Evaluating roster development of Golden Knights, Oilers

Gertrude Aziz

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All through the Ken Holland period we’ve finished a roster-to-roster comparability between the Edmonton Oilers and that 12 months’s Stanley Cup champs. How had been these groups constructed? What had they finished proper that the Oilers had not?

Let’s do the identical for the 2022-23 season, though this time the “comparability” actually isn’t. One is a longtime NHL membership, the opposite a brand new child on the block that constructed its powerhouse by a unique path altogether.

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The story thus far

These two golf equipment had been each constructed round a few very excessive draft picks, hard-earned throughout seasons of fallow, and had steadily constructed round them although in very completely different style. After beginning with #1 choose Steven Stamkos and #2 Victor Hedman in 2008 and ’09, Tampa Bay turned the champions of Day Two drafting. They constantly delivered, then developed, every part from terrific assist gamers (Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, Anthony Cirelli) to full blown stars (Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Level). They eschewed signing costly free brokers, preferring to pay their very own internally-developed gamers. Coach Jon Cooper got here up with a few of these gamers after successful the Calder Cup in Norfolk in 2012.

Colorado in the meantime struck gold with #2 Gabriel Landeskog and #1 Nathan MacKinnon in 2011 and ’13, and constructed round them with different top-10 picks like Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar and Bowen Byram and a few sturdy trades by GM Joe Sakic. However their Day Two picks had been no assist in any respect, the exact opposite of the Bolts. One commonality, the Avs employed a Calder Cup winner of their very own in coach Jared Bednar in 2016, although he got here from one other group.

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The Oilers are constructed round their very own super-pair of excessive draft picks in #3 Leon Draisaitl and #1 Connor McDavid in 2014 and ’15. They already had a few earlier excessive picks readily available in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Darnell Nurse, and that quartet stays on the core of the fashionable Oilers, every locked as much as an eight-year contract.. The membership had its struggles later within the draft; in the meantime, each buying and selling and UFA-signing historical past was, shall we embrace, blended. Coach Jay Woodcroft was recalled from the AHL halfway within the 2021-22 season, after main Bakersfield to a Pacific Division playoff title in a season the Calder Cup was not awarded.

The facility pairing from near-consecutive drafts is a characteristic of all three groups, and shares a standard historical past with cap-era powerhouses Pittsburgh Penguins (#2 Evgeny Malkin and #1 Sidney Crosby in 2004 and ’05) and Chicago Blackhawks (#3 Jonathan Toews and #1 Patrick Kane in 2006 and ’07). Of those 5 golf equipment, solely the Oilers haven’t but received the large prize.

However if you happen to have a look at the timelines of each Tampa Bay and Colorado, the locals aren’t far off schedule. Stamkos received his first Cup in his twelfth NHL season, MacKinnon in his ninth. Subsequent 12 months will likely be McDavid’s ninth.

Interlude in Las Vegas

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Which brings us to 2023, received by the brand new children on the block. The Vegas Golden Knights joined the NHL in 2017, went to the Stanley Cup Finals of their first season, went to the third spherical in 2020 and ’21, then received the large prize in ’23. They turned the second quickest enlargement membership within the fashionable period to win Stanley, behind solely Edmonton Oilers.

Talking of whom, for the second straight season the Oil bumped into the eventual champs in the course of the western convention playoffs and got here up brief. Edmonton handily received Video games Two and 4 with glorious crew efforts, however their defence and goaltending crumbled at key occasions and the Vegans, to their credit score, simply saved on coming. As Darnell Nurse considerably tersely put it in his current interview, “The higher crew received. Then they received the Cup. Congrats to them.”

Why had been they the higher crew? The record of excuses explanations is lengthy and convoluted, from relative well being of the 2 groups to puck luck, from uneven officiating to teaching methods, and from goaltending to perhaps the opposite guys had been simply higher this time round.

However when it comes time to match the relative strengths of the 2 rosters and the way they had been constructed, we would as properly be stacking up the Montreal Canadiens of the mid-70s to Central Crimson Military. Certain, they play the identical sport, however their backgrounds are so completely different as to make some comparisons moot. (For one factor, Crimson Military had a giant edge when it got here to constructing by the draft!)

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Vegas Golden Knights are so new, and took such a unique strategy proper from Day One, that the core of their membership was constructed, nurtured and infrequently fertilized by a singular occasion: the fairest enlargement draft guidelines in NHL historical past which doubled as the primary enlargement of the cap period. The Vegans got here in weapons blazing, buying many positive gamers by the enlargement draft, a number of extra by associated trades, and got here out the opposite aspect with oodles of cap house which they proceeded to weaponize.

Within the meantime, they did fairly near diddly squat on the draft itself, judging by Vegas draft picks at the moment on the crew. There’s extra to this story as we’ll see momentarily.

Let the comparability (equivalent to it’s) start:

Growth draft

VGK-EDM expansion draft

Six years later, this stays the foundational layer of the Golden Knights. GM George McPhee began the org with some positive choices and a flurry of trades that noticed all kinds of belongings change fingers in return for guarantees to not choose this man or that. Some rock strong gamers right here, from Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Marchessault (taken at Florida’s request) to stud defenceman Shea Theodore (traded to Vegas by Anaheim for McPhee’s promise to take expensive Clayton Stoner within the precise draft, one other instance of cap house being weaponized. Stoner is lengthy gone, whereas Theodore stays)

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.In the meantime Marchessault teamed up with fellow enlargement draft buddies William Karlsson and Reilly Smith to play a exceptional 3380 minutes collectively at 5v5 as one of many league’s most enduring strains over the previous six seasons. (That line will likely be no extra, as Smith has been moved on for cap causes.)

The fashionable Oilers don’t have anything to match.


VGK-EDM trades

We transfer on to a different sturdy space for Vegas. The squad has made quite a few underrated trades over time past these associated to the enlargement course of itself. In all, half of the 24 Golden Knights named on this article had been acquired by the commerce route.

The 5 trades marked with an asterisk had only one diploma of separation from that founding enlargement. For instance, one of many main belongings used to amass Jack Eichel was Alex Tuch, initially acquired in an expansion-related commerce. The Golden Knights traded Erik Haula, an costly depth ahead picked within the enlargement draft, for Nicolas Roy, a younger cheap depth ahead who has developed right into a positive fourth-line centre. And two second spherical picks, one in all them acquired for enlargement draftee Colin Miller, was an excellent value for blueline stalwart Alec Martinez, now the proud proprietor of three Stanley Cup rings.

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Some very positive gamers on this record, with full value paid for some, however others acquired in outright thefts. Speedy pivot Chandler Stephenson was acquired for a fifth spherical choose for goodness sake, and has gone on to submit back-to-back 60-point seasons for a modest $2.75 million cap hit. Champion goaler Adin Hill was picked up for a fourth-round tune final summer time.

The Oilers have acquired a few strong gamers in Warren Foegele and Brett Kulak, and prolonged each, for time period, on the an identical $2.75 million that Stephenson landed in Vegas. Three good gamers arrived in 2022-23, however two of them have already left city in Nick Bjugstad and Klim Kostin. The massive prize in fact is Mattias Ekholm, landed at appreciable expense to command Edmonton’s blueline for years to come back.

First spherical draft picks

VGK-EDM first round picks

Now the opposite shoe falls. Edmonton’s four-man management group was all drafted and taking part in necessary minutes for the Oilers earlier than Vegas performed their first-ever sport. The quartet performed simply 38 minor league video games amongst them, half of these by RNH throughout the latest lockout.

Latest drafts have seen good prospects delivered to the pipeline yearly, although within the Holland period they’re now being sluggish performed with loads of time within the AHL slightly than zooming/being zoomed straight into the present. Alternatively, the youthful guys right here are likely to have double digit draft numbers, no #1 or #3 to be discovered there.

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An enormous dent put on this group in 2022-23 with the trades of Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Reid Schaefer and the 2023 first rounder because the Oilers pushed in direction of “win now” mode.

Vegas? A clear sheet, not a single first-round choose even on their crew. They made quite a few good picks however traded them out within the pursuit of confirmed vets: 2017 #13 Nick Suzuki was dealt for Max Pacioretty, 2017 #15 Erik Brannstrom for Mark Stone, 2019 #17 Peyton Krebs for Jack Eichel, and 2021 #30 Zach Dean for Ivan Barbashev. Seen in that mild these picks had been hardly wasted, they simply acquired exchanged as key buying and selling chips.

Rounds 2-7

VGK-EDM rounds 2-7

Nicolas Hague was a positive choose early within the second spherical of the brand new franchise’s very first draft. However six years on he’s the solely Vegas draft choose on the crew. Did I point out this membership has been in-built a really non-traditional manner?

As for the Oilers, in the end some promising younger gamers are beginning to arrive by the pipeline after the prior group led by Jujhar Khaira, Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear all acquired dispatched inside weeks in the course of the summer time of 2021.


VGK-EDM ELFA & waivers

Three good pick-ups for VGK right here. Two undrafted late-bloomers had been signed out of faculty hockey, and a 3rd helpful participant picked up off the waiver wire. Oilers at the moment have no person in both class, although Vincent Desharnais may simply as simply be labeled an ELFA as a draft choose.

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Unrestricted free brokers


Vegas picked up a blueline mainstay in Alex Pietrangelo, at the same time as they needed to deal away authentic Golden Knight Nate Schmidt to make cap house. However GM Kelly McCrimmon, as soon as a front-runner for the Edmonton job, has one factor in spades: the willingness to maneuver on from a participant to make room for a greater one. Moreover Schmidt, franchise icon Marc-Andre Fleury and sniper Max Pacioretty had been actually traded for nothing. This summer time, authentic Golden Knight Reilly Smith was dealt to create space for commerce deadline rental Ivan Barbashev, who was himself acquired utilizing cap house created when Mark Stone was positioned on LTIR. (Stone was then reactivated initially of the playoffs in a reasonably sketchy style.) Finish consequence: Smith is gone, Barbashev is in and signed to the an identical cap hit.

The Oilers have a blended report right here with Zach Hyman a win thus far, query marks about Cody Ceci and Evander Kane who each had damage points this previous season, and main considerations over Jack Campbell whose first 12 months as an Oiler went poorly.


This comparability methodology was an attention-grabbing train as typical, although repeatedly it emphasised how the development of those two golf equipment was as completely different as could be. Regardless that they’ve typically been procuring on completely different aisles than the Oilers, I’d make the case that first McPhee, then McCrimmon, made lots of successful strikes and confirmed no compunction about slicing bait on a well-respected veteran when deemed needed. Between them they constructed a high-end crew with energy down the center, scoring on the wings, and reliability on the again finish. This squad will likely be a power to reckon with for a while to come back.

Lately on the Cult of Hockey

STAPLES: Evander Kane’s viral video

McCURDY: No matter turned of much-loved d-men who moved on from Oilers?

STAPLES: Nurse launches fact bomb on the pressures of taking part in in Edmonton

McCURDY: Have Oilers moved on from proper gamers?

LEAVINS: Bouchard, McLeod extensions prime Oilers precedence record — 9 Issues

Comply with me on X-Twitter @BruceMcCurdy

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