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Photo Credit: Twitter.com/EdmontonOilers

Opportunity and Redemption

At what is a clearly a crossroads in his NHL career, it’s not lost on Ty Rattie that he is never going to get a better opportunity to prove he belongs in the best league on the planet than the one that awaits him playing on the right wing alongside Connor McDavid with the Edmonton Oilers.

It’s an encore, of course. Rattie, who has spent five pro seasons trying to find his niche since being drafted 32nd overall by the St. Louis Blues in 2011, played alongside McDavid during a 14-game stint with the Oilers at the end of last season. It’s a stretch in which he produced 5-4-9 and showed GM Pete Chiarelli enough to earn himself a one-year contract and, it turns out, a longer look-see beside McDavid.

“I’ve had my chances and been through a few teams and you can only have so many chances before the whole league just says, ‘Maybe you can’t do it,’” Rattie told reporters after fitness testing on the first day of training camp. “I thought about it every day I think. Just the player he is, who wouldn’t want to play there? I want to make the team first and foremost but I worked my whole summer to prove I can be in that spot. I probably skated twice as much as I’ve ever skated and I’m ready to go.”

Rattie, 25, scored 105 goals in 131 games in his final two seasons in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks. He hasn’t been able to find that same touch, or anything close to it, with any consistency in the NHL and he’s already on his third team after stops with the Blues and Carolina Hurricanes. Coach Todd McLellan says he’ll get that chance on a line with McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins when on-ice sessions begin.

With first crack at it, the rest is up to Rattie. Produce and he keeps the job alongside McDavid. Falter, and he allows others like Tobias Rieder or Jesse Puljujarvi into the mix. While Rattie is far from a complete player, his ticket is the ability to get to open ice and to finish when he gets the puck. That’ll happen plenty playing with McDavid. The way I see it, Rattie’s opportunity is akin to heading to the blackjack table and drawing an ace to start every hand. If he can’t cash-in with these cards, it’s just not going to happen for him.

ABOUT MILAN

Mar 31, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left wing Milan Lucic (27) and Calgary Flames goaltender Mike Smith (41) fight during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Much has already been said and written about Lucic after the terrible second half he had last season and there’s no doubt at all he comes into camp as the classic example of a redemption story. He’s a big-name player with a big contract who took a big fall last year. The question is, will Lucic stay down or will he rise again? I’m betting on the latter, although critics have plenty of ammunition with which to argue otherwise.

Lucic, who turned 30 June 7, looked upbeat and sounded positive during interviews he did on the first day of camp. He’s looking ahead rather than back, and it’s no wonder after he managed just one goal in his final 46 games last season, finishing with 10-24-34 during an utterly disappointing campaign for the entire team.

“I feel a lot better mentally,” said Lucic, who struggled mightily and lost confidence with the team out of contention. “Like I said, just leaving the past in the past and looking forward to what the new season presents.

“Just trying to get happy again, you know? Just happy going to the rink. I think it just starts with your summer workouts, you know? Waking up, jumping out of bed in the morning, enjoying going to the gym, enjoying working hard, enjoying pushing yourself. That type of stuff. Just having an optimistic, positive outlook on things. Not letting things dwell. Not letting things bring you down. I definitely learned a hard lesson with that last year.” You can listen to Lucic’s interview from today here.

A lot of people, me included, have tried to put a number to what a bounce-back season for Lucic might look like. The numbers matter, of course, when you’re making the kind of money Lucic does. For me, I want to see Lucic engaged and relentless, whether the puck is bouncing his way or not. Too often last season, that wasn’t the case as frustration took over. He seemed to shut down when things went bad. Lucic is a proud man and I won’t be even a bit surprised if he shoves it to the critics who insist he’s finished.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • That's My Point

    Yak played GREAT with McDavid before #97’s injury then never got another chance.
    Hopefully Rattie or Reider can create consistent points on the first couple of lines.

        • Hemmercules

          You seriously wonder why?? Or are you joking, I cant tell? He was a first overall draft pick that played for the Oilers. Their mantra for years was that these first overalls we’re going to make them insta contenders. Yak was going to be the next Ovie. They didn’t even consider for one second that he could use some AHL time. Throw him to the wolves and he will learn on the job playing against the best players in the world, what could go wrong?

          • Hemmercules

            Just to add to my last comment. Yak actually should have never played a single game with an Oilers jersey on. They needed D so bad at that time he should have been traded instantly but as usual the Oilers had terrible timing. They were building a fast skilled team in a big league. Then by the time they realized it, the league changed again and they were building a big team for a fast league. Now they are scrambling again.

          • Redbird62

            Every non-goalie number 1 pick in the NHL since Joe Thornton in 97-98 has gone straight to the NHL and never played another game in junior or back in Europe. Even before that, since the NHL starting drafting 18 year olds in 1980, only 3 forwards drafted did not jump immediately (not including Lindros who held out). Its not just the Oilers! And everyone of the Oilers first overalls played well enough their rookie season to justify the decision (Hall actually got the least Calder votes of the 4 firsts the Oilers have had). Everyone of the first 3 guys was trending fine until McTavish hired Eakins.

          • Hemmercules

            Good comment Redbird. 1st overalls do usually play. I just think yak had so much to learn and needed to be sheltered. At the same time he was a waste on a lower line because his game was a pure skill style game and little else. I stand by the comment that he should have been traded instantly for defensive help but Katz and Co. loved their shiny new 1st overall picks with dreams of Gretz and Messier Pt. II floating around in their heads.

          • OilerForLife

            Of course he should have been traded, hindsight is 20/20. The vast majority of all the scouts had Yak as number 1, but rumor had it that Oilers ownership stepped in to stop it. Oilers scouts had Ryan Murray in number 1, but his injury has been plagued with underachievement and injury. Montreal took Galchenyuk in number 3, Yak’s teammate, but Yak produced at a higher rate in the CHL. That left Griffin Reinhart in 4th (Don’t get me started). Then a bunch of D men in order: M Reilly, H. Lindholm, Dumba, Pouliot,Trouba, and Koekkoek.

            The Oilers would have had to drop to 5th in the draft to get a decent defenceman, which would unheard of. The Oilers would have been better off to have picked 5th in this draft, just bad, bad, crappy luck. Then if we traded Yak early we might have got a better return. I don’t see many win options here.

  • Spydyr

    More than a few player have to step up their game if the Oilers are going to challenge for a playoff spot.

    Talbot, Lucic are two of the biggest ones,many of the bottom six, two wingers have to step into the top two right winger roles and even if they sign Nurse they are still a top four defenceman defenceman short.

    It is not looking so good.

    • Spydyr

      He deserves to start on the third line but if he shows anything in the preseason you have to start him on the second line in hopes of getting him going. Paying six million per for a third or fourth line winger really hurts your team. If they want to win Lucic has to provide value for his money.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    You hear that Nancies? Lucic is going to show you how wrong you are about him. Hell, this entire team is.

    All of you with your “The Oilers aren’t going to make the playoffs” stuff got old and it got old quick. This team is out for revenge. They’re out to prove that last season isn’t the new “norm” around here. I have never been more excited for a season of hockey. Can we just skip the preseason and get right to the regular season? Opening night can’t come quick enough.

    • IRONman

      ^^^ Soo wrong. Be realistic. Lucic can’t get faster. The league shifted to speed. Why would you draft Yamo, speed and Jonny hockey although small is point producer in the new nhl. Ty did awesome and is blessed to play with 97. Talk about luck, to play on a top line in Nhl with top scorer. Nuge and 97 have chemistry, Leon has to find a winger. Nurse??? Wtf?? 300,000 apart??? Pay the man, he deserves 3.3. Crazy GM

      • Derian Hatcher

        I don’t think Lucic’s straight-away speed can get much faster but his feet can get quicker. Remember how quick Leon got after his summer of beast-training? It is possible IMO. Plus Lucic can become harder to play against if he makes up his mind to bring it every game.

      • daryl

        A question would you trade Nurse for Hanifin? He only got $4.95 for six years that is what Nurse is worth and a little less. I would trade Nurse for Hanifin in a heart beat.

      • OilerForLife

        Rumour has it that Chiarelli is trying to move somebody so that they have enough to sign Nurse long term. I know you hear things sometimes, and I won’t put too much stock in it now. That would be sweet!

    • So, you’ve been a fan since 2006. Terrific. That said, you’re probably aware the Oilers have made the playoffs just once since then. That doesn’t make last season the new norm, it makes it more of the steady diet of defeat fans here have suffered through since you jumped on the bandwagon, thus the skepticism by many. I think the Oilers have a shot at making the playoffs, but let’s play the pre-season anyway.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Why even bother with Burns, Vlasic & Karlson on the other team?
      Not counting Vlasic, how many combined points did Burns & Karlson get last year?
      They are frigging defensemen, not forwards… Plus we haven’t even signed Nurse yet? What’s the point?
      At least we could make the playoffs I guess? But we have to be able to contend…

      • The Future Never Comes

        You’re right they have Burns and Karlsson, the Oiler’s along with the rest of the league should just fold before the season starts. The owners should sell their franchises altogether and try again with a different professional sports team.

        • Glencontrolurstik

          This article is about putting an AHL calibre player on the Top line of an NHL team & hoping it works out…
          When the competion has hired some of the very best defencemen in the league to defend against said offense… You tell me if it’s not going to be just about a race to the playoffs. heck we can’t even get a defense together?

    • That's My Point

      How many wins will the Oilers get in their first 11 games in October??
      One or two, three at best, they’re playing the top teams right at the start and will be out before Nov. 1.
      Not going to win 45 this season.
      There are only two teams that they play that had less points than the Oilers in the 1st 11 games the other 9 teams had 97 or MORE points last year.

      • Derian Hatcher

        You make a valid point, but what if every single player decides that enough is enough and last year was an utter embarrassment and the Oilers, as a team, become much harder to play against? What if the 3 new coaches make a big difference in tactics and systems that the Oilers become a forechecking and puck-take-away dynamo? As passionate fans, we are so hoping this will happen…Call be crazy (or any other name you wish) but I really think it’s possible.

      • wiseguy

        And if the success a team has depended on the previous years standings we could all just save a lot of time and $$$ and just repeat the regular season standings and skip directly to the playoffs.

    • MrBung

      You know what is getting old? The Oilers not making the playoffs. How many times in the last 12 years have the Oil seen the post season? Last season was a massive set back and gives most indications that the one season they did make it was an aberration. Ownership and management has backed this team into a nasty cap situation.

  • OilCan2

    Just a thought. Go stand toe to toe with Looch and tell him to his face he’s washed up. Right. Rattie has to play like there is no tomorrow; or there might not be. I thought Yamamoto was making those footsteps (skating strides) he’s hearing.

    • Hemmercules

      I think all the Looch criticism is fair. For that price tag, what he brought to the team last year was downright pathetic and he knows it. He’s a declining asset but not washed up yet. If he has another season like he just had even a Looch supporter will have to agree he’s washed up at that point.

  • Hemmercules

    The Oilers are in tough thats for sure. All the teams around them made moves to improve and the Oil are banking on what they have and too many unknowns as usual. Aside from Nuge and Mcdavid, this entire team is looking for a rebound. Thats a huge ask. They are probably one defensive injury from having the worst d line in the west and thats probably what scares me the most about the team. If Talbot cant stand on his head I think we’ll be talking draft in December, again, for like the 11th time in the last 12 years. I will be happy if they aren’t eliminated by the end of November so maybe I can watch some meaningful games in December and beyond.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Expect nothing and you are never disappointed.

      Actually, I completely agree with you. In fact, every previous year I can convince myself that there is hope, hope that Eager, Hordichuk, O’Sullivan and Teubert can turn the franchise around. This year is different. Lucic is not suited for the new NHL. Klefbom won’t play a full season. Nurse will miss camp and will struggle. Rattie is a great story but Roy Hobbs only happens in the movies. Puljujarvi is, at best, a generic 3rd line wing; a draft bust for a 4th overall pick. Talbot is not good enough to post a .920 with this defence.

      • Derian Hatcher

        Speaking of O’Sullivan – where did he go? he used to be on Sirius NHL but now they have Steve Kouleus whom I cant stand. He always seems to be yelling at the listeners.

      • Hemmercules

        Im not really expecting anything good or bad. Theres hope for sure like there always is. If they compete, great. If they don’t, I’m so numb to it at this point it probably wont matter. If they are going to fail hard again this year, I hope its all over by the end of November again so I can check out and move on to something more enjoyable. I quit watching games at new years last year and took up a couple hobbies, my frustration levels and overall happiness were much better for the remainder of the hockey season. If these millionaires cant put in solid efforts then why keep giving them time and money? Its like making an appointment 3 nights a week to get slapped in the face, have your wallet emptied and sent to bed angry.

        Obviously I want them to win but if I learned anything the last 12 years its expect the worst, hope for the best.

        • Jnizzle

          Is one of the hobbies you picked up writing countless, long winded comments on Oilersnation? You still have quite an opinion for things you’ve gone numb to.

          • Hemmercules

            Thats fair. Summer work is winding down so I come here to complain about everything Oilers like everyone else does here. I do usually get excited for the season but I’m just numb to the losing because its pretty much become part of the Oilers culture.

        • wiseguy

          It’s not that the millionaires can’t put in a solid effort. It’s just that our millionaires’ solid effort results in less that the opponent’s millionaires’ solid efforts because their millionaires are better players. I don’t for a moment think our players don’t want to win more than the fans want them to.

      • Redbird62

        Rattie doesn’t have to achieve at the Roy Hobbs level to be a success, just worthy of top 6 minutes. Just last year William Karlsson became a star almost out of nowhere at the age of 24/25. Patrick Maroon toiled in the minors having played only 15 NHL games before his 25th birthday. People here would be pleased if he could produce at Maroon’s level and show improvement in his defensive game. With Tarasenko, Backes and Oshie in front of him on RW in St. Louis most of his time in the St. Louis organization, its not surprising he was blocked in the minors there since he was not going to play a 4th line role. He was only in Carolina a month.

  • Hockeytalkguy

    I think (and hoping) Rattie is going to do well on the first line, hope he gets more than 3 games there to prove it. If it doesn’t pan out I will come back on oilers nation & post that I was wrong. On a side note, I ran into Lucic at Canucks bar and grill at Vancouver airport on the 24th of August. He was very kind and appeared very excited for the season to start. I wished him good luck for himself personally, and for the team. He said thank you & said “we will be better”. I know it’s just words but it was good to see how positive he sounded. Time will tell I guess.

    • Wiggleswag

      At this time of year everything is just words. Vegas proved last year that what is on paper and what happens on the ice are two different things. I believe the season is half full not half empty. Lets fill the cup guys.

      • Vanhellian

        Pretty much what i was going to say too. Vegas went to the cup wiyh little more than superior coaching and grit. Success isn’t something you can just buy. This young oilers team needed some adversity to bring their egos back down to earth. I’m excited to see what they have to prove.

        • Kneedroptalbot

          Vegas has a ton of speed, and excellent transition game out of there own end, and a top 10 goaltender in Marc Fluery. 1-2-3, all required to succeed in todays NHL.

  • Rama Lama

    I just pray and hope that the roster is sorted out prior to the pre-season ending. Last year our coach was still experimenting with line combinations 20 games into the season. Too many roster players did not get a chance to properly gel with their line mates until well into the season. By that time the season was pretty well doomed, and as they say the rest is history!

    The head coach has to be more decisive and send prospects and PTO’s, to their “other teams”, sooner rather than later. This coach does suffer from trying to get instant chemistry from his lines and juggling his line combinations far too much……..do this in the preseason TM , please for the love of god.

  • Frank Rizza

    I cannot believe in this “blue collar” town where most people work hard every day and always appreciate toughness whether it’s from the Oilers, Eskimos or even the Canada post delivery guy that walks my neigbirhood in minus 20, that we can’t/don’t appreciate Lucic for what he is. He is the ultimate “keep everybody in line” player. Nobody on any team gives Connor anything cheap after whistles. If you think that’s a coincidence ask Gulitzan what other teams think when they play the Oilers. I don’t understand how all of these so called fans turn on the toughest guy in the league after 59 bad games. Would it have been better to get in a 4 year deal? Sure! Would it have been better to have him at $4 Million? Yup. But the fact of r matter is that even when he’s doing nothing and having the worst stretch of his career, he’s still keeping other players honest just by being on the ice. I’ve said a hundred times in this site that he is worth every single penny he makes. I just don’t understand how this so called “knowledgable” fan base doesn’t see that.

    • Hemmercules

      Im rooting for Lucic to be better and he seriously needs to be. Teams started taking liberties last year when the team was down and out and Kassian and Looch were nowhere to be found. Hopefully he’s back to his old way like you described above and keeping other teams in line. The only thing he did in the last half of the season last year was try to beat up a goalie.

      • Both disappeared last year, very odd, like you am i numb to what is to come. Cant really get excited for the season anymore. Been fooled and let down too many times. I hope for the best and expect the worst. Not even gonna haul the memorabilia up from the basement this year, car flags are in storage. Speaking of basement’s , that’s probably where the team will end up yet again.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Any team can make the playoffs and any team can miss the playoffs in today’s NHL. The difference in talent is not so much the issue anymore. It is getting a system that works and the guys buy into. Win some games under that system and the confidence builds and all of a sudden you have a team that expects to win. Never forget that at the top levels in every sport confidence you can and will win is KING!

  • #97TRAIN

    Milan will bounce back if he plays with high intensity. Last year far too many nights he seemed to be disinterested. A couple of big hits each game and good on the grind and he will bounce back.