Squeezing Out Sparks

by Lowetide
Photo by Mark Williams

Craig MacTavish, as a coach, was frank about prospects, and that hurt and helped him, along with being a massive clue about his style as a general manager (“if you have to ask the question”) a few years later.

In the fall of 2007, MacT commented about Rob Schremp’s early training camp. Schremp was 21, had just delivered a solid offensive season in the AHL, and was pushing for an NHL job: “It’s just a case of getting him physically strong enough and fast enough that he can compete against guys who are really strong and really fast.” That MacT. What a card.



We look at defensemen and their even strength on-ice goal differential many times a year, and because Eric Rodgers is a generous man we have access to the AHL numbers (but rarely use them). I’m far enough down the prospect food chain to be wondering about names like Kirill Maksimov, Ostap Safin and Raphael Lavoie. Do Rodgers’ numbers tell us anything about these men and what is shaking when they’re on the ice?

This was the year of struggle, when the Oilers were recalling defensemen and Shane Starrett got hurt. Benson and Marody played a lot at the top of the roster, Yamamoto was off the to the NHL just after Christmas, and McLeod looked damn good no matter how you slice it. Maksimov? The offense wasn’t there, he didn’t get feature minutes, but he did play the whole season and his goal differential was solid compared to the rest of the group (save McLeod). Interesting.


This past season was more successful for the Condors, as they would win the Pacific Division championship. Marody, Benson and McLeod were dominant, and part of it (to my eye) was McLeod’s easy zone exits and entries. Lavoie had some nights in a feature role (mostly power play) but his even strength number (goal differential) was just above sea level and that’s good. Safin was inconsistent but showed flashes. We’re going to track these three men closely this season, Oilers need one of them to cash.

No changes here, unless there’s an unreported injury I expect everyone here to be on the opening night roster. The forwards are a strong group, with all kinds of utility available to the coaching staff.

The uncertain group lost one name this week, with news that Dmitri Samorukov isn’t completely recovered from his shoulder injury in February. He joins Dylan Holloway on the lists of prospects who are going the wrong way due to injury. Oh man, the list of fine players derailed by injury while still Oilers prospects could overflow a landfill. Shore is the closest to going on the ‘certain’ list, Yamamoto moves up the moment he signs.

Samorukov joins Broberg, Holloway and Konovalov as quality prospects who arrive at camp as distant bells through injury or circumstance. One thing we haven’t discussed is what happens if Konovalov or Samorukov blows the competition out of the water. One reason it might not happen? Opportunity. We don’t know how much of a look the healthy prospects will get in this camp, Holland has created a veteran group and Tippett can grab an experienced hand for most every chore.


At 10 this morning, we hit the ground running for the Lowdown with a gigantic sports weekend just completed. We’ll chat Oilers rookie camp, the US Open, CFL and NFL weekend and those Toronto Blue Jays. Jason Gregor from TSN1260 will pop by at 11 and we’ll have a Blue Jays and an Oilers guest in hour one. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!


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Harpers Hair

Boston Bruins Alumni (@NHLBruinsAlumni) Tweeted:
Very sad to learn that our good friend Fred Stanfield has passed away at age 77. 

Fred was a big part of the B’s Stanley Cup teams, centering a line with John Bucyk and Johnny McKenzie.

RIP 17 https://t.co/p1DmK5jATV


Bank Shot

Its crazy that there is less than a week left until prospects games. It will be interesting to see what Chiasson can offer. Might be some players that didn’t get scouted a lot this year that fell. He looks like he has some good talent. Just needs to fill out.



Bank Shot

I’ll settle for Jake.


Looks like we’ll have to 🙂

Agree Jake looks like he could be something. Interested to see Petrov too, as well as Tullio among others.


Maksimov and Tulio and Bourgout, etc., etc., etc. – so many that I’m intrigued by.

I don’t think the wife is going to be wanting me up at 3am to stream Oilers/Flames rookie games, mind you…….. blah!

Note: Sounds like Maksimov is going to be a few days late which is disappointing. I presume its a covid protocol issue.


After almost 50 years of marriage I know there are ways that I could get around this and I am sure that a man such as yourself should have little problem if you apply your skills,😉

Harpers Hair
Bank Shot

Plus the Canucks have Brogan Rafferty!

Brogan Rafferty's Uncle Steve

Bro, Anaheim is getting the Brogan bounce this year. Keep up!

Brogan Rafferty's Uncle Steve

I am looking forward to watching Sutter roll out Gaudreau on the pk this season and Lucic’s continued ‘presence’ on the pp.

Bank Shot

For all the talk about Calgary getting tougher to play against this season, its primarily on the fourth line and bottom 3 d-men.

Their top 3 lines are charmin soft outside of Tkachuk, and their top pairing that will see most of their time against McDrai doesn’t hit.

Anyone remember Gudbranson doing anything memorable against Edmonton last year outside of a couple of fights?

He went -8 in 8 games against Edmonton. Bring it on.

Darth Tu

Do we have a full list of the skaters from today? I know that the goalies are Smith, Koskinen and Skinner.


I haven’t seen one anywhere but for those wondering about Keith he is apparently in Kelowna coaching his son’s summer hockey team so that explains why he isn’t in town yet.

Winger Kirill Maksimov, who played in Russia last season, will be a few days late for Oiler rookie camp.

Last edited 12 days ago by defmn
Darth Tu

Excellent, good for the clarification on Keith – and a very good reason to not be in town yet. I sensed a bit of consternation on the old twitter earlier today when it was pointed out he was absent.


Keith Gretzky on Stauffer right now saying Samorukov is very close to being ready to play but indicates Bakersfield is where he is headed.

Gretzky coy about Holloway’s injury and Stauffer moved along quickly with no follow up.

Last edited 12 days ago by defmn

There is little doubt that Sammy is slated for the AHL to start – the Koekkoek signing blocked him in October.

A good showing at camp will go a ways to getting his confidence up for the season and earning himself a call-up when the injuries start to pile up.

Darth Tu

That’s instantly better news about Samo! I hope he heals up fast, I can’t wait to see him back on North American ice.


 One thing we haven’t discussed is what happens if Konovalov or Samorukov blows the competition out of the water. One reason it might not happen?

I agree with this and would add Benson and Marody to that list.

We will hear the verbal early in camp from Tip about paring down the roster quickly – not a ton of time to experiment as they have lots of new players and need to get them used to their presumed linemates/partners and up to speed on systems.

Sammy won’t get much real opportunity as they will be getting Keith/Ceci used to each each and, more importantly, Koekooek/Russell/Lagesson showcasing for the 3LD spot and getting used to Sammy.

Benson should get some real opportunities with some NHL skill – at the very least some time with, say, Nuge and Yamamoto or Ryan and Foegele, but I think he’s likely to see bottom of the training camp roster linemates.

If Yamamoto isn’t signed (and I think he will be), Turris and Marody should see some extra reps up the lineup but who knows if the coaching staff will give Marody that chance.


Its interesting, if you look at Kailer being -3 with a 0.7 PPG, one would think he was somewhat meh in the AHL but he was far far far from meh. I watched pretty much all those games and he was an elite AHL player. He was playing on the 2nd/3rd line with, if I remember correctly, the likes of Joe G. and Brad Malone. Now those two are very good AHL players but they aren’t what I would call dynamic, overly skilled finishers or high IQ offensive players. Yamamoto was a freaking scoring chance creation machine – shift after shift, game after game. His box cars and goal differential vastly under-state his AHL performance in that half season.

I’m far enough down the prospect food chain to be wondering about names like Kirill Maksimov, Ostap Safin and Raphael Lavoie.

Me too.

From watching last year, I think Lavoie need some read AHL development time + lets not forget that he really just got his feet wet this past season as he was in Vasby until quite late. Some of the flaws from his junior days were clearly still present – in particular, simply a consistency issue, both from game to game but also from shift to shift. Similar to junior, he would got on 4-5 game heaters where he’d be over a PPG and then he’d go cold for a bit (and, in the AHL, cold like zero points and barely any impact in any game). Even during his good stretches, within games he’d have long stretches where he wasn’t noticeable. Lavoie needs to learn to not just get more consistent overall but start to impact games on more of a shift to shift basis – he needs to do that before he sniffs the NHL. Of course, we know he needs to work on his strength in battles, his awareness and positioning without the puck from the opposition blueline back and his accelration and edges.

I like Lavoie as a prospect, his shot really is something else – his ability to create lanes, his release, his ability to get shots through, etc. – its his way to the NHL but he has to improve overall.

Maksimov is my pick for darkhorse prospect to re-emerge this season and I see him battling Lavoie for a LW1 and PP1. His shot is elite – the release and accuracy. He doesn’t create shots like Lavoie but his one-timer and release and likely even better than Lavoie’s. He also has the ability to “make the NHL” in numerous ways given he is a high end 2-way player, a great PK guy and plays with an edge. Its time for him to pop at the AHL level.

Safin has great size and a great release but his pro career has been very underwhelming. He finally had some good AHL games this past season but they were very few and far between and shortly after a good game, he would be healthy scratched, that’s how “not good” he was in the other games. I’m close to writing him off as a real prospect – he needs to make huge strides this season and he’s coming from well behind.


I’ve seen many players over the years who look good but they just don’t point well and it’s frustrating. To me Yamo has a slight case of hands of stone and if you take away that stretch of 25 games with the best player in the league where would he be. Enough of the bullshit give Leon 2 wingers that aren’t Kahun’s of the world that are chickenshit to drive to the paint and I say the opposition will consider that line as 1A not the Mcdavid line.


Using the phrase chicken shit to describe Yamamoto’s on-ice play is telling.

cowboy bill

I think he was referring to Kahun . However Yamamoto maybe is losing his courage with every thunderous shot he has to deal with .


I was referring to Kahun who’s hands were alright but he made sure he kept them shiny clean not Yamo but I will say that Yamo is ineffective in the paint because of his hands. Now if his name was Caulfied or Gallagher he would score 30 plus playing with Leon. Yamo at this time does not belong in the top 6 and it has Eff all to do with his size. I’m sure Tippett figured this out after getting waxed by half a Jet team.

Bank Shot

Why are you complaining about scoring?

If you surrender 4+ goals in 3 out of 4 playoff games like the Oilers did last season you aren’t going to win period.

Goals against was a bigger culprit than lack of scoring. The Oilers scored enough to win a game or two.


I don’t understand your logic it doesn’t matter how good your D is your not winning a OT game without scoring. Give Leon a Glenn Anderson or a Billy Guerin what about Anson Carter even a hungry Dave Lumley or maybe it’ll be Holloway that’s a right fit for Leon. All I know it’s not going to be Zegras who fell in our lap but Holland instead went Lindstrom hunting.

cowboy bill

Maksimov , after another season in the AHL , along with the Nuge might be the ideal wingers for Leo the lion .


I am excited to watch Maksimov pop this year in the Bake – he needs tops 6 and PP time.

Darth Tu

Eh…. have you watched Kailer play? “Chickenshit” is about as far from reality as you can get.

I’m also not sure replacing Kailer and Nuge with two thugs that would just drive the blue paint every time would be quite as productive as you think.


Yeah Kailer is one of the last people on the team I would call a chickenshit. The guy is relentless for the puck and gets penalized for trying to overcompensate for his size and always seem to be willing to take a hit to make a play.

Last edited 12 days ago by Side

Fearless is more apt, dude is first in, initiating contact and paying the price every shift.

His balls are bigger than he is.

Dan Burn’s Tiger Woods

cowboy bill

He sure takes a beating ,makes you wonder how much more he can take.


That is just a horrific and way off base take of Yamamoto’s game. Of any Oiler forward that played more than 500 minutes last season, Kailer was first in hits taken per 60 and blocked shots per 60. Clearly not someone too “chickenshit” to put himself in harms way. And despite his diminutive size, he was credited with more hits per 60 than Kahun, Hopkins, Draisaitl and McDavid. His penalties drawn per 60 was only behind McDavid and Jesse, also indicating he is not on the perimeter. His size may prevent from time to time of being effective, but Yamamoto’s got heart and is in no way a perimeter player.

cowboy bill

I guess the question is ? If he didn’t play like that . Would he play in the NHL ?

Darth Tu

That’s kind of a Schrodinger’s Cat logic question right there.

cowboy bill

Can hardly refer to Yamamoto as being a cat in a box . But would he be alive or dead or both? If I ever got a cat I would name it Yamamoto.

Darth Tu

Ha! Very true! And a pretty fine choice of name for a future feline friend.


On Sept 1 who had the Jays in the first wild card spot by now?

Suspect they are heading into the Rays Jays series with emptied bats after 44 runs vs the O’s

Go Jays!



I’ve been posting a few things on the tending for a while now:

1) that Stalock should get a real shot to battle Mikko for 1B and that there are legit on ice benefits due to his puck handling if “making saves” are equal. At the same time, I don’t really see the coach’s putting him ahead of Mikko for game 1.

2) The team may want/need to go with 3 goalies which would be very far from ideal but may be required.

I just realized that Holland was on with Reid Wilkins last week so I listened to that’s the gym this morning.

He was asked about Stalock and mentioned that he spoke to him and his agent a few days prior. Alex is motivated and ready to compete at camp but is aware that could be put on waivers and could be assigned to the Bake (if he clears).

Holland also mentioned that they are planning on only 2 tenders on the roster. It’s not set in stone and they may decide, out of necessity, to go with three but the current plan is two.

I would be surprised if Stalock is not on waivers on the eve of the season, which would be a be disappointing for me.

cowboy bill

I have to say I couldn’t agree more . It still remains to be seen. But I believe Stalock will beat Koskinen out for the opportunity to back up Mike Smith.
Which will create an interesting situation.

Last edited 12 days ago by cowboy bill

I thought Mikko would continue to improve over the last 3 years he was drafted 31st overall so he had good pedigree but didn’t pan out with the Isle. He than goes to the KHL where he really comes into his own. I see Kurri’s fingerprints all over bringing Mikko back to the NHL and you would have to believe Kurri is a good judge of talent. Mikko looked terrible last year his game has basically been caved in since Holland went chasing after Markstrom. We need Stalock to return to form and not allow Smith to play to many games. I’ve lost faith in Mikko and it sure looked like the team did as well.


If Stalock is in good form, one would expect that they waive Koskinen first, and see if there are any takers.


One would think but listening to Holland with Wilkins last week, it sounds like Stalock is destined for re-assignment.

There is absolutely no chance any team would take Koskinen on waivers – I’m sure Holland was willing to retain half to get rid of the contract, without success.

cowboy bill

Training camp is a formality, the team’s already picked.


Thinking the same, particularly if it saves cap space. Does it? Probably not the full 3+M difference…?


It would save a ton ($3.7M) if Koskinen were claimed obviously. Though that’s exceedingly unlikely.

If he were simply assigned instead of Stalock it would save $340k since only $1.125M of his salary can be buried.


But if smith gets Hurt, you now have Stalock and who exactly?



There’s virtually no chance he gets claimed.

In terms of 3rd goalie cover waiving Koskinen actually makes more sense since Stalock (salary) is more likely to be claimed.


Zero chance Mikko gets claimed and solid chance that Stalock gets claimed.

On ice performance aside, it makes sense to waive Mikko and keep Stalock on the roster.

Thing is, what happens with the 3G in the Bake? They can’t take starts away from Skinner and Konovalov but, at the same time, they can’t just do nothing but practice, what if they are needed on recall for an injury?


Konovalov and Skinner (and a trade with the Stars).

Wonder Llama

After all the urges, some kind of truth emerges.

Randle McMurphy

Zach Kassian on Stauffer’s first segment today. Bright guy. Worth the listen on the podcast if you get a chance.

Randle McMurphy

Go Jays!


Now that they have clawed their way into the wild card spot I expect them to go on a mini-slump.

They are still balancing between youthful enthusiasm & determined maturity imo.

A pretty exciting group of kids though.

Randle McMurphy

John Shannon’s take away after listening to the Kassian segment…”Zach sounds motivated!”


Fool me once…


Remember the rumour that he hurt himself before training camp. It has legs for me because Kassian looked uninterested and was just going through the motions like he was nursing like a bad back. He did look like the old Kassian in game 3 and 4. I say Kass comes in fresh and will see 1st line minutes and will score 17-20 goals.


Kass is always a great interview (for me) – if only he could show that type of consistency on the ice….


The Holloway & Samorukov injury reports have sucked some of the excitement I was feeling about TC for me. I thought Samorukov was going to push and had a chance and I wanted to know if Holloway was as good as his last season suggested.

Instead I think we are going to get a workmanlike veteran TC.

Konovalov & Skinner should be fun just to see how long they hang in and who goes down to Bakersfield first.

Broberg always seems to look good in TC as well. The verbal on Bourgault as the local media gets its first real look will be worth following.

I guess the only real drama – injuries aside – will start when there are around 25 left in camp.

Yamamoto for 1 year at $1.8 sometime this week?

cowboy bill

Yamo’s got to have a big year , he’s got to realize this , because next year he’s going to have the likes of Lavoie , Maksimov , Safin , Bourgault , Tullio etc. eyeing his spot on the roster . I wonder if he’s feeling the pressure .

Harpers Hair

Perhaps the hold up is Yamamoto wanting a 2 year deal.


I would think that org would want a 2-year deal and the player a one-year deal.

Harpers Hair

Could be.


There’s a photo with the tweet. I counted 21 on the ice but impossible to see individuals. It looks to me like TC minus coaching staff is pretty much already in process.

Quite the contingent for the “Captains’ skate”

Harpers Hair

Apparently Keith and Stalock are missing.

Some consternation on Twitter.


Should add no Nurse, Barrie, Hyman and Koekkoek as well today. Again, informal skate.

Bank Shot

And where’s BROGAN RAFFERTY!??

Harpers Hair

Chillin’ at Huntington Beach before Ducks’ camp.


No Alex Stalock this morning, Stuart Skinner who was on the ice for a session before the main group is the third goalie. Duncan Keith not out there.


Remember Mike Grier getting his shoulder popped in on the bench by the trainer on more than one occasion. I also remember when I was 19 not to many things could slow me are my buddy workmates down. Plus we healed fast from the haywire shit we used to do because if you didn’t have money you didn’t have funny.


I saw Mike Grier skate up to the glass surrounding the boards and pop his shoulder back in by banging it into them before skating to the bench.

Back when men were men . . . 😉

90s fan

Not a smart way to do it. Strong as hammer, dumb as post.


Not sure I’ll agree with the dumb as a post part.

90s fan

Lol. I don’t actually think hes dumb. Hes one of my faves. But perhaps relocating his shoulder like that isn’t the smartest?


Since 1917-1918 season 357 players have played in 1000 games. Mike Grier has a total 1060 games, I would say that’s quite the accomplishment. Just out of curiosity how many games do you have on your resume?

90s fan

Oh I haven’t played any NHL games. But I couldn’t lose at NHL 94. I was the boss. How about yourself?

Grier was a beast. I think you got me wrong. I love grier. Think we could use him today. My only thought was perhaps smarter ways to relocate a shoulder.


I get what your saying now at the time it was almost frustrating watching the blue lunch pail gang after seeing all the greats leave town. I now look back on that team and see how hard they worked for their Coach, GM and logo on their shirt. We were a Maxwell Smart missed you by that much from losing the team and I believe that’s one of the reasons that team played so hard.


I think the Koekkoek signing put the kibosh on and real chance for Sammy to break camp with the team (unless there were multiple injuries). I do think he would have impacted the lineup at some point this season (and still do).

Darth Tu

That’s rough news on Samorukov. I had high hopes of him coming in and forcing his way up the depth chart during camp. Still I guess it was always a long shot that we’d have started the year with the 3rd pairing being Samo-Bouch.

cowboy bill

Yamamoto sure would be a nice fit with Ryan & Foegele on that third line or even back with Leo & Nuge , likewise with Kassian . It’s a tantalizing forward group Yamamoto should be excited to be a part of .
Hey Kailer , I hear Kyle Turris is excited and motivated for an opportunity .

Last edited 12 days ago by cowboy bill

Turris and Marody will both have a legit shot at 2RW should Yamamoto not get inked in time. Well Turris will get a legit shot (as he should) but I would hope Marody would as well (not as convinced that he would though).

Scungilli Slushy

Unless Kass is awful there is no way either hit the top 6 IMO.

Turris at best is a PK RC. If he can prove he can still skate, and score, maybe higher up. Marody has to jump Turris and a bunch of others.

Should have signalled better and shown that he wanted to work on his weaknesses, instead he said his skating was fine. Dead wrong at his size and mediocre skill by NHL standards.

I don’t think he wants an NHL career. He’s ok with making 150 000 US and maybe some bonus pay in the bigs for what he does. I’d be too. Not easy for most to hit that pay. As an career AHL star he can hit double more. And he doesn’t have to work that hard at this point and can do his music.Classic tweener.

Benson is different.


Should have signalled better and shown that he wanted to work on his weaknesses, instead he said his skating was fine.

It’s un-fucking believable how much ink that quote has gotten and how much significance it’s taken on in many people’s minds.


Kass’ play last year (and half the prior year) provides no more claim to the 2nd line RW role than Turris (or anyone else). Turris has just as much top 6 pedigree as Kass (neither was a top 6 player last year – both were replacement level players or worse).

Turris is not a PK RC at all, in my opinion. He is now a RW if anything (and not a PK guy). He may be done but, again, he had Covid before the season and we have no idea how much of an impact that had on him. He’s more skilled than Kass and, if Covid depleted his fitness, etc., I’m not sure he couldn’t fill in on a skill line. FAR from certain but I wouldn’t discount it completely.

Marody’s comment on his skating was like 2 plus years ago now. Lets not discount maturation and recognition/acknowledgement of what needs to be done. Maybe your speculation on his wants/desires are right but they could be 100% wrong. His skating looks just fine at the AHL level – he looks quick through the neutral zone. We’ll see.

I’m not saying either Turris or Marody can handle the job. I’m also not saying they can’t.


Apologies OP, I see now how I misquoted you for someone else with the ‘put down the guitar stuff’


This year more than any in recent memory (for the Oilers) shows how close it is between rising talent in the AHL versus fading talent in the NHL

The choice between promoting a kid versus bringing in PTOs/fringe NHLs is razor thin in the salary cap era

Makes for good stories!!

John Chambers

Given Holland’s body of work thus far as Oilers GM I’m surprised we haven’t yet seen a depth signing of a veteran tweener in the mould of Alan Quine, Thomas Jurco, or Patrick Russell.

Injuries will happen, so unless we have a TC PTO like Shore last season we’ll almost certainly see the likes of Benson, Marody, Perlini, and Turris all get reps before Christmas.


Maybe Ennis??

John Chambers

I’d say that LW spot is six-deep already. Seven with Holloway.

Could use a depth C, IMO


My guess is Holland signing a plethora of journeymen had more to do with budget constraints than anything else.

That, and the AHL crew are closer to ready for an audition.

There’s more cover up top so less need for veterans in the bottom six.


I’d rather see each of Benson, Marody, Perline and even Turris (if he looks better) over the likes of Quine, Jurco and Russell.


Cheering hard for Holloway to have a clean bill of health sooner rather than later.


For sure, and Samorukov as well.

The two main prospects that are/were likely to impact the lineup this season (not including the older guys like Benson).

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x