There are a few things about this spring that are going to be different around here. Draft coverage is going to be sporadic and limited. Game day threads will increase by at least four, and we are going to have to discuss the possible summer transactions while other things are going on. So, even as the race for the Pacific Division crown is back on, we will spend a few minutes today looking ahead to summer.
COMING INTO LOS ANGELES, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-2-0, goal differential +10
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2, goal differential -6
- Oilers in November 2016: 5-8-2 goal differential -3
- Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1, goal differential -9
- Oilers in December 2016: 7-2-5, goal differential +3
- Oilers in January 2016: 4-5-2, goal differential -5
- Oilers in January 2017: 9-4-1, goal differential +8
- Oilers in February 2016: 3-8-2, goal differential -18
- Oilers in February 2017: 6-6-0, goal differential -2
- Oilers in March 2016: 8-8-0, goal differential +5
- Oilers in March 2017: 5-2-1, goal differential +8
- Oilers after 72, 2015-16: 27-38-7, goal differential -42
- Oilers after 72, 2016-17: 39-24-9, goal differential +24
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MARCH
- At home to:
Detroit, NY Islanders, Pittsburgh, Montreal(Expected: 2-2-0) (Actual 1-2-1)
- At home to:
Dallas, Boston, Vancouver, Los Angeles(Expected: 3-1-0) (Actual 4-0-0)
- On the road to: Anaheim, Colorado (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual: 0-0-0)
- At home to: Colorado, Los Angeles, San Jose (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual: 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 7-5-1, 15 points in 13 games
- Current results: 5-2-1, 11 points in 8 games
The club is one point ahead of our projection, and it looks like November will be the only poor month of the season. Due to the whole world going crazy, the Oilers have a chance at finishing first in the Pacific Division, making this a bigger game. More in a minute.
There are a bunch of questions that are rolling around in my mind, a few you have passed along and several I have read about pertaining to the overall health and future of the team.
- Will Jesse Puljujarvi get the call? There isn’t a need currently, so barring an injury or a string of bad games, I don’t see it. Edmonton can send down Jujhar Khaira, but who do they move out of the lineup to get JP there? The three men rotating (Caggiula, Hendricks, Slepyshev) around two spots on the 4line seem to be more established with this team. Maybe a quick recall before heading back down, but there’s no hockey reason (imo) to call him up.
- How far is the gap between the Oilers with and without McDavid at 5×5? It isn’t close. Edmonton is under 50 percent in Corsi for 5×5 overall now, after a long period of heading in the wrong direction. When McDavid is on the ice at 5×5, the club grooves at 52.8 percent. Without him? Shy of 48 percent.
- Are you alarmed by that gap? No, I think it was predictable. We didn’t discuss it much until now because the overall was 50 or better, but we did discuss the issue before the season. Edmonton lacks balance, they have issues and we can hope for better results but the club have one man who can push the river. Among centers, RNH (48.9), David Desharnais (47.2) and Mark Letestu (45.5) are all below 50 percent. Considering the quality of opponent (and time on ice against them), I will suggest Nuge’s number is solid (although the offense is shy). After that? Oilers are not a balanced them. If I had claimed they were, and these results arrived 70 games into the season? Sure. But we weren’t kidding ourselves about balance and depth for this team.
- Will we see major moves this summer? Yes. I think Edmonton will add a shooter on RW, a veteran RHD (it could range in terms of style, much depends on PC’s view of Klefbom/Benning and their offense), a backup goalie and some extra draft picks.
- Name the additions. Impossible. Names who make sense include T.J. Oshie, Sam Gagner, Tyson Barrie, Justin Faulk, Travis Hamonic, Anders Nilsson. I doubt Oshie is coming here, although the McDavid kavorka may change that for Oshie and others.
PETER CHIARELLI’S SUMMER LIST (TAKE ONE)
- Sign Connor McDavid.
- Sign Leon Draisaitl.
- Sign Zack Kassian.
- Find a righty shooter for McDavid’s line and the power play.
- Find a veteran RHD to play second pair with Andrej Sekera.
- Find a backup goalie.
- Find NHL and minor league answers for the talent shortage at forward. Kyle Dutra is a recent minor league example.
- Sign a bunch of college free-agent forwards.
- Add a second-round selection.
These are early days and this list is going to change, but everything on this list makes sense to me. A volume shooter for the 97 line, a veteran RHD to replace Russell (who I am guessing will receive substantial offers that leave EDM out in the cold), a backup and then push for forward prospects.
PROJECTED 2017-18 LINEUP
- Maroon-McDavid-Radim Vrbata
- Sekera-Michael Stone
- Griffin Reinhart
- Talbot (Anders Nilsson)
The other option is dealing Nuge for Justin Faulk or Travis Hamonic, and then signing a $4M checking center. That makes a lot of sense, too. It might become necessary depending on contracts for Leon and Kassian.
It’s a big old goofy world, folks. How on earth did we get here? Oilers win tonight and they are within two points of the Sharks! Connor McDavid, you are a shooting star.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A morning with shifting sands has me working on a few guests as we speak. My goal is to shoot out to Anaheim and then track to Toronto for some Jays talk. F1 and other subjects out in the ether, I can say we have Darcy McLeod at 10:20 to talk Oil and Steve Kournianos from The Draft Analyst at 11:25 to talk about college free agents and spiking draft eligibles. 10 this morning, TSN1260. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide twitter.