Connor McDavid posted two more points last night, drilling opponents like no other since the All-Star break. Last night, the team had a tough outing in Columbus, but the road is long and screw you, schedule maker. The club has been solid (last night aside) so it’s on to Portage and Main and let’s see action.
Connor McDavid's consistently produced since February 2, leads some big names in scoring during the span since then pic.twitter.com/EzFEc3x5Jj
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) March 5, 2016
WHEATFIELD SOUL, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2014: 4-5-1
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0
- Oilers in November 2014: 2-9-3
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2
- Oilers in December 2014: 2-8-4
- Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1
- Oilers in January 2015: 5-7-1
- Oilers in January 2016: 4-5-2
- Oilers in February 2015: 5-6-1
- Oilers in February 2016: 4-8-2
- Oilers in March 2015: 5-6-3
- Oilers in March 2016: 2-1-0
- Oilers after 67 in 2014-15: 18-38-11, 47 points (-75 GD)
- Oilers after 67 in 2015-16: 25-35-7, 57 points (-35 GD)
I can’t get too upset about the L last night, Edmonton had a dandy start to the week and climbed out of their doldrums smartly. Edmonton needs five points to reach last season’s total, and if they match the Nelson Oilers from here to the end of the line, Edmonton would finish 31-41-10, 72 points. That seems a reasonable goal (although wildly disappointing based on pre-season conversations).
INDIVIDUAL HIGH-DANGER SCORING CHANCES
- Four: Taylor Hall
- Three: Leon Draisaitl, Zack Kassian
- Two: Iiro Pakarinen
- One: Connor McDavid, Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle
DEFENSE LAST NIGHT
- Davidson—Pardy had monster possession numbers, but Pardy was not strong with the puck on his stick in the defensive zone and had some delay in decision-making. Davidson got a dash two for being on the ice at the same time, but I thought he played well overall in what was a chaotic game. His point shot is pretty damned good, and his decisions are consistently good even if they don’t always work out.
- Sekera—Fayne looked cool, calm and collected to my eye, Sekera picking up two assists and both men making the smart play most of the time. It seems there is very little chance Fayne returns—he is too expensive for third pairing and one suspects Todd McLellan wants more mobility in his top four—but this is a pretty nice pairing.
- Nurse—Nikitin were in the news early and often, rarely for good reasons. Coverage issues for both were rife and they didn’t have much chem (in fairness, they were thrown together). I can’t decide which one was more to blame so will point the finger at both. The Oilers do Nurse no favors by gifting him with Nikitin, who tries mightily but cannot get his train to run on time.
- Laurent Brossoit had a tough night, his career NHL SP went from .964 to .919 in one difficult evening. That was his third NHL game, he will get another chance soon.
CENTERS, LAST NIGHT
- Leon Draisaitl had a good night—a goal, 67 percent on the dot, four shots, three takeaways. That is some quality. His line had seven high-danger scoring chances.
- Connor McDavid had two points, was 54 percent on the dot but he also had some troubles without the puck (lost on the first GA). He is 19 and fabulous. Also played extremely well with Taylor Hall, something we may see again.
- Mark Letestu had a good possession evening, went minus three and all I really remember about his game is that he never looks dangerous at evens. I don’t like his line.
- Anton Lander centers the other line that didn’t get much done offensively, but at least his line didn’t end up giving up a triple.
WINGERS, LAST NIGHT
- Hall—Maroon looks like a thing, I like their work. Hall had a goal and seven shots, Maroon two assists and is a capable complementary big winger.
- Korpikoski—Kassian are part of the Letestu line and Kassian had some chances during the game. Korpikoski did not have a strong night to my eye, but I may be approaching ‘Full Petrell’ in viewing him.
- Yakupov—Eberle is not having a good run with McDavid, one or both could get booted from the McDavid line soon.
- Hendricks—Pakarinen played well enough to stay on their current line, I actually like the group okay. Problem is, you likely have to pull Hendricks up to the Letestu line (with, say Kassian) in order to make a reasonable 3line.
Musil photo by Mark Williams
MAKING THE CALLS ON THE RFA’S
The Oilers have some decisions to make on upcoming RFA’s, and they enter the spring housecleaning process with little room on the 50-man list. Adding Patrick Maroon and Zack Kassian eases the pressure on developing NHL-calibre physical wingers, and that could mean exits for some forwards bubbling under. The culling of LD probably continues.
- R Zack Kassian: A lock to be signed at this point.
- R Iiro Pakarinen: McLellan seems to like him, that can be the difference for the fringe players.
- L Luke Gazdic: I think he will be in a new town come the fall.
- D Adam Clendening: Classic tweener, he won’t be back.
- D Jordan Oesterle: His audition went well, he should return.
- D David Musil: No recall may be telling.
- R Tyler Pitlick: Looks good when healthy, but can they count on him?
- G Niklas Lundstrom: Will not return.
- L Kale Kessy: Too close to call, he is not close to pushing for NHL employment.
Next year’s RFA’s may also receive a haircut, via trade (Travis Ewanyk, Martin Gernat, etc)
- C Leon Draisaitl: A big payday on the way, massive part of the future.
- R Nail Yakupov: His contract represents value. A keeper based on statistical evidence.
- C Anton Lander: I am stubborn on him, he needs a recovery season.
- D Griffin Reinhart: Suspect he spends another year in the minors. That bonus portion of his contract isn’t helping his recall options.
- C Jujhar Khaira: Could be that rare forward drafted by the Oilers, developed in the minors and able to play as a regular in the NHL. Has enjoyed a good year.
- D Dillon Simpson: All reports have him playing a solid two-way game in the minors, he is developing in a similar fashion to Brandon Davidson. I imagine we will know more a year from now, but so far looks worth a second contract.
- D Joey Laleggia: Leads Condors rookies in points, and that is significant (as he is a defender). His 23 points in 45 games (.511 points-per-game) compares to Jeff Petry (.585) as a rookie. His defensive acumen is not considered on par with Petry (based on what is available) but he is an interesting prospect.
- C Bogdan Yakimov: He is back in North America and hopefully here to stay. Massive center has reasonable speed, the question is about offense and we really didn’t get much of an answer due to injury and bolting. His NHLE from the KHL experience (82, 17-9-26) does not suggest we are looking at a top 6F option. That said, he is 6.05, 232 and Chiarelli will value that as the Bruinizing of the Oilers continues.
- L Mitch Moroz: Young Moroz has played 90 games in his first two pro seasons, suspect they will want to get him in a lot of games next year.
- G Eetu Laurikainen: I don’t get the feeling he is a substantial prospect, we will see.
Based on where they are as prospects, I would suggest Reinhart, Moroz and Laurikainen are players who could be dealt this summer, either legit trade or add-on ala Ewanyk and Gernat.
THAT CRAZY TRADE
How is that crazy trade doing? Well, Valentin Zykov got traded at the deadline so there is that. Who is doing well this season? Via NHLE:
- Bogdan Yakimov 26 points (KHL)
- William Carrier 20 points (AHL)
- Bogdan Yakimov 14 points (AHL)
- Valentin Zykov 13 points (AHL)
- Kyle Platzer 12 points (AHL)
- Anton Slepyshev 12 points (AHL)
- Aidan Muir 8 points (NCAA)
- Jackson Houck (Oilers did not sign)
Too soon to know, but I would say it has been a poor year for this trade across the board. Now, playing time could be a factor, but as we approach the final year of the entry-level deal in 2016-17 for Yakimov, the time is now. Hopefully he and Slepyshev come alive a little in the playoffs.