AUSTON CITY LIMITS

The Edmonton Oilers dropped another game in their annual race to the lottery, and are now stone alone in last place. Over the last several years, other teams have leased the space, but Edmonton owns it outright on aggregate. It is not a title to be proud of, but it does come with some benefits.

TABERNAC SATURDAY

  • 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: 3-6-1
  • Oilers after 60 in 2014-15: 17-33-10, 44 points (-65 GD)
  • Oilers after 60 in 2015-16: 22-32-6, 50 points (-33 GD)

February is now approaching the worst month of the McLellan era, we could see the club reach eight losses next week before the deadline. The goal differential—once something of a beacon for the current group—is now in free fall and it is probably smarter to bet we see -50 over getting to -25. This team is not good, and Oscar Klefbom is not Bobby Orr, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is not Bryan Trottier.

Back in the fall, I mentioned that not buying out Nikita Nikitin in the Justin Schultz arbitration window was a mistake. It telegraphed what we now know to be true: Peter Chiarelli believed he had enough quality and depth at the position. This speaks to competence. When I bring this up, the response from posters is often this: WHY buy out Nikitin when there was no free agent available. However, if Chiarelli had enjoyed more cap freedom, he may have been able to find solutions during the year. This of course also applies to the lack of transaction after the Nuge injury. Todd McLellan is the coach, he takes the heat. However, on a morning where the Oilers lost while also asking Nikita Nikitin to win the day, I would like to point out this roster lacked balance from the beginning. We can torch management for wasting a year of McDavid, fair play to you. We cannot pretend Todd McLellan entered the season with 23-men who represented quality, depth and balance. No sir.

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

oilers blue nov 30

  • Sekera—Schultz had a good night, although they did chase on the cycle and appeared out of position at times. It looked (to me) as though Schultz was making better decisions in his end, but not recognizing attractive lanes in the offensive zone. That is exactly the opposite from his entire Oilers career. Sekera can help his partner, that is a lesson learned this season.
  • Nurse—Fayne were an interesting pair, McLellan moved away from his original pairings as the evening rolled. I see differing views about culprits online and in the comments section, for me the rookie was the issue (and often is the problem). His read and reaction to plays in real time appears to be regressing, and that should tell Todd McLellan to reduce his playing time and Peter Chiarelli that a trip to the farm may be in order. Neither has happened, and that speaks to competence.
  • Davidson—Nikitin was an interesting pairing. Davidson’s statistical worst evening (at 5×5) in some time may have been his finest overall. Brilliant during a 3×5 in a way I will remember for a long time, he remains (along with Sekera, to my eye) a shining light in the middle of a massive garbage dump of ridiculous sorties defended. Intelligent player, maturing by the minute. Nikita Nikitin isn’t fast enough to be effective, but did use his veteran guile to stay away from disaster several times.
  • Despite the numbers above, I think we can say with some authority that the Oilers badly need to reduce the minutes for Darnell Nurse. I am not one of those who is questioning his future, and it is clear he is a confident young man, but the results are clear and he needs to bat lower in the order for the rest of this season. It’s possible to have good numbers and get noticed for negative things—single moments and events can have super importance while being exactly single moments and events. It is also possible to reach a wall as a rookie, and Darnell is there. Give him Fayne and the third pair when Oscar returns, or send him to Bakersfield. That’s the play here.

CENTERS, LAST NIGHT

oil c nov 30

  • Connor McDavid had some nice looks, added an assist (now at 27 points in 23 games, age 19). He also had two individual high-danger scoring chances on the night. My only question this morning surrounds playing time. The young man should have played more, although the Avalanche played him pretty well to my eye.
  • Leon Draisaitl and his line got the push last night, and for me they executed well. The Hall goal featured a nice pursuit and shot by Draisaitl, last night saw less loping and more authority in his skating. I think the ribs (no confirm, but I think he had a rib issue or similar) are healing.
  • Mark Letestu and his trio sawed off the competition, not much to say at this point beyond one would hope the third line could cash more in a season.
  • Matt Hendricks and his crew had one third period shift that was fantastic, hitting everything in sight. Beyond that, their 5×5 work was fairly pedestrian to my eye—that’s no sin, your 4line isn’t going to save you often.

INDIVIDUAL HIGH-DANGER SCORING CHANCES

  • Two: Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall, Mark Fayne
  • One: Andrej Sekera, Benoit Pouliot, Leon Draisaitl

WINGERS, LAST NIGHT

oilers f nov 30

  • Taylor Hall executed a perfect place and chase in the minutes before he scored goal No. 20 on the season. Nuge is excellent at it, Hall is learning, small victories are big steps. I know we know Hall is a brilliant player in terms of gaining the zone, but McLellan’s style is to send that puck deep and get it in a good spot. He would be wise to relax the rule to allow for the patented Hall carry in entry, or inform his player he could use it more. Opposition defensemen surely don’t expect it at this point. On pace for the second 70-point season of his career, so someone is doing something right.
  • Teddy Purcell now has 32 points on the season and is on track to finish with 44. Solid work by the veteran, I assume he could be traded at any time.
  • Pouliot—Eberle looked fine with McDavid to my eye, as mentioned above it would have been nice to see them more at 5×5. Pouliot is charging toward his first 50-point season while also wildly disappointing the local media. The man is a magician. Eberle is also on pace for 50 points, and 25 goals, impressive considering he lost a dozen or so games from the start.

GARRIOCH

  • The Oilers wouldn’t mind moving out a few contracts. The club is shopping winger Lauri Korpikoski ($2.5 million in 2016-17) along with defenceman Justin Schultz (RFA) and winger Teddy Purcell (UFA). Source

Korpikoski has been a poor fit from the start, doubt Peter Chiarelli can get something done but that would be a fantastic result (assuming he doesn’t bring back another stray cat with two more years on his deal). Here is my trade deadline list:

  1. RW Teddy Purcell—He is gone, suspect we will see a second-round pick (or a legit prospect).
  2. F Matt Hendricks—Chiarelli is unlikely to trade Hendricks, but there is always a chance an offer changes his mind. I recall someone mentioning there was significant interest last deadline. Second-round pick.
  3. D Mark Fayne—A bit tricky, for two reasons. He is helping now, so the Oilers could use him for the first 60 games next year and shop him at the deadline. Call it righty blue insurance. Return? Second-round pick if the Oilers retain salary (defensemen are always worth more at the deadline).
  4. D Justin Schultz—He is gone if they can find a taker, I think they will. Third-round pick.
  5. L Lauri Korpikoski—Perhaps Chiarelli can save Todd McLellan from himself. If he can trade Korpikoski, Chiarelli is a mad genius. Fifth-round pick obo.
  6. C Anton Lander—New addition because I refuse to let Gryba ruin trade deadlinemas. A team needing a very inexpensive forward as insurance might have the time. Sixth-round pick.
  7. D Eric Gryba—I think they will sign him unless a team offers up full value (and remember this is the deadline). I have no idea what he would fetch in trade, only that Mark Fayne would be a better addition for a contending team. I believe that.

chiarellis trades

CHIARELLI

Peter Chiarelli’s first trade deadline was active and definitely changed the look of the team. Here is a brief look at what he did:

  • Traded F Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart to the Calgary Flames for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew. Bruins received two productive players (Ference played a long time in Boston, winning a Stanley, Kobasew scored 20 two times) for a productive defender and a checker.
  • Traded D Paul Mara to the NY Rangers for D Aaron Ward. Traded Mara (a big, physical defender with a howitzer point shot) for a similar player in Ward (a better skater, didn’t have the shot, a little better passer, right-handed).
  • Traded R Brad Boyes to the St. Louis Blues for D Dennis Wideman. Boyes was a pretty good scorer back then (would score 43 and 33 goals in his first two seasons with the Blues). Wideman was an effective puck-moving defenseman who also had some strong seasons with Boston. He was a big part of the Nathan Horton trade in 2010.

I think there are a few things we can learn from that deadline. First, Chiarelli isn’t afraid to trade bigger pieces at the deadline, and at least that year he wanted players in return (perhaps giving us an indication about this week to come). Second, he gave value in each case, but also changed the look of his team—and in doing things like adding Kobasew and subtracting Boyes, created and then covered up spots in the roster. So, when I look at the RW position as an example, perhaps he trades away a piece, leaving a hole that is replaced quickly by another deal.

I followed Chiarelli closely back then, the Bruins stripped their team down before the lockout and had a lot of work to do. Looking back, some of these trades were forced by contracts and free agency, and the actual return (when taking all three deals as a whole) involved re-setting the cap and filling holes with better contracts. Perhaps we will see similar from PC at the deadline.

I can tell you he was effective as GM in Boston, and even though I thought he should have bought out Nikitin last offseason, he may have had a plan that will come to fruition this deadline (or summer). PC has not impressed as Oilers GM in year one, no one can argue it. One thing he has done? Put himself in an interesting position for the coming summer:

  • Trade everyone at the deadline
  • Buy out Andrew Ference
  • Buy out Lauri Korpikoski
  • Add a top-pairing blue to stabilize the defense and set the depth chart in a reasonable order (Hamonic).
  • Add a second-pairing blue who can play in all situations but is especially adept on the power play (Demers).
  • Add a two-way center who can lead a third line, while also being versatile enough to play up or on the wing as required (Eller).
  • Add a power forward who can play a complementary role offensively while also providing an enforcer’s thrust to the McDavid line (Lucic).

For me, the last item is optional and comes at the price of Benoit Pouliot. I wouldn’t make that deal, but am fairly certain Chiarelli would do it with extreme prejudice.

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232 Responses to "AUSTON CITY LIMITS"

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  1. Lowetide says:

    rickithebear:
    LT: you continue to credit PC. With talbot.
    Even though Sather has stated it was pre arranged before 2015 trade deadline.
    That it was completed because Mact was still here.

    I accept your position that Sather is a lying mother…………
    ?

    Meh. You can’t start parsing this stuff. Peter Chiarelli was the GM of record and he could have nixed the deal. I watched the draft, and will say that I am comfortable in saying the deal was not set on the Friday night.

  2. AsiaOil says:

    Norman Greenbaum,

    Ebs is a fine player. Elite shot, great offensive instincts. But he’s far from complete or two way. CMD is generational but he still needs 2 way vets on his wings and some size. So Ebs is a fine player but bad fit no matter the media hype surrounding his paring with CMD – and the results against any sort of decent opposition support this train of thought.

    Fix the defense – change the mix up front – more size and experience.

  3. Lowetide says:

    Oilers recall Oesterle. I will have a post at 5pm. Nikitin down.

  4. JDï™ says:

    Pouzar: Nobody gives a shit.

    Gee I go away for a while, and it seems war has broken out here.

    Which might not be a bad thing really – they say the first casualty of war is…

  5. RexLibris says:

    Lowetide:
    Oilers recall Oesterle. I will have a post at 5pm. Nikitin down.

    Yep. I think that was his shot.

    Outside of some major injuries this year, I think we’ve seen the last of #86 in the NHL.

  6. JDï™ says:

    RexLibris,

    He’s been 86ed.

  7. Norman Greenbaum says:

    AsiaOil,

    Yah, I don’t think you guys are getting what I’m trying to say.

    I’m not boosting Ebs, in order to argue to keep him.

    But neither am I demonizing him unfairly to justify trading him.

    If he’s to be traded, let it be because due process has been done, and that’s what we’ve decided to give up.

    We will not like the inevitable trade of Nuge or Ebs. But we might be able to understand it.

  8. Norman Greenbaum says:

    JDï™,

    Wing Wednesday.

  9. RexLibris says:

    Lowetide: I want the first overall pick. Fuck everybody.

    Noted. Can’t say that I disagree. Certainly gives Chiarelli some powerful chips to bargain with.

    And it isn’t as though we’re in danger of becoming even more of a league pariah, so you might as well get the all-inclusive package if that’s the way you’re going.

  10. RexLibris says:

    JDï™:
    RexLibris,

    He’s been 86ed.

    🙂

  11. Norman Greenbaum says:

    JDï™:
    RexLibris,

    He’s been 86ed.

    That requires a credit card and a week’s notice.

  12. Zed says:

    SayItAin’tSo, Gretz, SayItAin’tSo!,

    Absolutely. This double-standard destroys a room. There isn’t equal pay for equal work / skill.

  13. voxwah says:

    Lowetide: I think he made the choice to run out the NN contract and buyout Ference when it would hurt less. I don’t agree with it, but the plan is something reasonable people can defend. I would not give up on PC after less than a year.

    LT, wasn’t Niki still injured during the buyout periods? I’m sure Pete would have been all over buying him out but couldn’t due to his status. At least that’s what I thought I read about it.

  14. Younger Oil says:

    Wonder why they called him up in the first place.

    Almost seems like they called him up because they genuinely thought he was the best Dman available rather than for cap shenanigans.

  15. Woodguy says:

    AsiaOil,

    Klef Hamonic
    Sekera Trouba
    Davidson GR Gryba

    Problem there is that only Klef has any kind of offence.

    Oilers are last in the NHL in points from Dmen and those additions are not going to change that much.

    Much, much better Dcorps than today, no question, but its needs some offence.

    2RD target should be able to run a powerplay and score 5v5.

    Trouba had a high SH% in his rookie year and more “normal” years since and doesn’t bring a ton of offence.

    Barrie and Vatanen are both rumoured to be available and both are RHD who can play 2nd pair.

    Combined this year and last the NHL:

    Dman 5v5 pts/60 (min 500 min)

    Barrie – 1.19 – tied 12th in NHL (with Gio)
    Vatanen 0.97 – 33rd in NHL

    Dman 5v4 pts/60 (min 100min)

    Barrie 4.42 – tied 21st in NHL (w/ Doughty)
    Vatanen 4.87 – 12th in NHL

    Oilers need this type of player badly.

  16. Woodguy says:

    Lowetide:
    Oilers recall Oesterle. I will have a post at 5pm. Nikitin down.

    Yay!

    Been hearing great things about his skating and offence.

    Can’t wait to see him in action.

    Hopefully Klef is back soon and Oesterle can take reps on the 3rd pairing with Davidson.

    That’s a nice spot to land.

  17. rickithebear says:

    Mcdavid .435 gpg
    Eberle .383 gpg
    Hall .333 gpg
    Draisatl .300 gpg
    Pouliot .275 gpg
    1.723 gpg from 5 forwards

    Purcell .183
    RNH .173
    Kassian .143
    Yak .132
    Korp .122
    Letestu .117
    Pak .081

  18. Woodguy says:

    JDï™:
    RexLibris,

    He’s been 86ed.

    *polite golf clap*

  19. Woodguy says:

    RexLibris: Noted. Can’t say that I disagree. Certainly gives Chiarelli some powerful chips to bargain with.

    And it isn’t as though we’re in danger of becoming even more of a league pariah, so you might as well get the all-inclusive package if that’s the way you’re going.

    The ideal scenario has EDM picking 1st and TOR picking 4th just to hear the never ending whinging from Hogtown.

  20. matt says:

    If Nikitin could have been bought out (ie, not injured), then there is no excuse for PC. My continuing beef is with centre depth. No one could have expected Draisaitl to play as well at the position as he has, but everyone could have expected, again, that injuries would affect the position. Derek Roy was there for the taking, as were others.

    Also, t has been obvious for some time that the Letestu and Korpikoski gambles failed. Likewise, that the emergence of Lander at the end of the 2014/2015 season was a mirage.

  21. rickithebear says:

    Lowetide: Meh. You can’t start parsing this stuff. Peter Chiarelli was the GM of record and he could have nixed the deal. I watched the draft, and will say that I am comfortable in saying the deal was not set on the Friday night.

    Stats? You can’t start parsing this stuff.
    Kypreos is the voice of record when it comes to hockey.
    You are not a min stream standard.
    I accept kypreos voice is better than yours.

    Jes…….. It hurt to write that.

  22. stevezie says:

    matt: If Nikitin could have been bought out (ie, not injured), then there is no excuse for PC.

    Again, this is not true.

    There are good reasons for not buying out Nitkinin. You can argue it was still a mistake, and I’ll grant you have a case, but let’s not ignore the counterpoints.

  23. RexLibris says:

    Woodguy: The ideal scenario has EDM picking 1st and TOR picking 4th just to hear the never ending whinging from Hogtown.

    You forgot Calgary picking 16th and Vancouver picking the 2016 version of Jesse Niinimaki. But you’ve got it covered pretty well there.

  24. Lowetide says:

    rickithebear: Stats? You can’t start parsing this stuff.
    Kypreos is the voice of record when it comes to hockey.
    You are not a min stream standard.
    I accept kypreos voice is better than yours.

    Jes…….. It hurt to write that.

    Haha.

  25. Stelio Kontos says:

    rickithebear,

    No matter how hard you try you will never be as connected as Kypreos thinks he is.

  26. Professor Q says:

    Dave Hodge is such a curmudgeon.

    Edmonton didn’t tank last year, nor are they tanking this year. They lucked out with the new lottery rules last year despite many other teams admittedly tanking purposefully, and really are that bad this year due to the continued strain of injuries and the league being against them for some reason.

    It’s only right that they get the rights to Matthews after all this shyte.

  27. AsiaOil says:

    Chia’s moves so far:

    Talbot – addressed area of serious weakness for reasonable price – I’m fine with this deal.

    Reinhart – I doubt this was their first choice as it smells like option C or D to me when the Hamilton and other deals failed to come through. They likely did not want to use these picks and this was all that was on the table. Sekera signing and Davidson emerging makes the deal seem unnecessary but those two things could not have been predicted on draft day. Not looking great now but I still think he’s Karl Alzner in a year or two.

    Gryba – filled a need and has been properly deployed – no issues

    Marincin – traded to TOR and he’s shown nothing to suggests he’s more than a marginal NHLer – no issues

    Letestu – 4th line center who is being overused – no issues with this if player is deployed properly

    Korpikoski – he’s got some tools (speed, shot, willingness to hit) but was and is a horrible possession player. Gained a million in cap space this year but costs $2.5 million next year. Gamble did not pan out but maybe they can find a sucker for him.

    Nilssen – RFA this summer and found money since he won them a few games – no issues

    Kassian – fills a need and cost a bad contract that was wasting away in the AHL – no issues

    Clendening – whatever – RFA this summer and free

    So it’s really the Korpikoski bet which looks like a small win this season since Gordon has one assist since the first week of the season (but a loss next year if he can’t be moved) and the GR bet which has not been as the GM advertised this season. Nothing to get jammed up about – but the honeymoon is over as of next Monday. All moves the GM and coach make must push this situation north as no one has any patience left for screw ups, magic beans or mirages. Evaluation time is over.

  28. stevezie says:

    AsiaOil,

    As of right now the killer on the Griff trade is we could really use those resources to go after a RD. Actually, not being able to is screwing us. No, we didn’t know then what we knew now about our LD depth, but we definitely had hints.

    Plus it would have been nice if Reinhart was ahead of Nurse. He may well turn out fine, but his timeline is really, really inconvenient. Basically, even if Reinhart turns in to Alzner he is not what we traded for.

    But you’re bang on about the rest of it, especially Letestu. The criticism of the contract and player around here baffle me. He is paid to be a good 4c, which he absolutely is.

  29. frjohnk says:

    AsiaOil:
    Chia’s moves so far:

    Talbot – addressed area of serious weakness for reasonable price – I’m fine with this deal.

    Reinhart – I doubt this was their first choice as it smells like option C or D to me when the Hamilton and other deals failed to come through. They likely did not want to use these picks and this was all that was on the table. Sekera signing and Davidson emerging makes the deal seem unnecessary but those two things could not have been predicted on draft day. Not looking great now but I still think he’s Karl Alzner in a year or two.

    Gryba – filled a need and has been properly deployed – no issues

    Marincin – traded to TOR and he’s shown nothing to suggests he’s more than a marginal NHLer – no issues

    Letestu – 4th line center who is being overused – no issues with this if player is deployed properly

    Korpikoski – he’s got some tools (speed, shot, willingness to hit) but was and is a horrible possession player. Gained a million in cap space this year but costs $2.5 million next year. Gamble did not pan out but maybe they can find a sucker for him.

    Nilssen – RFA this summer and found money since he won them a few games – no issues

    Kassian – fills a need and cost a bad contract that was wasting away in the AHL – no issues

    Clendening – whatever – RFA this summer and free

    So it’s really the Korpikoski bet which looks like a small win this season since Gordon has one assist since the first week of the season (but a loss next year if he can’t be moved) and the GR bet which has not been as the GM advertised this season. Nothing to get jammed up about – but the honeymoon is over as of next Monday. All moves the GM and coach make must push this situation north as no one has any patience left for screw ups, magic beans or mirages. Evaluation time is over.

    100% agree.

  30. Pechetr says:

    The way Nurse is playing lately, I would argue Reinhardt is the better option right now. Not bashing Nurse, but he needs to go down.

  31. highgloveside says:

    I see the Oilers finishing 28th with CBJ 29th and TOR 30th.

    Columbus will win the lottery and every sportsnet/TSN article for a month will be how they go screwed. An then when Stamkos doesn’t sign there, they will blame the lottery robbery and not getting Matthews as to why they couldn’t lure Stamkos and that was all rigged by the NHL for the draft pick and Stamkos stay in the USA.

  32. spoiler says:

    AsiaOil:
    Chia’s moves so far:

    Talbot – addressed area of serious weakness for reasonable price – I’m fine with this deal.

    Reinhart – I doubt this was their first choice as it smells like option C or D to me when the Hamilton and other deals failed to come through. They likely did not want to use these picks and this was all that was on the table. Sekera signing and Davidson emerging makes the deal seem unnecessary but those two things could not have been predicted on draft day. Not looking great now but I still think he’s Karl Alzner in a year or two.

    Gryba – filled a need and has been properly deployed – no issues

    Marincin – traded to TOR and he’s shown nothing to suggests he’s more than a marginal NHLer – no issues

    Letestu – 4th line center who is being overused – no issues with this if player is deployed properly

    Korpikoski – he’s got some tools (speed, shot, willingness to hit) but was and is a horrible possession player. Gained a million in cap space this year but costs $2.5 million next year. Gamble did not pan out but maybe they can find a sucker for him.

    Nilssen – RFA this summer and found money since he won them a few games – no issues

    Kassian – fills a need and cost a bad contract that was wasting away in the AHL – no issues

    Clendening – whatever – RFA this summer and free

    So it’s really the Korpikoski bet which looks like a small win this season since Gordon has one assist since the first week of the season (but a loss next year if he can’t be moved) and the GR bet which has not been as the GM advertised this season. Nothing to get jammed up about – but the honeymoon is over as of next Monday. All moves the GM and coach make must push this situation north as no one has any patience left for screw ups, magic beans or mirages. Evaluation time is over.

    I don’t feel much differently. GR is still a wait and see and still has 4 years on a draft pick. Marincin and Gryba bring different things and we need the Gryba things more.

    I would actually praise the Letestu move more… he’s far better offensively than Belanger or Gordon or Lander. Talbot’s a smart move and Kassian is old school Sather-like, although he had a stronger dressing room to rely on.

    I would go get Vern Fiddler this off-season. This dressing room needs some glue. A merry prankster would go a long way.

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