I can’t believe he got up. Benoit Pouliot—clearly a man’s man, this was a Mike Grier moment—had every right to writhe in pain and lay on the ice until death arrived (or at least a whistle). Whatever else we can say about Benoit Pouliot as a player—he is a very good one—those moments last night, when he went back to executing the PK while his arm was falling off, will be in my memory for a long time. There is a time to man up, but I have no idea where that kind of gumption comes from.
Among the damnable things that have happened this year, the Nail Yakupov injury at center ice ranks right up there as being wildly unfair. In the first month of the season, playing with the phenom Connor McDavid, Yak City posted impressive numbers (12, 2-8-10, 30 shots on goal). After that, 97 got hurt, Nail got hurt, and since November 1 the Russian is 30, 3-2-5, 59 shots on goal). Nail Yakupov, young Russian pure of heart, has endured some pretty damned bad luck in his time.
The sequence of events that kept him from playing with McDavid for an entire season likely cost him his Oilers career. Chances are the Oilers will regret it more than he will, as time goes by. If it is goodbye today, I wish you well Nail Yakupov. Shoot the moon, and then some. I hope you find home.
"It is more than day to day. We have lost him for awhile." McLellan on Pouliot. #Oilers
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) February 29, 2016
And yet? Perhaps the hockey Gods have found a way. We wait.
GET HAPPY, 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: 3-8-2
- Oilers after 64 in 2014-15: 18-36-10, 46 points (-69 GD)
- Oilers after 64 in 2015-16: 23-34-7, 53 points (-36 GD)
Oilers stand No. 29 overall and the Leafs are hobbling all players who sharpen their skates, so this one is going to be a marathon not a sprint. I actually think Edmonton could climb past a few Canadian teams—there are selloffs everywhere in our nation today.
TRADE DEADLINES OF THE PAST
- Best Trade Deadline Deal: A team with the history of the Oilers is going to have some cherry moments. I will pick the 1988 trade that sent Andy Moog to the Boston Bruins for Billy Ranford and Geoff Courtnall. It paid off big—in 1990.
- Worst Trade Deadline Deal: March 1997 Edmonton dealt Miro Satan to the Buffalo Sabres for Craig Millar and Barrie Moore. It was crushing.
- Best Deadline Deal this Century: Dwayne Roloson 2006. Amazing.
- Worst Deadline Deal this Century: Almost getting Ben Bishop then sending a perfectly good pick for Jerred Smithson stands out.
As reported earlier, Brandon Davidson extension is done, 2 year deal.
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) February 29, 2016
I would have preferred four years times reasonable, but suspect Peter Chiarelli wanted to see the player for longer than 59 NHL games before going long term. Remember, unlike Oscar Klefbom, Davidson does not come with great pedigree (Round 6 selection) and has not established himself as a legit top 4D (although I do believe he may cover that in the future). I would also suggest that, despite this contract being similar to the Jeff Petry deal, the Oilers are less likely to have a relationship with Davidson that resembles the bizarre Petry—MacT dynamic. I would have grabbed some free-agent seasons.
One final note: It looks like the Oilers did in fact get three players out of that 2010 draft: Taylor Hall, Martin Marincin and Brandon Davidson. It took Davidson five years, and a little bit, to show his quality. Congratulations on the contract, suspect Edmonton will regret not going longer on the deal by about Christmas 2016. It is a very reasonable deal with a very friendly cap hit: 2-year/$2.85M contract extension. $1.425M cap hit. One thing people must remember: Along with making the correct call on all deals, Peter Chiarelli badly needs value contracts. Davidson is surely one.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Sekera—Fayne had a good night, Sekera was excellent carrying the puck and had some good looks, plus a couple of sublime passes and pinches. A solid game by the veteran. The Islanders blocked a lot of shots, but I did like the gaps all defenseman had when they made decisions. NYI didn’t pressure like the California teams, but I also felt the Oilers moved the puck crisply and seemed to have better looks. Fayne came in handy defensively including a denial of a pass headed to John Tavares in a danger zone.
- Davidson—Oesterle are a fun pair, they seem to fall and jump back up like weeble people. Oesterle appears to be about that height, as well. All joking aside, well done to both men and Brandon Davidson is emerging as a quality player. I think this might free up one of those other lefties for trade. Still not certain about top 4D, but he is playing so well I think we can say he is a quality third-pairing guy who can move up in case of injury. The modern Pisani is music. He was 1-1-2 last night, +2.
- Nurse—Clendening had some tough moments (the goal was ridiculous, should have heard a whistle after Clendening fell) but were able to hold their own. A quick look at opposition shows McLellan seemed to be trying to keep them from the tougher outs. Nurse played well enough in what I would call third-pairing minutes, and if the Oilers coaches have the discipline to keep him in that role, he probably plays well enough to stay. Bakersfield remains a reasonable option.
- Cam Talbot had another strong night. His .914 SP for the year remains below average, but he is still recovering from the early struggles. Talbot’s .914 is a wild upgrade from Ben Scrivens .890 one year ago.
OILERS CENTERS, LAST NIGHT
- Connor McDavid and his line had a great possession night, didn’t cash until late but held an edge in play. McDavid’s office is that landing strip from the blue line to the goal line RH side in the opposition end. He plays that real estate like a grand piano and he will end careers and create a generation of homeless defensemen.
- Anton Lander scored a goal! Area 51 has landed! Good for him, I am so happy for him.
- Mark Letestu had a tough night, took a goofy penalty and was on the for Isles goal He may be good enough for 4C next season, don’t think they will find a market for him today. His lack of EV offense is concerning.
- Leon Draisaitl and his line bled pretty badly at 5×5, but he scored the winning goal and made some great passes. Also made some poor decisions, check that, slow decisions, that the Islanders gobbled up. Not quite 100 percent, either by injury or exhaustion. I am pleased he cashed, these lines have been having hard times lately.
WINGERS LAST NIGHT
- Pouliot—Eberle skated miles, and I have to say the big winger provided fans with one of the truly brave moments in Rexall history. No idea how in the hell he stayed on the ice while enduring such incredible pain. Balls of a pirate, that guy. Word today is that he suffered a significant should injury, I suspect he could be done for the year. That was Mike Grier brave by Pouliot. Eberle used his skill to get his line into good situations, was not able to get many good looks himself.
- Korpikoski—Hendricks played pretty well against a tough assignment. They were the one line that didn’t score, but Letestu’s lines don’t score much this year. Hendricks is probably in play today, Oilers likely want to offload the Finn. Both had pretty good nights.
- Khaira—Yakupov did well, they played lesser competition but kept them at bay and the line scored a goal. I would like to see Yakupov get the push, no idea if it happens. If the Oilers plan on trading him today, the Russian had a nice game with some discipline.
- Hall—Kassian seemed reckless and in a hurry, but you can see this line has all kinds of potential. Kassian hits so hard it hurts the viewer. Hall had six shots and was pushing the river all night, despite the possession numbers. This line had some wobbly moments, as mentioned it seemed they were making slow decisions. I guess the best way to describe them is to recount a three-on-one where they didn’t get a shot. Turrible.
INDIVIDUAL HIGH-DANGER SCORING CHANCES
- Two: Taylor Hall
- One: Connor McDavid, Mark Letestu, Benoit Pouliot, Zack Kassian, Leon Draisaitl
More interest in FLA F Brandon Pirri. Hurt now, but a good scorer. EDM and NYR rumoured as previous suitors, but Staal takes out Rangers
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 29, 2016
This would be a very nice get for the Oilers in my opinion. If you put Brandon Pirri on 3L instead of Lauri Korpikoski, I think that represents an upgrade of impressive proportions. Hope it happens.
Two-year, one-way contract extension for EDM G Laurent Brossoit.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 29, 2016
Looks like the Oilers are settling all family business, getting Davidson under contract was followed quickly by this item. It may signal that Brossoit is the de facto NHL backup next season, but I would hope the Oilers add a legit third option. There is a real need for competition at this position. Elliotte Friedman reports the deal is a $750,000 times two, that puts the goaling cap at less than $5 million. Update: It is reportedly a one-way deal, so we have our answer about the future.
LOWETIDE TRADE DEADLINE CHEAT SHEET
- R Teddy Purcell—Traded for a third-round selection (I estimated a second).
- D Justin Schultz—Traded for a third round pick (I estimated a third).
- G Anders Nilsson—Traded for a low goalie prospect and a fifth-round selection in 2016.
- D Phil Larsen—Traded for a fifth-round pick in 2017.
- R Nail Yakupov—Lars Eller has been mentioned as a possible return, that would allow Edmonton to enter next season with an experienced (if pricey) 3C. The Pouliot injury may play into the decision, hope he stays.
- F Matt Hendricks—I will say a second-round pick, could be too high an estimate.
- D Mark Fayne—No one is mentioning his name, suggesting to me that either the Oilers have no interest in dealing him, or the term is too dear for contending teams. Either way, he is the best defensemen the Oilers have who is potentially available, and I will guess second-round pick.
- D Eric Gryba—If they trade him, he should fetch a fourth-round selection, about what he cost the Oilers.
- L Lauri Korpikoski—There seems to be some rumbling about Korpikoski, showing that NHL GMs don’t really pay close attention to performance and famous names rule the day. Fifth-round pick.
- C Anton Lander—He has played quite a bit recently. Has to be a showcase. Sixth-round pick.
I am on the Trade Deadline show today, beginning at 10 this morning, TSN1260. I will update the blog as I am able, but you can expect a complete post at 5pm Edmonton time this afternoon if the good lord is willing and the creek don’t rise.