Long Break Thoughts - EBUG, Prospects, Trade Rumours
Hello everyone. It's been a few days but in my defense there isn't much to discuss as the Oilers have not played since last Saturday and are now in the middle of their CBA approved break prior to the All Star Break. There are a few Oilers related tidbits to discuss so let's get into it.
LOVE THE EBUG
There was a great moment at the end of the Hawks/Oilers game as EBUG Matt Berlin came in for the final 3 minutes of the game for the Edmonton Oilers. Berlin, technically not an EBUG, was signed on an ATO (amateur tryout), prior to the game against the Hawks as Stuart Skinner was unavailable. The 25 year old netminder plays in goal for the University of Alberta. With 2:26 left in the game, Jay Woodcroft gave the goalie the nod and let him live out his NHL dream by playing in a game for the Edmonton Oilers.
Berlin made one stop, finished with a 1.00SV% and is forever listed in the books as having played in an NHL game. This is why we love the NHL folks.
After the game, Woodcroft stated that the decision to put him in the game came from McDavid and the core players. This team is a close group and it's another feather in their cap to make that decision and good on Woodcroft for letting them make that call.
For anyone who says it was disrespectful to put Berlin in the game when the Oilers were up 7-3... grow up. No one in the Hawks organization is talking about this being disrespectful. The game was done at that point and a guy got to be an NHL goalie for a couple moments. The only ones with any issue with it are the ones who are trying to turn it into an issue.
PROSPECTS LOOKING GOOD
Now is a good time to take a look at what some of the Oilers prospects are doing.
Lavoie is a prospect I have watched closely since the team drafted him back in 2019. This was a player who scored goals at every level prior to entering the AHL and pro hockey. Last season Lavoie had moderate success in his first full AHL season with 16 goals in 56 games. After a rough start to the season with 2 goals in his first 13 games, since December the forward has 9 goals in 17 games, including 4 in his last five games. Lavoie isn't just on a SH% heater either, he is skating confidentially with the puck at both ends of the ice and is doing a much better job at getting into positions to score.
The biggest secret in the Oilers prospect pool may be 6th round pick in 2018 Michael Kesselring. The 23 year old right shot defender leads the Condors in goals this season with 12. These 12 goals not only lead the Condors in goals but leads all defensemen in the AHL. Kesselring doesn't have a Bouch bomb, but is just highly accurate with his wrist shot and is an excellent skater. I really think the Oil have something in this kid.
Another winger who is looking strong as of late is Tyler Tullio, drafted in the 5th round in 2020. His early usage in the AHL in his first pro season was a mixed bag but Tullio is looking far more comfortable recently and has points in 8 of his last 9 games, going 4-6-10 in those games. Tullio has great skill but he is also highly tenacious right in front of the net, despite his size. Tullio might never track to be a top six forward but he may definitely be a valuable bottom six player moving forward.
Oilers fans are so accustomed to higher first round picks immediately coming into the NHL that they tend to forget that most times players are not NHL ready until well into their early 20's. Edmonton has significantly improved their drafting in recent years. Of the three players I listed above, Lavoie is the highest draft pick at 38th overall. Tullio was a 5th round pick and Kesselring a 6th round pick. If these players play in any NHL games that is value found. If they can carve out a longer NHL career than it will be good news for the Oilers moving forward.
Jesse Puljujarvi trade rumours are red hot and I would not be surprised to see him dealt any day now. The return for the Oilers will not be anything worth discussing as this seems like it is just going to be a cap dump. Puljujarvi had an excellent start to last season before COVID and injuries hampered his game. This season JP has done everything the coaches have asked in the physical department as a bottom six forward but the former 4th overall pick simply cannot score. A change is needed for all sides.
Gavrikov's name keeps coming up in regards to the Oilers and I am growing more lukewarm on that player as the days go by. Gavrikov is an above average defenseman but certainly isn't the type of player that immediately comes in and makes the Oilers blueline a Cup calibre group. He certainly isn't worth the first round pick + that is being rumoured. Gavrikov is this year's Ben Chiarot; an overhyped player that is only worth a first round pick because of trade deadline and the need to do something to make a roster better.
Nick Bjugstad has been heavily rumoured in connection to the Edmonton Oilers. The 30 year old right shot centre has 11 goals with the Coyotes this season with 10 of those being at even strength. At 6'6 215lbs, Bjugstad is also a physical presence on the ice and makes 900,000 this season. A right shot centre for the bottom six who can score at EV and is on a contract less than 1 mil is a smart depth move for a playoff team and addresses some needs for the Oilers.
There are also some rumours that Edmonton has spoken with Florida about Anthony Duclair. Last season, the left shooting winger posted a career year with 31 goals. Duclair has yet to appear in any games this season after recovering from surgery on his Achilles tendon. Duclair has one more year left on his contract at 3 million. Acquiring Duclair would be a risk for the Oilers. While he is expecting to be ready to play in the next couple weeks or so, there is no guarantee he will be the player he was last year. Interestingly enough his 3 million dollar cap hit is identical to Jesse Puljujarvi...
I'll get another blog out in the coming days or if any new trades or rumours pop up. Thanks for reading!