Riesen to Believe 2021-22 (Vol 1)

by Lowetide

There are 23 spots available for the opening night Oilers roster, and I count 33 players with at least a five percent chance to make the roster. That’s five goalies, 11 defensemen and 17 forwards. Here’s Riesen to Believe, stage one.


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!


  1. Mike Smith, 39. He just signed a two-year deal so is a lock for the roster, with the only worry being injury. Since he missed the start of last season (first game almost a month after the beginning of the year) I’ve nicked his chances some. Injury is the worry early, middle and late, along with erosion. Chances of making team: 85%.
  2. Mikko Koskinen, 33. I’m not as down on him as many who observe the Oilers, but will admit the club is likely to move on from him by or at the deadline. He could surprise, the man is a giant, but if his SP is .915 or lower as Holland approaches the deadline, I don’t think he can afford to throw the dice with these two again. Chances of making team: 85%.
  3. Alex Stalock, 34. He hasn’t played an NHL game since March 7, 2020 and has to be considered a wildcard. He’s coming to camp with the right team, though. I can see him making the team out of camp. Chances of making team: 15%.
  4. Stuart Skinner, 22. He played one game a year ago, then played well in the AHL. The scenario that sees him make the opening night roster includes a strong training camp and preseason, one of the veterans struggling and injury worries from some of the veterans. Unlikely, but this is an unusual depth chart. Chances of making team: 10%
  5. Ilya Konovalov, 23. I give him very little chance, but more than zero because the competition, injury history and age of the NHLers in the group suggests there could be an opening early. This fellow is a fine goaltender, Edmonton has a need. I don’t think it’ll happen but there’s a chance. I also believe his chances of passing Skinner on the depth chart are excellent. Chances of making team: 5%.


  1. Darnell Nurse, 26. He’ll play a major role on this year’s team, his offensive numbers likely to fall off while his minutes could climb. He’ll play with McDavid and against elites for much of the 2021-22 season, and you’d like to see his five on five goals-against per 60 (2.81, 3.11 and 2.9 in the past three seasons) stay below three. I suspect scoring will go up at both ends of the ice, though. Chances of making team: 100%.
  2. Duncan Keith, 38. He is a good passer and should help the second pair in outlets. He can also battle and play with an edge but has more difficulty getting to the church on time and on a jailbreak his defensive partner is going to be a stone alone. His GA per 60 at five on five over the last three seasons (2.51, 2.56 and 3.10) suggests Keith and the ‘Hawks were in a tough spot. Keith cannot be a drag on goal differential, meaning he can’t be playing defense much at all. Chances of making team: 90%.
  3. Kris Russell, 34. I think he will play more than most believe, at least until he gets hurt. Russell’s goal suppression numbers haven’t been trusted but he has in fact delivered under 2.00 GA/60 at five on five for the last two seasons. The former puck mover doesn’t impact the outlet game positively but if you look at what doesn’t happen when he’s on the ice at five on five, it’s a good bet he’ll play more than anticipated. Chances of making team: 90%.
  4. Slater Koekkoek, 27. I like the player based on his overall track record, many observers are less thrilled due to his performance last season with Edmonton. He had a weird year, going from inactivity to feature player to injured and gone. He posted a fine season two years ago with Chicago and some parts of his previous resume are good arrows. I like the bet, while also knowing it may not work out. Chances of making team: 60%.
  5. William Lagesson, 25. Another member of Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, Lagesson spent 209 minutes with Adam Larsson at five on five and the numbers were crazy: 8-8 goals, 37.7 shot differential. Away from Larsson, Lagesson’s shot differential was 28 percent, Larsson 49.5 percent away from the young Swede. These are crazy numbers and the pairing ran luck to the moon to land 8-8. He’s in the mix but those numbers are scary. Chances of making team: 40%.
  6. Dmitri Samorukov, 22. He’s a little like Konovalov, with good numbers defensively in the world’s second best league. The third pairing and extra defenseman spots are open and Samorukov has the most promising resume from the group of hopefuls. Chances of making team: 10%.
  7. Philip Broberg, 20. Big, fast defenseman who has more success in North America than back home, I think he has a chance to play this season in Edmonton. Less convinced he’ll get a shot in the first half, as Evan Bouchard will need time to acclimate to the NHL pace as a regular. Many Oilers fans are down on him, this player-type is difficult to evaluate before AHL/NHL arrival. Chances of making the team: 9%.


  1. Tyson Barrie, 30. He led NHL defensemen in points one year ago and will have a chance to finish high on the list again in the coming year. His goals-against rates at five on five have been on the rise since leaving Denver, but he’s been at over above 50 percent in goal differential for four years running. Individual scoring rates five on five and PP are strong, if he can cut down on the chaos Barrie would be regarded more highly. Chances of making team: 100%.
  2. Cody Ceci, 27. His numbers since leaving Ottawa look good and his five on five GA/60 in the last two seasons (2.27, 2.03) are excellent. I don’t believe he’ll be suitable as a Larsson replacement but could help some on defense and in moving the puck. Depending on the role, he may have a good season in Edmonton. Chances of making team: 100%.
  3. Evan Bouchard, 21. He’s been ready for some time and now Bouchard will play as a regular in the NHL. His offensive numbers, at five on five and on the power play, are so good it’s fair to expect significant point totals even without 1PP time. I’m excited to see what he can do and suspect he will be a major story in the Oilers season. Chances of making team: 100%.
  4. Filip Berglund, 24. He is a mature defender from a good league and could be a solution for injury issues later in the year. He would have to blow the doors off to make it into the opening night lineup. Chances of making team: 6%.


  1. Connor McDavid, 24. The best player in the game. 150 points? 170? Stay tuned. Chances of making team: 100%.
  2. Leon Draisaitl, 25. Draisaitl combines brains, power and precision to form something diabolical. Chances of making team: 100%.
  3. Derek Ryan, 34. His numbers are impressive and he has a great deal of utility. It’s been a long time for the Oilers at No. 3 center, Boyd Gordon through Gaetan Haas. Ryan is a good bet, while also falling short of being a guarantee. Chances of making team: 100%.
  4. Ryan McLeod, 21. His speed is a weapon, and I was impressed with his quickness to loose pucks. Needs to post more offense and that means driving to the net. AHL exits and entries were terrific. Chances of making team: 80%.
  5. Devin Shore, 27. A strong penalty killer, Shore is death valley in five on five possession. His expected goals in the discipline is just over 40 percent and from this vantage point Shore is a fringe player on this roster. Chances of making team: 75%.


  1. Zach Hyman, 29. There are parallels to the Lucic signing five years ago, Hyman should have more success partly because he has more range. He’ll get a long chance with McDavid, my guess is he keeps it. Chances of making team: 100%.
  2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 28. I’m glad he’s back and believe he’ll post better offense at five on five next season. His expected goals last year (55.5 percent) was miles from his goal differential (48.4) so one hopes regression has him above level. Chances of making team: 100%.
  3. Warren Foegele, 25. His five on five pts-60 last season (1.60) and expected goals (55.6 percent) suggest he is well suited to an outscoring third line. That makes him a unicorn in Edmonton, he could be a key piece to success. Chances of making team: 100%.
  4. Brendan Perlini, 25. He has size, speed and can score goals. On the other hand outscoring has been an issue over the years at five on five. It’s been some time since he was an NHL regular, he’ll have much to prove in preseason. Chances of making team: 60%.
  5. Tyler Benson, 23. He’s fighting for a roster spot with the waiver wire looming this season. I’ve heard he’s ripped and has great hockey hair. What could go wrong? He’s going to have to earn it, is he Rob Schremp or Kyle Brodziak? Chances of making team: 60%.
  6. Dylan Holloway, 19. He is more dynamic than several players who will make the team over him, but Holloway’s time doesn’t have to be now. In fact, a recall mid-season might have more value if he’s firing on all pistons. He’s big, fast and skilled, and could make the team out of camp just like Broberg and Konovalov, and might have more immediate impact. Chances of making team: 45%.


  1. Jesse Puljujarvi, 23. He scored 15 goals and left a few out there in 55 games, I think he should push for 25 in the year to come. A strange career path, if he blossoms this season Edmonton will have drafted three all-world forwards 2014-16 in what would probably be the best first-round cluster in Edmonton since 1979-81. Chances of making team: 100%.
  2. Kailer Yamamoto, 22. He was one of the truly inspired selections in Oilers draft history and has scored well (if inconsistently) over the last two seasons. I’m confident he’ll flourish but there’s a small chance he gets pushed off the skill lines. Chances of making team: 100%.
  3. Josh Archibald, 28. Utility forward can do everything, and that includes goals on depth lines. His GA/60 at five on five last season (2.65) was among the better bottom-six F totals and his goal differential in this discipline (43 percent) trailed only Jujhar Khaira among depth forwards. Chances of making team: 100%
  4. Zack Kassian, 30. He has scored just three goals in his last 35 games, with suspensions, harmful penalties and blown coverages part of the recent resume. The contract seems to be an albatross, and he’s 30 now so it’s more and more likely his career peak will be 2018-20. Chances of making team: 100%.
  5. Kyle Turris, 32. Based on media reports he’s a new man, and fans will be shocked this fall. Turris has impressive skill but he’s also at a point when offense begins to fade. He has a chance but no guarantees. Chances of making team: 55%.
  6. Cooper Marody, 24. He has skill and can play center, but his opportunity came when the Oilers were changing coaches and about to fire their general manager. He’s a long shot. Chances of making team: 20%.

We could see some training camp invites and some PTO’s, but based on my ‘riesen to believe’ numbers, here is the opening night roster for 2021-22:

  • Goal (2): Mike Smith, Mikko Koskinen
  • Left Defense (4): Darnell Nurse, Duncan Keith, Kris Russell, Slater Koekkoek
  • Right Defense (3): Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, Evan Bouchard
  • Center (5): Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Derek Ryan, Ryan McLeod, Devin Shore
  • Left Wing (5): Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Warren Foegele, Brendan Perlini, Tyler Benson
  • Right Wing (4): Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Josh Archibald, Zack Kassian

You’ll see this post several times over the next few weeks, and if there’s a player who emerges from the ‘distant bell’ group I’ll add him in during the preseason.

I do this most years but rarely explain the reason. Michel Riesen was a first-round pick by Edmonton in 1997, out of Switzerland. He came over to North America at 19, and in his three AHL seasons had NHL equivalencies of 14.1, 30.3 and 28.9. Two of those seasons should have earned him a look and he did get 12 games (one assist) in 2000-01. He was dealt with Doug Weight on July 1, 2001 to the St. Louis Blues for Jochen Hecht, Marty Reasoner and Jan Horacek.

Riesen had a shot, posted good offense in two of three seasons. In this area (offense), he wasn’t miles from where Tyler Benson is today, although they aren’t similar players overall.


At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we have a full boat of great guests. Ari Shapiro from Ari Shapiro.ca will join us to talk Jays at 10:20, and he’ll be followed by Michael Hurley (WBZ Boston) who will update us on the Patriots. At 11, Derek Taylor from the Sports Page to talk Saskatchewan Roughriders and the CFL. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!


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Harpers Hair


John Pitchford

Sorry to hear of the death of legendary drummer Charlie Watts here playing with The Rolling Stones in possibly their final performance together last year in lockdown You Can’t Always Get What You Want https://t.co/tRYTyePhCX



Because this blog thrives at the intersection of Oilers Ave. and Music St.–and because I’ve been on a bit of a Steely Dan kick lately–I’m trying my hand at pairing many of the Oilers with tunes from said band.

Some pairings are more thoughtful, some just superficial. Your mileage may vary:

Josh Archibald – “Throw Back the LIttle Ones”: Being one of the “littler” ones on the team, he sure plays a “throwback style”.

Leon Draisaitl – “Aja”: Steve Gadd plays drums on this song, including some wicked fills during the instrumental sections. Steve Gadd is one of the best in the world at what he does. And so is Leon.

Warren Foegele – “I Got the News”: Well, I got the news of his acquisition while my better half and I were concluding our Banff holiday–more specifically, while fueling up in Strathmore. (Side note: We were in Lake Louise as well, my first time there. All I could think of during our hike along the lake was the Yes classic “Roundabout”–“Mountains come out of the sky and they stand there”. Incredible.)

Zach Hyman – “Bodhisattva”: To paraphrase, Zach basically said, “Kyle Dubas / I’m gonna sell my house in town (Toronto)…”, and later said, “Yes, I’ll be there (Edmonton), Mr. Holland, Mr. Holland…”

Zack Kassian – “Dirty Work”: He can definitely do that when the spirit moves him, but the past couple years have been more like, “I don’t wanna your dirty work / No more…”

Cooper Marody – “Deacon Blues”: Musically inclined–and down on his luck–like the song’s protagonist. “They got a name for the winners in the world / I, I want a name when I lose / They call Alabama the Crimson Tide / Call me Deacon Blues”.

Connor McDavid – “King of the World”: Like it was gonna be anything else.

Ryan McLeod – “Chain Lightning”: Wheels for days.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – “Home at Last”: After his subpar season and subsequent contract, he might be thinking, “Well the danger on the rocks is surely past / Still I remain tied to the mast / Could it be that I have found my home at last”. #NugeForever

Brendan Perlini – “Pearl of the Quarter”: Or perhaps “Perl”. Bad pun, I’m sorry.

Jesse Puljujarvi – “Reelin’ in the Years”: He will be “gatherin’ up the tears” of the poor d-men he forechecks, especially if he discovers a mean streak.

Derek Ryan – “Sign in Stranger”: Ken Holland to Derek Ryan: “You Flambe* / Be born again, my friend / Won’t you sign in, stranger?”

Kailer Yamamoto – “Don’t Take Me Alive”: A choice that reflects not only his kamikaze style, but also his home state of Washington is near that of the song’s protagonist, who “crossed [his] old man back in Oregon”.

Tyson Barrie – “Turn That Heartbeat Over Again”: Again, a situation where player (only 10 PIM last season) matches protagonist, who has a “reputation for playing a good clean game”.

Evan Bouchard – “Changing of the Guard”: Indeed. And they even rhyme!

Cody Ceci – “Bad Sneakers”: He’ll be “Stompin’ on the avenue by Radio City with a
Transistor and a large sum of money to spend”.

Duncan Keith – “Two Against Nature”: As in, Keith (#2 in your program) against Nature, which is seeking to exact even more of a toll on him. Will lesser minutes help? Find out starting this fall.

Darnell Nurse – “Glamour Profession”: Yes, being a #1 d-man can be a glamorous profession. Will his play remain sterling when his glamorous extension kicks in? Find out starting next fall.

Kris Russell – “Gaucho”: Wikipedia defines “gaucho” as “…a skilled horseman, reputed to be brave and unruly…” If that doesn’t lustily scream “COWBOY!” from the mountaintop, I dunno what does.

Mikko Koskinen – “Hey Nineteen”: Another jersey number reference. For his–and the team’s–sake, I hope the aforementioned song title isn’t immediately augmented by “You suck”.

Mike Smith – “Do It Again”: After the fine campaign he had, can he indeed “do it again”? We wait.

Thank you for indulging me 😀

Last edited 1 month ago by Tarkus

Jujhar – third world man. (Politically correct?)


Khaira is with Chicago now. (The hockey team, not the band. (And definitely not The Band.))

Last edited 1 month ago by Tarkus
Harpers Hair

Go back Jack and do it again.

Wheels turning round and round.

Now you swear and kick and beg us that you’re not a gamblin’ man
Then you find you’re back in Vegas with a handle in your hand
Your black cards can make you money so you hide them when you’re able
In the land of milk and honey, you must put them on the table.

You go back, Jack, do it again, wheels turnin’ ’round and ’round
You go back, Jack, do it again


Dylan Holloway – “And I’m never going back to my old school”

Whaler Slamamoto

Mike Smith -reeling in the years & stowin away the time.

Whaler Slamamoto

I would permanently time out anyone with a political name. Eg. Harpers Hair

Whaler Slamamoto

You got me there! I’m officially timed out.

Harpers Hair

Isoroku Yamamoto was a Japanese Marshal Admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during World War II until his death. Yamamoto held several important posts in the IJN, and undertook many of its changes and reorganizations, especially its development of naval aviation.

Harpers Hair

Tora Tora Tora.


It’s only my opinion, but I do feel this blog would gain from more information about giant ants. The rest of that stuff is just crazy, though.

Bulging Twine

I think that Nuge may benefit from Hyman’s presence as his ice time will be reduced, one would think. He seems to be better with less ice time. At least under 20 minutes per game would perhaps be beneficial to his game. A higher quality of minutes played/less run down over time.


I think this general concept is true for McDavid and Drai as well.

Obviously they’ll both still play a ton, however, if the 3rd line is, not only serviceable but potentially outscoring, and the 4th isn’t a black hole, Tip should be able to reduce the 5 on 5 minutes a bit which would help both, in game and over the course of the season.

Also, the bottom six helping provide a bit of offence should help take the mental pressure off the big guns of thinking they have to provide ALL THE OFFENCE.

Bulging Twine

Well now I got excited for the season but it’s only still August

Harpers Hair

Just listened to an extensive interview with 2023 draft eligible Conor Bedard.

Bedard is skating at the Burnaby Winter Club with a group of NHL players including Mat Barzal and the Nuge.

If you didn’t know who was speaking, you would think it was RNH…exactly the same cadence and thoughtful answers.

Bedard scored 2PPG for the Regina Pats last season as a 15 year old and was one of only 5 Canadian players that age in history to represent Canada at the under 19 tournament in Texas earlier this summer.

Can you name the other 4?

No points for Connor McDavid.


Already drooling over prospective lottery pick from yet another subpar season for the local Vancouver team? Is this the wrong site to do this?


He actually doesn’t ‘diss’ Bedard at all with his post, he directly insults the Canucks. Yet you feel the need call him a ‘tribal partisan’?? Haha

Harpers Hair

Childishness is so tiresome.

Ice Sage

Have had the pleasure of watching this young man play off / on for 5 yrs. He has always tracked nicely as the ‘next Connor’ albeit a R hand shot and will top out a shade smaller. Same slinky skating, quick hands, vision and next-level creativity – eerie at times.
Dys should be fuelling the offer sheet fire for Petey to get in the tank!

Harpers Hair

With Buffalo being as dysfunctional as they are, they may end up with Shane Wright and Bedard…the Next Ones.

Would that be enough?

Ice Sage

Well the ‘Oiler model’ remains a work in progress, giant ants and all


Did the Oilers update their news release of this morning, which requires a vaccination OR a negative covid test from an approved provider withing 48 hours? Or did flyfish just not read the whole release?

fans aged 12 and older must present proof of one of the following for entry into Rogers Place:

  • Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination received at least 14 days before the day of the game (the full series of a Government of Canada accepted COVID-19 vaccine or combination of accepted vaccines). Either electronic or paper records will be accepted. Albertans’ immunization records are easily viewed online and available on cell phones through MyHealthRecords or by downloading the MyHealthRecords app.
  • A negative COVID-19 test result from an approved testing provider taken within 48 hours of the game’s scheduled start time (for example: if a game is on Thursday at 7:00 PM, the COVID-19 test must be taken any time beginning 7:00 PM on Tuesday)

OK I have a few questions that perhaps some one can answer. For the record I am double vaxed. It seems that sports organizations, entertainment venues etc are beginning to demand full vaccination or a recent negative covid test. I just went on AHS site and they state testing is for people that have covid symptoms or have been exposed to someone with covid. It states if you need a test for travel go to Dynalife. I have checked that out as I have a trip booked to Hawaii and they only accept Dynalife or another company that does not have labs in Edmonton. You have to fill out 4 separate forms to apply for test (first form your credit card info) and the fee is $150.. Shoppers Drug Mart offers an antigen test??? for $40 but they state this is not a covid test.

For those not vaccinated how do they get tested within 48 hrs??? What am I missing???


Last edited 1 month ago by fishman
unca miltie

some shoppers drugs will take the swab and send it to Dynalife for the same $150.00. That is my plan at this time to go South. As far as I can find out so far, those are our only options right now.
For travel it is critical too get the right test. PCR at this time. I saw family denied boarding in January at the airport in Phoenix because they did not have the right test to come home.

Last edited 1 month ago by unca miltie
Harpers Hair

Now imagine you’re an unvaccinated Oiler season ticket holder who wants to attend 41 home games.

Adds up pretty fast.


My biggest fear for US travel is if the US decides to asks for full vaccination and does not accept mixed vaccines. I am double Phizer but my wife is Astrazenca/Phizer. If the only way to get a covid test is to pay $150 I wonder how many fans would pay that on top of ticket to go to a sporting event or a concert???

Last edited 1 month ago by fishman
unca miltie

for travel it is the pcr test @$150.00 a pop here. I paid $200.00 US in Phoenix to come home. i cant find anywhere if the oilers etc would accept the rapid test which is much cheaper.

Harpers Hair

There’s an argument to be made that the Oilers, if they insist on these tests, should pay the freight.

Otherwise they are creating huge divisions in their fanbase.


I have “fear” of this issue as well.

With that said, just today, it was announced that SK is permitting a 3rd shot of an mRNA vaccine for travel purposes (for those that have two AZ or a AZ/mRNA combo.

I presume AB will do that same in time.


Sure hope so!!! I hadn’t heard about the SK 3 rd shot.


I wonder how many times this kind of scenario will happen in Edmonton:

A man goes to Rogers Place and is asked to show his vaccine passport which he does not have and is turned away.

The man rants about his freedoms and the tyranny of the government and leaves.

The man goes to a restaurant nearby and sits down at the bar, agitated.

The bartender asks if everything is okay and if he can get the man anything.

The man asks for a beer and begins to rant about his freedoms being trampled for having to show proof that he was vaccinated.

The bartender interupts the man and asks him if he has his ID on him to prove he is over the age of 18.

The man stops his rant, says sure, and shows the bartender his ID.

“So anyway!” The man continues…

Harpers Hair

One does not preclude the other.


Is getting your driver’s license?


There is danger in driving but you don’t have to drive to get a state issued id.


“Lagesson spent 209 minutes with Adam Larsson at five on five and the numbers were crazy: 8-8 goals, 37.7 shot differential. “

Putting into context what LT wrote yesterday about Fayne, Corsi and defensive defensemen getting off the ice when the play turn North. Wonder if it also worked the opposite way when the offensive floater getting off the ice instead of back checking.

How will one know?


To go to an Oiler game you need to have proof of vaccination. Society is moving in a positive direction with these measures.


Well said, thank you.

Bank Shot

Lol. Who are the real enemy? The crab people?


Open your mind and you will see!

Have you opened it yet?!


Israel was required by Pfizer to follow Pfizer’s guidance (as a condition for getting all the vaccine they needed early), not the best immunology science in delivering their 2nd doses. The 2nd dose was given under a month later. There is no science behind this except for shortening the phase 3 trials, by six months, so Pfizer could start raking in profits sooner and for longer, since now a third dose would be required, since a 2nd dose delivered within a month is too soon immunologically speaking.

Britain, for the most part, put a proper interval between doses, based on the best science, hence are not experiencing the same problem Israel is.

Most of the public health officers in Canada thankfully ignored the Pfizer stooges on the federal governments NACI panel, and properly extended the interval between doses. The US followed Pfizer’s and Moderna profiteering advice rather than science, so they are likely to be more like Israel than Britain.

Booster shots are pretty immoral considering it would be more appropriate to make sure the rest of the world gets double vaxxed first. Unless the virus is controlled in the rest of the world, the rate new variants occur without those people being vaccinated is a much greater threat to us.


Thank gord this got solved.


I know Allen cringes every time the topic strays from hockey into politics/health issues, but I for one, enjoys these thoughtful conversations. Myself, I believe that the government should own or regulate all utilities.

Harpers Hair


Is the Internet a utility?

Are you comfortable with the government owning it and regulating what you can say online?


As opposed to what the algorithms on social media finds acceptable yes.

But it’s much too late for any of that.


Excellent post. And where and when does it end? There’s a famous saying that has always resonated with me:

Hard times create strong men
Strong men create good times
Good times create weak men
Weak men create hard times


Well, put. It is such a vicious circle

Harpers Hair

Watching the offseason from afar, I found myself disappointed in the moves Holland was making, and then surprised by how popular they seem to be.

Reflecting on this I think there are two things that are unquestionably true.

1) This is the best Oiler team in 15 years. The Oilers have a better chance to be good this year than they have in a long time.

2) They are pot committed. They are never going to have a better chance than they do right now. Their best players are all at their peak and they aren’t going to have cap room for years.

This explains both the optimism and the pessimism.

Myself I am pessimistic. I acknowledge the team is better in the short term, but everything hinges on Smith and his miraculous mojo, Keith being able to play at a high level, and Cody Ceci being serviceable. I wouldn’t bet on any of those and all three have to hit.

As for the future, the Oilers have entered the losing players part of the cycle, so they need guys like Holloway, Broberg, and Samorukov to succeed in major roles. I don’t think one out of three is good enough.

At it up and I don’t see a path where this team is great. The good news is the Pacific is the worst division I can remember and the flat cap means you don’t have to be great to win.

Bank Shot

They ain’t Tampa.

I wouldn’t say that the 2 peat Pens, Caps, or Blues were great teams though.

Elgin R

There is light at the end of the tunnel and the team is not far from the end. This Oiler team will exit the tunnel into the light of an extended playoff run starting this season.

Reasons for Optimism (2021/2022 Season)

  • Best foward group in the Pacific RIGHT NOW and only going to get stronger
  • Nurse and Barrie are not elite as a pair but do cover the bet as a decent 1st pairing
  • Both Ceci and Keith will easily cover the bet for a 2nd pairing for the next two years
  • Bouchard!
  • Smith! (also on the ‘pessimism list’ – go figure)

Reasons for Optimism (2023/2024 Season)

  • Broberg and Bouchard should cover the bet as the 2nd paring D
  • Sammy covers the 3LD spot
  • Holloway in the top 6
  • New goalies (who I have no idea)

Reasons for Pessimism

  • Smith – does anyone have a clue on how Smith will perform!

All of these things could happen, but they aren’t reasonable expectations.

The forward group isn’t going to get better.
You are wildly overating Keith and Ceci.
None of Broberg, Samurakove or Holloway are sure things.
What money is left for goalies?


The forward group might actually get better. This year it probably won’t, but this is the best Oilers forward group I’ve ever seen, with prospects like McLeod, Benson and Holloway pushing this year and next to join our top 9.

Keith and Ceci is our biggest question mark. If they can serve as an adequate 2nd pairing with 50% goal share, we’ll be in fantastic shape.

No prospect is every a sure thing, but there are blue chippers and I believe Broberg and Holloway to be blue chippers wherein they have a good chance to be top 6 forwards or top 4 defensemen in the NHL in upcoming years.

Goalies are voodoo and I don’t believe you should ever spend exorbitant money on goalies. Jake Allen’s $3.4 million cap hit outperformed Carey Price all through the regular season until the playoffs. Mike Smith with a $1.5 million contract won vezina votes. Meanwhile two time vezina trophy winner Bobrovsky has now been passed by at least two seperate goalies on their entry level contracts.

The point is, for goaltenders, it is favorable to make short term, low cost deals on a lot of adequate goalies than it is to make big, long-term bets since a predictable goalie is an oxymoron. Smith is a big question mark, but if he comes close to last year’s performance we’re in the clear. Koskinen can rebound. Stalock could return. Konovalev and Skinner have professional experience and pedigree. If all 5 goalies fail, there is a way to find a goaler for the playoffs even with limited money, but I would say that between these 5, we have someone who can carry us into the playoffs.

Harpers Hair

The Pacific Division is weak right now but that won’t last all that long.

The LAK are poised to make a major surge and, while it may not be for another season, it’s assuredly coming soon.

The Canucks have effectively added 3 top 6 forwards plus a very good 3C so should be much better offensively.
While they have major questions on D, they also have a young potential superstar in Quinn Hughes and of course Demko is among the league’s best.

The intriguing team is the Flames as we sit and wait to see what they do with their remaining cap space…Eichel?
I expect Markstrom to rebound in a major way with the team playing Sutter hockey.

So, while most still see VGK as the team to beat in the division, nothing else is a given.

Interesting that all of EDM, VAN & CGY have beefed up their forward groups but all have major question marks on D and in the Oilers case, I think those questions also extend to the crease.

Bank Shot

That’s just because you give the other teams the benefit of the doubt. I mean yeah if you look at every other teams moves with an eye on the silver lining and assume the worst for Oilers moves things will look pretty bleak.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bank Shot

An active trade deadline will resolve most of what ails. As will a few good showings in the AHL.

We just need to get into position and determine which of the bets didn’t succeed.

A goalie upgrade and a number 4 d-man should be highly attainable come spring

Turning Tikkanese

You call yourself a pessimist? Not only is my beer half full, there’s a fly in it. Now THAT is a pessimist!


I don’t think I’ve ever read such a wild take on a team’s improvement and projection as I just did on the Canucks, wow. If Quinn Hughes can become somewhat serviceable defensively, he can hit Tyson Barrie levels as he develops but, as of now, he gets massacred playing against strong opponents.

I’m not sure what is intriguing about the flames – no star power, 20th ranked prospect class (by one but it seems about right), aging core who are close to done their value deals (with new leader about to be massively overpaid and likely gone in 2 seasons), a non-playoff team that looks to have got worse this season, etc.

Harpers Hair

I don’t think I’ve ever read a post so totally divorced from reality.

Yes, Quinn Hughes had a poor season after a STUNNING rookie season. There were numerous factors involved in that which I’ve laid out several times.

But the fact remains he is 21 at an age when your comparable, Tyson Barrie, was still predominantly playing in the AHL.

Worth noting, in his recent 2018 re-draft, Scott Wheeler moved Hughes to #1 while moving Bouchard down several spots. Sorry, but I’ll take his objective analysis over your tribal partisanship any day.

Of course you also ignored that the Canucks will effectively be adding THREE top 6 forwards this season while also acquiring a very good, big, fast 3C to take on the toughs freeing up Horvat and Conor Garland to make hay on offence?

Would you be surprised to learn that Garland is younger, cheaper and scores more that Zack Hyman? I’m sure you would be.

Harpers Hair

Your take on Calgary is even worse.

Aging core?

Tkachuk is 23.
Monohan 26
Lundholm 26
Gadreau 28
Mangiapane 25
Dube 23

Hanafin 24
Andersson 24
Zadorov 26
Valimaki 22
Kylington 24

The Flames dont have a 38 year old defenseman nor do they have a 39 year old starting goaltender nor did they sign a 29 year old winger to a 7 year contract.

Yes, they, as I said, could use another top line centre like Eichel But they are very far from the team you described.

Bank Shot

Most of those guys don’t even come close to being considered core players on a winning team.


The “core” led by Mohohan and Gaudreau are getting close to past their offensive primes as non-elite players but, in any event, have either stagnated or regressed in recent years and they are almost done their value contracts. Backlund is aged. Gio is gone replaced by…… Zadarov who just got himself a one year until UFA deal.

Tkachuk is the young part of the core, well, he will be $9M in a year and then very likely gone after that one year. Mangiapae is a solid secondary piece but that team is simply a ton of “meh”.

There is no way to spin their year last year and then their off-season as anything positive, notwithstanding a decent middle-sixer in Coleman.

A fantasy about acquiring Eichel without gutting the team (i.e. Monohan as the central roster piece) is just that, fantasy.


You’re off a bit here “They are never going to have a better chance than they do right now.” I think the window is officially open and we’re mostly locked in for the next two years. But then Keith’s contract will be up, we’ll have some more prospect value deals and some cap to fill holes. 23/24 & 24/25 seasons are going to be the big ones.


The euro hobbit experiment is over Hyman, Foegele , Holloway as well Perlini all bring their blue coloured lunch pails to work. The D has become more mobile and our puck possession will go way up. Now only if we had Osgood or Vernon on speed dial.


Is that true with Perlini? He is big and fast and can shoot but he seems to be under water in goals against most of the time. That is often connected to not bringing the blue colored lunch paid vis-a-vis the 2-way game – I can’t say for certain that was the case with Perlini but he went to Europe after not being able to secure an NHL contract.

Does Perlini count towards the European experiment given he was born in the UK and played in Europe last season?

I do agree that Holloway will bring that work ethic and play as you describe – whether he is ready to do that at the NHL level (in the bottom six let alone the top 6) remains to be seen.


From what I’ve seen of Perlini is that he plays hard on the puck he’s in Edmonton because of Tippett. Dave sees him as a big body threat with hands.


I have little doubt that he was signed due to Tippett and he had his best (only) NHL success under Tippett.

Here is hoping that he plays a hard and reliable game, as you suggest. I can’t say why his early NHL success disappeared and his game, offensive and overall, went to pieces and why the numbers are middling in the Swiss League but here is hoping he’s back to his early NHL play, if not more.

He is big, fast and can shoot – that is a valuable player if he shows up.

Elgin R

That last statement makes Perlini sound like another Kassian.


Ha – I though of that as I typed it (almost made a note).


The euro hobbit experiment is over 

Might I ask who was part of the ‘euro hobbit experiment’ beyond Kahun?


I presume he is including Haas and Nygard….


Granlund. Even though Jurco is over 6 foot he plays like he’s 5 foot 8. Throw in Ennis who looks Europeans and hangs around with them. I was going to mention Gagner but that 8 point night was some special. Instead who could forget the bailer anytime the puck went in his corner Joel Persson.


Granlund hadn’t even occurred to me. That was so 2019.

But I figured you were including some non-European euros on your list.

90s fan

I think Keith’s contract is up at the same time sekera and lucic come off the books. That’s 7 750 000. The next year Barrie and Kassian are off books Another 7 700 000. Then Ceci comes off book when Draisaitl finishes his contract. 11 750 000. The next year… 12 500 000 comes off.

It’s scary to think of Draisaitl and McD getting older, being free agents…


With respect to center, the Oilers still haven’t filled that 3C hole.

I believe Derek Ryan will start there and I think he can, and will, do a much better job than the players that have played 3C for the Oilers over the last few years (Sheeahan, Khaira, Haas, etc.). He continues to have strong metrics and has had them playing with the likes of Nordstrom and Lucic.

At the end of the day, I’d prefer Ryan as the 4C and am hopeful that McLeod will be able to pass him on the depth chart, on merit during the season but that is not a certainty.

To me, McLeod has the skill set to develop in to a high end 3C with his size, speed, 2-way acumen, skill, PK ability, etc. – the offence is shy and has been dating back to junior. That doesn’t mean it cannot come but I think a willingness to engage a bit more physically and battle will be required – trust your body as you get stronger Mr. McLeod and you will be a big piece going forward.


Of course, other 3C options are Nuge and Holloway.

Once Holloway becomes a real option for 1/2/3 LW, that could lead to Nuge moving to 3C (or it could lead to Hyman moving over to the right side) – either way, once Holloway arrives, that will be amazing for either the LW, C or RW depth – so much versatility among the forwards.


I am very intrigued to see of Codi Ceci of 2021 in Pit is the Codi Ceci we will see this coming season. I am hopeful on this – sometimes d-men take a while to settle in to the NHL and find out what type of game they need to play in the NHL. Ceci was a high draft pick and it may have taken a few years for him to develop his NHL game and figure out how to play successfully in the NHL.

It take solace in the fact that I have read and listened to fans, media and bloggers in Pit be dissapointed that they lost Ceci for cap reasons – they were happy with him and wanted him back.

LT mentions his GA/60 the last two years – those are solid numbers (and he had some solid numbers earlier in his career as well – it was really just a few years on terrible Sens teams where he was over 3 GA/60).

I think he can handle the 2RD duties to start – he played 2RD for much of the year in Pit (including the playoffs) and PK1. He isn’t the same type of defender as Larsson but he can defend and, once he does, he was legit 2-way ability – he can move the puck up the ice.

He’ll be playing with Keith but, remember, he played with Mattheson in Pit and was cover for his roaving – he did so with success.

Tied for 17th among D in 5 on 5 points last year is real – it was more than Pieterangelo, Josi, Hedman, Giordano among other.

At some point, the hope is Bouchard passes him with 5 on 5 minutes and that will be a good problem to have.

I am not 100% sold that we see the player described above but, from accounts out of Pit, that was the player they had last season.

Harpers Hair

The Penguins didn’t lose Ceci because of “cap reasons”.

They moved on from him because Marino is better and they signed Marino to a 6 year $4.4 million contract extension to prove it.


Pittsburgh signed that contract with Marino before the season and before Ceci ever played a game for them. They committed based upon Marino’s previous year and his drop off this past season.

You know this so I wonder why you deliberately distort the information.


I’ll take the word of those that cover the Pens and watch them nightly as well.

Ceci played over 4 minutes/game more than Marino during the playoffs at 5 on 5 and almost 5 minutes/game more than Marino overall.

A very interesting use of the word “better” in that post.


well, better is only used because Ceci is an Oilers now… same as it ever was lol

Elgin R

Based on his previous play when placed in good situations, Ceci should cover the bet for 2RD. He has not shown to be as strong defensively as Larsson has throughout his career, however a pairing of Keith-Ceci >> Larsson-[Insert name here] overall. Also, with the top 9 of this years team, his good offensive instincts/talents will show in a positive goal share.

Ceci is not well known in the west and many detractors will have to eat crow.


Talking to Pens fans he was very important to the team last year and was probably one of their top 3 D men

Last edited 1 month ago by geowal

I’ve been down on Koekkoek mainly due to his numbers being fairly bad this past season and because I wanted some “clean air” for Samorukov if the Russell/Lagesson combo at 3/4LD wasn’t working or come injuries.

At the same time, I do realize that Koekkoek’s numbers were almost exclusively at the beginning of the season, when Smith was hurt and the entire team was playing poorly and leaking goals against. Koekkoek was part of the hurt but only part of it. He didn’t get a chance to recover those numbers when the team was playing well and he did have solid numbers the year prior in Chicago.

It will be very interesting to see which of Koekkoek/Russell get 3LD on opening night and what type of deployment Tip/Playfair give Lagesson in camp. Lagesson’s possession numbers seem poor but lets remember, much of that time was with Larsson and the Larsson minutes were the toughest minutes on the team – big defensive zone starts, almost exclusive McDavid-off , etc.

Also, as of right now, Berglund is the 4th right shot on the depth chart. I would think that Russell/Koekkoek moving to play 3RD is the first injury cover deployment for a right side injury – that bumps a guy like Samorukov up the depth chart.

Elgin R

Koekkoek knows that he playing for his NHL life this year. Suspect he will be traded next summer as at least one of the prospects emerges. For now he is decent cover and will be needed this year (average # of dmen used per team last year was 8.7). I like Wild Bill more as both his numbers and the eye-test from last season are superior.

However, Tippet does not see it that way. I mean really the guy has only played over 700 NHL games and been a NHL head coach for 16 seasons so he should listen to the bloggers – right?


With respect to Mikko, assuming the coaching staff retains some confidence in the player (and the players do), I think there is every chance for a bounce-back season – with a 1B type work-load, is there any reason to think he can’t bounce-back to 2019/20 level numbers?


Listening to Stalock talk about Da Beauty League with Struds (I believe) was some of the best radio of the off-season – what a great story about the league and its evolution.

For me, Stalock should get a full opportunity to compete with Mikko for the 2G (1B) role and the “best player wins” at camp.

Stalock’s 2019/20 season was better, numbers wise, than Mikko’s 2021 so there is the real ability to earn the spot.

Also, Stalock is known for plus puck-handling skills – no, not at the level of Mike Smith but he’s good and active out there and, to me, that can help the team as they don’t need to change their puck retrieval and breakout schemes depending on which goalie is in net. They have to do that now and both the eye test and numbers (shot metrics) show they play better in front of Smith and its reasonable to think that is materially due to the puck handling.

Not to mention a couple hundred grand saved on the cap with Mikko assigned vs. Stalock.

Further, if waived, Stalock very well could be claimed and lost and we know there is zero chance Mikko would be claimed.

There is a chance that team will go with 3 goalies (which would suck for the projected 14th forward, Benson/Marody/Perlini) or maybe there league does have some covid-protocols permitted a 3rd goalie without roster/cap implications – that is a real possibility.


I find it quite interesting that Mactavish took a beating when he tried to obtain Schneider at the draft leaving Dubnyk confidence at a low. When Holland tried to obtain Markstrom out of the blue after Mikko had a pretty good year 2 years ago it to must of stung Mikko’s confidence yet nary a word was said towards Holland.


Home grown draft pick vs. overpaid vet maybe?

The thing I find interesting about the Koskinen debate is the numbers.

Whether it is GAA or Sv% the discussion always ends up there and I do it myself since they are the only objective numbers we have to assess goalies.

The thing that muddles this for me is that those in the game almost never talk about that when criticizing or praising a goalie so much as they talk about making the save at the right time, big save goalie, big game goalie etc.

Smith, for example, has said that the only number that counts for a goalie is wins. While it is easy to point out that that position flatters him so he should believe it Edmonton has in its past a goalie that would fall asleep in 7-2 games that all too often ended up as 8-6 wins when Grant decided it was time to start paying attention again. It was not his GAA or Sv% that took Fuhr to the hockey hall of fame.

Anyway, this is my long winded way of saying that imo Mikko’s GAA & Sv% flatter him as a goalie while his win – loss record tends to cast doubt on his ability to play on a winning team in the NHL.

Last edited 1 month ago by defmn
Bank Shot

The criticism of MacT is related to him throwing Dubnyk under the bus in a media interview. Something that Holland never does to his players.

Last edited 1 month ago by Bank Shot

Yes I agree Holland takes the long way around even though it might be the same result and most players appreciate this.


How many do we lose to waivers this fall?

I would think Stalock, Lagesson, Koekkoek, Benson, and maybe Turris if he has a strong camp are all at risk to some degree?

Seems strange after so many years of scouring the waiver wire hoping for a pickup.

Elgin R

Koekkoek has a 1-way with a $925k AAV so I doubt he gets claimed even if put on waivers – and I think he makes the team out of camp
Lagesson probably not lost as most every team has a tweener LD
Turris – can’t see any team claiming this guy even if he shows well in camp

If Stalock and Benson are put on waivers I could see them getting claimed. I predict that Benson will make the team and Shore is put on waivers.


Maybe someone even takes a flyer on Marody, kids posted some nice boxcars.

I’d guess Stalock, Koekkoek and Benson would be the most likely claims, if they were to be waived.

Seems I’m in the minority, but I think Koekkoek is the most likely of all those you listed to make the team.


I also think he makes the team. Pretty sure he makes it over Lagesson so the only question for me is Samorukov and I think LT is pretty close to my guess on that probability.

I do think that Sammy makes it a stronger left side if he is judged to be ready.


Yeah that’s fair on Samorukov. And agreed it should be a plus for the team once he’s ready.

I was pretty surprised by the strong ‘consensus’ on Lagesson over Koekkoek. As LT alluded to above, Lagesson rode the PDO pony hard last year. Koekkoek on the other hand got buried by the percentages. Koekkoek actually had slightly better underlying numbers than Lagesson despite the GF/GA results.


I think the Koekkoek signing was the knife to Samorukov’s chance to make the opening night roster.

Of course, that doesn’t preclude a call-up when struggles and/or injuries hit – in particular given, right now, Berglund is the 4th right shot on the depth chart so the likely 4RD is Koekkoek or Russell moving over which opens up the left side a bit.


Yeah it definitely blocked Samorukov short term.

I think that’s a good thing given he’s coming off a significant injury (surgery? I’m forgetting).

And generally IMO, it’s appropriate depth for a team that’s serious about their season. Outside the (assumed) top 7 you’ve got Lagesson, Samorukov, Berglund, Broberg, Niemalainen.

It’s best not to *need* multiple of those listed names in the lineup at the same time if injuries hit.


Don’t disagree and, yes, I believe he had surgery on the shoulder.

I believe he’s 100% – he’s been in Edmonton and skating for a while now.


Yeah, good that he’s healthy. Still, how many established NHLers have we seen struggle and take time to return to form after significant injury/surgery?

I just don’t think it’s prudent to expect him to be up to speed until he’s shown he’s up to speed. Plus the depth generally is likely to be needed through the year.


Oh, for sure – I’m fine with starting the year in the Bake.

If he would have finished last season and even been able to get some AHL games in when CSKA was done, that would have helped and provided more info on his NHL readiness but he/we didn’t get that opportunity.

I just hope if the Lagesson/Russell/Koekkoek trip isn’t “working” and he’s killing it, the opportunity will be provided even if there aren’t a couple of injuries.


Well hopefully the NHL group doesn’t struggle too much!

But agreed, if Samorukov is playing well and the bottom of the roster NHLers aren’t looking great, hopefully he gets a shot.


I think losing Stalock is a real risk and I am hopeful they do not expose him if he shows well at camp.

I don’t imagine Koekkoek will be exposed – I think he and Russell are on the team.

I think Lagesson would slide through – lots of “Lagesson’s” on the waiver wire in early October.

If Turris shows well at camp, I would think he stays on the team and wouldn’t be exposed – if he look good at camp and is exposed, I presume he’ll slide through.

I could see Benson being claimed but he could slide – tough to tell.


RIP Charlie Watts


Pour one out for Charlie Watts.

Maybe two.


He said he could not make the tour just about to restart. Guess he was in worse shape than we knew. Definitely two.


He had a heck of a life though.



I’ll be disappointed if tomorrow’s blog post isn’t titled, “You Can’t Always Get Watts You Want”

EDIT: Will be content with a sub-heading.

Last edited 1 month ago by Tarkus

It took awhile for Smith and the D to get into sinc when he came on board. It will be interesting to see if there will be a adjustment period with the new D coming on board and how long it will take. I would also guess that due the number of new wingers coming on board Benson may once again not get the requisite ice time to prove he belongs.


I remain hopeful that Benson will get a real opportunity at camp – I mean line rushes and exhibition games with established NHL players (hopefully even some NHL skill) as opposed to being stapled to the likes of Griffith, Espositto, Cracknell, etc.

I’m not convinced this will actually be the case.


I’m 100% uncertain Yamamoto will make the team without a contract. Anybody know what the holdup is?


Money would be a good guess. 😉


Quite a few other RFA forwards not signed yet. Probably some sort of impasse in negotiations and they are waiting for more data when other players sign.

Material Elvis

They’ll all sign within a few days of each other. This happens every year.

Darth Tu

Offseason slow period? It’ll get done.


This is the exact type of contract that generally gets done later in the summer as it should be “fairly easy”.

At the same time, I thought that about Ethan Bear last year and he signed like the day before camp.

I won’t get concerned about that until we are a few weeks in to September but it is imperative for Kailer to ensure that he is signed before camp – he needs to be there for day 1 and fully prepared.

In fact, for me, he should be getting his butt to Edmonton pretty soon and joining the informal skates, etc. I mean Leon has made his way back from Europe, I think all the guys should be getting there.

I don’t discount Bear’s late arrival last season as part of his sluggish start to the year.


The Swiss Miss. What a waste of a pick.


‘Tis true, but it wasn’t a reach pick at the time. He was expected to go between 10-20, IIRC. Same with Mikhnov, though I think his range was 15-25.

The real head-scratcher was Jesse Niinimaki. When the on-air TSN crew is stunned into silence (again, IIRC), you know it’s a walkabout pick…


I think it was the first time a Swiss player went in the first round….. I hated it from the moment it happened. But I just went and checked who was still on the b oard and really no one stands out.


1997 was a top heavy draft. Of the first 13 selections, 12 became long term NHL players. Daniel Tkaczuk (Flames selection) was the only miss. The Oilers picked 14th and took Riesen. But from that pick down, there just wasn’t much there. Riesen didn’t make it, but there were only two NHL successes in the remainder of the first round (Scott Hannan at 23 and Brenden Morrow at 25). So the Oilers had plenty of company that year.

Elgin R

Have to love the Chimera pick @ #121. 1107 games played puts him 5th in his draft class.


To me it feels like things are mostly settled baring injury and/or exceptional performances. It will be between Benson/Perlini (50/50 odds) and Turris/Marody (67/33 odds) for the final two forward spots.


I generally agree with this but I think, if you are including Shore as a lock, there is only one additional forward spot (and that is assuming 14F so not 3G which could be an option).

I also think that two of Shore/Benson/Perlini could grab roster spots and neither of Turris/Marody – lots of the LW can move to the right so its not a necessity to have right handers at the bottom of the roster.


Pretty certain there is room for Shore AND two of Benson, Perlini, Turris, Marody, assuming 14F.


Yes, it seems you are right.



Always a pleasure to read Riesen to Believe.