TODD MCLELLAN, MEET THE OILERS

by Lowetide

Remember when Todd McLellan talked about painful nights back at his first media avail?

  • McLellan: “With all of that there’s pain. There’s nights where we’re not going to be pleased. But there’s four teams playing right now that experienced that throughout the year too, they have painful nights, they just have fewer of them. We’re trying to take those painful nights and diminish them throughout the years to the point where we can be at the top of the mountain.” Source

Casey Stengel, the old Yankees manager, used to say that in a MLB season there were 50 games you were going to lose no matter what, 50 games you were going to win no matter what. Winning the pennant came down to what you did in the games that could go either way. The Oilers were 6-0 entering last night, had tremendous goaling and scoring from three lines. The defense looked stronger than it had in the past and the lessons of the new coach seemed to be finding fertile soil. The ‘quality of competition’ question was screaming in our ears, but getting the basics down against the also-rans seemed a good idea at the time.

One could argue Edmonton came up against an actual NHL team last night, but that’s not really true (I’d venture less than half of the Canucks who played last night will make the opening night lineup). One could also argue that the Oilers sent out their best roster but that’s not true either—Oscar Klefbom and Mark Fayne did not play in last night’s game.

The big question I had going into last night’s game: Is Griffin Reinhart going to make this team and will he be a regular? I believe the answer to be yes on both counts. The things we knew (Ference and Nikitin are going to have a difficult time) remain true and the forwards (especially centers) are flat out fabulous. And the goalie? Come on, folks. Cam Talbot may not be an established No. 1 starter, but surely we’re not going to fill our pants over one wobbly pre-season effort. I know the ghosts of seasons past still shine in our minds, but chin up, Edmonton! Cam Talbot doesn’t know one blasted thing about the last two Oilers seasons.

LAST NIGHT’S BLUE

OILERS D OCT 1

Sekera—Schultz show well by the numbers, although the veteran Sekera made several very poor decisions with the puck. The PK GA was stunning in its horribleness, but I think we can all agree judging a player on one play (or game) is a bad idea. I thought Schultz was good again, seems to be more confident with and without the puck. It’s important to note that while there was major chaos in the back end last night, Schultz (to my eye) wasn’t part of it. I’ve been very critical of Schultz in the past, but am thrilled with his early performances.

It’s also interesting to note that the Sekera—Schultz pairing received the most difficult zone starts, I really like having a puck mover on the tough ZS pairing. That said, I don’t think these two should be paired together, for me the ideal (Sekera—Klefbom) isn’t possible at this time so I’m hopeful we see the two best defenders split (Sekera—Fayne, Klefbom—Schultz) for opening night.

I think Griffin Reinhart made the team a week ago but a subpar performance in these final games could knock him back. His pairing (with Gryba) received the zone-start push last night and the numbers suggest they sawed off (or close) the competition at even. Not quite true, there was a definite smell of tires when that pairing was on the ice. I’ll guess both men play a significant amount this season in the top six.

DEFENSE EV TOI LAST NIGHT

  1. Sekera 19:48
  2. Schultz 19:23
  3. Nikitin 17:41
  4. Gryba 17:31
  5. Ference 16:55
  6. Reinhart 16:19

That’s about what it felt like, Reinhart—Gryba third pair and then Gryba moved up a little as the night went on. I don’t believe any of last night’s pairings will be in the shuffle when all hands are on deck. I also wonder if they’re having a hard time finding a fit for Reinhart (Fayne and Gryba seem to similar, Nikitin too slow). Reinhart needs to move his feet when he has the puck, too easy a target otherwise.

You are going to encounter people who are in panic mode about the defense and goaltending. Listen to McLellan. This is a marathon, not a sprint. The idea is to reduce the moments when Edmonton runs around in their own end like chickens with their heads cut off. Some days are diamonds, some days are stone. McLellan. Voice of reason. Accept no other.

LAST NIGHT’S FORWARDS

OILERS F OCT 1

I have no idea how McLellan got that ZS number for Yakupov but he was dangerous last night. Fantastic goal-scorer’s goal and a couple of exceptional individual performances. I see a few people wondering why he isn’t getting time with Nuge or McDavid, but if you look at the ZS gap the answer seems clear.

Hall scored an early goal (good to see) but while there was a lot of try the results didn’t appear to be there. This sounds crazy, but Hall seems to be the jimmy legs on the line with McDavid and Draisaitl—with the two kids displaying more calm. I’m not going to worry about the veterans for some time, and overall No. 4 seemed more into the game’s moments than in past outings this fall.

McDavid is such a fast train it’s hard to avoid getting fixated on him. Several good chances and small little items that show true brilliance, example being the little kick pass from skate to stick on the Hall goal. Small, small thing but key to a goal. And Leon is the king of the short pass, lordy he’s good at the chess moves.

Nuge skated miles, without the production. Purcell was a ghost to my eye but to be fair he was just getting out there. Pouliot is a bull, love that guy. Slepyshev keeps being noticeable in a good way, can they send him down? Letestu was not good.

WHO’S ON IR?

Jordan Eberle for sure, Luke Gazdic hasn’t played in awhile and Matt Hendricks was staring at his hand after that fight with Dorsett (if he hurts another Oiler they’ll trade for him, that’s how it works). After that, not sure.

projected opening night sep 30

Bryan Bickell? No. The Oilers have an addled roster because two of their highly paid defenders can’t play a role the team requires, but adding an extra year of Bickell to rid themselves of Nikitin is too much. If Nikita Nikitin is so bad this fall they can’t play him, maybe he’ll end up in Ufa or with Traktor Boy.

schneider

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A busy morning starting at 10, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:

  • Steve Lansky, BigMouth Sports. We’ll talk about the Jays and how October baseball reminds us of past glory and pain.
  • Antony Bent, FC Edmonton. Eddies on a roll, in a playoff spot but have to keep it going. Also, EPL table is a shocker.
  • Travis Yost, TSN. Yost will explain the logic of the Mark Fraser signing and tell us if Matt Puempel or Shane Prince will get an NHL job this year. We’ll inevitably talk Oilers.
  • Paul Almeida, SSE. We’ll get Paul’s take on the Oilers last night and talk about his worry over the goalies (Paul would like to see a veteran backup brought in).

Show comes complete with a Lego Lt. Eric and we get started at 10 sharp. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.

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GCW_69

JDï™: Half a year isn’t enough time to make over this blue line (especially over the summer when almost zero trades are made), and Chiarelli has yet to put a regular season roster on the ice.

There is no limit on trades and free agency is limited only by the GMs creativity with the cap. The state of the current defence is on Chia because he chose a cautious approach. He could easily have bought out Ference and signed Franson. He could have brought in somome like Hedja on PTO.

I believe Chiarelli will make moves of the course of the season to improve the defence, but the suffering we will go through between now and then is partially on him.

GCW_69

Jonathan Willis: Certainly he’s better than Ference, who is No. 9 with a buller on merit among the nine surviving blueliners. There are at least three guys in the AHL right now who I’d rather have on my blue line today if contracts weren’t an issue.

He’s more physical and more mobile than Nikitin, and overall I’d agree he’s probably a bit better. What I wonder is if Nikitin’s specific abilities (he can pass a bit, and I’m not sure you can say that about anyone else on that third pairing) trump the overall differences. If you’re looking for a guy to play with Reinhart or Gryba, Davidson is redundant in a lot of ways and having an even halfways-competent passer could help.

Maybe that’s whee we disagree. I think Davidson is a half way decent passer. Not a great one, but ok.

The team bwould have been better off running a Marincin – Davidson third pairing and letting Reinhart refine his game in the AHL for another season, then trade Marincin.

Brogan Rafferty's Uncle Steve

Really enjoyed the last few threads. I think there have been some great debates. Although I think compelting Arizona into trading us OEL for Mark Messier is obviously option #1 I thought of a great option #2. Trading for Pronger. He is also with Arizona, makes slightly more money, but with unstable ownership they might be willing to move out his contract. Easier to facilitate a trade. We would not have to add the sweeteners necessary to get OEL. We are probably looking at a simple Hall and 3rd rounder for Pronger. Plus Pronger brings a lot more intangibles than OEL (who to be perfectly honest is a pretty fluffy player). This would also solve the Kaptain issue. Anyway just my two cents.

Woodguy

Showerhead: This is sound strategy even if you ignore Yakupov’s history to this point.

For Edmonton to turn north and be “good” and all of that, you have to believe that the McDavid and RNH lines can both push the river against anyone. If they can’t by say, McDavid year 2, that’s a pretty big disappointment IMO. If they can, then Edmonton can absolutely make hay with the matchups they have left.

I think the sum of McDavid vs. toughest context + RNH vs. 2nd toughest + Lander/Yak vs. 3rd is more a) favourable to Edmonton on most nights and b) more favourable to Edmonton than any other arrangement.

So yes. Go Yakupov as a 3rd line soft minute player. I think it is where he fits best on this team and he should make hay there eventually, maybe even soon.

Exactly.

bendelson

Adam Wu: Right now, is Ference better or worse than bag of pucks?

Well, I have noticed bag of pucks’ typically solid posts get a little wonky with Ference in the lineup. Unfortunately, I don’t have the WOWYs available to back it up… yet.

Adam Wu

Everyone is worse when paired with Ference.

The entire D looks worse when he’s in the lineup.

This brings up the damning question: if you just benched Ference and ran 5 D, double shifting Sekera, Kelfbom and Fayne on rotation, until those guys just can’t take it anymore, would your D be any worse? Or even better? If better, how many games could you sustain that?

Right now, is Ference better or worse than a bag of pucks?

BONVIE

JDï™: No doubt that’s possible, but we’re really only concerned with the last 5 or 6 months here. Everything else is history.

Half a year isn’t enough time to make over this blue line (especially over the summer when almost zero trades are made), and Chiarelli has yet to put a regular season roster on the ice.

But the ledge is there, and there are already people out on it. Good for them, but I would suggest they either ‘do it’, or get back inside and pour a strong one. This is going to take some time.

Yes I believe your right I think our top 4 D are probably all with the club right now but they are either on the AHL like Nurse, or basically rookies like Reinhart and Klefbom. The forwards playing the right way will definitely have a huge impact on easing the pressure on the young defenseman and unproven goaltending though, so we’ll have to wait and see. I still would like to think ill be watching them compete in the playoffs or at the very least compete to at least be in the mix come March.

Showerhead

Showerhead,

I don’t think I mentioned in this post that I’m not necessarily thinking opening night so much as “when Edmonton is good”. I’m assuming that the defense will be improved.

JD_Wry

BONVIE: but one would think that in the last 5 years this management must have had a shot at a potential top 6

No doubt that’s possible, but we’re really only concerned with the last 5 or 6 months here. Everything else is history.

Half a year isn’t enough time to make over this blue line (especially over the summer when almost zero trades are made), and Chiarelli has yet to put a regular season roster on the ice.

But the ledge is there, and there are already people out on it. Good for them, but I would suggest they either ‘do it’, or get back inside and pour a strong one. This is going to take some time.

Showerhead

Woodguy: Agreed.

Softer minutes ands still on PP2.

Will be good for him if he doesn’t see it as a slight.

This is sound strategy even if you ignore Yakupov’s history to this point.

For Edmonton to turn north and be “good” and all of that, you have to believe that the McDavid and RNH lines can both push the river against anyone. If they can’t by say, McDavid year 2, that’s a pretty big disappointment IMO. If they can, then Edmonton can absolutely make hay with the matchups they have left.

I think the sum of McDavid vs. toughest context + RNH vs. 2nd toughest + Lander/Yak vs. 3rd is more a) favourable to Edmonton on most nights and b) more favourable to Edmonton than any other arrangement.

So yes. Go Yakupov as a 3rd line soft minute player. I think it is where he fits best on this team and he should make hay there eventually, maybe even soon.

Adam Wu

Personally, I have almost zero doubt that Chiarelli, very early on, DID call Maloney and made a multi F + for OEL, and Maloney laughed in his face (or the polite equivalent thereof). In fact, Chia probably already KNEW from his Boston days precisely what magnitude of offer Maloney would be willing to consider for OEL. And he knew the ballpark ranges for EVERY major top D/GM pair.

Because that’s what good GMs do as part of routine preparation.

maudite

There are different levels of bad.

Nikitin had at least one nice pinch offensively and he made more than a couple nice controlled passes for good zone exits. There is a serviceable 6th d there. Not perfect but so be it.

Ference batted pucks into no man’s land everytime, recovered poorly from any over matching of speed and while yeah he is in great shape he isn’t really small guy strong. Last night it was awful. Just no real ability to even properly leverage or use low center of gravity effectively in any situation.

Numbers don’t lie and as much as Nikitin isn’t everything you’d wish like so many nights last year by eye and by numbers Ference is definitely the black hole. Man petry loss is still so painful.

Ducey

stush18:
Would anyone trade ference for bickell?

Slightly larger contract, for a slightly better player.

I wonder if the holdup in the Bickell trade (Bickell for Nikitin) was that Bickell didn’t have EDM on his limited trade list.

Ference for Bickell would need both to waive (possibly) but its a better fit for both because they both have 2 year deals.

The Nikitin deal could still happen. Chia showed Sather he was willing to call a bluff.

I hope it doesn’t though. Bickell is dead weight (apparently) for 2 years. NN is cleared after this one.

BONVIE

I used to like to talk about trading for Tyler Myers and Colin Wilson, neither of those dreams came true. Myers actually got traded too, so he was obviously available.

That’s the thing about not being in the business we don’t really know who actually is available till they get traded, but one would think that in the last 5 years this management must have had a shot at a potential top 6 with some size or a potential top pair dman!!!

G Money

JDï™: Think NewAgeSys, but without the substance.

LOL. Ouch.

I mean: LOEL.

JD_Wry

commonfan14: So he can’t stop talking about magically getting OEL.

…and can’t stop calling Chiarelli a failure, cut from the same cloth as MacT and Howson, etc.

…and assumes that everyone here is okay with ‘inaction’ on fixing the defense, when in reality we’re merely trying to point out that trades can’t happen in a vacuum, and bad defenders on big contracts are difficult to move.

…and then cries ‘ad hominem attack’ when called out.

…and offers nothing new, interesting, or witty to any conversation on this blog, and apparently doesn’t pick up anything from it either.

I politely refer to said poster as a troel, when in reality I think it’s much, much worse. I mean, anyone who regularly gets trashed to smithereens over at ON…

Think NewAgeSys, but without the substance.

bendelson

Snowman:
bendelson,

I like listening to Jack and Bob. Sure they spend an inordinate amount of time talking about other stuff but it’s entertaining. They’re a pretty good team in my opinion. I’ll say like a late 90s Oiler team. Not quite there but probably better than average with some good moments.

Hey, to each their own I suppose… I can’t stand Jack Michaels. Too much cake.

A few weeks back, I heard Dennis King dumping all over Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler on the Lowdown. I love those guys! (John Cerutti was great as well). Buck’s voice IS the Blue Jays in my mind. The worst part of his brief tenure as Manager back in the day wasn’t the shitty team or poor/rookie managerial decisions – it was the loss of his voice as the play-by-play announcer.

So, yeah… to each their own.

stush18

Would anyone trade ference for bickell?

Slightly larger contract, for a slightly better player.

Snowman

bendelson,

I like listening to Jack and Bob. Sure they spend an inordinate amount of time talking about other stuff but it’s entertaining. They’re a pretty good team in my opinion. I’ll say like a late 90s Oiler team. Not quite there but probably better than average with some good moments.

commonfan29

leadfarmer: There is a certain poster on this site that deserves a ban for a week or two. It’s one thing to disagree with others, it’s another to repeat the same thing over and over.

So he can’t stop talking about magically getting OEL.

I used to post all the time for like a year and a half that we were magically going to get McDavid.

Sometimes these things work out.

Jethro Tull

Fortinbras:
On a semi ongoing relative note –

I just opened my first pack of Tim Horton’s Upper Deck hockey cards and the first card is Oliver Ekman – Larsson.

But like in real life, I’ll never trade him!!

I compelt you to trade me that card for my Robbie Schremp rookie card.

If you don’t, I will be a terrible GM.

Woodguy

godot10: Yakupov is doing just fine with “Captain” Lander.Lander and whoever is going to play the other wing will play a simple game that Yakupov can riff off of. Yakupov can explore the boundaries of his game with predictable linemates offensively and defensively.

Most teams are trying to go to a 3-scoring-lines model. And Yakupov on the third scoring line will give other teams matchup problems eventually.

Agreed.

Softer minutes ands still on PP2.

Will be good for him if he doesn’t see it as a slight.

leadfarmer

There is a certain poster on this site that deserves a ban for a week or two. It’s one thing to disagree with others, it’s another to repeat the same thing over and over. It doesn’t stimulate conversation and doesn’t move the conversation forward. We used to have discussion about banning a certain poster for derailing threads a he actually had a good point once in a while. This is flat out trolling and has been going on for too long. Multiple people have addressed this troll with no resolution. Time to end this.

Fortinbras

On a semi ongoing relative note –

I just opened my first pack of Tim Horton’s Upper Deck hockey cards and the first card is Oliver Ekman – Larsson.

But like in real life, I’ll never trade him!!

bendelson

Tough night. I listened to the first couple of periods of the game on the radio while driving back to town last night. They sounded VERY rough around the edges but I decided early on to give them a free pass – it’s pre-season after all…

But I am growing very concerned. When are they going to get their shit together? Hell, maybe a better question is: Will they ever get their shit together. I’m starting to have my doubts. I mean, seriously, are they getting WORSE?

In fairness, Bob is likely being handicapped in a Ferencian-like fashion by the insufferable Jack Michaels but they are a team – and the team is bad. Eakins-era Oilers bad.

Call the game Jack. JUST the game. The rest of your shtick is just nonsense.
Leave that to Bob.

Oh, and it sounded like the Oilers weren’t very good either. Meh – it’s pre-season.

_____

Dano on waivers? Yeah, sure. Who’s spreading this crap?

______

41.5?
I’ll take the over on Yakupov.

verdad2.0

hunter1909,

All true but who is responsible for this?

It has to fall to Chiarelli more than anyone else.
Why is there never any emotional or physical engagement with these players?

Most of this board aoplogizes for them endlessly. Instead of OEL, maybe the Oilers should fixate on Dorsett, not for his talent but at least his willingness to physically engage.
Maybe the reconstruction of the Oilers starts with finding players who play with some passion and self respect? Or maybe just self-respect for the paying customers.

Five years is a long time to wait for leadership qualities to emerge.

BONVIE

Hmm this post reminds me of our oil change, whatever happened to that. It seemed to end right about the time they traded Dubnyk out of town. Kind of seems like that the last guys that were in charge of our oil change forgot to put the plug back in and cost us our engine. The producers of the series probably walked off and said screw this series we can’t follow this for a happy ending. They just traded away their top goalie because their Defensemen were terrible. How can we make that worse trade the best of those Defensemen away and bring in new almost as good Defensemen. In the end if none of this gong show had happened we wouldn’t have had Conner McDavid.

I was very disappointed the new management let all the old management hang around as maybe if they would have cleaned house they might have been able to convince Dubnyk to rejoin this group. The top four Defensemen may all be in our system impacting in the next couple of years, but now we created a huge hole in not having a top flight goaltender. For me the goalie I believe most likely to be able to fill this massive hole is either Nilson or Brossoit. None the less I hope like heck that Cam Talbot can play great behind a subpar Defense, cause it’s been so long since I watched my team in the playoffs it’s hard to remember.

Woodguy

verdad2.0,

Everyone on this board , this includes you Woodguy, need to really appreciate the enormity of what occurred last night.

So when ANA lost their last 4 games of the preseason last year (including getting shut out by ARZ) what enormity was that?

You’re the worst.

Post less.

JD_Wry

Pouzar: I guess we will find out if he’s lying very soon.

Well even the ‘best chance of winning’ might not be enough, at least for a while. I think I’d rather be tasked with carving Canada’s Mt Rushmore, than turning around the defensive play of this team.

But yes, we’re approaching a very interesting, and telling, point in the team’s future – who stays, who goes, and exactly how much pull Chiarelli has with his new club.

Cap compliance day is the day before the season opens, no? That would be October 6th.

Pouzar

JDï™: TM: “We will have to ice the 20 players in St Louis who give us the best chance of winning.”

I guess we will find out if he’s lying very soon.

vinotintazo

godot10:
Davidson has the advantage of having something Nikitin and Ference don’t have.i.e. a future, which is why you waive Nikitin, and not Davidson.Nikitin is NOT going to be back next year.

Davidson has been ripened in the AHL.He is ready for the #7 role to be challenging for #6.

I like davidson, but he’s cealing is a 3rd pairing dman, where we need Reinhart and Nurse to play eventually, if he cant make this defense now, he never will imo.

Nikitin- Aweful, not part of this team next year.
Ference- Has a NMC, not going anywhere this year, might be bought out next year.
Gryba- To me he’s a RD version of Aulie, not part of the future either.

JD_Wry

http://video.oilers.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=4&id=839495

McLellan’s presser today.

Of special interest, is his answer to Rishaug’s question about the final roster (paraphrasing), “Are you able to give a veteran who maybe hasn’t shown his best in camp, the benefit of the doubt that he will be ready for game 1 of the regular season?”

TM: “We will have to ice the 20 players in St Louis who give us the best chance of winning.”

McSorley33

Am I allowed to do this….?

Great job by David, Bruce and Jonathan ( COH ) covering the Oilers training camp and preseason….

I am still angry with Bruce for pointing out the OIlers have not really played an NHL laden team yet in the preseason…

As a right winger though, I will never let facts get in the way of my views.

hunter1909

Oilers are still too much like the 1969 Philadelphia Flyers. Easily bullied, pushed around and intimidated.

For example: seeing Taylor Hall getting checked without the puck in the 1st period was flat out ridiculous. And potentially dangerous. Yet Hall continues to take this crap for some reason. Did anyone try checking Mark Messier like that?

The fact that a visiting team can show up, play a relatively even period of hockey before banging in a few goals… then being allowed to coast for the rest of the game is as much a reason for the failure of the Oilers than anything else.

Seeing the Canucks – smiling and having fun in the third period is totally unacceptable.

BONVIE

godot10:
Davidson has the advantage of having something Nikitin and Ference don’t have.i.e. a future, which is why you waive Nikitin, and not Davidson.Nikitin is NOT going to be back next year.

Davidson has been ripened in the AHL.He is ready for the #7 role to be challenging for #6.

I like this post!

godot10

Davidson has the advantage of having something Nikitin and Ference don’t have. i.e. a future, which is why you waive Nikitin, and not Davidson. Nikitin is NOT going to be back next year.

Davidson has been ripened in the AHL. He is ready for the #7 role to be challenging for #6.

Pouzar

AnOmYnOuS1: My only concerns are if he can continue to adjust to the small ice

I found an article online from 2013 that said the KHL were decreasing the width of their rinks by 2 meters from the Olympic sized width. I have no idea if that was actually done in all or any of their rinks.

“Earlier this week KHL president Alexander Medvedev said the six-year-old league will reduce the width of its Olympic-size rinks to 28 meters from 30 meters after the 2014 Sochi Games, putting them closer in line with the 26-meter-wide ice surfaces used in the NHL.”

http://sputniknews.com/sport/20130402/180400999/KHL-Rink-Shrink-to-Sex-Up-Hockey—Petrov.html

I guess it was set in motion.

http://en.rsport.ru/hockey/20130625/670496174.html

AnOmYnOuS1

Pouzar: I maybe in the minority but I put a lot more stock in his KHL experience than most. He’s been playing against men for parts of 5 seasons now and has showed in the preseason he can hold his own against AHL type comp. Not saying he is the answer but I think he deserves a shot at seeing what he has against NHL comp.

I agree. The KHL is considered the 2nd best league so he’s clearly he’s able to play against pretty good players. He’s got the size and speed that fits into our top-9, as well as being willing to shoot and seems to have a clue defensively. He managed 15 goals in the KHL, which seems pretty good considering it’s a more defensive league compared to the NHL. My only concerns are if he can continue to adjust to the small ice when it’s against actual NHL players and if language will be a problem. So far he seems to be doing good. It’s going to be a tough decision on whether or not to send him down.

Such a crazy thought about having to make tough decisions on sending players down. Watching players battle and earn is such a new concept for us.

godot10

kinger_OIL:
– And if Yak isn’t given the chance to be a top-6 forward, what the F$ is is doing on this roster after 4 years?

Yakupov is doing just fine with “Captain” Lander. Lander and whoever is going to play the other wing will play a simple game that Yakupov can riff off of. Yakupov can explore the boundaries of his game with predictable linemates offensively and defensively.

Most teams are trying to go to a 3-scoring-lines model. And Yakupov on the third scoring line will give other teams matchup problems eventually.

Marc

stephen sheps: That’s definitely in the works. I just saw my first live NFL game last weekend (Arizona throttling the 49ers) so I need more live football in my life. Likely will catch the Titans/Panthers game in November (my brother’s favourite team is the Panthers, I won’t get to see my Dolphins this year and they’re an Oiler-like tire fire anyway) and have every intention of catching a UT game… I just hope they lose. Working in the UT system (UTC) has made me rather bitter. Knoxville treats the rest of us like we have no idea what we’re doing. But that’s a story for another day on another blog.

They’ll probably lose (though maybe not against Vanderbilt). Butch Jones is a terrible coach.

I actually made an impromptu trip to the US last week to catch up with the same friend who took me to the UT game. He’s now based in Indianapolis so we went to the Notre Dame game on Saturday, then up to Chicago for the Cubs game at Wrigley on Sunday night.

Both places are now easily in my top ten best places to watch live sports, if not my top five. Everything about the game day experience at Notre Dame – the campus, the tailgating, the students, the stadium, the band, the atmosphere – is awesome.

And Wrigley is by far the best place to watch a baseball game that I’ve ever been to. I loved everything about it.

Both places should really be on every sports fan’s bucket list. I can’t recommend them enough.

BONVIE

kinger_OIL:
– And if Yak isn’t given the chance to be a top-6 forward, what the F$ is is doing on this roster after 4 years?

– Trade him to a team that will play him where he should be,as part of getting a D back

– Ok – venting over!

You have to deal with Yakapov’s game where it is right now, it would have been nice if he would have advanced in playing away from the puck, board play, defensive positioning, simple breakouts and anticipating when the puck is being reversed to his wall. His game however hasn’t advanced since he started with Horcoff. Let him at least get his offensive confidence back, and play against the opposition that won’t fill the Oilers nets with pucks.

I feel the management has made a good safe third line with some skill and defensive responsibility to be able to succeed. he should have ample opportunity to play with top line players on the power play as well.

Oil2Oilers

John Chambers:
Oil2Oilers,

I agree that Fayne is a 5-6 defenseman we’re trying to slot into the top-4.

Chia should ‘Smid’ that contract, but there’s a shortage of credible talent to backfill even that.

Love that idea and expression, ‘Smid’ him man!

verdad2.0

JDï™,

The man of glass

JD_Wry

Edmonton Oilers

@EdmontonOilers

Klefbom didn’t skate today and is unavailable for tomorrow’s #NHLPreseason finale. Coach McLellan says his status remains day-to-day.

Pouzar

Agreed with all that especially this.

Jonathan Willis: There are at least three guys in the AHL right now who I’d rather have on my blue line today if contracts weren’t an issue.

kinger_OIL

– And if Yak isn’t given the chance to be a top-6 forward, what the F$ is is doing on this roster after 4 years?

– Trade him to a team that will play him where he should be, as part of getting a D back

– Ok – venting over!

Jonathan Willis

Pouzar:
Jonathan Willis,

Davidson is a better d-man than Ference and NN right now imo.
I haven’t seen enough of Gryba.

Certainly he’s better than Ference, who is No. 9 with a buller on merit among the nine surviving blueliners. There are at least three guys in the AHL right now who I’d rather have on my blue line today if contracts weren’t an issue.

He’s more physical and more mobile than Nikitin, and overall I’d agree he’s probably a bit better. What I wonder is if Nikitin’s specific abilities (he can pass a bit, and I’m not sure you can say that about anyone else on that third pairing) trump the overall differences. If you’re looking for a guy to play with Reinhart or Gryba, Davidson is redundant in a lot of ways and having an even halfways-competent passer could help.

wheatnoil

Jonathan Willis:
There’s a lot of love for Brandon Davidson in these parts, as though he were a notably better defenceman than some of the other options.

He’s younger and he’s cheaper, and maybe that’s enough to justify keeping him. But he remains a limited player in a lot of ways, and it’s hard to craft a plausible trail for him to reach the point where he’s even a No. 4/5 defenceman.

With Davidson, Nikitin and Gryba you’re really just picking your poison. Do you want a guy who is young/cheap, a guy who can (at least occasionally) pass or a guy who is mean? Ference seems clearly to be the least of the quartet, but I have trouble feeling strongly about the gap between the other three.

I agree that we don’t have evidence that Davidson > Nikitin / Gryba.

At least with Gryba, we have evidence that he was a relatively neutral d-corsi in Ottawa the last year, implying he at least functioned at the level of an average NHL player and he appeared to be pretty decent at reducing HD scoring chances against. On the other hand, his CF% RelTM was -4.0. I haven’t seen enough of him to make an opinion by eye.

I do wonder if Davidson is a waiver risk, mostly because of his contract and his ability to be a #7 D-man on at least a couple teams (SJ, Bos). If Nikitin isn’t clearly an upgrade on Davidson, I’m pro sending down Nikitin because there’s no way he gets claimed and trying out Davidson based on his success at the AHL level. You can always recall Nikitin if it’s not working out.

In saying that, the other side of my brain points out that we actually have evidence that Nikitin > Davidson. Fancy stats prefer Nikitin, despite my yelling at the TV screen when he’s on the ice often. G Money has been digging into this and Nikitin certainly hasn’t looked good in the pre-season, but I still can’t help but feel like my eyes are missing something. Last year, his CF% RelTM was 0.3, so almost break-even, where as Davidson (in limited minutes) was -3.2%… not much better than Andrew Ference. Nikitin was also quite strong at reducing HD scoring chances against compared to the other D. Also, his PDO was quite low, despite having better HD scoring chances against, so maybe that was what made him look worse.

So I waffle on this. Given Nikitin’s not terrible fancy stats last year. Would sending him down for Davidson be that much different than sending down Marincin in favour of Hunt last year? Trying out an untested AHL player at the start of the year, thereby extending preseason into the regular season? By eye, I like Davidson better… much better. By stats, Nikitin is the clear choice… ahead of both Gryba and Davidson.

Guh. I just spent my short break writing a bunch of paragraphs and am now more confused than when I started. I give up!

ashley

I agree that Fayne is overhyped. But I don’t think he’s useless. He’s a late career Staios off-the-glass and out dependable 3rd pairing guy that we can use. Fayne got lots of play last year because of the heavy contract signed by the guy that was in charge. That guy is not in charge anymore and that makes a big difference.

If I had to guess, after 10 games will see top 4 icetime of Sekara-Schultz, Klefbom-Reinhart or Klefbom-Schultz, Sekara-Reinhart.

In other words, it’s still going to be a bit of a fire drill every night, but hopefully our forwards can outscore what we let in, and maybe our goalie will steal a few more games than last year.

Jonathan Willis

Lowetide: The Oilers tipped their hand when not buying out Nikitin and signing Franson, said it at the time With that as the backdrop, Gryba and Davidson are the only men who might be useful when Edmonton decides to turn north

Yep, that’s a reasonable argument. I have trouble seeing any of the current quartet with the team past this season – Sekera, Klefbom, Nurse, Reinhart and Fayne (if not traded) have five of six spots, Musil will need waivers next year, there’s a flood coming behind him and of course Chia is going to want at least one vet of his choosing at the bottom of the roster, because that’s where you can add a guy who fits your philosophy without things really mattering (Gryba may be this guy long-term but I bet he’s flipped for a better pick at the deadline).