In the year before Crosby, Pittsburgh was pitiful. The Penguins managed a paltry 23 wins and 58 points. In the season Crosby arrived? 58 points! Again! 22 wins! Crosby’s men started badly but made the playoffs in his second year, made the finals in year three and won Stanley in year four!
In the year before McDavid, Edmonton was pitiful. The Oilers managed a paltry 24 wins and 62 points. In the season McDavid arrived? 70 points! Not good! Again! 31 wins! McDavid’s men are about to enter year two with their generational talent, and the playoffs still seem out of reach. Can this team make the playoffs in year two? I think they have more work to do.
Crosby was surrounded in year one by the ancients. Here are the leading scorers from 2005-06 in Pittsburgh:
- Sidney Crosby (Age 18) 81GP, 39-63-102
- Sergei Gonchar (Age 31) 75GP, 12-46-68
- Mark Recchi (Age 37) 63GP, 24-33-57 (traded at deadline to Carolina)
- John LeClair (Age 36) 73GP, 22-29-51
- Ryan Malone (Age 25) 77gp, 22-22-44
- Zigmund Palffy (Age 36) 42gp, 11-31-42
The good young (25 and under) players on the team (Colby Armstrong, Ryan Malone, Ryan Whitney, Maxime Talbot, Brooks Orpik, Marc-Andre Fleury) were destined to have good not great careers (there are no HHOFers, although Orpik and Fleury are still writing their resume’s). Of course, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Jordan Staal and others were on the way so the talent incoming to Pittsburgh 10 years ago was insane.
McDavid was surrounded in year one by young veterans. Here are the leading scorers from 2015-16 in Edmonton:
- Taylor Hall (Age 23) 82GP, 26-39-65
- Leon Draisaitl (Age 19) 72GP, 19-32-51
- Connor McDavid (Age 18) 45GP, 16-32-48
- Jordan Eberle (Age 25) 69GP, 25-22-47
- Benoit Pouliot (Age 29) 55GP, 14-22-36
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Age 22) 55GP, 12-22-34
The good young (25 and under) players on the team are listed here (and we can add Oscar Klefbom and Brandon Davidson—plus Adam Larsson, while subtracting Taylor Hall). Edmonton has some nice players on the way (Jesse Puljuarvi, one of these defensemen probably) but there is no insanity on the way.
MAKING THE OILERS GREAT AGAIN
- A two-way center like Mikael Backlund
- A power-play defender who can play top 6D like Sami Vatanen
- A stronger backup goalie option
Currently, the Oilers apparent options are Mike Richards, Eric Gryba and Laurent Brossoit. That doesn’t really move the needle, although I think Gryba had a good year defending. As of this morning, Edmonton has several paths to the playoffs: McDavid goes super nova, everyone stays healthy on defense, yet another blue emerges ala Klefbom two years ago and Davidson in 2015-16.
I ramble every September about balance and depth, but this year am flummoxed about the general manager’s decision to stop here. Does he have a deal in his back pocket? What’s he building in there? I am not an anti-Chiarelli observer, in fact quite the opposite—I do believe you can lose the battle but win the war. I understand the extreme cost of reaching for balance, even if I do not agree with the price this summer.
What I don’t understand at all is stopping here. In the summer he traded Taylor Hall, it looks like Peter Chiarelli is willing to enter the season with question marks in goal, on defense and at forward. I don’t understand why the club doesn’t push deeper into the roster problems and solve more issues. Perhaps the options will appear by opening night, but one suspects we will also see much tinkering during the year.
Chiarelli: "There was maybe eight or nine other teams that were going after" Matt Benning. #Oilers (CHED)
— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) September 1, 2016
I have a feeling the Oilers believe Benning can be part of the plan as early as this season. A RH depth chart of Adam Larsson, Mark Fayne and Matt Benning is possible by season’s end, but I wonder if the Oilers will try to offload the veteran (Fayne) and use a two-way option (Davidson) on the second pair. If Benning impresses in camp, he might be a consideration for opening night. Just a guess.
OPENING NIGHT BRUINS 2007-08
- Goal: Manny Fernandez starting and Tim Thomas backing up
- Defense: Zdeno Chara (26:55); Aaron Ward (24:23); Andrew Ference (23:31); Andrew Alberts (19:48); Bobby Allen (11:01) and Mark Stuart (10:02).
- Center: Marc Savard (20:23); David Krejci (17:21); Patrice Bergeron (16:51); Glen Metropolit (9:01).
- Left Wing: Peter Schaeffer (19:22); Marco Sturm (16:55); PJ Axelsson (14:36); Milan Lucic (6:53).
- Right Wing: Glen Murrray (18:27); Phil Kessel (15:47); Chuck Kobasew (13:28); Shawn Thornton (7:24).
This was the second season for Chiarelli’s Bruins. There is an interesting mix of veterans and youth, and the roster would (once again) change a great deal over the ensuing year. This team made the playoffs, with impact performances by Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard. I think Edmonton’s opening night roster this fall will also see much change on the way to the balance that will be required to make the playoffs.