The Edmonton Oilers were asleep at the wheel to begin their home stand, but woke up just in time to watch Connor McDavid announce his presence with authority. Tonight, they meet the Winnipeg Jets—a team they can reach in the standings with a double you in regulation.
TABERNAC SATURDAY, YEAR OVER YEAR
- 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: 4-7-2
- Oilers in December 2014: 2-8-4
- Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1
- Oilers in January 2015: 5-7-1
- Oilers in January 2016: 4-5-2
- Oilers in February 2015: 5-6-1
- Oilers in February 2016: 3-3-0
- Oilers after 56 in 2014-15: 16-31-9, 41 points (-56 GD)
- Oilers after 56 in 2015-16: 22-29-5, 49 points (-27 GD)
Oilers got hammered 7-2 by Ottawa a year ago. I no longer look forward to HNIC games involving the Oilers. They have been horrible for a long time on the national game, and the coverage (I find) does not inform the game. I will watch with the sound down and assume the worst result. Along with a healthy roster and the playoffs, it would be nice to look forward to Saturday broadcasts next season.
- Brandon Davidson is at a point where I think we can say with authority he is the 5D next season, and I would not be upset to see Edmonton play him higher in the order as needed. This is an important development—an inexpensive and capable option in-house and from the depths of the draft. If the Oilers have Davidson as ‘next up’ for top 4D usage on opening night, that is a better place than one year ago.
- Oscar Klefbom is a top 4D for sure if he is healthy for next season. I kid, but only slightly. Jason Gregor mentioned yesterday that the young Swede still isn’t skating. A very disappointing development, he is turning into Serge Savard in terms of injuries and maladies at a young age.
- Andrej Sekera is at 55gp, 6-14-20 and should finish around 30 points. Justin Schultz led the team last year (31), but did not provide the Oilers with the kind of defensive quality Sekera has provided. One of the major issues for this defensive group since 2006 summer is ‘complete’ defensemen who can be effective everywhere. Sekera is such a player, I believe Klefbom can be and Nurse has elements in his game that lend themselves to that kind of impact. Oilers need more, but they are getting there.
- Mark Fayne will be an interesting story to follow at the deadline and into the summer. If he is on the roster, Fayne will play a substantial role. Something like this: Sekera—Fayne; Klefbom—Hamonic; Nurse—Davidson, Gryba. I think the key to adding a second defenseman is offloading Fayne—and I am not sure that is necessary. I think it depends on Todd McLellan, but for me Edmonton has a perfectly useful player there.
- Peter Chiarelli would have to trade either Fayne (most likely), Davidson (possible) or Nurse (highly unlikely) to get Hamonic and (say) Demers on the roster. Edmonton could add two pieces with the idea of keeping Nurse on the farm—and that is a worthy goal—but I don’t see it as likely. Edmonton simply isn’t there, and evidence suggests they are not thinking that way.
- Connor McDavid is now officially ridiculous. Look at these numbers! His 5×5/60 leads the planet, and his 5×4/60 number is second only to Jason Chimera (!!!!) in the NHL. A beautiful line, he is 19.
- Leon Draisaitl has been fading, we have seen it and now (as of yesterday) the coach mentioned it. Although it is disappointing, it should in no way take away from a fantastic year by the big man.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is mending like a hero, I wonder if there will be any track left when he is ready to return.
- Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Benoit Pouliot and Nail Yakupov are the four best offensive wingers signed for next season and currently on the roster. Agree? I think that is the case, with Zack Kassian also in the conversation and possibly Anton Slepyshev within shouting distance. Fair? What do you think the odds of Edmonton starting next season with Pouliot—Eberle and Hall—Yakupov on the top two lines?
- The one thing that could impact that group? Leon Draisaitl.
- Jujhar Khaira played pretty well when he was in Edmonton, and he seems to be pushing for a recall. During the month of February, he is 5gp, 3-5-8 and is emerging as a big part of the team. Last night against Ontario, Khaira was 1-1-2 and the center of attention for the Reign. Khaira is pushing.
- Anton Slepyshev started the year in the NHL, and we haven’t heard much about him since the demotion to Bakersfield. He is 3-1-4 in his last four games, and has 12 shots in those four contests.
- With the trade deadline coming, there will be recalls from the minors. Men like Rob Klinkhammer, Andrew Miller and Ryan Hamilton are in the mix, but don’t count out Khaira and Slepyshev as options.
Initial line rushes:
— Reid Wilkins (@ReidWilkins) February 12, 2016
I am still chuckling over this lineup, suspect Todd McLellan is sending a message. After all, we merely witnessed that first period against Toronto, McLellan had to endure it from the coaching perspective. It has to be wildly disappointing for a successful coach to see that much suck from a group he has been leading for almost one complete season. We all know this group of lines is unlikely to last (tonight, they will shuffle the second and third lines, pretty sure), but as a wake up call, this is a pretty good shock.
I will have an item up on ON later today about the Oilers at the deadline, but wanted to quote Pierre Lebrun and his take on the two primary trade targets from the Oil:
- Lebrun: Purcell has had a decent season but re-signing him doesn’t much sense for an Oilers team deep up front. Those cap dollars are better spent elsewhere. He’ll be a good pickup for a contender looking to add secondary scoring. Source
Purcell’s dollars will go (imo) to a bigger winger from the Lucic tree, suspect Edmonton will run that player with McDavid, Hall, Draisaitl and two of Nuge/Eberle/Pouliot next year. I hope PC has seen enough of what this team looks like without the Nuge to pull him back from the next Seth Jones offer, but we should have at least some worry about how much the new GM values RNH.
- Lebrun: Schultz has lost his confidence; his development wasn’t handled well the past few years in Edmonton and a change of scenery will benefit everyone involved. I think he still has the chance to be a good defenseman, so for another team this is an interesting gamble. Source
Don’t underestimate the power of the Jeff Petry story here. Edmonton has to be known in the industry as the place where careers go to die, but Petry’s success in Montreal may attract a team to the idea of buying low (it will not cost much) on 19. Gregg Krupa of The Detroit News mentions Schultz in regard to the Red Wings, that would be a fantastic landing spot for him.
One thing I want to discuss over the next week or so is Mark Fayne. If an NHL pro scout has been watching this team, and for whatever reason is making recommendations about possible defensive acquisitions from Edmonton, it has to be Mark Fayne. He is a better defender than either Schultz or Gryba, and is healthy—plus there is a chance Edmonton retains salary during the final two years of the deal. I haven’t seen a lot of chatter on it, will have something up on ON later and think it is worth chatting about as we edge nearer the deadline.