The Edmonton Oilers went 2-2-0 last week, but the two losses were shutouts and fans endured another Saturday night disaster. Errant passes, constant bouts of ‘Jimmy Legs’ and ‘that’s your man—no it’s not’ against the Coyotes gave fans an overwhelming sense of doom. Thankfully, there are only two points available for each game, and if you ignore the Mack Truck schedule (Nashville, St. Louis, Vancouver, Colorado) this week there’s a chance we see the sun shine.
FUNNY HOW TIMES SLIPS AWAY, 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: 4-3-0
- Oilers after 71 in 2014-15: 19-39-13, 51 points (-74 GD)
- Oilers after 71 in 2015-16: 27-37-7, 61 points (-40 GD)
Last year’s G72 saw Nelson riddle the troops (sorry) to a 5-4 win over the Flyers. This year’s group has been tracking ahead of last year by around 10 points (mostly), it will be interesting to see if the modern lovers can close like last year’s group. An improved power play would help, just in case you are saying a prayer this morning.
- Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Brandon Davidson. If we assume the Oilers bring those four men back, is there anyone else above who stays? Mark Fayne unless they can trade him, Eric Gryba if Fayne is punted. Fair? I think it is.
- Adam Clendening has reasonable numbers, except there is nothing doing on the power play. I imagine that is his reason for being on the roster, so the experiment needs a push. I have no ideas about how to fix the power play, but it needs fixing.
- Jordan Oesterle is a guy I cheer for, but his being a lefty makes the future difficult to see from here, at least as an Oiler. No doubt in my mind he will get more chances with those wheels.
- Darcy McLeod did an outstanding job of looking at the RH defensemen market (here), and that is a handsome photo of Darcy alongside. I recommend it highly, there is a lot of work there and some fascinating results. My list had Travis Hamonic, Jason Demers, Jacob Trouba, Sami Vatanen and Dougie Hamilton. Woodguy’s (possibly) available list includes Josh Manson, Chris Tanev, Jason Demers, Justin Braun and Jared Spurgeon. It is going to take some time for me to suss out his work (I am especially interested in his way of drilling down on QC and his seven metrics). I will have WG on the Lowdown Thursday morning to chat about it, but head over when you can. Outstanding work, and a nice bookend to his Talbot mountain of work last spring and summer. Next year? The power play.
- Connor McDavid gets 5.07/60 at 5×4 on this team. Send him to the HHOF—stat. Whatever they are doing with the man advantage, it is not working. Go opposite George! Everything else has failed, why not go ‘Hi I’m George, I am unemployed and live with my parents!’????
- Leon Draisaitl was the subject of a few back and forth emails yesterday. Basically, I was called on the carpet by a few of you over my Sail On item, specially in regard to dealing Jordan Eberle. One of the emails was entitled ‘THINK!’ which is such a friendly opening. It isn’t quite ‘sorry’ but the new generation has so many friend-getters the mind boggles. Anyway, I replied back that Leon Draisaitl would be a dandy RW, especially or the Hall-Nuge line. Did we forget so soon?
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is back, hammering the iron and not proving anything to Peter Chiarelli. Is the Nuge going to be PC’s Seguin? It could happen. My hope is the GM gets himself a monster draft chip and parlays that into a massive deal that makes McGriff-Fernandez for Carter-Alomar look like small potatoes. We wait, a little bit uneasy. Watch some old vids, Peter!!
- My favorite stat for forwards is 5×5/60. Connor and Leon are music, sweet sweet music. It is a mortal sin to have wasted those seasons.
LEFT WINGERS, 2015-16
- Huzzah! The Oilers have two LWs with more than 2.00/60 at 5×5. That is four forwards who are delivering exceptional numbers at even strength. There is a substantial group of quality Fs here, just need to unlock them with tape-to-tape passes from the blue and a PP formula that adds up.
- Taylor Hall, Benoit Pouliot, Patrick Maroon, Matt Hendricks, white face, black shirt, white socks, black shoes, black hair, white strat, bled white, died black, sweet Gene Vincent, let the blue cats roll tonight. This should be good.
RIGHT WINGERS, 2015-16
- Jordan Eberle would have reached 2.00/60 if he had the time, but the track is running out on him. I still believe he can score 40 alongside McDavid every year, but he may not get a second season to prove it.
- Zack Kassian sure looked good for awhile there, but one wonders if he cost himself some dollars as the numbers went south. This entire RW is a mess right now. Bring on Leon!
- Nail Yakupov is melting. It is a damned shame.
CHIARELLI’S SUMMER LIST
- Top-pairing D to partner with Klefbom (Travis Hamonic)
- Second-pairing D to partner with Sekera (Sami Vatanen or Jason Demers)
- Third-line C if they trade Nuge (Nuge)
- Scoring winger if they trade Eberle (Laine)
- Offload unwanted contracts (Fayne, Korpikoski)
- Backup goalie (could also be a G who slots below Brossoit but has NHL experience)
- Re-stock the system (major needs in goal, scoring forwards)
Is there anything else? The addition of Sallinen (we will chat about it in a minute) tells us PC is still trying to add rugged players who are ‘heavy on their sticks’ and the team is casting about in search of same. The Finn being added now is very curious, as he impacts next season’s 50-man list without having a clear path to the NHL.
CHIARELLI AT THE DRAFT
I have a feeling the Oilers are going to be very active on the draft floor, and could blow our collective minds. Not in a ‘my goodness, that new spaghetti sauce has real bite’ kind of way but in a ‘Mom, a helicopter landed in the backyard and there are three men with a giant cheque running toward the house!’ kind of way. I believe the Oilers get their complete defenseman this summer, with the draft pick—especially if it houses a Finn—clearly in play. Would you be okay with that? Alex Pietrangelo? Brent Burns?
I reached out to a few people who observe the KHL, and Sallinen appears to be a low risk addition who might be able to play on an NHL 4line. That is not the kind of addition one looks for at this time of year—Jeff Veillette has a really good article on Sallinen and his KHL season—and there is every chance we are looking at the new Lenny Petrell.
FIRST PROJECTED 2016-17 50-MAN LIST (37)
I have taken some liberties with the RFA and UFAs.
- G Cam Talbot. No. 1 next season.
- G Laurent Brossoit. Projects as NHL backup, signed a two-year deal.
- G Eetu Laurikainen, AHL backup, he is signed for next year.
- D Oscar Klefbom, likely top pairing, needs to stay healthy.
- D Andrej Sekera, top 4D, important part of the team.
- D Brandon Davidson, top 6D, maybe even top 4D if he continues on current track.
- D Mark Fayne, suspect he will be dealt if opportunity arises.
- D Darnell Nurse, probably top 6D next season.
- D Eric Gryba, may sign him for next season. Suspect he signs
- D Griffin Reinhart, may spend another year in the minors. Could be dealt.
- D Andrew Ference, they will buy him out (if able). LTIR is my guess.
- D Jordan Oesterle, AHL D, NHL time. RFA. Suspect he signs.
- D Joey Laleggia, AHL D matriculating.
- D Dillon Simpson, AHL D, matriculating.
- D Ben Betker, AHL D, matriculating.
- C Connor McDavid, Giant.
- C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, quality NHL center.
- C Leon Draisaitl, emerging NHL talent.
- C Mark Letestu, checking NHL C.
- C Anton Lander, they may find a buyer.
- C Jujhar Khaira, he is a good bet to make the roster in the fall.
- C Bogdan Yakimov, a chance he comes back. Has NHL tools, speed concern.
- C Kyle Platzer, AHL C matriculating.
- L Taylor Hall, impact NHL player.
- L Benoit Pouliot, underrated by many.
- L Patrick Maroon, big winger and complementary offensive player.
- L Lauri Korpikoski, Oilers may keep him until the end of his contract.
- L Matt Hendricks, checking NHL W.
- L Jere Sallinen, you can never have too many Finns.
- L Mitch Moroz, AHL winger/enforcer, matriculating.
- L Braden Christoffer, rugged winger, matriculating.
- R Jordan Eberle, scoring winger and a big part of the cluster.
- R Nail Yakupov, gone baby, gone.
- R Zack Kassian, probably part of the future in a top 9F role. RFA.
- R Iiro Pakarinen, suspect he will push for a spot next fall. RFA
- R Anton Slepyshev, talented winger should push for NHL time.
- R Greg Chase, minor league winger, matriculating.
G Niklas Lundstrom. D Adam Clendening. D David Musil.
- D Jordan Oesterle.
L Luke Gazdic. L Kale Kessy.
- R Zack Kassian.
- R Iiro Pakarinen.
R Tyler Pitlick.
D Adam Pardy
- D Eric Gryba
D Brad Hunt D Nikita Nikitin C Andrew Miller L Ryan Hamilton R Adam Cracknell R Rob Klinkhammer
I think we see an even bigger roster overhaul than we did last summer. Chiarelli and Todd McLellan will have made their decisions (Schultz, others are gone already) and the additions to the roster this summer are likely to be plentiful and (in some cases) expensive.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A busy morning, this time change is kicking my ass so there may be some unintended hilarity. TSN1260, 10 this morning. Scheduled to appear:
- Scott Burnside, ESPN. Lack of playoff races, Malkin injury, Wideman fiasco.
- Lee Versage, TSN1200 Ottawa. The Brier was incredible, we will break it down.
- Sunil Agnihotri, The SuperFan and Copper & Blue. Saturday night, what Chiarelli and McLellan can get out of the last 11 games, fixing the blue, and the week ahead.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. I will be mangling words in 90 minutes!