I believe Kris Russell is going to play a large role on the Edmonton Oilers in 2021-22, especially early in the season. The top-four D is likely to be Darnell Nurse-Tyson Barrie, Duncan Keith-Cody Ceci, and one suspects Russell, Slater Koekkoek and Evan Bouchard will be in some kind of dizzying rotation designed to make Bouchard fans pursuing interests that are less maddening, like chess or understanding the Davis Cup process.
- New Lowetide: Oilers’ reasonable expectations for 2021-22: Goal scoring
- New DNB: Mailbag.
- Lowetide: Oilers’ potential Olympians are a small group with maximum possible impact
- Lowetide: What should the Oilers expect from Cody Ceci in his first season?
- Lowetide: Why Oilers can expect an offensive rebound from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
- Lowetide: Projecting the 2021-22 Edmonton Oilers opening night lineup
- Lowetide: Why Oilers fans should be excited about the progress of Maxim Berezkin
- Lowetide: What should Oilers expect from Duncan Keith in his first season?
- Lowetide: Did the Oilers find the new Fernando Pisani when signing Derek Ryan?
- Jonathan Willis: Tyler Benson, Devin Shore and the 4-year difference between a prospect and a has-been
- Lowetide: What should Oilers fans expect from Zach Hyman in his first season?
- Lowetide: Dylan Holloway headlines new arrivals for Bakersfield Condors in 2021-22
- Lowetide: Why Oilers fans should expect more trades and a deep playoff run this season
- Lowetide: How much playing time will Evan Bouchard get with the Oilers this coming season?
- Lowetide: What are reasonable expectations for the 2021-22 Oilers?
- Jonathan Willis: A resurgent Zack Kassian could be an important part of the Oilers’ scoring
- Lowetide: Oilers sign Darnell Nurse to a massive 8-year contract extension
- Lowetide: How many goals will Jesse Puljujarvi score for the Oilers next season?
- Lowetide: What are Oilers’ ideal defence pairings for 2021-22?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers 2021-22 depth chart
- DNB: ‘Ultimate competitor’ Zach Hyman signs with Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects, summer 2021
- Mike Smith, 39. There’s not much to say, Edmonton is going to ride Smith like the guy at work who still owns and operates a 1974 Datsun. It’ll work until it doesn’t. Smith made the stops, and apparently has turned back time physically. There is no way to predict the end, the car turns over in any kind of weather and the man stops pucks. Chances of making team: 95%.
- Mikko Koskinen, 33. I predict he’ll have better numbers than Smith, but Koskinen is the goalie Edmonton will send away at the deadline. Unsure who Holland will pick up, but doubt he risks a third playoff with this duo. Chances of making team: 95%.
- Alex Stalock, 34. He hasn’t played an NHL game since March 7, 2020 and has to be considered a wildcard. Chances of making team: 10%.
- Stuart Skinner, 22. He played one game a year ago, then played well in the AHL. He is probably the starter in Bakersfield to open the season and first recall, although it could change. Chances of making team: 0
- Ilya Konovalov, 23. This fellow is a fine goaltender, Edmonton has a need. I think he’ll need to establish himself in the AHL, but this could be a bigger story than many believe. Chances of making team: 0.
- 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. There is a chance he’ll make the Olympic team, selfishly the rest might help him get through a very busy NHL season. Chances of making team: 100%.
- 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 and I think he could have been effective with Adam Larsson or Ethan Bear. So much has been said, everyone has decided on him, I’ve always been a fan and hope he has a good year. Chances of making team: 100%.
- 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: 100%.
- Slater Koekkoek, 27. Koekkoek had a good season with Chicago, and at the time Edmonton signed him the first time, he was the best available free agent. His season with Edmonton wasn’t good, helped along by an injury sustained against the hooligans from Calgary. He’ll be better than he was a year ago. Chances of making team: 60%.
- William Lagesson, 25. 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. Like Koekkoek, there’s no chance he will be as bad as last season. As compelling as that bullet point is, it might not be enough to get him an NHL job opening night. Chances of making team: 50%.
- Dmitri Samorukov, 22 The third pairing and extra defenseman spots are open and Samorukov has the most promising resume from the group of hopefuls. I can see him jumping over both Lagesson and Koekkoek, but can’t see him opening the year on the third pairing with Bouchard. Chances of making team: 5%.
- 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. If he plays well in Bakersfield, Broberg could pass Lagesson and Samorukov as first recall, but I think he’ll spend the season in Bakersfield. Chances of making the team: 5%.
- 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. He is not strong defensively, gets beaten to the net even when he has position, his outscoring numbers at five on five a year ago (54-49) should be stronger based on linemates. Chances of making team: 100%.
- Cody Ceci, 27. 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 on defense and in moving the puck. Chances of making team: 100%.
- Evan Bouchard, 21. I’m hopeful he will get a chance and if he does, I expect Bouchard will be one of the major stories surrounding the Oilers this season. He is such a good passer and makes plays out of nothing that often surprise teammates who weren’t expecting the puck in a good place. He thinks the game incredibly well. Chances of making team: 100%.
- Connor McDavid, 24. The best player in the game, he’s beyond human. I’ve been watching games from last season and McDavid is Dr. Manhattan without the accident at the nuclear plant. I’ve long since run out of words to describe what he does, and can only say nothing that came before him is comparable. He’s alone. Chances of making team: 100%.
- Leon Draisaitl, 25. Draisaitl combines brains, power and precision to form something diabolical. Best suited to playing with McDavid, he is also a dynamic center and the team is more difficult to handle when 29 is pivot on a second scoring line. Lots of options this year, suspect Nuge-Yamamoto will be the wingers, especially to start. Chances of making team: 100%.
- 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%.
- Ryan McLeod, 21. His speed is a weapon, and I was impressed with his quickness to loose pucks. In looking at his offensive progress, I think we may see a season that includes some struggles in this area. Chances of making team: 90%.
- 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: 90%.
- Zach Hyman, 29. I’m intrigued by the addition of Hyman and the opportunities it might open up. McDavid can create offense out of nothing but Patrick Maroon always seemed to complement his game with puck retrieval, on the forecheck or driving to the net in a timely fashion. This could be a strong pairing. Chances of making team: 100%.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 28. His expected goals last year (55.5 percent) was miles from his goal differential (48.4) so one hopes regression has him above level. I’ve looked at his season through several complete games, and he seemed to hesitate more than losing quality on his shot, so if he can get rid of the hitch then 20 goals should be attainable. Chances of making team: 100%.
- 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%.
- Brendan Perlini, 25. He is a wild card entering camp. Perlini is big, fast and can score goals. His NHL numbers suggest he isn’t going to be effective in a two-way role and that’s all that will be available, so a mid-20’s change in attention to detail will be necessary. It happens (Marty Reasoner) but it’s rare. Chances of making team: 60%.
- Tyler Benson, 23. Benson can bring skill to the bottom-six forwards and he’s a smart player with and without the puck. Sam Pollock rarely traded a player before he knew what that player could do in the NHL. There’s no chance the Oilers know what Benson can do over a complete NHL season. Chances of making team: 60%.
- Dylan Holloway, 19. He will need to be cleared to play after his season ended with a wrist/hand/thumb injury in the spring. Holloway is more dynamic than most of the names on this list, it’s only a matter of time. His time is unlikely to be this fall, chances are the Oilers handle him as they did Kailer Yamamoto fall 2019 (no game action in training camp). Chances of making team: 5%.
- Jesse Puljujarvi, 23. He delivered an impressive season across the board in 2020-21, and played a strong complementary game alongside 97. There’s enough smoke around Zack Kassian getting a chance on the top line that it’s probably being considered, but cream rises and Puljujarvi is the class of the group. Chances of making team: 100%.
- 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. King of the empty-net goals. Chances of making team: 100%
- Zack Kassian, 30. Rumours have him moving up to the top line, I don’t see it being successful. 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%.
- Kailer Yamamoto, 22. He has no contract, so I can’t say he’s a lock to make the team. Yamamoto didn’t score much in the second half of the season but his overall numbers were fine. He’s a solid young winger, but his 2020-21 season (projected to 82 games, 13-20-33) won’t be enough for him to keep the job on RW with Draisaitl. Chances of making team: 80%.
- Kyle Turris, 32. Turris has impressive skill but he’s also at a point when offense begins to fade. Things are breaking well for him early, with some uncertainty in what the RW depth chart will look like due to Yamamoto’s contract and Kassian’s moving up the lineup. Uncertainty anywhere helps him. Chances of making team: 70%.
- 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: 25%.