Random Thoughts: Stuart Skinner, Snakebite, Ryan McLeod, and more

2 years ago
We’re a quarter of the way through this new NHL season, the Oilers are battling along towards the top of the division, and I felt like it would be a good time for your ol’ pal Baggedmilk to come back with another dose of Random Thoughts to offer up some fresh takes on what’s been happening.


I know we aren’t talking about it a whole lot yet because the team is still winning, but we’ve got a real case of snakebite happening with a few of our key guys that we need to talk about. Looking at the top-nine, we’ve got Nuge, Yamamoto, Foegele, Puljujarvi, and Hyman that are all struggling to score right now, and that makes me think I need to help by heading out into the streets to look for a sacrifice. I know that three of those guys were able to pop one last night, but now the trick will be to see if they can keep it going consistently. The thing that’s crazy is that It’s not that any of the guys I mentioned are playing poorly or anything, but they just can’t get anything to sink and it’s the kind of drought that’s making me crazy. As much as it’s nice to have Connor and Leon scoring at will right now to balance things out, we need some of these other big boys to get going and start chipping in a little bit.


I can’t be the only one getting excited to see what comes next for Stuart Skinner after he put in a week of starts that certainly looked like what you’d want from your starting goaltender. Drafted in the third round (78th overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Skinner was always going to take a while before arriving to the NHL level if it ever happened at all, and to see the steps forward he’s taken so far has been a lot of fun to watch. Mix in the fact that our boy is from Edmonton and you’ve got the makings of an all-time Oilers story, and the kind of thing we’d built a statue for around here. I know I’m getting ahead of myself here, but I’m honestly feeling bullish on Skinner’s potential and very much look forward to the rest of this ride.


Last weekend, I wondered what’s going on with Mike Smith and how far away he is from returning to the lineup, but the news we got isn’t great, to say the least. When Smith first went down, we heard that his lower-body injury wasn’t overly serious but that doesn’t really seem to be the case anymore as we’re speculating about surgery rather than a timeline for his return. Even with Gregor finding out that surgery isn’t necessarily on the docket, I wouldn’t exactly say that this is positive news either. If the plan is for Smith to come back in mid-December, we’ll be about a third of the way through the season and all I can think about is how that’s not exactly the easiest time to play catchup in this league. How much will this extended absence matter when Smith comes back? Am I overthinking this?


I think a lot of us expected that Ryan McLeod would crack the roster out of training camp, and when that didn’t happen, I think it might have been a little bit of a wake-up call for the player. Returned to Bakersfield for the start of the AHL season, McLeod got into seven games with the Condors (1A, 4A) before being recalled to the Oilers and it’s starting to look like he won’t be going back any time soon. With three goals in his last seven games, McLeod is starting to look more and more comfortable at the NHL level, and that confidence is translating to a player that’s finding ways to contribute all over the ice. Listed at 6’2” with wheels for days, Ryan McLeod has all of the tools needed to develop into a middle-six centreman, and if he can figure out a way to make that happen, the Oilers will have a major to-do item crossed off their long term shopping list. I know we’re still in the early days — the guy has 22 NHL games under his belt — but the early returns are certainly promising.


Yesterday, we were able to throw our first Nation event in nearly two years and I wanted to take a minute to talk about how amazing it felt to see everyone back together in the same room again. Even though we’ve all kept in touch via the website and our social media, there’s always something extra special about the times when we’re able to pack a room full of Nation citizens and watch a hockey game together. From the moment the doors opened to the cheers to the pictures with Yaromperchuk, this event was one for the books and made me so so excited for when we’ll be able to do it again. We are back, baby, and it feels great to have the band back together again.


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