for DeBrusk is McDavid LW. At 24 DeBrusk already has a season of 27 NHL goals on his resume (in just 68 GP too). The list of current Oilers who’ve scored 27 goals in an NHL season is: McDavid, Draisaitl, Nuge and Turris (ha! on the last one). Nuge and Turris topped out (so far) at 28 and 27 goals, so accounting for GP, DeBrusk has actually had better seasons than either.

If you’re making a significant bet on DeBrusk being worth $4.4M, well I’ll agree that’s a poor bet. But defmn’s bet is as much about Kassian as it is about DeBrusk, with DeBrusk also having significant potential upside.

ArmchairGM August 20, 2021 - 1:37 pm

DeBrusk doesn’t seem to be the player-type that Holland is targeting in order to achieve playoff success.

pts2pndr August 20, 2021 - 2:22 pm

Too young?😉

hunter1909 August 20, 2021 - 12:23 pm

oilers death march will return for the upcoming season.

With 10 days or whatever it is until training camp, there will be a weekly announcement.

2 out of 3 top winners from last year accepted the cash prize. next year it might be memorabilia.

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 11:53 am

Part of me thinks that Samorukov has the potential to be a star due to his wide range of skills – at the non-NHL level, he does pretty much everything a bit on the plus side – we know he’s a defence first player, an aggressive defender of the blue line and savage hitter – but he’s also a good skater, has a good shot, is a good puck-mover, has good offensive instincts.

The chances that all these “good attributes” translate to the NHL level and he becomes a start are probably fairly slim but the chance is there.

DieHard August 20, 2021 - 11:51 am

Was thinking maybe Holland considers his big free agent signing and trade as being McDavid’s new wingers. That’s the top line. Nuge and Leon form second line with all kinds of options for the right side and third line.

defmn August 20, 2021 - 12:16 pm

Could well be. Lots of options this TC.

hunter1909 August 20, 2021 - 12:25 pm

Holland for what its worth has completely turned around the laughing stock of the NHL to the point where they are expected to finish 2nd or better in their division.

Instead of suffering under the chafing yoke of losers

Jethro Tull August 20, 2021 - 2:22 pm

The Oilers won more playoff rounds under Chiarelli. Just sayin’.

Reja August 20, 2021 - 6:18 pm

You drive for show and you putt for dough.

theWaxCollector August 20, 2021 - 5:15 pm

I agree. I’d really like to see Foegele on LW and Hyman on RW of McDavid for a couple games to start the year. I predict goal share of >65% for that trio. Than if only the second line could get back to circa last season dominance.

hunter1909 August 20, 2021 - 12:26 pm

No idea what his article says but Yamamoto had better improve from the 31 point pace from last season if he expects to remain on the team, let alone holding it to ransom.

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 2:53 pm

I would change “on the team” to “in the top 6”.

Kailer Yamamoto would be an elite 3RW. If the Oilers get a second legit RW to play with Jesse in the top 6, Kailer Yamamoto on the 3rd line is the type of depth that wins cups.

Can Foegle/McLeod/Yamamoto be Coleman/Gourde/Goodrow in a few years (or Holloway/McLeod/Yamamoto)?

hunter1909 August 20, 2021 - 10:31 pm

Fair point!

Playing Yamamoto down 1 line as a dubious reward for his 31 point pace last season might either spark him to great things(unlikely) or else he settles down and yes, instead of a black hole for a 3rd line the team improves.

What a concept.

defmn August 20, 2021 - 11:16 am

Zadorov signs for one year in Calgary taking himself to UFA status.

Harpers Hair August 20, 2021 - 12:04 pm

Flames still with $7.6 million in cap space left with a coupe of cheap RFAs to sign.

Wonder what Treveling has up his sleeve.

Perhaps waiting for the price on Eichel to come down.

Bank Shot August 20, 2021 - 12:08 pm

Lol. Eichel to Calgary. Sure.

Harpers Hair August 20, 2021 - 12:39 pm

Care to explain why you think this way?

There has been a great deal of chatter that the Flames have been in on Eichel from the beginning.

Bank Shot August 20, 2021 - 5:44 pm

That’s nice that Calgary is interested.

In other news, I’ve been interested in Beyonce for 20 years…..

Messier11 August 20, 2021 - 12:18 pm

That is with 19 players, if they go with the full 23 man roster, you have to imagine at least 4 million used there. At best I would say they have $3.6 mil left.

Harpers Hair August 20, 2021 - 12:31 pm

One would think Monahan and his $6.3 million cap hit plus another roster player would be going the other way.

Pretty easy to come up with $10 million.

defmn August 20, 2021 - 12:39 pm

But pretty hard to see Buffalo being interested in Monahan.

Messier11 August 20, 2021 - 1:17 pm


defmn August 20, 2021 - 12:21 pm

Just my opinion but if that is what he is doing he is playing a fool’s game.

EDIT: And as Messier11 points out the roster is not close to signed. I do admit Calgary’s off season has confused me.

Harpers Hair August 20, 2021 - 12:36 pm

Vlader, Valimaki & Mackey won’t cost much..maybe $3.5 million leaving Dube as an RFA without arbitration rights and he might be a part of the deal.

They seem to be waiting for something.

hunter1909 August 20, 2021 - 12:27 pm

ha ha ha ha ha

Side August 20, 2021 - 12:56 pm

“Wonder what Treveling has up his sleeve.”

If Treliving lands Eichel, I would love to see how that would turn out. Even if the price on Eichel does come down, it’s not like Calgary has a lot of NHL ready talent they can afford to give up, and it’s not like they have a lot of promising prospects that would be appealing to Buffalo. And if the price gets low enough, I am sure other teams can step in and offer more.

Even if Calgary does cough up a lot for Eichel, will Eichel be happy? I doubt it. He wants to win now and if Calgary coughs up what little talent they do have, who will Eichel play with to convince him to stick around?

Harpers Hair August 20, 2021 - 1:12 pm

Calgary actually has a very nice prospect pool.

The asking price for Eichel is reported to be 4 assets…A roster player or two a 1st round pick and a good prospect.

A 1st, Monahan, Valimaki & Zary would likely get it done and Calgary has close to ready replacements for all of them.

Not sure why you think Eichel would have no one to play with.

Gaudreau, Tkachuk, Lindholm, Dube et al are significant players.

Messier11 August 20, 2021 - 1:24 pm

I would love it if Calgary got Eichel. Does he come out of surgery and take off or never have another good season. Lots of Eichel vs McDavid, maybe even a play off match up. This could be the stuff of legend. Come on Calgary, do it.

DevilsLettuce August 20, 2021 - 1:40 pm

If that package would get it done, it would be done lol they don’t want no parts of Monahan.

Messier11 August 20, 2021 - 1:48 pm

I agree, 26 years old, 2 years remaining and a M-NTC. I would bet Monny has Buffalo on that list. And, unless the ask comes way down, this player is older then what I hear Buffalo is asking for.

Side August 20, 2021 - 4:10 pm

Gaudreau is rumoured to be not wanting to stick around in Calgary and so far, it seems Tkachuk’s futute is uncertain. If they commit to Tkachuk long term and manage to snag Eichel then, well, if you thought McDavid’s “tantrum” during a playoff game was bad, you should see Tkachuk. I would love to see how Tkachuk and Eichel would get along.

Also, you just listed a bunch of other teams who have better prospect pools and therefore, better assets to trade for Eichel. Calgary at 20th is not really making your case.

Just curious, which other ‘significant’ player is included in your ‘et all’?

If Gaudreau bails on Calgary and Tkachuk isn’t part of Calgary’s long term plans, who are these other ‘significant’ players that Eichel play with besides Dube and Lindholm?

Harpers Hair August 20, 2021 - 5:18 pm

This exactly the opposite of what Gaudreau has said.

He loves playing in Calgary and is open to a long term extension.

Stop making things up.

Side August 20, 2021 - 5:23 pm

Just like Nuge said he wanted to stay in Edmonton but you said he would go to Seattle because of his horses?

It’s great how every one of your posts I can counter it with some bigger nonsense you have said in the past.

It’s hilarious.

The clock is ticking for Johnny indeed.

If he wanted to stay as badly as you suggest, what is the hold up?

Harpers Hair August 20, 2021 - 5:24 pm

How about Andrew Mangiapane, Blake Coleman and some high end

I’m pretty sure Jack would have someone to play with despite your ignorance.

Side August 20, 2021 - 5:31 pm

“And some high end prospects”

Again, it’s like the deeper you try to go, you realize how shallow the depth really is.

Yes, I doubt Eichel would want to stick around for the possibility of playing with Coleman, Mangiapane, Dube and Lindholm if those are their remaining significant pieces.

yeraslob August 20, 2021 - 10:57 pm

Speaking of ignorant, Sportsnet spillies makes an appearance. You troll Oiler stories on SN as a flames fan, and you troll here as a canucks fan. Did you forget which site you’re on? So in your delusional world, Mona and some plugs will bring Eichel to your hapless flames?

90s fan August 20, 2021 - 1:45 pm

What is the anticipated timeline o Eichels preferred surgery? Are we rhi king he plays next season?

hunter1909 August 20, 2021 - 12:27 pm

Flames could be in a great hockey town in a millisecond if it had a decent team. As good a city as anywhere to spend a year playing hockey.

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 2:49 pm

I not that Valimaki has gone from Calder favourite to “cheap RFA to sign” within a year.

YKOil August 20, 2021 - 4:11 pm

I can see Eichel to Calgary.

For Calgary that package starts with Monahan and the 2022 1st; then probably includes Pelletier and Mackey

— Buffalo (and Monahan) would say no, but that is what Calgary would hope for

— Dream scenario for Calgary is the above but putting Lucic in for Monahan and adding a couple of 2nd round picks to make up for Lucic

— Monahan could actually be in play in that scenario IF Calgary got some help from Monahan’s agent to bring another team into the picture to flip some assets to Buffalo

For Buffalo that package looks like Tkachuk (a highly tradeable asset), Andersson, Coronato, and the 2022 1st

— Calgary would say no


Decent package for Buffalo looks like Lindholm, Andersson, Zary, 2022 1st, and a 2023 2nd. Buffalo:

— gets 5 assets

— does not want to get out of the high lottery so they probably flip Lindholm for more assets, I would actually keep Lindholm, were I Buffalo, because I think he is the good, honest-effort leader ‘type’ every team like Buffalo needs

— Andersson is a keeper for Buffalo

— they have time on Zary (maybe they like Pelletier or Coronato more – Coronato would probably drop the 2nd rounder from the trade)

— would require the 1st rounder to be unprotected

— nothing wrong with another 2nd round pick

— Buffalo may have to offset with some later round draft picks/’b’ level prospects to even up the respective draft hauls

— loss of Andersson (and maybe Coronato) is the real hit to Calgary

— team that gets the best player wins the trade and that is still Calgary


Calgary is a legit destination for Eichel imo

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 8:10 pm

Its wild that one will cite the Oilers as not having a strong prospect pool and then state that the flames do while using a blog with the Oilers ranked higher for evidence.

godot10 August 20, 2021 - 10:22 am

Broberg has more star potential than any of the names above. We saw that in the bubble. In North America, where he is freed from system defense Swedish coaches,

Now I like Evan Bouchard a lot. But Broberg is eye candy. When he is on the ice, he is the guy your eyes are drawn to over and over again.

Redbird62 August 20, 2021 - 11:09 am

It would certainly seem like Broberg is the better skater, and that is a big plus in today’s NHL for defenseman especially if they have skating and size. I haven’t seen enough of Broberg to see how he is tracking in other areas. But in Bouchard I see a player who gets it. Skating aside (and I believe his skating is somewhat underrated – his size and style make him seem slower than he actually is) he has remarkable physical and mental talents. His shooting and passing capabilities are outstanding. And it’s easier to teach defense to someone with offensive capabilities (if they are willing) than the reverse. Bouchard has the size and reach to become a good defender to go along with his offensive skills.

In 3 to 5 years, it’s possible the Oilers could have 3 outstanding minute munching D in Nurse, Bouchard and Broberg who all bring something different to the table. I look forward to watching that take shape.

defmn August 20, 2021 - 11:12 am

My only question with Broberg is offence. Everything else is in the star category imo.

hunter1909 August 20, 2021 - 12:29 pm

I have no idea about Broberg. All I have tended to read is about his bustability quotient. Bouchard on the other hand plays the game like Ray Bourque and so far has been one of the better Oilers on the ice every game he played.

I hope Broberg is almost as good as Bouchard lol

LadiesloveSmid August 20, 2021 - 10:10 am

MacT could not identify D talent in the slightest.

I tried to find the quote, like a month before he was demoted, where he said he was comfortable with Nikitin, Ference, Schultz, Fayne as their top 4 going into the next season.

The botching of Jeff Petry (who is going to play 1000 NHL games, I swear) led to Chiarelli’s idiotic Hall trade.

Gerta Rauss August 20, 2021 - 10:35 am

I believe the quote was ‘reasonably comfortable’, and this was the nadir for me- I had one foot out the door with the organization after that press conference, an organization I had followed since 1979.

And then McDavid happened a couple weeks later

hunter1909 August 20, 2021 - 12:36 pm

I was like that just after the playoffs of 2021.

I return, with reasonably low expectations for the next 5 years before the superstars start walking such as 0 cups, 3 or 4 reasonableish runs and at least another disaster

Naturally the team can win a cup or more but its unproven this team has any more character than say, the Toronto Maple Leafs

if/when the superstars walk that is it lol

hunter1909 August 20, 2021 - 12:30 pm

MacT could not identify many things.

But he was horseshoes lucky to get McDavid.Once McDavid ever wins a cup MacT will be seen as more like the star he never was as a player

Redbird62 August 20, 2021 - 12:39 pm

He made some mistakes clearly, but in his 2 years heading the Oilers at the draft table, he only made 3 selections at D: Nurse (7th) and Betker (159th) in 2013 and Lagesson (91st) in 2014. If he gets blame along with his professional scouts (which he should) for Nikitin (injuries), Fayne (big analytics miss) and Ference (well passed his best before date for what he was paid for and asked to do), he should also get some credit along with his amateur scouts for hitting a home run on Nurse, and so a far a base on balls for Lagesson who may still have an NHL career.

And choosing Schultz over Petry (which is effectively what MacTavish did), wasn’t as lopsided a decision at the time it was made as most on here claim it was. It certainly didn’t work well for Edmonton, but after one year of rehab in Pittsburgh, Schultz was outstanding in the regular season and the playoffs the 2nd year the Penguins won the cup in 2017 after Letang went down. People chuckled at MacTavish’s Norris potential for Schultz, but he did get 22 votes (10th) that season which is 16 more than Petry has gotten his entire career (2019 – 1 vote / 2021 – 5 votes). Petry has performed more consistently over his career, and is more versatile given he is the better defender and kills penalties, but overall, his career hasn’t been that much better than Schultz who has had a number of injuries.

MacTavish has acknowledged that the one year deal for Petry was the worst blunder of his tenure as GM. It was more a case of under-valuing Petry’s potential, than over-valuing Schultz. He should have found a way to keep both, which could have taken pressure off of Schultz and maybe both could have been successful in Edmonton. Evaluating defenseman may not have been MacTavish’s strong suit, but he wasn’t always out to lunch so I would given him a grade somewhere between C- to D+ overall, ie. barely passing (I will caveat this that if he still had a big influence behind Chiarelli trading for Griffin, I would strongly consider changing him to an F as that would undo the few decent things he did do with the D).

Ryan August 20, 2021 - 1:51 pm

Nikitin wasn’t a miss simply due to injuries.

He was a bottom-pairing defenseman that he went out and gave a $9m contract to (over 2 years). It was a ludicrous decision at the time.

Redbird62 August 20, 2021 - 2:24 pm

In his 2 prior seasons with Columbus before the one you link to, he had average over 22 minutes a game. The Oilers staff were hoping he would rebound to his first season’s performance in Columbus where he scored 32 points in 54 games. And in those stats you sent, his ice time per game was in the 5/6 range but only slightly as all 6 defenseman on their roster played 5 on 5 around 15-16 minutes per game except Johnson, and his performance in that role was pretty good. But yes, he was still a big reach at the price paid and he was an evaluation mistake on the part of the pro scouts and a signing mistake by MacTavish. But injuries, initially being paired with Fayne and the coaching of Dallas Eakins exacerbated the error.

jp August 20, 2021 - 9:24 pm

Nikitin wasn’t a miss simply due to injuries. 

He was a bottom-pairing defenseman that he went out and gave a $9m contract to (over 2 years). It was a ludicrous decision at the time.

We really are a fickle bunch, aren’t we?

I agree the move was roundly criticized at the time. But along the lines of what Redbird62 said, Nikitin had played 23+ and 21+ minutes the previous 2 seasons, with roles on both special teams.

Over his full 3 years in Columbus his 5v5 fancies were among the best on his team (playing what were top 4 minutes overall).

The same analytics that are telling us Keith can’t play top 4 were telling us Nikitin (age 28) could.

It clearly didn’t work out, but it’s maybe interesting that even as an Oiler Nikitin had a positive SF%rel and xGF%rel, which a major lag in GF%.

Reja August 20, 2021 - 2:37 pm

It took awhile but he hit a Home run on Nurse who’s just entering his peak years plus his contract may help in resigning Leon and Connor. I wanted Horvat but I cant see any G.M’s making that trade today. For me his grand slam home run was taking the German. Leon is my favourite player he has all the tools he’s the best long backhand passer the game has ever seen.

Ryan August 20, 2021 - 10:15 am

When I saw Quinn Hughes at the top, I was waiting for you to post the link. That was a great draft pick for your Canucks.

defmn August 20, 2021 - 11:08 am

Where did Wheeler have his slotted prior to the draft? I don’t have access to the article so just curious.

Harpers Hair August 20, 2021 - 11:46 am

Wheeler had him ranked 4th and he was selected at 7.

defmn August 20, 2021 - 12:15 pm

Thanks. LT has made me a convert on prospects. Final rankings need 5 years minimum.

Not directed at Quinn specifically but I am still not convinced that small skilled dmen will age well. My theory is that the sea change in how the game is called that knocked the Derian Hatchers off of the top rung left a vacuum in how the position should be played that is has taken skilled puck movers over a decade to replenish the ranks.

Given that such things really have to start around bantam age in order to attract guys away from forward to wanting to play defense – and coaches willing to let them do that skilled puck movers were in serious shortage as a commodity.

But as skilled puck moving dmen become the de facto preference the ‘small’ are going to be replaced by larger skilled puck movers as teams target those smaller guys to physically punish them – especially in the playoffs as I have mentioned to you before.

We’ll see how it all plays out but large skilled athletes have a tendency to be better than small skilled athletes and even more so in physical contests.

Harpers Hair August 20, 2021 - 12:52 pm

To be honest, while I agree with much of what you say about size, I think LT’s 5 year rule is a bit outdated as the game skews younger and younger.

As Wheeler explains, by the 3 year mark, teams generally have a very good idea of what they have in a player.

Of course there will always be exceptions but we have already experienced very young players exploding in major impact roles during their ELC’s and not just very high draft picks.

Lowetide August 20, 2021 - 1:12 pm

The rule is to “make the call” after five years. Clearly if a player spikes after year two, that’s a keeper. The five year rule is to make sure you don’t miss a stray.

Harpers Hair August 20, 2021 - 1:19 pm

Makes sense.

And as an increasing number of NCAA players flood the NHL on a slower development path perhaps wise to keep an open mind longer.

Redbird62 August 20, 2021 - 1:33 pm

Some players are bonafide by year 3 others still can take longer. In 2019, 3 years after the 2016 draft, Wheeler had Laine 2nd, Keller 4th, Dubois 5th. Clearly Fox would move up from 9th (already up from 66th), while most of the above guys would drop only 2 years later. Kyrou would jump a bunch. Several of the players that are in Wheeler’s top 10 for 2018 will remain, but not all, as over the next 2 seasons, even Wheeler will likely reorder his top 10, drop a few and add a few. Enough movement continues to happen and evolve it is not just the exception.

pts2pndr August 20, 2021 - 2:42 pm

So a minus 24 D is first pairing quality! Only on a non playoff team!

defmn August 20, 2021 - 3:10 pm

I agree that top 10 – 15 draft picks tend to declare themselves sooner as well as the occasional guy the scouts missed. I should have thought of that when I was responding earlier.

Cap constraints may give guys earlier entrance into the league but for most of them they need some years to reach potential. The league is getting younger but maturity still takes time.

Primetime August 20, 2021 - 12:07 pm

The interesting thing is based on his mock re-draft, the Dys would have still end up with a top notch offensive LHD (Ty Smith). Good selection and spot by Vancouver.

The Oil would have had their developing 3C in Kotkaniemi if Montreal hadn’t reached desperately for a centre. I believe he would have done better in that role, on this team then being pushed to be a 1C so early in his career

leadfarmer August 20, 2021 - 2:22 pm

Yeah New Jersey got themselves a good young defenseman

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 2:45 pm

Its tough to reconcile high praise for the game of Quinn Hughes while criticizing the game of Tyson Barrie.

If Hughes is materially better than Barrie at anything, its being bad defensively – that’s for sure.

Ryan August 20, 2021 - 9:54 am

If Keith can’t handle the second pairing, he should be more than adequate on the third pair, meaning Holland could be shopping for a lefty defenceman during the season.


The “needs” list

Your mileage may vary, but I see possible holes at right wing (which could be solved internally), second pairing left defence…

LT, you have such a diplomatic way of being critical. 🙂 This is a skill that I lack when discussing the Oilers management.

$5.5 m in cap hit for two years, Jones and a 2/3rd out, and we have a hole on our second pairing on the left side…

DevilsLettuce August 20, 2021 - 10:02 am

Going to be alot of broken hearts when Keith shows up and has a banger of a season.

JimmyV1965 August 20, 2021 - 10:21 am

I think Keith will play well for the Oil. The trade is still horrific.

defmn August 20, 2021 - 11:06 am

I am strangely unconcerned about Keith handling 2nd pairing LD. Hated the acquisition cost but I’m fine with the player.

You know age gets every athlete but you never know when or how quickly the decline happens – particularly with the high end of the spectrum.

Lowetide August 20, 2021 - 11:34 am

Haha. Well I write that way because it’s unique among those who discuss Oilers hockey. All of the elements of rage and turning the air blue is done on the daily by everyone. So, in order to offer something unique, I go subtle. 🙂

90s fan August 20, 2021 - 1:51 pm

Hmm, so if you were writing a blog in say, Arizona, you’d write with loud prose, use lots of capitals, and pull no punches?

hunter1909 August 20, 2021 - 12:38 pm

No offence but bashing Keith will stop as soon as he plays well.

He can play anywhere in the lineup he is competent to play, and should be excellent at this unless they foolishly put him up too high like so many Sourays

Redbird62 August 20, 2021 - 1:43 pm

Souray played very well his one full healthy season for the Oilers (08/09). He even got Norris votes for his performance that year. And he managed to get a few Norris votes again the strike year with Anaheim (12/13) at the age of 36. I would pick another example from the Oilers past for your point (there are a few), but Souray was fully capable of what the Oilers asked of him (except trying to get him to return too early from injury – courtesy of Iginla).

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 2:41 pm

We had a hole before and we “may” have a hole now but there is every chance that hole is filled by Duncan Keith – cap hit aside, I think Keith will provide better play and stability to 2LW than the revolving door of Jones/Lagesson/Russell/Koekkoek/Kulikov.

Risk, yes, but I can’t agree there IS a hole – it may have been filled.

Cap hit for Keith too much – no doubt about that, however, the term is short (hell, maybe it is only one year for a cap boon) and any outside acquisition for a “legit 2LD” would have been very expensive.

I’ll see how it plays out.

meanashell11 August 20, 2021 - 9:30 am

I like MacT but his penchant for throwing players under the wheels of the bus did little to build team esprit.

dustrock August 20, 2021 - 10:07 am

Think he was a great coach for a veteran team, had no idea how to handle a young rebuilding team.

90s fan August 20, 2021 - 1:54 pm

I remember (accurately or not) that he was good at getting tons of effort from his guys, was good at rallying the underdog, and could outthink coaches in a playoff series. Man I miss those qualities.

Again, time has a way of changing reality to something else, but that’s how i remember it.

hunter1909 August 20, 2021 - 12:38 pm

see: “snake oil”

Spartacus August 20, 2021 - 9:11 am

MacTavish thought he was too clever and loved the sound of his own voice.

Here’s another 2 MacT gems for you.

On sewering Devan Dubnyk’s career; “I’ve always believed that when you’re assessing goaltenders, if you have to ask the question you know the answer.”

On setting expectations for Justin Schultz’ career impossibly high; “I think that Justin has Norris Trophy potential and I don’t think there are too many people who disagree with me in that regard.”

I preferred MacTavish as a commentator on TSN rather than an influence in the Oilers organization.

And then there was the whole embarrassment of MacTavish babysitting Todd Nelson behind the bench for a few games. What kind of an organization would do something like that? This team, man.

I forget how atrocious this team has been over the years.

oilersjo August 20, 2021 - 9:42 am

I think the babysitting was done by Nelson

Holland Tunnel August 20, 2021 - 10:07 am

MacT’s management career was not a ringing endorsement for online MBA programs. It speaks volumes that he hasn’t had a sniff at a management role since.

Wonderful player and coach. Inept exec.

defmn August 20, 2021 - 11:01 am

I think this nails it although I would add amateur scout to the list considering he chose both Nurse & Draisaitl when the crowd was calling for Ristolainen and Bennett.

pts2pndr August 20, 2021 - 2:51 pm

MacT’s biggest mistake was Dallas Eakins and then doubling down on it when he should have fired him down the road for his incompetence! Eakins swarm and statement that he didn’t know that his players didn’t know how to play defence were epic failures!

hunter1909 August 20, 2021 - 12:39 pm

A sweaty MacT breathing down at Nelson from behind the bench was a wonderful moment.

From then on, his stupidity was undeniable.

90s fan August 20, 2021 - 1:56 pm

Haha – Marty Reasoner = Joe Sakic

– Craig Mactavish

That one was more comical than anything.

OriginalPouzar August 20, 2021 - 2:37 pm

On setting expectations for Justin Schultz’ career impossibly high; “I think that Justin has Norris Trophy potential and I don’t think there are too many people who disagree with me in that regard.

Seems McTavish wasn’t wrong given Shultz did indeed get Norris Trophy votes and finished top 10 at least one year.

YYCOil August 20, 2021 - 8:57 am

Lots of flexibility on the wing and center to properly slot the battling order. Hyman, Foegele, Archie play both wings. Driasaitl, Ryan, Nuge, McLeod, Turris, Marody have played center or wing.

By mid season we might have a new POV on which role a player has with the team.

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