The Edmonton Oilers are 2-4-1 and have an excellent chance to win three in a row and settle down their season during this 7-game homestand. Carolina played the Flames last night, and they look ass (in the words of my son) in all areas. The Oilers should win this game handily. If they exit tonight 3-4-1, the club will be on pace to finish with 72 points—a disappointment, I had them pegged at 87—and return to “Tom Renney in year two” levels. As important, their overall possession numbers are stronger this fall and sustaining them through the year may end up being the best part of 2014-15. The corgi’s should be barking at the Hurricanes tonight.
Leon is counting down to the end of his 9-game window and frankly based on performance he should be going back to junior. This report from Dreger is the strongest evidence yet to suggest MacT is casting about looking for solutions. It’s an encouraging thing. It suggests, and I hate to say it, balance is the goal.
The Oilers are actually close to optimum (based on available talent in the organization) at this point, we could argue about Klefbom being better than Ference and or Nikitin (I’d agree, but could find 100 quotes from coaches in the past expressing their undying love for experienced blue) but this lineup is close enough for jazz—this is the best roster available inside the organization at this time.
- Scrivens (Bachman)
The club needs help at center, and better health on the wings (Perron, Eberle) but beyond that they’re jamming good with Weird and Gilly. At some point they’ll bring Klefbom up to play with Petry, move Ference to Schultz and Nikitin to 7D. Klefbom’s early performance in Oklahoma City perhaps merits consideration of this move sooner than later, and the exit of a defender may be connected to the current search for a center.
No, that isn’t the “balance” photo I’ve been saving.
MORE ON LEON
- Darren Dreger: ” (Leon is) Coming off a great game against the Washington Capitals, a game he helped the Oilers win. We like to count the games, the benchmark being 9 that burns off a year of eligibility. The Oilers aren’t overly concerned with it, that doesn’t mean that if they were to land a center they wouldn’t reevaluate his status, either prior to or after the 9 game threshold. We know that MacTavish is scouring the NHL looking for a bit more depth up the middle of the ice, so there could be some impact for Draisaitl in the near future.”
- Bob McKenzie: “That 9-game threshold is becoming less important for teams in the NHL. The one that really matters to most teams now is the 39-game threshold, that is you can play 39 games in a year, but as soon as it goes to 40 it counts as a year toward unrestricted free agency.”
Interesting stuff from TSN’s Insiders last night. I think an organization that just lived through Sam Gagner never turning the corner and enduring the botched Anton Lander developmental procedure might consider 9 games enough, but these quotes suggest another 30 are possible or even likely.
I still maintain that Craig MacTavish needs to explore every avenue to improve the team and am encouraged that he’s apparently doing so as we speak. It’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security with a two game winning streak in your back pocket and Carolina stumblin’ in. These team isn’t good enough by plenty.
This is Pavel Zacha. He’s a 6.03, 203 pound Czech forward currently impressing with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. He plays center or wing, and is currently 10GP, 4-6-10 in the world’s best junior league. Brock Otten from OHL Prospects has him No. 3 in his first ranking of the OHL’s 2015 eligibles (here) and has this to say:
- I had seen him play internationally before, but he’s actually been more impressive than I expected. That’s mainly because he’s been surprisingly physical. He plays the game hard and at a very high tempo. Once he gets going, he’s so hard to defend off the rush because of his size and ability to carry the puck. But he’s also proven to be very effective along the boards and is setting up shop behind the net and winning battles on the forecheck. At the beginning of the year, he looked hesitant to shoot and was playing more of a pass first game. But he’s starting to really come around and is taking more chances in shooting the puck. Just a fun player to watch.
I’ll have an early look at the 2015 draft first of the month and it’ll spend significant time on guys like Zacha who lack the fame of McDavid, Eichel and Hanifin but are most certainly top drawer talent. I think we’ll see a player taken by the Oilers from the OHL next summer if they draft inside the top 10.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
10 this morning, TSN 1260 we countdown to the weekend and what should be a fun night for Oilers fans. There’s plenty of Oiler chatter including Leon, Nail, the blue and more:
- Steve Lansky from Big Mouth Sports hits the air at 10:05. Check out his site, and the Stanley Cup boxscores too!
- Open line at 10:25, your chance for input. @Lowetide_ on twitter, 10-1260 text and of course you can call 780.444.1260. Leaving comments here on the blog is also cool.
- Alex Thomas from The Oilers Rig will stop in at 11:05 to talk about the Oilers-Hurricanes, defense, Leon and more.
- Paul Almeida will have very little to get huffy about at 11:25 but my money is on him finding something.
- Dave Jamieson helps preview the weekend CFL action at 11:45.
See you on the radio!