It was one wild ride and there’s an enormous amount to discuss about the 2016-17 season. One problem: NO TIME! The Edmonton Oilers are playoff bound, and the San Jose Sharks will be flying all that hair into good old our town today or tomorrow. It’s playoffs 2017: Gird your loins!
If there’s one thing this city recognizes its greatness. Connor McDavid is an enormous talent, we know this because he does things no one else can. However, we are an unusual lot in that explaining greatness requires specific examples. Connor McDavid was in a flat out tie in the scoring race and the Calgary Flames had caught (and past) the good ship Oil not so very long ago.
In the final stretch of games, McDavid went hammer of the Gods and scored 28 points in 18 games. Bye Flames, Bye Crosby, Bye Felicia.
NO TIME, 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: 9-3-1, goal differential +15
- Oilers in April 2016: 1-1-0, goal differential -1
- Oilers in April 2017: 4-1-0, goal differential +5
- Oilers after 82, 2015-16: 31-43-8, goal differential -43
- Oilers after 82, 2016-17: 47-26-9, goal differential +36
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM APRIL
- At home to:
Anaheim(Expected:1-0-0) (Actual: 1-0-0)
- On the road to:
Kings, Sharks, Canucks(Expected: 1-1-1) (Actual: 2-1-0)
- At home to
Canucks(Expected: 1-0-0) (Actual: 1-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 3-1-1, seven points in five games
- Current results: 4-1-0, eight points in five games
THE 2016-17 EDMONTON OILERS (F)
- C Connor McDavid (82, 30-70-100). He is the best hockey player on the planet. There’s no real comment to make, beyond Oilers fans can never bitch about luck until the end of time. Seriously. The power and the glory. His 2.89 5×5/60 ranked No. 1 among forwards who played 1,000 or more minutes this season.
- C Leon Draisaitl (82, 29-48-77). Fantastic season and he won the race to become 97’s wingman. His passing is sublime and his size/strength means possession can be maintained longer. We’re still not sure where he’ll play the heart of his career, but this was a season to remember. Finished 2.05/60 5×5 scoring.
- R Jordan Eberle (82, 20-31-51). He finished the season with a hat-trick and that allowed him to post another 20 goals (sixth time, including fourth in a row). Eberle recovered handsomely from a poor start and finished the year owning a 1,76/60 number. Impressive down the stretch, he seems to have his quick release back.
- L Milan Lucic (82, 23-27-50). An unusual first season with the Oilers ended with some reasonable boxcars. He posted impressive power-play totals and was underwater in 5×5/60 scoring for the year. Late in the season, he showed why he is a unique player with several impressive games. Just 1.22 at 5×5 60, but his 7.04/60 at 5×4 meant he was No. 6 among NHL forwards with 100 or more minutes on the power play.
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (82, 18-25-43). His job 5×5 is to play tough opposition to a standstill and chip in offensively. Nuge fell short this season and it could cost him over the summer (trade). For now, we are seeing some nice progress offensively and hope for a strong postseason. He finished 1.45/60 scoring at 5×5, that represents real progress considered where he was not so long ago.
- L Patrick Maroon (81, 27-15-42). Impressive season and one of the true value contracts in the NHL this season. Edmonton will have to make a decision on paying him in the next 10 months, and at age 28 he’s probably a member of the Brett Callighen family. That said, he is a big part of a very successful line and had a strong season. He finished 1.82/60 at 5×5 and delivered 24 5×5 goals ranked him No. 5 league wide among scorers.
- C Mark Letestu (76, 16-19-35). A dandy 4C who jumped up as required, Todd McLellan employs Letestu in all manner of ways. Letestu is not a strong 5×5 offensive option (1.33/60) but scored 11 power-play goals plus two shorties. He has chem with Zack Kassian, in case that becomes important.
- R Zack Kassian (79, 7-17-24). One of the real revelations about this season. Kassian doesn’t look like the player we saw in Vancouver and Montreal, physically and in terms of performance. He drew a penalty last night on speed and determination, and has an offensive story to tell (1.74/60). He could be a successful 3R on this team next season. Seriously.
- F Drake Caggiula (60, 7-11-18). It took him forever and a day to finally catch a wave, but this young man was a late season delight. Went 3-5-8 in his final 15 games and we’ll see where he lands during the playoffs and in the fall. I still haven’t marked him as an offensive player, but am curious to see him over another full season.
- L Benoit Pouliot (67, 8-6-14). A dreadful season overall that featured a looney tunes start, he finally got the train moving after a long layoff. I remain suspicious about the extent of his injuries/maladies, but we’ll leave it for now. I have been accused of defending this player past reasonable, guilty as charged. See, here’s the thing: If you believe something, and the things you regard as facts confirm them, why would you back down? As fans, the least we can do is have the courage of our convictions. Good player, poor season.
- F Anton Slepyshev (41, 4-6-10). I’m not certain he’ll make it, seems the Oilers have a bunch of wingers looking for work and they are obscured by each other. For me, Slepy is the guy who looks to be emerging, but his handling suggests the coach prefers another. These things happen, but there’s a player here. Pretty sure.
- R Jesse Puljujarvi (28, 1-7-8). Our mannish boy learned the blues during a cold California winter and we’ll see what the fall brings to us. As is the case with Caggiula, I can’t mark JP as an offensive player yet. He was 0.59/60 scoring 5×5 without McDavid (200 minutes) and that’s not a big sample size and he’s 18 and and and. Edmonton needs him to be a legit scorer and there’s a pile of bonus money here too. I don’t think they can send him to the AHL again this fall without admitting the bloom is off the rose. People keep telling me his AHL numbers are fine, and that may be. I am less bullish on this player than on draft day, while remaining hopeful he’ll be a long term answer.
- L Matt Hendricks (42, 4-3-7). Every once in awhile this season I would get an email complaining that Hendricks was playing too much. He played half the games, folks, while McLellan busied himself auditioning replacements. Hendricks delivered what he could, and remains a game rooster on guile, blood, sweat and tears.
- C David Desharnais (18, 2-2-4). I expected more, but with veterans sometimes the big moments can save their seasons. If he can ignite some 5×5 offense on his line, the investment will be worth it. Edmonton needs his line to go.
- R Iiro Pakarinen (14, 2-2-4). Visually impressive, he hits like he’s a 1975 Philadelphia Flyer and he has scored more than your average callup. His 2.04/60 scoring at 5×5 is also very good, of course in a small sample size. Thing is, he doesn’t have good possession numbers, which could be a reflection of playing on the Hendricks-Letestu line, but we have a bit of evidence on him and it isn’t strong. We’ll see, I think the coach likes him over some others I rank higher.
THE 2016-17 EDMONTON OILERS (D)
- Oscar Klefbom (82, 12-26-38). Impressive numbers across the board, his 22:22 per night might be the most impressive number. We know the Woodmoney tells us he plays against elites almost as often as anyone, and the possession numbers are good. Finished 49.8 Corsi for 5×5 with Adam Larsson, that tandem was exactly what the Oilers needed to see.
- Andrej Sekera (80, 8-27-35). Underrated by many, Sekera was even better in his second Oilers season. Fire on the four on four, he can capably defend while also moving the puck up smartly by pass or carry. Determined checker, I love this guy’s game.
- Adam Larsson (79, 4-15-19). I like this player type more than most, and was very pleased to see Larsson’s effectiveness over an entire year. Sadly, he has his detractors, either because of his defensive style or because of the player he was traded for last June. I’m uncertain he will be an Oiler long term (booing hasn’t started yet, but this was a successful year), but I hope he stays.
- Matt Benning (62, 3-15-18). A tale of two seasons, with the early (larger) portion being sublime play with and without the puck. After his concussion (and recovery) there has been more wobble in his game, but overall this was a terrific addition.
- Kris Russell (68, 1-12-13). More words have been written about him than Carter has liver pills, but the Woodmoney tells us his pairing was useful against elites. I argued at the beginning (and argue now) that the problem isn’t Russell, the problem is a long-term deal with real money for Russell. That’s your worry, although one suspects he has priced himself out of Edmonton’s market.
- Darnell Nurse (44, 5-6-11). A strong second season for Nurse has fans in a much better frame of mind about his future. Injury ate a large hole in his season, but the underlying numbers (51.0 Corsi for 5×5 percentage, 0.8 Corsi Rel) and his impressive speed are good arrows.
- Eric Gryba (40, 2-4-6). He’s a solid 7D, played half the season and did much of the heavy work on his pairing. By this time next year, this job may belong to Griffin Reinhart. Gryba, a veteran, is probably better suited to the 7D role.
THE 2016-17 EDMONTON OILERS (G)
- Cam Talbot (73, 2.39 .919). The big number is 42 wins, a new Oilers record. Overall SP (.919) ranked him No. 10 among goalies with 35 or more games, and his .927 even-strength SP also ranked him No. 10 league wide. His SP against the PP fell during the year, his .877 total good for No. 15 among starters. A quality season, I would suggest he is a top 10 goalie in this year’s NHL.
- Laurent Brossoit (8, 1.99 .928). Impressive numbers, but he remains untested. The Oilers have to play him 20 games next season to find out about him.
WHO WILL WIN THE SERIES?
If San Jose is healthy, I think they should be favored to win the series, say in 6 games. For every Thornton or Couture missing, dock one game. Something like that. I don’t think this will be an easy series for either team, and believe Edmonton can win this one. Secondary scoring and strong special teams will be a key, and I am hopeful Todd McLellan is a little more determined with his line matching. More to come.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A full boat this morning, TSN1260 at 10. Scheduled to appear:
- Scott Burnside, ESPN. We have our matchups and they are fabulous!
- Dean Millard, TSN1260. Oilers playoffs and Sergio!
- Jason Gregor TSN1260. McDavid Hart? Who wins the Oilers-Sharks series?
- Sunil Agnihotri, Copper & Blue/The SuperFan. SJS-EDM head to head, and is that possession number improving?
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!