Thursday, August 29, 2019

Edmonton Oilers 2019-20 season preview

From Sportsnet


           The Oilers have been a consistent team over the last decade, but it isn't the type of consistency you want. They are consistent on being bad, missing the playoffs in 12 of the last 13 seasons. Even with two 100 point players, including the best in the league, the Oilers still couldn't make the playoffs. Another new Head Coach is in, and Peter Chiarelli isn't the GM, so there is finally a beacon of hope in Edmonton.

            Additions: Mike Smith, Markus Granlund, James Neal, Josh Archibald, Joakim Nygard, Tomas Jurco

            Subtractions: Andrej Sekera, Milan Lucic, Tobias Rieder, Alex Petrovic, Ty Rattie, Anthony Stolarz

            Forwards
Connor McDavid tied his career high in goals with 41, and had a career high 116 points, finishing 3rd in Hart voting, and he missed four games. He was also fifth in Lady Byng voting. He has scored 1.3 points per game in his career. That would put him sixth all-time, behind Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, Bobby Orr and Marcel Dionne. And on some very bad teams, he's a +49 in his career. McDavid finally got some help in the form of Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl scored 30 goals for the first time, and didn't just score 30, he scored 50, and had 105 points. But his shooting percentage of 21.6 led the league, so don't be surprised if he regresses. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored a career high 28 goals and 69 points, but was a career worst -13. Career third liner Alex Chiasson come in on a PTO and scored a career high 22 goals, then re-signed in the offseason. Grinder Zack Kassian had 102 penalty minutes, and scored a career high 15 goals. The Milan Lucic era is over in Edmonton, and in comes James Neal. Neal scored 20 goals in each of his first 10 seasons in the NHL, but scored just seven in his first season in Calgary. After a change of scenery, Neal can get back to his scoring ways. Joakim Nygard comes from the Swedish league, where he scored 21 goals in 52 games. In his return to Edmonton, Sam Gagner scored five goals with five assists in 25 games. Markus Granlund was non-tendered by Vancouver, and comes to Edmonton after scoring 12 goals in 77 games. Jujhar Khaira went from 11 goals in 2017-18 to just three in 2018-19, but he did have a career high 15 assists. Kyle Brodziak scored just six goals and was a -14, but was frequent penalty killer. Colby Cave had just three points in 33 games in Edmonton. Josh Archibald scored 12 goals in Arizona.

              Defensemen
Darnell Nurse was a -5, but scored 10 goals with 41 points, becoming Edmonton's top defenseman. The oft-injured Oscar Klefbom played in just 61 games, but scored 28 points. Adam Larsson will always be disappointing after being traded for Hart winner Taylor Hall, and he was a career worst -28 last season, with 20 points, his most with Edmonton. Kris Russell isn't worth his $4 million cap hit, but his +5 rating and 16 points aren't terrible. Matt Benning scored 17 points, and was a +11. Joel Persson comes to North America after scoring 31 points in 50 games in Sweden.

              Goalies
Mikko Koskinen was signed by former GM Peter Chiarelli right before he was fired. It probably isn't a coincidence. Koskinen's three year, $4.5 million per year contract is terrible. He is 31, and had a .906 SV% with a 2.93 GAA in 55 games. To be Koskinen's 1B, Mike Smith was signed. Smith has a history of being a good goalie on bad teams, but last year was the opposite. While Calgary surged to the playoffs, Smith had a .898 SV% and 2.72 GAA, and was passed over by David Rittich.

              Deep Depths
Tomas Jurco, a former high second rounder, signed a one year deal. In 201 career NHL games, Jurco has 50 points. Brandon Manning was terrible in Chicago, and then was traded to Edmonton in a questionable mid season trade. He was bad in 12 games, then was placed on waivers. Keegan Lowe has played in four NHL games, and had 20 assists in 67 AHL games in 2018-19.

              Up and Coming
Drafted 10th overall in 2018, Evan Bouchard started the season in the NHL, scoring one goal in seven games, before going back to the OHL. He scored 16 goals and 53 points in 45 games, impressive for a defenseman. He had 21 points in 11 games, and got to play in the AHL playoffs, with eight points in eight games. He should make the team this year. Former first rounder Kailer Yamamoto had a rough season, with one goal in 17 NHL games, and 10 goals in 27 AHL games. Tyler Benson scored 15 goals with 66 points in 68 AHL games, and should get an NHL look.

               2019 draft class
Round 1, 8th overall: Phillip Broberg
Round 2, 38th overall: Raphael Lavoie
Round 3, 85th overall: Ilya Konovalov
Round 4, 100th overall: Matej Blumel
Round 6, 162nd overall: Tomas Mazura
Round 7, 193rd overall: Maxim Denezhkin

                 Management
Since the start of 2008-09, the Oilers have had eight Head Coaches, including interim coaches Ken Hitchcock and Todd Nelson. Three of those coaches (Todd McLellan, Dallas Eakins, Ralph Krueger) got new Head Coaches gigs this offseason. Dave Tippett will make in nine Head Coach. The former Head Coach of Dallas and Phoenix/Arizona for 14 seasons, Tippett has a career 553-413-28 record as a Head Coach. Ken Holland replaces interim GM Keith Gretzky. The longtime GM in Detroit, Holland has won multiple Stanley Cups.

                 Projected Lineup
Leon Draisaitl - Connor McDavid - Zack Kassian
James Neal - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Kailer Yamamoto
Joakim Nygard - Markus Granlund - Alex Chiasson
Jujhar Khaira - Sam Gagner - Josh Archibald
Extras: Kyle Brodziak, Colby Cave

                 Darnell Nurse - Adam Larsson
                 Oscar Klefbom - Evan Bouchard
                 Kris Russell - Matt Benning
Extras: Joel Persson, Brandon Manning, Caleb Jones

                               Mikko Koskinen
                               Mike Smith

                  Prediction
The Oilers have some talented players in McDavid, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins and Nurse, but their overall team is lacking. I predict the Oilers to finish 6th in the Pacific Division in 2019-20.

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