Connor McDavid is averaging about two insane plays a game these days, we are still in awe of him because there is no historical reference for his speed—ask NHL defensemen. Some day, maybe next year, we will come to expect that burst and the defensive fracture that follows. For now, it’s Saturday in hockey country and our hero is the fastest man in the west.
TABERNAC SATURDAY, 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: 7-6-0
- Oilers after 77 in 2014-15: 23-41-13, 59 points (-72 GD)
- Oilers after 77 in 2015-16: 30-40-7, 67 points (-37 GD)
Oilers grabbed one in San Jose and are now 1-1-0 for the week. You would be wise to assume an L this evening, just as Edmonton did a year ago in G78 (an 8-2 loss to the Kings). Anton Lander had five shots, Matt Fraser four on Golden Seals night in California.
— Marty Klinkenberg (@globemartyk) March 25, 2016
- Late season things to watch include Andrej Sekera and Mark Fayne getting closer to 50 percent in possession; Jordan Oesterle thriving on 21 minutes a night; Darnell Nurse & Griffin Reinhart in a race for best stats between the two (I think Reinhart may win this); will we see a Nikita ‘is it cold ?’ Nikitin appearance for old times sake? I still don’t blame the guy, and bet he has been good for Nail. Any who, it ain’t much to look forward to, ladies.
- If the Oilers win the possession battle tonight, I will plant potatoes in my living room.
- How many of these defensemen, healthy or injured, could we project onto a Stanley Cup contender? As part of a top 6D, I would suggest Sekera in a second pairing role and a healthy Oscar Klefbom on the third pair. Is that fair? I think those two are the foundation for this defense, but there is much work to do.
- How many Oilers defensemen—when healthy—would play ahead of Calgary’s top six D?
- Seeing a lot of ‘trade Klefbom’ chatter but it makes no sense. If his injury is going to alter his career, then the trade value has been dashed. If he is healthy, then it is absolutely certain he is the best and most developed of the young blue. Seems ludicrous to do anything but wait until fall and see how things are at that time. Lighting a candle is a far more reasonable approach.
- I was looking at possible additions and checked out Zdeno Chara. His possession number has fallen from 53 to 48 percent season over season. A lot of that is the quality of partner, but this is not the time to be trading for the big man.
- Jason Demers should be a target for the Oilers. Plays over 21 minutes a night, over 50 percent in possession, and Todd McLellan used him more on the power play in San Jose.
- If the season starts Klefbom—Hamonic, Sekera—Demers, Nurse—Davidson, I would consider that a playoff defense—if the Oilers don’t stay stubborn on Nurse. He is 46 percent in possession this year—that is No. 179 among 204 defensemen who have played over 400 minutes in the NHL this season. People are ripping Darnell, but it was a mistake keeping him up after he began to struggle. If he had been sent back after (about) game 20, he might be back with more confidence and authority. I think that is what we are seeing with Griffin Reinhart at this time.
- Todd McLellan on the Nuge: “If Nuge could have played against San Jose, I’d have had him at centre with Leon again, just like what we did in Arizona. I thought it was a pretty effective line for the first 30 minutes there until he got hurt. I don’t know if we’ll get to see that option again.” Source
- I have come to grips with trading the Nuge, but will be somewhat exasperated with Peter Chiarelli if he moves the center. Why can’t he see his Krecji? Does McDavid’s presence make a Krecji unecessary? I don’t believe that, nor do I believe Leon’s emergence makes RNH superfluous. What is it?
- My only answer is that PC has someone in mind. A center who can play 2C or 3C with equal aplomb, and brings something Nuge does not. What would that be? Nuge makes $6M, is not 6.04, 225 and (this season) ranks No. 187 (among 322 forwards with 500 or more minutes) in 5×5 scoring. I am online with much of the GMs thinking (Talbot, Sekera, others) but this has me scratching my head. I am genuinely at a loss for why Nugent-Hopkins is in play.
- I am also surprised at the number of people who want to see the forwards shuffled. I understand the idea of trading someone to help on defense, but if you can solve the blue without buggering up the Fs, why not keep them?
- I count Taylor Hall, Benoit Pouliot, Patrick Maroon, Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov among my keepers. That’s eight men. Craig MacTavish went to war with half this talent when he was coaching, and that’s a fact. The difference? More veterans. MORE veterans.
CONDORS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR, 2015-16
I wrote a piece over at ON last night, looking for input on the Condors ROY. Also interesting? Of the kids who have been rookies over the last two years, who had the best rookie year? It is interesting to line them up by position.
AHL ROOKIE GOALIES
- Laurent Brossoit 49GP, 2.65 .916 (14-15)
- Eetu Laurikainen 13GP, 3.32 .904 (15-16)
Little doubt who is the superior rookie here, although Laurikainen didn’t play as much and that can impact things. I don’t think anyone thinks the Oilers regard the Finn as highly as Brossoit, and of course we should acknowledge that both of them could easily end up outside the NHL.
LaLeggia – Yakimov – Slepyshev
Roy – Miller – Ford
Loiseau – Platzer – Chase
Kessy – Currie – Christoffer
— Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) December 5, 2015
AHL ROOKIE DEFENSEMEN
- D-F Joey Laleggia 53gp, 7-17-24 .453 (15-16)
- D Jordan Oesterle, 61GP, 7-16-23 .377 (14-15)
- D Dillon Simpson, 66GP, 2-14-16 .242 (14-15)
Laleggia ends up being a superior overall offensive player, but we have to factor in the fact that he played forward as well. At even strength, Laleggia (.321) is ahead of the Oesterle of one a year ago (.277)—but that time at forward skews the numbers. We should allow for the possibility that Laleggia might be a more substantial offensive player, though.
AHL ROOKIE FORWARDS
- R Iiro Pakarinen 39GP, 17-11-28 .718 (14-15)
- C Bogdan Yakimov, 57GP, 12-16-28 .491 (14-15)
- L Joshua Winquist, 41GP, 8-10-18 .439 (14-15)
- W Anton Slepyshev 39gp, 10-7-17 .436 (15-16)
- C Kyle Platzer 40gp, 5-10-15 .375 (15-16)
- C Marco Roy, 34gp, 6-5-11 .324 (15-16)
- L Kellen Jones, 44GP, 5-9-14 .318 (14-15)
- C-R Josh Currie 45gp, 6-8-14 .311 (15-16)
- C Connor Jones 36GP, 4-4-8 .222 (14-15)
- C Jujhar Khaira 51GP, 4-6-10 .196 (14-15)
- L Braden Christoffer 30GP, 1-3-4 .133 (15-16)
- L Mitch Moroz 61GP, 5-3-8 .131 (14-15)
Remember, the forwards produced in the AHL are not the impact scorers, they are the Cleary’s, the Chimera’s and the Pisani’s. Pisani as an AHL rookie posted .481 points-per-game at age 23—and he played in the minors for over 170 games. There is still time for all of the forwards here, but as our annual look at the AHL shows, you better spike like Khaira in year two if you plan on having an NHL career.
The trade Taylor Hall rumors have died down for now, Jon’s numbers should put those to bed for the rest of 2016. Here’s the thing: There are players you would trade Taylor Hall for, but they, like Hall, are largely unavailable. Look, the Oilers dealt for Chris Pronger a decade ago (three-for-one!) and I would love to see it again. Problem is, you need a partner, and NHL teams hold on to their impact defensemen for dear life. Why? Fear of becoming the Edmonton Oilers.
Who would I trade Hall for? Well, Erik Karlsson for sure, and most of the guys playing over 26 minutes a night on this list. Guess what? They aren’t available. If Hall is available, and PC is talking about a Tyler Seguin style reverse three-for-one, then we are talking about the enemy within. Again.