Get yer Ya-Ya’s out, it’s time to turn left. Up the ladder to the roof, climb that big rock candy mountain, travel river deep, mountain high, take it to the limit, out of your brain on the 5:15. Music! Oh, and by the way? Still plenty of pain.
OILERS EARLY, SEASON OVER SEASON
- Oilers in October 2014: 4-5-1
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0
- Oilers in November 2014: 2-9-3
- Oilers in November 2015: 3-4-1
- Oilers Goal Differential in 2014 Oct/Nov: -34
- Oilers Goal Differential in 2015 Oct/Nov: -8
This is a better team but the won-loss record has been lagging. The goaltending/defense isn’t where it should be (55 GF is a solid total, but 63 GA is death valley again so far). The 55 goals for are one behind the division lead in that category. Todd McLellan’s Oilers are going to score goals.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 21, 2015
I was going to write “we’re seeing something special” about Leon’s 10 games but the NHL PR folks drive home the point better than anyone could with only words. Lordy. If you can write a song, rhyme “Draisaitl” with “fantastical” and you’ll sell a million in this city alone—if it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it. Simply incredible talent, his goals are a wonder and come in packs of six and a dozen. It’s so easy to fall in love! Stunning. Stunning.
No report for the Devils – Oilers game for the foreseeable future. NHL isn't posting their reports past the box score yet.
— Natural Stat Trick (@NatStatTrick) November 21, 2015
Just before midnight, in the comments section of this blog, the following appeared from Saddleblazer:
- One September afternoon in 2004 I knocked on my neighbour’s door and introduced myself. She was a lovely young lady who, like me, came to Edmonton from the North for university. We became friends over games of cribbage and putting together 1000 piece puzzles.
- We started dating and once 2005 rolled along, she learned that I was a big hockey fan and I learned that HER MOTHER HAD CORPORATE SEASON TICKETS IN ROW 4 OF REXALL. No joke, I went to around 30 home games that magical season. I shouted “I LOVE YOU” to Chris Pronger a hundred times and hung his life sized poster in my home (it was under the seats one home game that year). I was at game 3 of the cup final when Smytty banged home the winner.
- Needless to say, I married that girl and moved back North with her. We are expecting our second child in February. We are in Edmonton for the weekend and just returned home from the game. Terrific performance by our boys. I purchased a Draisaitl 29 jersey and wore it proudly when he was announced the game’s first star. I am happy that this was the last game I’ll see them play in that old barn. Farewell, Rexall Place.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) November 20, 2015
THE POINT IS MOOT
It’s kind of weird reading twitter these days. Even though we can all agree that young players—especially defensemen—do not develop in a straight line, there are factions forming behind all of the rookie blue in Edmonton this season, for and agin. From “I saw him play table hockey at seven, made the call that day” to “He’s the first defenseman I’ve ever seen get walked by Patrick Kane” the hyperbole is rich, splendid and not particularly helpful to the modern fan. Here’s the actual state of affairs, accept no substitutes.
- Darnell Nurse is an exceptional talent who is learning quickly but is not yet fully completely. No sin in that, and we’re looking at a very nice range of skills and all he lacks is the sorties. There are going to be nights of ‘also in photo’ but there’s already moments of real contribution. Already. Dynamite hockey player. 11GP, 1-4-5 ranks No. 4 in the NHL among rookie defensemen. He’s also third in the NHL among rookie D in TOI per game, 19:09.
- Brandon Davidson also has a nice range of skills, and the minor league experience so few of these young men get in the modern world. A cup of coffee in the ECHL and basically two full seasons in the AHL have given Davidson a chance to learn the trade. A lesson here, methinks. We should also allow for the usual ups and downs and agree that we don’t actually know what the Oilers have in Davidson. A very low draft pick (No. 162 in 2010, he’s the last NHL piece standing from the Lubo for Ryan Whitney deal) who has shown extremely well in limited play this year, one hopes we hold back from gushing too much and allow the young man to find his place on the roster. He’s 23 games into his NHL career folks. Early days indeed. Still, very encouraging and it behooves the Oilers to play him every night until he’s either established or finds his way to the pressbox due to his own play. 11GP, 2-2-4 and his 17:24 ranks him No. 8 among rookie defensemen in TOI.
- Griffin Reinhart is perhaps the most dividing defender on this year’s roster (until JSchultz returns, anyway) and a lot of that has to do (imo) with the price paid. Reinhart is 19 games into his NHL career and is learning on the job. He doesn’t have Nurse’s wheels and that’s going to cost him (we saw examples last night) but I do think he’s far better away from Gryba and we’re going to have to judge him over a longer term. It is unfair to compare him to Nurse, and if I’m Chiarelli there has to be at least the thread of an idea rumbling around my brain to trade him out. 11GP, 0-0-0 and his 16:29 ranks him No. 13 among rookie defensemen in TOI.
A lock for the top four, a riddle that needs repeating and a former lottery pick trying to catch a fast train. This situation SO reminds me of those late 1960s and early 1970s Leafs teams, it’s incredible. Who is the Dorey, who is the Pelyk, who is the Glennie, who is the Ley? There’s no McKenny I can see and these youngsters will make themselves known eventually. Until then, I advise a strict adherence to the following: NO grand statements about rookie defensemen, especially in an era when google search can find you. No one knows, people. They are defensemen, and they develop and slide back and get hurt and lose some speed and God knows what else. If you really want to know the state of affairs, ask Mr. McLellan:
ES TOI Oilers D: Nurse 16:37 Davidson 16:08 Gryba 15:28 Reinhart 14:58 Klef 13:13 Fayne 12:08 Tons of ST for 77+88 https://t.co/ads3Hu0wl7
— Bruce McMcCurdy (@BruceMcCurdy) November 21, 2015
- Ryan Rishaug: “His (Leon Draisaitl) emergence, simply put, gives them some options. When Connor McDavid comes back, if Draisaitl is playing at something close to this level, that gives them a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl one-two-three punch. All kinds of depth down the middle. As we know, the Oilers are a team that needs help on the blue line. Should they decide to ‘rob Peter and pay Paul a little bit, and move a forward to bring in a high-end defensemen, well now the potential to move a player like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins doesn’t sound quire so ridiculous. Something they’re going to take their time and think a long time about. Draisaitl needs to show he can do it over the long haul, but his emergence gives the Edmonton Oilers brain trust options.”
This is from Mr. Rishaug last night, and he’s right. Not now, not this season and I’d argue next as well, but at some point Edmonton is going to make a move and it might be the Nuge. Would I do it? No. I’d move a winger and place Leon on RW until both McDavid and Draisaitl are mature. Strength up the middle is too precious to abandon. I think Peter Chiarelli is contemplating things though, suspect Rishaug is spot on about the options opening up. Interesting times. I still think Yakupov will be odd man out when push comes to shove, Schultz too.
Draisaitl on a mission after early disappointment https://t.co/XCzmzQZoAl
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) November 21, 2015