We’re counting down (thanks Casey Kasem) to the end of the season, with Connor McDavid’s point total and Oilers total points the last remaining things that hold importance (work with me here, people).
TIME PASSAGES, 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: 4-8-2
- Oilers in March 2015: 5-6-3
- Oilers in March 2016: 6-4-0
- Oilers after 74 in 2014-15: 21-40-13, 55 points (-75 GD)
- Oilers after 74 in 2015-16: 29-38-7, 65 points (-37 GD)
In G75 a year ago, the Oilers ripped through the Dallas Stars (!!!) 4-0, with Benoit Pouliot having a nice evening. The Oilers have a chance to post their second .500 month of the year, and they could also finish with 30 wins (first time since 2011-12 if they make it) and with 70 points (also first time since 2011-12, I think you could compare this team and that one—maybe we will).
- I wonder what metrics the Oilers use to evaluate their blue? If it is SCA/60, then Davidson, Klefbom, Gryba, Sekera, Nurse and Fayne would appear to be the best available. I don’t know, but it would be nice.
- I suspect they value possession (‘shot volume’!) and hope they know what a friend they have in Mark Fayne. Please find six better before you deal him, Mr. Chiarelli.
- Andrej Sekera is going to finish this season around 49 percent in possession. He won’t win team MVP, but he should get some votes.
- Defensive rookie of the year? Brandon Davidson, without a throw. Those top 10 picks (Nurse, Reinhart) might be wise to spend some time with Davidson and pick his brain on the finer points of the game. It isn’t the worst idea you will read today.
- Connor McDavid (37, 14-25-39) is still just coming into view. It takes awhile to comprehend the scale of greatness when it comes to giants. He is one. CM is the best rookie in the NHL this season, they won’t give him the Calder.
- Leon Draisaitl (64, 18-30-48) has a chance to reach 50 points before Sam Gagner, or RNH (joke). A splendid season, a wonderful career on the way. Best German NHL player ever? We are about to find out.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (50, 10-22-32) is back and I don’t care really if the numbers don’t count up to what we expected. I have decided to enjoy these games in case this is the last of him as an Oiler.
OILERS LEFT WINGERS, 2015-16
- Taylor Hall (74, 23-35-58) will lead the team in scoring again. He led the Oilers in points for the seasons ending 2013, 2014 and 2016.
- Patrick Maroon (65, 6-13-19) has enjoyed a very nice run (9, 2-4-6) after arriving from Edmonton, and I think he might end up being the best of the mid-season additions in Chiarelli’s first year. Of course, I would have said that about Zack Kassian a month ago, so it is a moving target and will be for another season.
- Benoit Pouliot (55, 14-22-36) has been missed. We would do well to remember that in the dog days of summer.
- Jujhar Khaira may be a better player than Lauri Korpikoski, but he will need an injury next season to prove it.
RIGHT WINGERS, 2015-16
- Jordan Eberle (61, 22-20-42) might have hit 30 with McDavid had he been healthy all year. Could he post 35 next season, if healthy? I would not bet against it.
- Zack Kassian (28, 3-4-7) is probably on the team next year. Although the offense has been no screaming hell, and the penalties are a pain, Kassian’s agitating style and skill allows the Oilers to present a different look in California and other places.
- Nail Yakupov (52-6-12-18) is so close to 50 percent in possession, has a nice high-danger scoring chance number and I think he could push 2.00/60 with a good center. New Jersey should trade for him at the draft, as they did with Kyle Palmieri last year.
- Iiro Pakarinen (57, 5-6-11) may catch Yak and Kassian at 5×5/60, and I think if that happens Todd McLellan will keep him for another season. Scratch that, I think it happens anyway.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) March 16, 2016
ETHAN BEAR, DRAFT PLUS ONE
Ethan Bear had a good night last night, going 1-2-3 in a comeback win for Seattle over the Portland Winterhawks. A player in draft plus one season should take a big step forward, and Bear (plus Caleb Jones) have done exactly that this season. Here are some fairly recent D+1 performances by CHL defenders taken by the Oilers:
- Ethan Bear 68, 19-45-64 0.941
- Martin Marincin 67, 14-42-56 0.836
- Darnell Nurse 64, 13-37-50 0.781
- Caleb Jones 71, 10-44-54 0.761
And now, let’s compare Bear and Jones to recent top 20 overall selections in their D+1 seasons:
- Anthony DeAngelo 55, 25-64-89 1.62 (2014)
- Josh Morrissey 59, 28-45-75 1.27 (2013)
- Ivan Provorov 62, 21-52-73 1.18 (2015)
- Travis Sanheim 67, 15-50-65 0.970 (2014)
- Thomas Chabot 47, 11-34-45 0.957 (2015)
- Ryan Pulock 66, 23-40-63 0.955 (2013)
- Ethan Bear 68, 19-45-64 0.941 (2015)
- Nikita Zadorov 36, 11-19-30 0.833 (2013)
- Darnell Nurse 64, 13-37-50 0.781 (2013)
- Caleb Jones 71, 10-44-54 0.761 (2015)
- Samuel Morin 54, 7-24-31 0.574 (2013)
- Haydn Fleury 63, 6-22-28 0.444 (2014)
- Jakub Zboril 50, 6-14-20 0.400 (2015)
The best of the best (Seth Jones, Aaron Ekblad) made the NHL or scooted straight to pro (Julius Honka), but both men show well in draft +1 against prospects who held a much higher pedigree. The trick is to keep it going and stretch it out in draft +2—but at this point signing these two prospects looks like a no-brainer. Congratulations to the Oilers scouting staff, and to Philadelphia—Provorov and Sanheim will soon be joining Shayne Gostisbehere on a young and fabulous blue.
One final note: Darnell Nurse is not a feature player on this list. We are not judging the complete range of skills, only the offensive portion. Still, it does give us a different view of the player when placed next to his rookie NHL year (61, 2-6-8 .131). His current comparable among Oilers rookies in the last 10 seasons? Ladislav Smid (77, 3-7-10 .130). I know, I know, early days, but math doesn’t care if someone is a highly-touted prospect, math only cares about math. Math is telling us something about Darnell Nurse this year.
On the draft, some scouts/GMs I talked to last week were discussing whether Juolevi might displace Tkachuk as consensus No. 4 after Big 3.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 16, 2016
LOTTERY APRIL 30
The NHL draft lottery goes at the end of April, and the Oilers are in a good position currently to win one of the first four spots in the order. The top three seems established (Matthews, Laine, Puljujarvi) but that middle area—No. 4 through No. 7—seems to be in flux. I posted my most recent 30 last Sunday and slotted Matthew Tkachuk, Jacob Chychrun, Mikhail Sergachev and Alex Nylander 4-7—then talked to a scout who told me the fourth best player in the draft is Olli Juolevi. That tells me that we are in the ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’ phase of the draft right now. Long stretch of highway before the final final.
OILERS CURRENT PICKS
- No. 3 overall (Puljujarvi likely)
- No. 33 overall (Carter Hart?)
- No. 63 overall
- No. 76 overall (Pittsburgh pick)
- No. 83 overall (Florida pick)
- No. 123 overall
- No. 148 overall (St. Louis pick)
- No. 153 overall
- No. 183 overall
I genuinely think the Oilers have to entertain offers for their first-round selection, and if the return addresses that defense, then Peter Chiarelli must pull the trigger. I don’t think many people believe it is the correct thing to do, but for me another phenom forward has less value to the Oilers than (possibly) any team in NHL history.
Peter Chiarelli added Cam Talbot, Andrej Sekera and Connor McDavid last summer. This summer, adding James Reimer, Jason Demers and Jesse Puljujarvi ignores the real issue. Now more than ever, he needs to add very smart bets on defense. Actual NHL players with some success against the other team’s best, who can play a two-way game—and that includes moving the puck consistently, and well.
That is his assignment. The pick has less value to Edmonton than any of the other 29 NHL teams. I believe this to be true.