The love rollercoaster of playoff hockey hit “who the hell picked this team to win?” around midnight on Wednesday. Since then, Edmonton has been walking around a half bubble off plumb. Oh sure, things are fine, and no matter what happens this has been a great season. Still, the heart wants what it wants, and since old man winter is still wearing Stanfield’s and we all have shovels in our hands, can’t we make this hockey season last a little while? Tonight’s the night!
THE 1988 STANLEY
- Names on the Cup: Keith Acton, Glenn Anderson, Jeff Beukeboom, Geoff Courtnall, Grant Fuhr, Randy Gregg, Wayne Gretzky CAPTAIN, Dave Hannan, Charlie Huddy, Mike Krushelnyski, Jari Kurri, Normand Lacombe, Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, Kevin McClelland, Marty McSorley, Mark Messier, Craig Muni, Bill Ranford, Craig Simpson, Steve Smith, Esa Tikkanen Peter Pocklington Owner, Glen Sather General Manager and Coach.
- Craig Simpson and Dave Hannan came over from Pittsburgh in the giant Paul Coffey trade in November; Keith Acton came over from Minnesota in January for Moe Mantha; Geoff Courtnall came over from Boston (with Billy Ranford) in March in the Andy Moog deal; Norm Lacombe came over the previous March in that Fogolin/Napier deal, but didn’t catch on until the following year. If you ever get a chance to ask him about the ‘crossing over’ move that Messier and Anderson perfected, you won’t regret it. Funny damned story.
- First round: Beat the Jets (of course) in five games.
- Second round: Swept the Flames in a clear case of sweet justice.
- Third round: Beat the Red Wings in five games.
- Stanley Cup Final: Oilers sweep Bruins in four games (although it took five).
- Quoting Steve Lansky from the canceled game summary: Game stopped at 16:37 (2131 h et) of second pd due to total power failure at Boston Garden. All statistics from this game are counted in players’ Stanley Cup totals.
- Wayne Gretzky recorded his final point as an Edmonton Oiler in the second period of the final game of the 1988 season. It was May 25, Wayne Gretzky 12 (Esa Tikkanen, Steve Smith) 9:44 PPG GWG. 99 would win the Conn Smythe, same evening.
These playoffs, and all of the playoffs that have gone before, do a brilliant job of exposing weakness. Even Stanley Cup winners need fixing over the summer, as you can see the glory Oilers tweaked every year. Many of the 1980s moves (Coffey, Moog in the season above) involved money and I think we’re going to see a money deal (or two) this summer.
- Graduating from the Farm: Jesse Puljujarvi, Anton Slepyshev, Jujhar Khaira and Griffin Reinhart. Laurent Brossoit can also be included in this category.
- Needs: My list (goalie out) is backup goalie, second-pairing RHD, 3C, Scoring RW, cap relief.
- Internal solutions: G (Brossoit): RHD (None); 3C (None); Scoring RW (Puljujarvi).
- Cap Relief: One of the Steve Austins, Benoit Pouliot, Mark Fayne.
I think there are two reasonable internal solutions (Laurent Brossoit, Jesse Puljujarvi) and several interesting free-agents (Martin Hanzal, Cody Franson). Why Franson? The Woodmoney has him at 50.5% DFF against elites (DFF Rel: 4.8%) and his CorsiRel (Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com) ranks No. 5 among all NHL defensemen (750 or more minutes). Could the Oilers acquire Franson and remain under the cap?
Now, there’s still $1M from the Lauri Korpikoski buyout and Mark Fayne’s $2.675M deal is part of the scenario. There’s also the overage from the McDavid/Leon/others bonuses, so the number I have placed here is probably too much (Oilers will need more room).
I keep reading about Pouliot deals and Fayne going in the expansion draft, and maybe LV does Peter Chiarelli a favor. I think it more likely we see a Steve Austin dealt for a less expensive version.
WHICH ONE WILL IT BE?
A year ago, Peter Chiarelli dealt his most valuable trade piece in order to acquire Adam Larsson. Among the attributes valued in Larsson as a return? The contract. For that reason, I think Nuge makes more sense as the likely trade piece leaving this summer. Ideally a RHD or RHC, probably need to shave $2M in salary.
Yesterday, I mentioned this as an option (vaguely) and received some pushback about dealing RNH. Make no mistake, he’s my favorite Oilers player (non-McDavid division) and I absolutely hope he stays. I hoped the same for Hall, did no good. Nuge has the most value, he’ll be the ask.
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) April 14, 2017
Dylan Wells entered his draft year as a highly touted prospect, but struggled to find consistency for the wildly inconsistent Peterborough Petes. This season has been a revelation, and the young man followed up a fine regular year (.916SP) with a stellar playoffs so far (.944SP). Last night, he even scored a goal, and not one of those cheap ‘last guy to touch the puck’ ones either. If they did a re-draft, Wells would not be the tenth goalie chosen in 2016. This is a bona fide NHL prospect.
GAME 1, WITH OR WITHOUT YOU
- Oilers Corsi for 5×5 with Connor McDavid: 14-14, 50.0%
- Oilers Corsi for 5×5 without Connor McDavid: 17-40 29.8%
The Oilers were 14-9 Corsi for 5×5 and up 2-0 after one period, and from there went 17-45 over two periods. Give San Jose credit, they pressured the defensemen and created more turnovers than Pillsbury. I expect we will see a far better effort from all involved, and the Sharks have some issues of their own (Martin Jones, health). That said, tonight is a massive game and the Sharks are a quality NHL team. Godspeed, Edmonton Oilers, rip their lungs out!
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260’s ALL DAY PREGAME continues with the Lowdown. Scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, BigMouthSports. Oilers in the playoffs, Steve will give his review of Game 1 (are you ready for this?) and preview Game 2.
- Jake Sundstrom, Fear the Fin. Well known Sharks blogger predicted an Oilers series win and now he’s jinxed them!
- Alex Thomas, The Oilers Rig. What do the Oilers need to do tonight to even the series?
- Paul Almeida, SSE. We’ll talk defense and lineup changes.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!