Do you remember back six years ago? The weekend Edmonton drafted Connor McDavid and then traded a bunch of picks for Cam Talbot, Griffin Reinhart and Eric Gryba? Remember that? If I asked you if the current team is better than that one, what would you say?
- New Lowetide: Oilers preseason stories of the past, from Tony Hand to Leon Draisaitl
- Lowetide: The Oilers and the Cooper Marody experiment are at a crossroads
- DNB: Oilers voice their frustration over top prospect Dylan Holloway’s injury setback
- Lowetide: A set roster? Oilers training camp gone wild? Expect the unexpected
- Lowetide: Xavier Bourgault and his ETA with the Edmonton Oilers
- DNB: Warren Foegele Q&A
- Lowetide: Dylan Holloway’s season and why patience is vital for Oilers’ prospect
- Lowetide: Oilers reasonable expectations for 2021-22: Goal differential
- 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?
- Jonathan Willis: A resurgent Zack Kassian could be an important part of the Oilers’ scoring
- Lowetide: How many goals will Jesse Puljujarvi score for the Oilers next season?
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers 2021-22 depth chart
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects, summer 2021
- Cam Talbot (As Casey Kasem would say ‘a new No. 1’)
- Anders Nilsson (A small but astute summer trade)
- Ben Scrivens (Backup, suspect for the entire season)
- Laurent Brossoit (AHL starter had a good year, needs another)
- Eetu Laurikainen (A great damn bet)
Coming in, the Oilers didn’t have much going on and goaltending was a priority. Talbot was expensive but worth the price and Nilsson was a nice get for the rights to Liam Coughlin. Talbot is still in the league, as is Brossoit.
- Mike Smith (Had a strong season, Tippett likes him)
- Mikko Koskinen (Size remains in vogue)
- Alex Stalock (solid depth if required)
- Ilya Konovalov (future NHL goalie? He has the resume)
- Stuart Skinner (About where Brossoit was in 2015 summer)
- Olivier Rodrigue (He has some great bullet points, include a strong conclusion to junior career)
I prefer the Talbot-Nilsson tandem with Brossoit rising, but Smith-Koskinen are entering year three together and have made the postseason twice. I do like Konovalov and will predict here (just in case I remember to look back in six years) he will have an NHL career.
LH DEFENSE, THEN
- Oscar Klefbom (The future and the present)
- Andrej Sekera (Oilers needed him badly, he’s an outstanding addition)
- Nikita Nikitin (Waiver announcements at 10 this morning)
- Andrew Ference (Captain pressbox, looks like)
- Griffin Reinhart (I predict he’ll play 49 NHL games in 2015-16)
- Darnell Nurse (I predict he’ll play 70 NHL games in 2015-16)
- Brad Hunt (He’ll see NHL time)
- David Musil (Could get some NHL time)
- Jordan Oesterle (Fast and skilled, could surprise)
- Dillon Simpson (Probably a full season in Bakersfield)
- Martin Gernat (They may try to get him off the roster)
- Ben Betker (May need to spend some time in the ECHL if it gets crowded)
- Joey Laleggia (Can learn plenty from Hunt and Oesterle in Bakersfield)
The addition of Sekera was key, Chiarelli’s free-agent upgrade working miles better than his trade for Reinhart. My goodness the leftorium was enormous back then, Oesterle wasn’t able to set himself apart but flourished after leaving.
LH DEFENSE, NOW
- Darnell Nurse. He’ll play a major role on this year’s team.
- Duncan Keith. He should help the second pair in outlets.
- Kris Russell. I think he will play more than most believe
- Slater Koekkoek. He was not effective for much of the year.
- William Lagesson. Had poor rookie season in NHL.
- Dmitri Samorukov. Big defender should be NHL ready.
- Philip Broberg. Big, fast defenseman Holland bet big on.
- Markus Niemelainen. A reasonable comp for David Musil six years ago.
- Oscar Klefbom. He may never pass this way again.
Nurse is a significant player and he’s durable, but after that we’re looking at veterans who could break down, two gents who weren’t effective a season ago, and two men (Samorukov and Broberg) who can’t get here quick enough. I prefer the 2015 group.
RH DEFENSE, THEN
- Mark Fayne (A big part of next year’s team)
- Justin Schultz (He needed, and would be gifted, a change of scenery)
- Eric Gryba (Another D-zone blue with NHL experience to help Fayne, Ference)
Tippett was not a fan of Fayne, who was dispatched to the minors and soon out of hockey. Gryba hung around a little longer, but was a 6-7 type during his time in Edmonton.
RH DEFENSE, NOW
- Tyson Barrie. He led NHL defensemen in points and is not strong defensively.
- Cody Ceci. His five on five GA/60 in the last two seasons (2.27, 2.03) are excellent.
- Evan Bouchard. I expect Bouchard will be one of the major stories surrounding the Oilers this season.
- Filip Berglund. A wildcard despite considerable SHL experience.
- Mike Kesselring. He’s a talented defender with a range of skills.
- Phil Kemp. Shutdown blue with calm feet.
The current depth chart is miles better than six years ago, and if Bouchard is given room to blossom this position could be a strength in no time. It probably requires Barrie to be dealt next summer, though.
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Nuge is gonna shine)
- C Connor McDavid (THE franchise)
- C Mark Letestu (A key addition should help depth)
- C Anton Lander (Important player for 15-16)
- C Boyd Gordon (veteran could be trade bait by deadline if things break right)
- C Leon Draisaitl (Man amongst boys in Memorial Cup)
- C Bogdan Yakimov (Big C still developing, factor down the line)
- C Jujhar Khaira (Solid checker, offense may keep him from NHL career)
- C Kyle Platzer (New pro has two-way skills)
A monster group and still the heart of the team six years later, we discuss McDavid, Draisaitl and the Nuge all the time. Khaira is also in the NHL at this time.
- Connor McDavid. The best player in the game, he’s beyond human.
- Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl combines brains, power and precision to form something diabolical.
- Derek Ryan. His numbers are impressive and he has a great deal of utility.
- Ryan McLeod. His speed is a weapon, and I was impressed with his quickness to loose pucks.
- Devin Shore. A strong penalty killer, Shore is death valley in five on five possession.
- Dylan Holloway. Injured, will miss several months.
- Tim Soderlund. He is an AHL option.
The current list is the better one, owing to the fact 97 and 29 are in their prime and elite talents. Ryan was an astute addition and McLeod could be a solid add.
LEFT WING, THEN
- Taylor Hall (Rumor of a new C coming in may help spike numbers)
- Benoit Pouliot (Important player for next season)
- Lauri Korpikoski (Productive veteran is a good addition)
- Matt Hendricks (Had a wonderful year, can he do it again?)
- Luke Gazdic (How much will he play?)
- Ryan Hamilton (he’ll be the veteran hand in the minors helping to guide the kids)
- Anton Slepyshev (Can’t wait to see him in TC)
- Mitch Moroz (Should see way more action in Bakersfield in 2015-16)
- Kale Kessy (Lost season to injury, another chance in 2015-16)
- Braden Christoffer. Energy winger a WHL signing.
Hall was such an exceptional player in Edmonton, but the rest of this list was either on the verge of a substantial downbeat or not strong in the first place. There were danger signs at this position.
LEFT WING NOW
- Zach Hyman. An addition tailor made for McDavid, I’m guessing he posts 60+ points and helps in goal differential.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He has some serious regressing to do this coming season.
- Warren Foegele. His five on five pts-60 last season (1.60) suggesta he is well suited to an outscoring third line.
- Brendan Perlini. He is a wild card entering camp. Perlini is big, fast and can score goals.
- Tyler Benson. Benson can bring skill to the bottom-six forwards and he’s a smart player with and without the puck.
- Raphael Lavoie. Pure scorer who has a real opportunity waiting if he can score in the AHL.
- Ostap Safin. Often injured but he has talent and a PF’s size.
This group has better depth and Hyman can deliver enough to give the current left-wing group the edge. I’m still intrigued by Benson, if he gets a chance to show his skill I think Tippett will value him. I’ll call this a tie.
RIGHT WING, THEN
- R Jordan Eberle (Top RW primed for a big year)
- R Nail Yakupov (He’s still here, people!)
- R Teddy Purcell (Speed only real issue)
- R Rob Klinkhammer (4line RW, crash and bang)
- R Tyler Pitlick (health is always the issue)
- R Iiro Pakarinen (Has a chance to make the team)
- R Andrew Miller (A strong option for NHL time in 2015-16)
- R Greg Chase (His game should flourish in pro’s)
Turns out, perennial 20+ goal scoring wingers do have exceptional value, as Eberle has been showing since leaving Edmonton. As is the case on left wing, the lack of depth at the position is obvious, then and now.
RIGHT WING, NOW
- Jesse Puljujarvi. He took a big step forward, is there another?
- Kailer Yamamoto. He’s a solid young winger, but needs to deliver more offense.
- Josh Archibald. Utility forward can do everything, and that includes goals on depth lines.
- Zack Kassian. He has scored just three goals in his last 35 games.
- Kyle Turris. Turris might land in the old Sam Gagner bottom-six role.
- Cooper Marody. He has skill and can play center.
- Kirill Maksimov. A little under the radar after two pro seasons where his offense hasn’t spiked.
- Tyler Tullio. He’ll be a fan favourite, starting Saturday night against the Flames rookies.
- Seth Griffith. Veteran still has terrific puck skills and will drive a line in Bakersfield.
Puljujarvi and Yamamoto are at a point in their careers where pushing for 20-goal seasons should be a manageable hurdle, and if they do, then this version is better. Eberle was money, though, he was certain.
Are the Oilers better six years later? Yes, mostly due to McDavid and Draisaitl being in their prime. I can’t argue with the management in terms of elevating only the best youths, but that group (Bouchard, Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, McLeod) have to deliver.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun Friday begins at 10 this morning, TSN1260. Steve Lansky from Inside the Truck will help us sift through the Jays runs and the Oilers season to come. He’ll also give his opinion about the recent TNT broadcast announcements for hockey this winter. Matthew Iwanyk from TSN1260 will chime in on the Elks and CFL weekend, plus the Oilers. We’ll have everything hockey as it happens, including reports from the rink for anything major. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Friday!!!!