The Oilers finished their season on the left coast last night, showing management and the coaching staff what the team is lacking—although we can be certain everyone on planet earth knows by now.
DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE, 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: 7-8-0
- Oilers in April 2015: 1-3-1
- Oilers in April 2016: 1-1-0
- Oilers after 82 in 2014-15: 24-44-14, 62 points (-83 GD)
- Oilers after 82 in 2015-16: 31-43-8, 70 points (-41 GD)
The Oilers season is just done now, we have plenty of time to review it. I will list injuries, defense and some unusual personnel decisions as major issues, but will also suggest we should go back to summer—and yet another year of management deciding to leave the hangar without balance. That cannot happen again, and this team is close. Who is leaving town, then? More on that in a minute.
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Sekera—Fayne probably won’t be a pairing next season, nice to see them exit with a solid performance. Sekera had five shots, was +2, Fayne had two shots, was +1 and posted two hits and a blocked shot—plus he played over 18 minutes. This is a solid NHL pairing, I would bring it back next season.
- Nurse—Pardy played softer opposition to my eye, and had 50 percent in possession and did some good things while also being on the ice for bad moments. Nurse scored his third goal of the season, had five shots, a hit and a block. Pardy got walked badly on the third goal (holy crow), finished -2 with a shot block. Two GA is a bad night for any pairing, though.
- Oesterle—Reinhart had to deal with the Horvat line, for me the second best Vancouver line by quite a margin. Oesterle was -2, with a shot, two blocks and one hit. Reinhart was -1 with a shot, a hit and five blocks. I never felt comfortable with this pairing on the ice, but it should be remembered they were rookies playing a pretty tough line.
CENTERS LAST NIGHT
WINGERS, LAST NIGHT
- Hall—Nuge—Pakarinen had a good night, playing a solid line to 60 percent possession and scoring a big (beautiful) goal. Three high-danger scoring chances (two Nuge, one Pakarinen) and an effective evening for the trio (I am not going to rip 4 because he fell down, that’s just damnable luck). Great goal by Nuge, nice shield on Maroon’s marker.
- Korpikoski—Draisaitl—Yakupov had a fantastic evening, each player doing something of note. Leon finished strong, good on the dot, great passing, five SOG and an effective screen (or more) on the Nurse goal. Yakupov never let the play die on his stick and once again looked good when given a skill center (two assists). Korpikoski got in the way defensively and kept the puck going in a good direction when in possession, also had an assist. Three individual high-danger SC (two Leon, one Yak) and I would love to see this line again—will not happen.
- Hendricks—Letestu—Kassian did exactly what you like to see from a 4line: Saw off possession, don’t give up a lot and maybe get a chance or two the other way. Kassian hammered people, Hendricks mucked it up, Letestu got an assist, was good on the dot and effective on PK. This line had four individual high-danger scoring chances (two from each winger) and provided Edmonton with good minutes.
- Maroon—McDavid—Eberle were not effective as a line. They started off slowly and never did get untracked, although Eberle had a great chance and Maroon scored (plus three IHDSC). I think this line is the one trio who could be back opening night.
— Patricia Teter (@Artful_Puck) April 10, 2016
It is a very negative turn for these young players, too. There is no winter league (summer league) for hockey, but maybe there should be for guys like Nurse, Reinhart and Khaira. Patricia brings up a great point about those Barons teams, who pushed every year into the second season. The California teams are stacked, Edmonton did not have the same kind of prospect playing on this team. That is a problem, and of course the other teams are signing their draft picks while Edmonton has none to sign.
WHO IS LEAVING?
For the most part, this blog discusses what the Oilers will do, as opposed to what I would do. Yesterday, I made the argument that staying the course—while adding through free agency and tweaking with smaller trades—is the best route for Peter Chiarelli. Many of you disagree with that way of thinking, and I suspect PC will be more aggressive than I would like him to be this summer. Who is going? I will give my opinion, you give me yours. The following either could or will be gone:
- Nail Yakupov. I do not think we will see a strong return (it could be an itch the Oilers want to scratch, like Henrik Samuelsson or Alexander Khokhlachev) but it is time for Nail to sail on. I would keep him, being that Sam Pollock taught us long ago how to max the return on phenoms.
- Jordan Eberle. The thing we have to understand is that at some point PC has to offload these bigger deals. He has three more years of Eberle, and this may be the summer to cut bait (I would keep him). If Chiarelli can deal Eberle for a replacement scorer and a defenseman (CBJ Boone Jenner and David Savard?) then he probably does it. Dangerous road here, Oilers need righthanded scorers, Eberle is one and that gives him unique value here. Expect a Stempniak signed if they go down this road.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He may be in play if the Oilers win the lottery (Matthews) and maybe there is a package out there that sends him away no matter what. Edmonton would need to immediately sign a veteran (RH?) center like David Backes. A lot of moves required around this deal, I would not make a Nuge trade.
Unfortunately, I don't think Connor McDavid will be first #Oilers player to win Calder Trophy. Auston Matthews will be.
— Steve Lansky (@bigmouthsports) April 10, 2016
A little table to illustrate the non-trivial team improvement for the Oilers this year. pic.twitter.com/l7LKUFgwAt
— Romulus' Apotheosis (@RomulusNotNuma) April 10, 2016
Yes. Oilers need a solid backup goalie, two right-handed defensemen, a Pisani and a RH 3C without trading any of Talbot, Sekera, Klefbom, Davidson, McDavid, Nuge, Leon, Hall, Pouliot, Eberle. Easy!
I think we have seen the last of Eberle. We wait.