HOLTY’S BLOG: FREE AGENCY OPENS
Of all the weeks of the year, this week in particular has always felt a little strange. For one, the NHL Draft just happened with players realizing their dreams and getting set to embark on a professional career with an organization. Then, the wooing of free agents to join different organizations. But, also the departure of some players who played significant roles in the AHL and NHL. You’re welcoming players with one hand and saying bye with the other. That is just the nature of the business.
You may not think it’s a strange week, and that’s fine, but as I’ll remind you, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want.
Now for the blog…
– Before we get into “Holty plays GM,” let’s take a look back at the NHL Draft. First, a reminder that none of the five players selected this year will spend any significant time in Bakersfield this season. Hockey is not like baseball where guys have to choose between pros or college/junior. They get drafted at 18. Some make the jump to the NHL right away. Others spend another 1-3 years in college or junior before turning pro. That’s the way it works.
– In the draft, the Oilers selected two defensemen, two forwards, and a goaltender. They also traded a fifth round draft pick in next year’s draft to Montreal for the rights to goaltender Hayden Hawkey from Providence College. All of the draft coverage can be found here with videos, pictures, interviews, and more.
– One of the players selected in the second round was goaltender Olivier Rodrigue, who is the son of Oilers goalie consultant, Sylvain. “Sly” spends the majority of his time working with goaltending prospects in the system and this year will be based in Bakersfield, which will be a tremendous asset for the organization.
“I never expected it. It was something we talked about before & now it’s happened. It’s awesome.” #Oilers 62nd overall pick Olivier Rodrigue & father Sly discuss now being a part of the same organization pic.twitter.com/P8VKCHu95Q
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) June 23, 2018
– Most of the draft picks have joined other prospects for Oilers Development Camp this week in Edmonton. All of that content can be found here.
– Holty you just said none of these players will be in Bakersfield this season, so why should we care? To answer that, let’s go back to 2014. C Leon Draisaitl was taken in the first round. D William Lagesson was drafted in the 4th round and RW Tyler Vesel was taken in the 6th round. In 2015, D Caleb Jones (4th rd.) and D Ethan Bear (5th rd.) were taken. In 2016, RW Jesse Puljujarvi (1st rd), LW Tyler Benson (2nd rd.), G Dylan Wells (5th rd.) were selected. In 2017, Kailer Yamamoto (1st rd.), G Stuart Skinner (3rd rd.), D Dimitri Samoroukov (3rd rd.), and RW Ostap Safin (4th rd.) were picked. All have already been through Condorstown or potentially could be key parts of this year’s team.
– Aside from Draisaitl’s brief spell, only Puljujarvi and Benson were 1st/2nd round picks. I think the fact the Oilers made two second round picks this year is crucial, because in my opinion, the AHL team development comes from the second and third round picks. Through trades and compensation, Edmonton has not had second round picks as of late, but the picks this past week will pay dividends down the line in Bakersfield.
– OK Holty, NHL free agency opens on Sunday, what do you see happening for the Condors? First of all, I’ll use a line Jay Woodcroft used recently when asked what the team would look like this season: “it would be unfair to the players to pencil anyone into any spot. They’re going to camp with the goal of making the Oilers and we’ll make decisions from there.”
– That said, Edmonton can only keep 23 players on the active roster. They currently have 38 players under contract for next season, plus restricted free agents who were offered deals in Ryan Strome and Darnell Nurse. So, for the sake of this exercise, let’s say they have 40 under contract. Based off last season, it’s safe to assume that over the course of the next couple weeks the Oilers will get to 47-48 contracts.
– Knowing that, I’d expect three or four players signed in the next week or so to end up in Bakersfield at some point. Take last season for example. Brad Malone, Keegan Lowe, Mitch Callahan, Ryan Stanton, Grayson Downing, Eddie Pasquale, and Ty Rattie all were signed either on July 1 or shortly thereafter. Most played roles in Bakersfield, but some spent time in Edmonton as well. While I don’t think there will be as many of these type of signings this week due to the influx of draft picks already mentioned, there will be a few.
– It’s way above my pay grade, but in my opinion, I think there are three areas the Condors will need filled in the next week. The first is a top line (read: scoring) center. With Josh Currie, Brad Malone, and potentially Cooper Marody in the mix, adding another scoring option there would be great. Would free up Currie and Malone to focus on the PK as well. Second would be a proven AHL LW. As I put on Twitter, this ‘need’ could be rectified with a typical season from Mitch Callahan. The third would be an AHL veteran type d-man in the mold of a Keegan Lowe. With Eric Gryba’s contract bought out, Lowe/Ryan Stanton are the vet presences back there, but there is room for another.
– The fourth need would definitely be a new broadcaster. Can’t even understand half the words coming out of that guy’s mouth and he writes lengthy blogs.
– LOCK OF THE WEEK? Sticking with my World Cup pick of Belgium since they’re through to the round of 16. I have Japan too, so things are looking up!
Until next time Condorstown…
Ryan Holt aka Holty is the Voice of the Condors and enters his eighth season in Bakersfield in 2018-19. He has one more blog to get through before the annual Holty Sabbatical. Follow him on Twitter @CondorsHolty for more nonsense or shoot him an e-mail to RHolt@bakersfieldcondors.com with questions, comments, or blog ideas.