I believe it’s miles too early to answer any questions in regard to the Edmonton Oilers of the Eakins era but it isn’t too soon to ask those questions and begin to frame the answer based on current factual evidence.
- Did the Dallas Eakins era set back the organization?
Way too soon to know and it isn’t like Teemu Hartikainen is lighting up the world. However, it’s also true that several young Oilers (many, but notables include Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz) did not progress under Eakins. Early signs show promise under Todd Nelson. If the trend continues, what are we to make of it? Do we give Nelson all the credit or lay blame on Eakins?
- Is Nelson’s success with the prospects (Lander, Klefbom, Schultz) a result of asking less of them and more of the team’s veterans?
As we discussed last night, it does appear the Klefbom—Schultz pairing is getting favorable opportunities. It appears to be a reasonable plan—let these young men get used to the speed of the NHL game before throwing them in the deep end—and it was clear running Schultz so much (and I know they were chasing games) was not productive. Is this something we’re going to see through season’s end? If the lines and pairings are run this way and are successful, can we assume that Dallas Eakins’ handling of these young players was a mistake?
Lots of questions we can ask and we can cobble together evidence too. I don’t think it’s reasonable to make sweeping statements so soon after the exit. If you’d like my personal viewpoint, I think Eakins helped this team in several important areas and was a victim of the damndest goaltending and luck. It is fair to wonder why so many kids struggled during his time with the organization.
Kelowna double Lethbridge 6-3, throwing 51 shots on net in the process. Leon Draisaitl and Justin Kirkland each had 3 PTS in the win. #WHL
— Cody Nickolet (@DubFromAbove) January 31, 2015
Leon is finding the range now, it’s a good time to look at all of the CHL players under Edmonton’s draft umbrella and how they’re doing. I’ve thrown in Marner, Strome and Crouse just for fun. Estimated points/60 and estimated TOI via CHLStats.com.
- Dylan Strome 48gp, 33-59-92 (4.68/60; 24.81 TOI)
- Mitch Marner 45gp, 35-58-93 (4.54/60; 27.04 TOI)
- Leon Draisaitl 11gp, 7-10-17 (3.97/60; 22.33 TOI)
- Marco Roy 42gp, 20-17-37 (3.94/60; 13.42 TOI)
- Kyle Platzer 46gp, 22-37-59 (2.73/60; 27.69 TOI)
- Jackson Houck 45gp, 15-23-38 (2.73/60; 17.56 TOI)
- Greg Chase 41gp, 15-29-44 (2.50/60; 25.71 TOI)
- Darnell Nurse 28gp, 8-19-27 (2.33/60; 25.71 TOI)
- Lawson Crouse 35gp, 18-10-28 (1.58/60; 27.16 TOI)
- Ben Betker 45gp, 4-20-24 (1.46/60; 21.96 TOI)
There’s an age difference but it’s clear the two OHL kids are superior (Leon was 3.83/60 in his draft year) and would be welcome additions. Crouse is coming on but is not close to the other two in terms of offensive potential. Hanifin, Strome or Marner are the correct choices. I think the Oilers grab Strome. He has some skating issues but the young man is 6.03, 187 as a draft eligible and may grow to a giant. Who would I take? Wildly undecided. My top 5 right now is McDavid, Eichel, Marner, Hanifin, Strome but the 3 through 5 change daily. It’s a good thing we have some more miles to go.
As for the Oilers kids, Draisaitl, Chase and Nurse are signed. It makes sense to sign all of Roy, Platzer, Houck and Betker but one wonders if Edmonton has the room.
I WANT TO BELIEVE!
The Hat has an article up in the Globe & Mail about the Oilers finally turning a corner. It is here. In it, he quotes Jordan Eberle:
- Eberle: “the biggest thing I’m noticing is, we’re playing better as a team. We’re playing better as a five-man unit systematically. We’ve upped our tempo in practice a little bit and we’re playing more like that in games. Those two things – and we’re starting to enjoy coming into the locker room a bit more. A lot of that goes with winning, but it’s really a catalyst in helping you play better too.”
We’re seeing some very astute observers choose sides on the Nelson impact but for me it’s still too early. At season’s end we’ll have 40+ games to look at, or about the period Ralph Krueger coached the team. Edmonton was 7-22-7 when MacT went back upstairs, they are 7-7-2 with solo Nelson. The record has improved and hell maybe practice does help the team’s competitiveness at the beginning of the game.
I can create an argument that suggests better goaltending, luck and a Pouliot scoring streak have more to do with that 7-7-2 run we’ve seen under Nelson. I’m not buying into the Nelson turnaround—but would like to—and firmly believe drawing conclusions today (good or bad) is folly. Too soon. I will say his apparent handling of the younger set (easier minutes) makes good sense and puts the pressure where it should be—MacT’s choices for big contracts.
Too soon to know.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE!
The show will be live at Saikers Acres for The World’s Longest Hockey Game this morning, 10-noon on TSN1260. It’ll be a fluid show and the guest list is a moving target. I’ll be talking to Steve Lansky at the top, Paul Almeida and Corey Graham. After that, we’ll see!
10-1260 text, @Lowetide_ on twitter. If you’re coming out, dress warm!!!