Despite the miles and miles of losses, there are things to be gained from another lost year. The key in Edmonton the rest of this season is to find some answers to the many questions facing this organization.
PROJECTED 2014-15 LINEUP (11 of 23)
- D: Jeff Petry, Martin Marincin, Andrew Ference, Justin Schultz
- C: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Boyd Gordon
- L: Taylor Hall, David Perron, Luke Gazdic
- R; Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov
That’s my list, your mileage may vary. I think it’s reasonable to assume at least half of this team doesn’t come back, that the goalies will be new, that we’ll see at least two significant additions to the blueline, and 6 or 7 current forwards are certain to be back.
Craig MacTavish is going to blow this thing up, or at least as much as he can in the modern era.
- MacTavish: “We’ll make as many changes as we can at the deadline”
- MacTavish: “Failing a miraculous 15-game stretch, our UFA players will be of interest to a number of teams.”
The Oilers UFAs are Ales Hemsky (who got hurt last night), Ryan Smyth, Ryan Jones, Nick Schultz, Anton Belov, Corey Potter, Devan Dubnyk, Ilya Bryzgalov, Denis Grebeshkov, Ben Eager and Steve MacIntyre. There is also the Gagner item, I’m not sure how that’ll go (he has 5 points in 5 games, but looked truly inept in important areas last night) and looking at that list I wonder how many of these men are of interest to contenders.
Hemsky? Sure, if healthy. Nick Schultz? Veteran D always have value at the deadline but Mr. Schultz is really testing that theory with his play. I’d be more interested in trading for Belov to be honest. Less experience, better player.
THE BAD NEWS
At some point over the next few weeks, it is possible the Buffalo Sabres could pass the Oilers, leaving Edmonton in 30th place full stop. Buffalo is 4 points behind with 4 games in hand, so if they win tonight against Toronto the Sabres will basically have the hammer in the race between the two teams for 29th overall.
The Oilers are on pace for 25 wins, which would match the lowest win total in franchise history (tying 2010-11 and 1993-94). These are some of the darkest days in franchise history, and that promise of a beautiful sunrise and winning has become a bad joke. The pressure on MacTavish is immense, but he can’t help this year’s Oilers—they are dead in the water.
THE GOOD NEWS
MARTIN MARINCIN CARD
These are the kinds of things Edmonton can gain from another lost season. It would be folly to expect Marincin to play this well for the next 1,000 games, and he isn’t playing 25 minutes a night at evens, but there appears to be an effective player here and he should improve as he spends more time in the NHL. Marincin is relying on Petry, but it’s also true that Petry played with others this season and looked less effective. He’ll play 40+ games in the NHL this season, I think we can project him onto next season’s roster at this time.
JEFF PETRY CARD
Let’s not talk about ’2nd pairing’ or ’3rd pairing’, let’s instead talk about these two players paired next season on the Edmonton Oilers. Can they play the game? The Corsi for % at 5×5 suggests so, and Petry has 23 points in his 95 games—that’s Staios/Smith category, maybe a hair better (it’s tough to say, but Petry can move the puck well, better imo than Smith or Staios—certainly more under control). Petry plays a lot, and his Corsi for% is improved over last season. One of the things about this team we need to pay close attention to, because it isn’t obvious by eye, is the progress made by the younger set. Petry is such a player, despite the slings and arrows he faces online.
JUSTIN SCHULTZ PLAYER CARD
It’s funny, these two seasons look very similar, and yet we’re all talking about Schultz sophomore slump. He has so much natural talent, one hopes the Oilers can find a partner (or a level of competition) where that Corsi for % rides up toward 50%. He’s also shooting way less, that was part of his appeal as a rookie.
ANDREW FERENCE PLAYER CARD
No matter what you want to say about him, Ference was above 50% during the regular season one year ago. If the Oilers decided to trade him tomorrow, he’d have value. The problems this team has endured in the last two seasons were beyond this veteran’s ability to handle, but if they can fix it he should be able to contribute to a better hand.
ANTON BELOV PLAYER CARD
I included him because there’s something about him. Belov is slow, not Cory Cross slow but he’s probably deal-breaker slow, and may never play in the NHL again. I’d sign him, and that’s the truth. To hell with everyone, his CorsiRel is above the group out of the box.
- Travis Yost has the Oilers score-adjusted Fenwick, a fascinating read.
- McCurdy’s player grades a very fair, here.
- Oilers are purchasing the Bakersfield franchise in hopes of finding more Arcobello’s.
- Top Prospects Game is tonight.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
Hold on to your pets, this wind is crazy! At 10, if the lights are still on, I’ll hit the air on TSN 1260 for the Lowdown. Scheduled to appear:
- Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey. We’ll try to find what’s good in this season.
- Mike Ringrose, Associate Coach for the Spruce Grove Saints and Instructor at Vimy Hockey. Saints are #1 in CJHL rankings, we’ll talk about a strong season and playoff hopes.
- Steve Dangle, Leafs Nation. A huge win for Toronto has the club back in the playoffs, and they could firm things up with a win tonight against Buffalo.
- Guy Flaming, Pipeline Show. The Top Prospects game goes tonight in Calgary, we’ll preview things with Mr. Flaming.
10-1260 via text, @Lowetide_ on twitter. It’ll be fun! Honest!