McDavid Freeway

Connor McDavid in full flight is poetry—pure speed, creativity, astonishing hand-eye, intoxicating. I’m sure there are other things on planet earth that delight the brain and shock the eye as much or more, but in the northern city of Edmonton No. 97 is the only game in town. Last night, the young man gifted fans with something very special. You hold on to these moments, they are worthy of being remembered for a lifetime. Jesus, Mary and Joseph what a hockey player.

THE ATHLETIC

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I LIKE YOU, LLOYD. I ALWAYS LIKED YOU, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • February 2016: 2-0-0, goal differential +9 (4 points)
  • February 2017: 0-2-0, goal differential -3
  • February 2018: 1-0-1, goal differential +3 (3 points)

Interesting start to the month in all three seasons. The 15-16 bunch were celebrating Connor McDavid’s return (he was back for both February games) and the 2016-17 group were in a lull before breaking off an insane run to the final bell. This year’s model? They’re on a good run now, fun game last night.

AFTER 51, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • Oilers 15-16: 20-26-5, goal differential -26 (45 points)
  • Oilers 16-17: 28-15-8, goal differential +21 (64 points)
  • Oilers 17-18: 23-24-4, goal differential -20 (50 points)

It’s taken all season but the Oilers are close to a point-per-game pace and could make it so with a victory tomorrow night. Huzzah! There were some really good things going on last night, wonder if this crew can push back into the outer edges of the playoff race before spring. They are 5-1-1 in the last seven, that’s some stout brew.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM FEBRUARY

  • At home to: Colorado, Tampa Bay (Expected 0-1-1) (Actual 1-0-1)
  • On the road to: Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • At home to: Florida (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • On the road to: Vegas, Arizona, Colorado (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • At home to: Boston, Colorado (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • On the road to: Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose (Expected 0-2-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • Overall expected result: 5-6-3, 13 points in 14 games
  • Current results: 1-0-1, three points in two games

The Oilers got three out of four points at home and are ahead of my projection. I have them grabbing three points from the three road games this week, it will be interesting to see how much success they have in California. The Kings are 4-6-0 in their last 10, put the boots to Arizona on the weekend.

DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT

  • Sekera-Davidson went 17-8 together in 14:01, 7-2 in scoring chances and no goals were scored during 5×5. Went 11-5 against Kunitz-Callahan-Peca. Sekera had at least one stressful moment but the pairing kept the puck going in a good direction.
  • Nurse-Russell went 12-20, and 2-1 GF in 15:40. SC’s were 10-8 on the night, they were 10-10 against Kucherov-Namestnikov-Stamkos and that’s the top line in TBAY. The GA was on Nurse’s stick for an instant but he couldn’t do much with it.
  • Klefbom-Benning were 12-22 in 15:25 (equal playing time during the evening for the three pairings). Went 7-9 in scoring chances, faced Killorn-Gourde-Peca and went 5-14. That line is diabolical. Klefbom didn’t clear on a PK GA, he had more heartbeats that Nurse to move it but couldn’t fire the neurons.
  • Cam Talbot stopped 31 of 33, .939. His return to form would be an exceptional turn for the entire organization. I thought he played quite well last night.
  • NaturalStatTrick and NHL.com.

FORWARDS, LAST NIGHT

  • Slepyshev-Letestu-Pakarinen went 11-6 in 7:19 and the Pakarinen goal came at 5×5. I like the trio, good to see Slepy grab a point. The point of a four line is to get the puck deep, forecheck, keep the play 200 feet from the net. Line did a good job it and scored to boot.
  • Maroon-Strome-Caggiula had some real chem, going 12-12 in 11:31 together. Were 5-5 in scoring chances and there were no goals. Strome had a terrific game and has five points in his past three games. I like him at center, and have really liked his last few games. He had a run starting with the Boston game awhile back too, hopefully this current hot streak runs a little longer for him. Nice chem with Caggiula.
  • Cammalleri-McDavid-Draisaitl were 13-20 together in 15:10, 3-0 in GF and 6-0 in HD scoring chances. Were 7-12 against the Stamkos line but were 1-0 in GF against them. Hedman was effective against McDavid, they’ll no doubt see a lot of each other in the final. 97 said he had a good nap when asked about the brilliant performance, what a talented player.
  • Lucic-Khaira-Puljujarvi went 9-13 together, 0-1 in GF, 7-6 in SCF and 4-3 in HDSC’s. There were several good moments for the line, I thought Lucic had his best game in some time, had some nice looks. Puljujarvi is using his speed well, Khaira is crashing, too. I like him at center.

Worth every penny and more, next year’s contract will remain a bargain. McDavid began last night’s game No. 13 in scoring, today he is tied for No. 3. He now leads the NHL  in even-strength points.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

At 10 this morning, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:

  • Jonathan Willis, The Athletic. Oilers big win last night, cap dictates deadline.
  • Andy McNamara, TSN. Eagles win! Browns own the draft!
  • Scott Cullen, TSN. Handicapping the NHL playoffs.

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.

 

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261 Responses to "McDavid Freeway"

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  1. OriginalPouzar says:

    JimmyV1965:
    I think we need to trade Maroon, unless it will do something completely awful inside the dressing room. I think we can acquire a significant asset in a deadline deal.Even if we’re close to the playoffs at the deadline he should go. We can always resign him in the summer.

    I think part of the problem with Chia is he gets ideas in his head that we must have certain players. And signs them at any cost. Although I like him better than Lucic, the loss of his on ice performance will have only a tiny ripple on this team.

    With STL in need of a forward who can score and play in the playoffs (as Maroon can) and having almost zero cap space ($200K which would allow for like an $800k cap hit player acquisition), Maroon and his small cap hit must be very enticing and appealing to the Blues.

    There is a deal to be made there and that does not preclude management from bringing back Maroon.

    If Maroon really wants to sign here and they get the parameters of a deal put in place why wouldn’t Maroon be just fine with going to STL of all places for a playoff run and then signing back in Edmonton?

  2. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    OriginalPouzar: 1) Lucic’s NMC does not mean that he is not willing to be traded but simply that he has a say in it, a veto.I don’t doubt that his wife and kids do like Edmonton but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he agrees to waive to go to a number of destinations.Would anyone be shocked if he refused a trade to NY, LA, CHI, PHI, ANA, etc.? In fact, I would be surprised if he blocked any such trade.

    2) From accounts, the expansion draft rules will be very similar to the Vegas draft and, given the rumored timing of the SEA franchise, Benson and Yamamoto will be exempt.

    1) Lucic I think wants to stay out West for family reasons, which is very understandable. He has won his Cups he does not need to chase that with an Eastern team. Is it possible he waives his NMC? Yes. Is it likely? No.

    2) I thought the timing would have Benson and Yamamoto past year 2 as pros. I guess it depends on when Yamamoto’s clock starts ticking. I may stand corrected then. Good news if so, but the Oilers’ situation still is not ideal with 2 NMCs. Sekera will be done before then, right.

  3. Gret99zky says:

    OriginalPouzar: I don’t have this year’s numbers but last year Maroon was one of the very few Oilers that had positive possession metrics away from McDavid.

    I know you feel otherwise, but I believe last year was an outlier.

    As GM, I would not base any contract going forward on last year.

  4. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    I thought the Oesterle top pairing experiment would be a temporary thing in Chicago. Surprised it’s still going on. PP time and #1 minutes on the team every night ahead of Keith, playing with him on the right side despite being a left shot. Interesting.

  5. who says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker): 1) Lucic I think wants to stay out West for family reasons, which is very understandable. He has won his Cups he does not need to chase that with an Eastern team. Is it possible he waives his NMC? Yes. Is it likely? No.

    2) I thought the timing would have Benson and Yamamoto past year 2 as pros. I guess it depends on when Yamamoto’s clock starts ticking. I may stand corrected then. Good news if so, but the Oilers’ situation still is not ideal with 2 NMCs. Sekera will be done before then, right.

    Wrong. Sekera is signed for the same duration as Russell.

  6. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    who: Wrong. Sekera is signed for the same duration as Russell.

    His NMC is valid in the final year? I can’t follow all the clauses.

  7. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    who,

    I thought it just becomes a modified NTC, meaning he can be exposed to the expansion draft?

  8. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    Russell has a NMC for 2020-2021, the expansion year.

  9. OriginalPouzar says:

    Sekera’s NMC is gone after next year.

    I still believe there are plenty of destinations Lucic would waive for.

  10. who says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker):
    who,

    I thought it just becomes a modified NTC, meaning he can be exposed to the expansion draft?

    I thought they both had modifed NMC’S after next season. They would both have to submit a list of teams they could be traded to before the 19/20 season. That’s my understanding.

  11. Scungilli Slushy says:

    Who is right behind Maroon in scoring on the OIlers?

    Strome.

    Maroon does not produce at a high level given usage.

    Oh, Strome has 2 more goals.

    I understand the narrative around a scoring winger, but really anybody who can pot 20 with 82 in the top 6 and not be a defensive shit show is enough in a capped league.

    Especially the McDavid Draisaitl Oilers. They cannot afford another expensive winger because Lucic. And he doesn’t do that bad at his pay – second line points are going up in price as all salaries do every year. Wait until this summer’s contracts are done and the year after.

    And they don’t need a high scoring winger. Their scoring is backbone centre ice. They just need some guys to finish a bit better.

    I can’t say for sure if Cags JP Khaira and Slepy can, but they aren’t that hard to replace with other lesser contracts, I think they can cover the bet with consistent usage and 82 games by the end of the season.

  12. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    who: I thought they both had modifed NMC’Safter next season. They would both have to submit a list of teams they could be traded to before the 19/20 season. That’s my understanding.

    Russell:
    NMC and modified NTC it says
    https://www.capfriendly.com/players/kris-russell

    So he would have to be protected in the expansion draft?

    Sekera:
    Modified NTC
    https://www.capfriendly.com/players/andrej-sekera

    So he would be expansion draft eligible.

    Or so it would seem? I am not a cap expert and that’s why I was asking here.

  13. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    OriginalPouzar:
    Sekera’s NMC is gone after next year.

    I still believe there are plenty of destinations Lucic would waive for.

    Yes on first part. On the second, maybe. But he wouldn’t waive it this summer–some posters were suggesting they need to get out from under his or Russell’s contract this summer but neither scenario seems realistic. So we are looking at some tough choices this summer.

    Strome: QO of $3M is too much
    Maroon: what bump from $1.5M is fair? What can they afford?
    2RHD: this is a glaring hole still and there is no money to address it.
    Nuge: Is he therefore gone? That’s a huge decision to make.

    If the decision is Nuge gone for a lesser player and cap space to sign Strome then it’s a really bad decision. Regardless of what happens with Nuge they should not overpay Strome. If they trade Nuge first then Strome gets even more leverage because he knows the Oilers can’t afford to lose him, too.

  14. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    One more note and then I am done…I do love the optimism still left from some posters to make the playoffs this season, and saw suggestions that 93 points could cut it.

    Current pace for the Wildcard cutoff is 97.5 pts. For the Oilers to get to 97 pts they need to go 21-5-5. It’s not impossible, but it’s almost that.

    I would settle for a good run to 90 pts or so and figuring out the Stromes and Puljujarvi roles for next year, as well as getting some more at-bats to see what we have in Slepy and such.

  15. slopitch says:

    It’s too hard to make sweeping statements about who can’t be traded. I think the Nuge is great but if they could get a Duchene type return you do it no? The avs got more for Duchene then the oilers did for pronger. Any move where you win the trade needs to be done because Chai has bled assets on every damn trade so far. A boring (but effective) summer as LT puts it is likely the best available option just need to consider them all imo. Trade Maroon. Trade Letestu. Trade Camalleri. If you can sign Maroon this offseason, sure. But they need to be frugal.

    Maybe Burnaby Joe wants to move Ott 1st, Col 1st and a prospect for Nuge. That could really set this team up for the McDavid cup push.

  16. Georges says:

    Jethro Tull: That is not an honest question, particularly the day after McDavid goes supernova.And have you heard of outlier seasons?

    https://www.hockey-reference.com/coaches/mclelto01c.html

    https://www.hockey-reference.com/coaches/gallage01c.html

    Gallant may well be coaching his little heart out while Todd has an off year.

    (First off, much respect.)

    Take a look at the season log on the SJS franchise page on hockey reference. (Not going to provide the link because LT’s spam filter doesn’t seem to like me posting links.)

    How would you say McLellan’s tenure compares with Wilson’s and DeBoer’s, the two before and after SJS coaches? It looks like McLellan took over a winning team and failed to move that team forward in his 7 seasons in charge.

    Then, take a look at the EDM franchise page. Would you say McLellan moved the needle in his first season here? Did we even get beyond Todd Nelson? A less “respected” coach (like Nelson) would have probably had to figure it out with what he had. Or get fired. But McLellan was a big enough deal to force a reset after 15-16. That reset team from last season had the best forward talent in the WC. Its run, as we all know, ended in the 2nd round. 2nd round exit wasn’t that team’s ceiling.

    But McLellan had to deal with the awfulness of the 2015-16 d-corps. How awful were they? It turns out one of those guys was good enough to play top 4 and PP minutes for two of PIT’s cup runs. Another one is playing first pair with Keith in CHI. And a 3rd has managed to see 17 minutes a night for half the games VGK has played this season. Who knew they had it in ’em? Maybe our veteran HC? Well, he thought Klef was a 25 minute a night defenseman to start this season. So it’s really hard to judge our players by this HC’s handling of them. We have all sorts of evidence now to call his personnel acumen into question.

    The 2015-16 team had CMD and Hall for 45 games. They went 17-25-3 in those games. Which works out to a .411 P%… worse than Nelson managed. Nelson did it without CMD and mostly without Hall.

    That, it turns out, was an enormous tell. McLellan had a track record based on coaching a strong SJS franchise. He stepped into a winning program. He wasn’t part of creating one. When asked to create one with a flawed roster (but a better roster than Nelson had), he did less than Nelson, a much less respected coach who’s currently out of the NHL.

    Now, take a look at Gallant’s tenure on the CBJ page, his first career coaching stint. Joined a bad team. Made no difference. Got fired before the 3-year mark. Typical career for a lot of coaches.

    But Gallant managed to land a second stint in FLA. Joined a bad team again. But, this time, managed a turnaround in his first season and added a strong second season with a playoff appearance. The early playoff exit made him vulnerable though. A slightly winning start to the third season led to him, his assistant, and their suitcases looking for a ride to the airport. Tough outcome in the details, but not atypical, particularly for a coach without playoff credentials.

    Gallant is doing well in the regular season with VGK. He’s outperformed expectations like he did in FLA. He’s obviously made more out of what he has to work with. But Gallant hasn’t won a playoff round either. That matters. For his sake, I hope he’s using the “in it to win it” cliche with his players come playoff time, instead of the less inspiring “we’re playing with house money now boys” approach our HC took last season.

    Coaches are always on the clock. They have about 3 years if they’re not undeniably brutal. They get another one or two if they win or if they come close. Trotz and Ruff are aberrations: coaches with very long tenures who didn’t win it all. Cooper has had a long and sort of successful run with TBL. He’ll likely get fired if they don’t win it all this year. Same for Maurice if he doesn’t at least get WPG to the WC Finals. And these two are having fantastic regular seasons.

    McLellan isn’t having a fantastic regular season. He’s taken a team favored to make the Finals, a team that has had no significant injuries (until recently) to its top talent coming in, and led that team straight out of the playoffs. If the GM is at all interested in winning, McLellan will get fired at the end of the season… unless he does what he was expected to do at the beginning of the season: take the team he was given to the Finals. If he doesn’t do it this year, based on the historical data and his record with the team so far, he’s not doing it in any other year.

    Either result, Cup Finals or firing, McLellan will have a new experience this year and become a better coach than he has been up to now.

  17. Georges says:

    rickithebear,

    This is the clearest and most persuasive account of your ideas I’ve read so far.

    Glad you’re posting again!

  18. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    Georges,

    Well said. And it only gets tougher from here as the McDavid ELC is done. I do also put some of the onus on the GM who constructed this roster and has fat contracts and NMCs sprinkled throughout the lineup for complementary players.

  19. digger50 says:

    Georges,

    So well said Georges

  20. who says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker): Yes on first part. On the second, maybe. But he wouldn’t waive it this summer–some posters were suggesting they need to get out from under his or Russell’s contract this summer but neither scenario seems realistic. So we are looking at some tough choices this summer.

    Strome: QO of $3M is too much
    Maroon: what bump from $1.5M is fair? What can they afford?
    2RHD: this is a glaring hole still and there is no money to address it.
    Nuge: Is he therefore gone? That’s a huge decision to make.

    If the decision is Nuge gone for a lesser player and cap space to sign Strome then it’s a really bad decision.Regardless of what happens with Nuge they should not overpay Strome. If they trade Nuge first then Strome gets even more leverage because he knows the Oilers can’t afford to lose him, too.

    It will make it even tougher to trade Russell if his new team is forced to protect him in expansion draft. Probably means that Sekera will be the guy leaving after next year.
    As for next year I see two options.
    1. Keep all their big contracts and try to fill the holes with cheap vets or unproven young players who might not have a huge upside. No one is giving us their best prospects without a significant asset going the other way.
    2. Look for a quality RD and/or scoring winger. This would probably involve trading Nuge and/or Klefbom to make room under the cap and to acquire these type of players.
    I know that option number 1 didn’t work that well this year but it is still the option I prefer for next year.

  21. digger50 says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker):
    Georges,

    Well said. And it only gets tougher from here as the McDavid ELC is done. I do also put some of the onus on the GM who constructed this roster and has fat contracts and NMCs sprinkled throughout the lineup for complementary players.

    Yes, agree GM owns a lot as well.

    Though as the season wears on I come to realize how much the coach seemed to force the GMs hand.

    He could not salvage talent from old Oilers
    He would not play LB
    He would not play Fayne or Pouliot
    He constantly threw Eberle under the bus
    He has not been able to create a stable line up, causing uncertainty to this day on various players. This incertainty causes GM to “send out player availability e mails”

  22. Gret99zky says:

    Georges,

    Excellent post. Thank you.

  23. Munny says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker):
    Munny,

    I may have underestimated Miller’s value around the league. I thought our high 2nd and a D prospect might do it. Then trade Maroon for a 2nd which will be later of course.

    If that is not enough then yeah, pass. Hoffman asking price seems way too high. Plus we can’t afford 5.1m

    If we can get a 2nd for Maroon and Miller at that price, then I’d consider it. It’s basically a poorer 2nd and a prospect to roll back 4 years and take on some dressing room risk, so I’d think long and hard. Miller should be a three time 20 goal man by end of season, so you’re right, he might be pricey (and in demand).

  24. Bling says:

    Georges,

    The goaltending has been below average all season.

    For a close-to-home example of how bad goaltending can crater a good team, look at the 2006/2007 Oiler team that went to the final. Goaltending was a complete mess until Roloson arrived. How about the Flames and Jets in recent seasons?

    Blaming the coaches for everything ignores recent history.

    I will agree that the coaches deserve some heat for the special teams. I do think they stuck with Letestu and Lucic too long on PP1 (slow = poor puck recovery).

    However, both of McDavid and Draisaitl are sometimes guilty of moving the puck too slowly. I doubt that this is something that is coached.

    The other problem is, the PP was quite good last season. Same coaching staff…did they suddenly get stupid overnight? Seems unlikely to me. I think they were stubborn a bit, but I do think the players have to take some of the blame for not executing.

  25. Georges says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker):
    Georges,

    Well said. And it only gets tougher from here as the McDavid ELC is done. I do also put some of the onus on the GM who constructed this roster and has fat contracts and NMCs sprinkled throughout the lineup for complementary players.

    Did you enter Hunter’s contest at the beginning of the season? If so, what was your number? If not, did you see the roster that we had at the start of the season finishing well out of the playoffs?

    The reason I ask is because there were a set of assumptions about this roster that seemed reasonable at the beginning of the season that no longer seem reasonable now. The roster hasn’t changed (that much) but the expectations of that roster have. Dramatically, although to some extent, there seems to be a lot of axe-grinding in the fan base over past decisions.

    It’s one thing to say the GM, in his third season, has constructed a roster that’s incapable of winning the Cup. It’s quite another to say that he’s constructed a roster that’s incapable of making the playoffs. Especially when the part of the game that mostly involves coaching and set plays explains the entire difference between in and out of the playoffs.

    The HC has had 3 seasons and 3 rosters. I really feel every one of those rosters underachieved.

    But the GM keeps flipping rosters, so, yes, he’s cost the team by not identifying and dealing with the problem quickly. Did PC hire McLellan or did Nicholson hire McLellan?

    Contracts, I haven’t thought much about. Not sure what they have to do with what we’ve seen this season. Unless, you’re saying our players aren’t good enough to make the playoffs.

  26. Bobcaygeon says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker):
    Lucic got his NMC and 7 year deal so that he would not be dealt nor bought out. So why would he give that up?

    It’s Chia’s fault for agreeing to it.

    The own goal was made worse by the Russell deal.

    Both players are decent players but each with major flaws. But 10m paid to those 2 while we have to choose between Nuge and Maroon is all Chia boxing himself in.

    Imagine next when Seattle comes in and you have NMCs to Lucic, Russell you have to put on your list.

    McDavid, Drai, Lucic, Pulju
    Nurse, Klef, Larsson, Russell

    Goodbye Yamamoto or Benson or Jones or Bear

    A competent GM would simply tell the player, pick 10 teams you would waive your NMC for and that GM will do his best to facilitate a trade.
    If the player can’t read between the lines then that’s on the player.

  27. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    digger50: Yes, agree GM owns a lot as well.

    Though as the season wears on I come to realize how much the coach seemed to force the GMs hand.

    He could not salvage talent from old Oilers
    He would not play LB
    He would not play Fayne or Pouliot
    He constantly threw Eberle under the bus
    He has not been able to create a stable line up, causing uncertainty to this day on various players. This incertainty causes GM to “send out player availability e mails”

    Add: he added at least 1.5m to the Drai contract by deploying him as 1RW for half the year last year if you want.

  28. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    Bobcaygeon: A competent GM would simply tell the player, pick 10 teams you would waive your NMC for and that GM will do his best to facilitate a trade.
    If the player can’t read between the lines then that’s on the player.

    But even if he reads between the lines he does not have to waive if he does not want to.

  29. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    Georges,

    I was taking a long break from this blog. In part. yes, because I saw the roster as a downgrade and I was frustrated with a few folks who called me dumb for criticizing Chiarelli.

    There’s no point in wasting anyone’s time by dredging those conversations up. I saw the Oilers in a dogfight for a wild card apot or maybe 3rd in the Division if San Jose fell back. Of course I did not foresee that Vegas would be the Division leader.

    So no, I did not participate or call a number. But I was upset because I did see a risk of missing the playoffs with an apathetic summer by management.

    I also said numerous times last year’s team overachieved. I thought that was a 95-98pt roster that got great health and a career performance from Talbot and McDavid went supernova to get us to 103. If the roster remained the same I would have expected some internal growth from players but also worse luck. So still a 95-98pt team

    But to me the roster was further downgraded on skill. And I thought Talbot would be worse– not quite this bad mind you.

    Hence bubble playoff team. Where would that be points wise? Maybe 93

    I did not foresee the awful special teams. That is luck and coaching.

    So I see both components of the management team aa culpable.

    Still I want to stay the course and retool not blow up more value That means Nuge stays. To me Nuge needs to stay over Maroon if it comes to that.

  30. Diablo says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker):
    I thought the Oesterle top pairing experiment would be a temporary thing in Chicago. Surprised it’s still going on. PP time and #1 minutes on the team every night ahead of Keith, playing with him on the right side despite being a left shot. Interesting.

    Interesting to say the least.
    Depressing is another word that comes to mind.

    Realistically though he’s upped his game playing next to a future hall-of-fame D-man … not sure he would have done the same playing next to Klefbom or Sekera.

    We need to get our own Keith so that we can shine career minor leaguers into gold.

  31. Georges says:

    Bling,

    I’m not sure whether you’ve seen how I’ve argued this over the past couple of weeks. If not, no worries… but there’s more to it than the coaching staff turned stupid overnight…

    As an aside, the 05-06 Oilers used 4 goaltenders in the regular season: Conklin, Markkanen, Morrison, Roloson. Roloson had the best sv% and GAA of the 4. But the team earned points at a better rate with the other 3 goalies. Roloson’s regular season record with the Oilers that year was 8-7-4. The team had worse goaltending with their other options but they found ways to win enough of those games to make the playoffs. So your example of bad goaltending cratering a team is actually an example of a team overcoming their shaky goaltending.

  32. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    I should clarify that I did not take a break due to a difference in opinion. I just thought there was no way to prove anything either way over the summer and so arguing and beating our heads against the wall was kind of an unhealthy thing to be doing. Did not want to subject others to that, either.

  33. Georges says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker),

    So you thought last year’s roster overachieved… hmm…

    No other team in the WC had as much forward scoring depth as we did. I put the numbers together late last season. ANA, NSH, MIN, CHI, STL, SJS, CGY… they all fell short. We had forward depth, OK defending, and good (short of great) goaltending. That formula won PIT a Cup. They were the one team that I thought we couldn’t beat. But we didn’t even get that chance.

    Here’s an option we could’ve gone with:

    CMD-Maroon-Drai
    Nuge-Lucic-Ebs
    Desharnais-Pouliot-Kassian
    Letestu-Caggiula-Slepyshev

    or

    CMD-Maroon-Caggiula
    Drai-Lucic-Slepyshev
    Nuge-Pouliot-Ebs
    Letestu-Desharnais-Kassian

    Every line in the second iteration has multiple players who scored above average at the NHL level.

    No other team in the WC could match up with that kind of depth. Plus our top end was kinda good, wasn’t it?

    Did our defense compare unfavorably to PIT’s last season? I think PIT had one RD in its Cup run. That guy’s name was Justin Schultz. Now those guys overachieved. Or maybe not.

  34. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    Georges,

    Perhaps overachieved is not the best term because it is possible to misconstrue that into thinking it means went beyond their capabilities.

    Not what I mean. It was just that they did better than could be expected at that time for those players.

    They had a completely healthy D group, which I would say was at least on par with Pittsburgh’s missing Letang. (I am talking regular season, not playoffs when Sekera got hurt).

    How often do you have that? Indeed this year we see it with Klef, Larsson, Sekera that it’s rare.

    Nuge, Pouliot, Eberle are all capable, if flawed players that can play together and hold their own.

    Strome has been playing better of late but for the first half of the season he wasn’t.

    So yes, I think I was talking with you the last time I posted in the summer about how I thought this team was going to be worse this year than last–significantly so.

    I did not expect to be below .500 and already a less than 1% chance of making the playoffs, however.

  35. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    As for Pittsburgh’s Cup run…experience, strong goaltending, and three elite players up front in Crosby, Malkin, Kessel certainly help.

  36. GMB3 says:

    NYC. Georges, Bling. Excellent points and discussion gentleman it was an excellent read after a long and trying night at work.

  37. OriginalPouzar says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker): Yes on first part. On the second, maybe. But he wouldn’t waive it this summer–some posters were suggesting they need to get out from under his or Russell’s contract this summer but neither scenario seems realistic. So we are looking at some tough choices this summer.

    Strome: QO of $3M is too much
    Maroon: what bump from $1.5M is fair? What can they afford?
    2RHD: this is a glaring hole still and there is no money to address it.
    Nuge: Is he therefore gone? That’s a huge decision to make.

    If the decision is Nuge gone for a lesser player and cap space to sign Strome then it’s a really bad decision.Regardless of what happens with Nuge they should not overpay Strome. If they trade Nuge first then Strome gets even more leverage because he knows the Oilers can’t afford to lose him, too.

    I agree that it is unlikely that they get out from under the Lucic or Russell contracts this summer. On the other hand, I don’t think that means Lucic would be unwilling to waive to get to various destinations. I don’t know that he would, of course its just speculation, but i don’t know that he wouldn’t, also speculation.

    I’m not sure about your comment about this past summer means – he was never asked to waive it.

    We don’t know that a QO of $3M to Strome is too much – there is still 30 games left and over the last 10 games he has played very much like a $3M player. If he continues his play consistently for the next 30 games, yes, I qualify him at $3M (if we won’t sign a lower cap hit/longer term deal prior to then).

    At this point, I don’t think they will sell Nuge for a lesser player and cap space – Chiarellii knows he can’t afford to lose talent in a deal again.

    If we are really in the need of cap space then they can buyout Russell – over the 6 year term of the buyout, the cap hit will be $600K next year and $1.1M for every year except for one year where its a massive $3.6M – that happens to be the potential lockout year.

  38. OriginalPouzar says:

    slopitch:
    It’s too hard to make sweeping statements about who can’t be traded. I think the Nuge is great but if they could get a Duchene type return you do it no? The avs got more for Duchene then the oilers did for pronger. Any move where you win the trade needs to be done because Chai has bled assets on every damn trade so far. A boring (but effective) summer as LT puts it is likely the best available option just need to consider them all imo. Trade Maroon. Trade Letestu. Trade Camalleri. If you can sign Maroon this offseason, sure. But they need to be frugal.

    Maybe Burnaby Joe wants to move Ott 1st, Col 1st and a prospect for Nuge. That could really set this team up for the McDavid cup push.

    1st round pick
    1st roudn pick
    2nd round pick
    recently top 10 drafted d-man
    20 year old forward who just scored 29 goals

    The Oilers got a massive haul for Pronger

  39. OriginalPouzar says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker): Add: he added at least 1.5m to the Drai contract by deploying him as 1RW for half the year last year if you want.

    And he added $3M to McDavid’s contract by playing him 1C and 1PP all season long.

    Drai on 1RW worked, got the Oilers in the playoffs for the first time in a decade and nearly won them the division. Putting them together was a spark that parlayed the team in to one of the better teams in the 2nd half.

    Drai on 1RW gave the team the best chance to win, night in and night out last year and the coach’s job is to win games, not manage the future cap. It would be a fireable offence to deploy a weaker nightly lineup to try and save future cap.

    Would you have liked Drai not to be on PP1 last year? He got a material amount of his points on PP1 – could have saved $1.5M this year by not playing him on it.

  40. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    OriginalPouzar,

    Hey buddy, I did not mean this past summer. I mean this upcoming summer.

    As for buying out Russell–yikes. I doubt Chia had that in mind when he signed him.

    Something’s gotta give. If Strome gets qualified and Maroon gets re-upped we are at the cap already and Nurse becomes vulnerable to an offer sheet, with several other RFAs to sign as well.

    The cap room simply is not there. So my thoughts are that if Chia is looking to re-sign Maroon, and Lucic and Russell won’t waive their NMCs this summer, then Nuge is likely going to be moved for a pick, prospects, a lesser roster player–perhaps a winger–and some cap relief.

    I can’t even see a Nuge for Barrie or Nuge for Faulk type deal to address 2RHD without cap being culled somewhere else. We’ve gone from a deep team to a top-heavy team that is also going to have 5, yeah, FIVE D-men making $4M+ (Russell, Klef, Sekera, Nurse, Larsson). Remember MacT’s old quote?

    Anyway, Chia’s run into the same problems he did in Boston–being maxed out on the cap due to overpaying players.

    I don’t think people would be complaining if Lucic made $4m (I am not saying he would have ever signed for $2m–he wouldn’t have), or Russell made $2.5m (same goes for him).

    Overpay your:
    2LW (Lucic) by $2m
    Your #4/#5 D (Russell) by $1.5m
    Your 4RW by $0.5m (Kassian)
    Your 2C by $1m (Drai)

    and it starts to add up. That’s $5m there, all from small overpayments.

    If you qualify Strome at $3m, in my opinion, that’s another overpayment. Yeah, he MIGHT cover the bet by playing better next year and producing more in a bigger role, but again you are paying $1.05 on the dollar and hoping that happens. It’s not good cap management.

    The same issue cost Chia his job in Boston. He hasn’t learned enough from that situation, or so it seems. It seems the only plausible scenario is to see a trade of a bigger salary out yet again.

    Personally, I would prefer to keep Nuge and move Maroon and Letestu and any other UFAs out for picks coming back.

    Of course, it would be great to move one of Lucic or Russell but it’s not going to happen so I am trying to be realistic.

  41. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    OriginalPouzar: And he added $3M to McDavid’s contract by playing him 1C and 1PP all season long.

    Drai on 1RW worked, got the Oilers in the playoffs for the first time in a decade and nearly won them the division.Putting them together was a spark that parlayed the team in to one of the better teams in the 2nd half.

    Drai on 1RW gave the team the best chance to win, night in and night out last year and the coach’s job is to win games, not manage the future cap.It would be a fireable offence to deploy a weaker nightly lineup to try and save future cap.

    Would you have liked Drai not to be on PP1 last year?He got a material amount of his points on PP1 – could have saved $1.5M this year by not playing him on it.

    I think you’ve misconstrued my comment. I said that his decision cost the team future dollars. I did not say that the decision cost the team winning last year.

  42. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    i.e. I was saying to the poster who listed the things McLellan has done that has hurt, he’d have to include that one.

    Look, Drai SHOULD go on and cover the bet later in the contract. Or so one would hope, but the Oilers paid full value ++ for him before ever knowing for sure that he could drive his own line for a full season.

    He’s done a decent (you say fantastic) job this year when in that role, but the Oilers took all the risk on that contract. With one more RFA year than Pastrnak, how was that deal not an overpay compared to his peers? Yeah, Eichel went and signed for more afterwards, and so will Matthews, but the Oilers set the standard. It’s risky. Now what do they do with Nurse, or with Puljujarvi next year?

  43. OriginalPouzar says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker):
    Georges,

    Perhaps overachieved is not the best term because it is possible to misconstrue that into thinking it means went beyond their capabilities.

    Not what I mean. It was just that they did better than could be expected at that time for those players.

    They had a completely healthy D group, which I would say was at least on par with Pittsburgh’s missing Letang. (I am talking regular season, not playoffs when Sekera got hurt).

    How often do you have that? Indeed this year we see it with Klef, Larsson, Sekera that it’s rare.

    Nuge, Pouliot, Eberle are all capable, if flawed players that can play together and hold their own.

    Strome has been playing better of late but for the first half of the season he wasn’t.

    So yes, I think I was talking with you the last time I posted in the summer about how I thought this team was going to be worse this year than last–significantly so.

    I did not expect to be below .500 and already a less than 1% chance of making the playoffs, however.

    I was definitely not on board with the pre-season verbal from the fanbase and the MSM (local and national) regarding the Oilers winning the conference and being in the SCF (and top odds in Vegas to win the Stanley Cup).

    I professed that I thought the Oilers would take a step back standings wise and predicted 93 points.

    My main reason was the loss of Sekera and early season over-confidence leading to a poor start.

    While I was worried about the PK, I didn’t think it would be at an all time historic low.

    I thought there was a good chance we’d be fighting for a wild card spot but I didn’t think we’d regress to the extent we did.

    Main reason for the additional substantial regression is goaltending and a step-back in the defensive group as a whole (with the loss of Sekera and Klef/Larsson playing banged up all year long – only Nurse taking a step forward).

    Talbot started off slow last year as well but the team outscored his issued in the first few weeks and then he found his game. He didn’t find his game for 3-4 months this season (and we’re not sure if he’s totally found it).

    Add that all up and we are where we are.

    The important thing to remember is the core is young and in the proper positions. We are young and deep down the middle and our top D of the future are all 24 and under.

    We have holes in the top 6 wing but that is not a tough position to fill (in the future once some cap opens up) and 2RD. That’s all we need on the assumption that Talbot bounces back next year to somewhere between last year’s almost vezina season and this year’s shit the bed season – he’ll then sign for 2-3 years at $5M and we are good to go.

  44. OriginalPouzar says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker):
    OriginalPouzar,

    Hey buddy, I did not mean this past summer. I mean this upcoming summer.

    As for buying out Russell–yikes. I doubt Chia had that in mind when he signed him.

    Something’s gotta give. If Strome gets qualified and Maroon gets re-upped we are at the cap already and Nurse becomes vulnerable to an offer sheet, with several other RFAs to sign as well.

    The cap room simply is not there. So my thoughts are that if Chia is looking to re-sign Maroon, and Lucic and Russell won’t waive their NMCs this summer, then Nuge is likely going to be moved for a pick, prospects, a lesser roster player–perhaps a winger–and some cap relief.

    I can’t even see a Nuge for Barrie or Nuge for Faulk type deal to address 2RHD without cap being culled somewhere else. We’ve gone from a deep team to a top-heavy team that is also going to have 5, yeah, FIVE D-men making $4M+ (Russell, Klef, Sekera, Nurse, Larsson). Remember MacT’s old quote?

    Anyway, Chia’s run into the same problems he did in Boston–being maxed out on the cap due to overpaying players.

    I don’t think people would be complaining if Lucic made $4m (I am not saying he would have ever signed for $2m–he wouldn’t have), or Russell made $2.5m (same goes for him).

    Overpay your:
    2LW (Lucic) by $2m
    Your #4/#5 D (Russell) by $1.5m
    Your 4RW by $0.5m (Kassian)
    Your 2C by $1m (Drai)

    and it starts to add up. That’s $5m there, all from small overpayments.

    If you qualify Strome at $3m, in my opinion, that’s another overpayment. Yeah, he MIGHT cover the bet by playing better next year and producing more in a bigger role, but again you are paying $1.05 on the dollar and hoping that happens. It’s not good cap management.

    The same issue cost Chia his job in Boston. He hasn’t learned enough from that situation, or so it seems. It seems the only plausible scenario is to see a trade of a bigger salary out yet again.

    Personally, I would prefer to keep Nuge and move Maroon and Letestu and any other UFAs out for picks coming back.

    Of course, it would be great to move one of Lucic or Russell but it’s not going to happen so I am trying to be realistic.

    I’ve been on record quite a bit lately that I would much rather plug the 2RD hole externally this spring and leave a hole (or even two) at the top 6 winger position. I would much rather keep Nuge than acquire any material top 6 winger for term or sign Maroon for term. As I’ve said (ad nasum for many I’m sure), I feel we have the ability to fill the top 6 winger spots internally in time with extreme value contracts from our current prospect pool. We aren’t likely to do so for next season but I’m willing to leave a hole there for next season in order to not commit cap dollars to older players with term – I’m patient and would rather leave a hole there for next season – even if that leads to another non-playoff year.

    There would be no reason to trade Nuge to make room for Strome – that is a nonsensical scenario that our GM cannot possibly be contemplating. With that said, he could potentially move Nuge with the thought of keeping Strome and adding another quality player to fill a hole (preferably the 2RD and not the 1/2W). I think he’ll find a way to keep Nuge.

    The problem with filling the 2RD hole externally at this point is we can’t really do it unless we move on from Russell and I don’t see it happening. The buyout is an option due to its structure but I don’t imagine management doing that.

  45. OriginalPouzar says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker): I think you’ve misconstrued my comment.I said that his decision cost the team future dollars. I did not say that the decision cost the team winning last year.

    Fair enough and I get that.

    I was simply making the point that, yes, maybe it cost some cap on Drai’s contact but, at the same time, it was absolutely the right move for the coach who has to deploy his roster in a way he thinks gives the team the best chance to win night in and night out. He cannot give regards to future cap implications in a season where the team is competitive and a contender. I guess there is potential to do so in the back half of a season like we are having but definitely not last year.

  46. meanashell11 says:

    No one will probably see this as a new thread will start soon but one thing I believe people overlook when discussing NMC/NTC, paid too much, is the lockout. There is a lockout coming and with that will come buyouts. Think of it as Chai’s get-out-of-jail-free card.

  47. leadfarmer says:

    Oesterle is a top pairing dman in the same way Maroon is a top line winger.

  48. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    OriginalPouzar,

    Sure, I agree with the bulk of your views here. I just remember thinking from February on that do we want to pay Drai for his production on McDavid’s wing or pay him as a 2C on this team.

    Many saw this coming. And if Chia had been able to sign him for 7.5m per year when considering he has 5 RFA years, not 4 like usual, I would have said so be it. But when you overpay and set the expectation bar so high I feel it both hurts the player and the fans’ patience with him. Did not want to see that occur. Oh well.

  49. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    leadfarmer:
    Oesterle is a top pairing dman in the same way Maroon is a top line winger.

    Actually Maroon is more of a top line winger than Oesterle is a top pair D. Much bigger sample size and better results.

    My point was simply that I thought their experiment with him as Keith’s partner would be done by now. Not only is it not done, he is playing more minutes than Keith.

    That said, trading Hjalmarsson and Panarin for Saad and Murphy and a pick was really dumb. These aren’t the Blackhawks of 5 years ago.

  50. frjohnk says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker): Overpay your:
    2LW (Lucic) by $2m
    Your #4/#5 D (Russell) by $1.5m
    Your 4RW by $0.5m (Kassian)
    Your 2C by $1m (Drai)

    and it starts to add up. That’s $5m there, all from small overpayments.

    If you qualify Strome at $3m, in my opinion, that’s another overpayment. Yeah, he MIGHT cover the bet by playing better next year and producing more in a bigger role, but again you are paying $1.05 on the dollar and hoping that happens. It’s not good cap management.

    The same issue cost Chia his job in Boston. He hasn’t learned enough from that situation, or so it seems. It seems the only plausible scenario is to see a trade of a bigger salary out yet again.

    Oilers will need a bunch of value deals to offset the over payments.

  51. OriginalPouzar says:

    meanashell11:
    No one will probably see this as a new thread will start soon but one thing I believe people overlook when discussing NMC/NTC, paid too much, is the lockout. There is a lockout coming and with that will come buyouts. Think of it as Chai’s get-out-of-jail-free card.

    This has been said a number of times and it very well may be true, on the other hand, it very well might not be true.

    Compliance buyouts were a negotiated point in the last CBA negotiations – they could be a negotiated point in the coming negotiations or possibly not and, if they are included, they may have a different structure than they did in 2012.

    Here is hoping that we can use a full on compliance buyout on Lucic, however, there is no certainty that that will be available.

  52. OriginalPouzar says:

    leadfarmer:
    Oesterle is a top pairing dman in the same way Maroon is a top line winger.

    The same way Marc-Andre was a first pairing d-man when paired with Pronger.

    I like Osterle and was hoping we could keep him but, from accounts, he had zero interest in re-signing in Edmonton due to the leftorium – he knew he was blocked and wanted to go an organization with an “easier” path to the NHL – he found himself a very nice spot.

    Our left side depth chart currently includes Nurse, Klefbom, Sekera, Russell, Davidson – I’m not sure adding Osterle really moves any needles for our defensive group.

  53. OriginalPouzar says:

    frjohnk: Oilers will need a bunch of value deals to offset the over payments.

    Which is why I’m not so sure that paying Maroon $3.75M X 4 is a good idea. Yes, he probably provides value for that deal and its likely even a bit of a discount to what he could get on the market, however, in 18 months we can probably get that production from one of our prospect wingers for a cap hit of $1M. We would lose the intangibles that Maroon brings but I’m not sure they are worth close to $3M.

    Yes, that $1M fix is likely not available for next year but I preach patience. Deal with the hole for next year (if we can’t find a shorter term stop-gap) for the betterment of the long term cap situation.

  54. Lowetide says:

    for the Athleitc: What would (and could) Sam Pollock do in Edmonton?

    https://theathletic.com/232626/2018/02/07/lowetide-what-would-and-could-sam-pollock-do-in-edmonton/

  55. Scungilli Slushy says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker):
    I thought the Oesterle top pairing experiment would be a temporary thing in Chicago. Surprised it’s still going on. PP time and #1 minutes on the team every night ahead of Keith, playing with him on the right side despite being a left shot. Interesting.

    It would make sense that his mobility helps a lot with right side. Being able to create space to get a decent pass off or switch to forehand.

  56. Jethro Tull says:

    Georges,

    Thanks for the reply, Georges. Certainly some points to ponder.

  57. OmJo says:

    OriginalPouzar: This has been said a number of times and it very well may be true, on the other hand, it very well might not be true.

    Compliance buyouts were a negotiated point in the last CBA negotiations – they could be a negotiated point in the coming negotiations or possibly not and, if they are included, they may have a different structure than they did in 2012.

    Here is hoping that we can use a full on compliance buyout on Lucic, however, there is no certainty that that will be available.

    Even if it is available, will Chiarelli even do it?

  58. smellyglove says:

    Speaking of david desharnais: $1mill cap hit and 23 points in 50 games.

    Why are the ex Oilers playing so well?

  59. godot10 says:

    NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker): Actually Maroon is more of a top line winger than Oesterle is a top pair D. Much bigger sample size and better results.

    My point was simply that I thought their experiment with him as Keith’s partner would be done by now. Not only is it not done, he is playing more minutes than Keith.

    Maroon has been a nothing burger offensively in the NHL UNLESS he is tied at the hip to an elite centre. How is that different from Oesterle with Keith?

  60. OriginalPouzar says:

    godot10: Maroon has been a nothing burger offensively in the NHL UNLESS he is tied at the hip to an elite centre.How is that different from Oesterle with Keith?

    As I stated earlier (with no response), although I don’t have numbers for this year, last year Maroon was one of the few Oiler forwards with positive possession metrics away from McDavid including a positive goal percentage without McDavid.

    This forum loves possession metrics – please reconcile with your statement.

  61. NYC-Back-to-Tokyo Oil (Gentleman Backpacker) says:

    godot10: Maroon has been a nothing burger offensively in the NHL UNLESS he is tied at the hip to an elite centre.How is that different from Oesterle with Keith?

    Different? Who said anything about different? Come on Godot. I pointed out Oesterle’s ice time with Keith. Leadfarmer said he is a top pairing Dman in the sense that Maroon is a first line winger, i.e. saying it’s only because of deployment. I said that if you are talking about that, Maroon has a bigger sample size of being a top line winger (PLAYING WITH MCDAVID) than Oesterle does of being a top pair D (PLAYING WITH KEITH).

    I thought that was pretty obvious, so I have no idea what you’re talking about.

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