PS G6 2016-17: DUCKS AT OILERS

by Lowetide

The Edmonton Oilers are in their final week of prep for the 2016-17 season. The changes of summer have the team more balanced but less dynamic—and most observers believe the moves will result in a team that falls short of the playoffs. What should we expect? I think the goal differential will be improved a lot—the Oilers went from -85GD in 2014-15 to -42GD a season season—but there are some clear issues for this team as the train prepares to leave the station. Those final 42 goals can be lopped off, but the team needs better special teams than we have seen, better headman passing than we have seen and much better goaltending than we have seen.

Edmonton in recent pre-seasons has run the gamut. Before the disastrous 2013-14 season, the team spent the final hours in Texas getting their collective asses kicked in what was described by onlookers as an embarrassment. I did not see the game, but the comments section was a riotous one that brings a chuckle these years later.

Bottom line? If you are coming into this season looking for the playoffs, maybe wait a year. There is no balance post coming your way because:

  • Management stopped working on the defense while things were still a half bubble off plumb.
  • The goalie choice this summer is a head scratcher.
  • There is still no Pisani for the checking line.

mcdavid goal det

THE NO. 1 LINE

  • I projected the Milan Lucic—Connor McDavid—Jordan Eberle line to score 82 goals this coming season, a giant leap from the 61 these three men delivered in 2015-16. Why? McDavid missed 37 games, Eberle missed 13 and it seems reasonable there will be a spike.
  • A lot of the increase in those numbers should come from the power play—realistic considering McDavid hit 6.68/60 at the 5×4 last season.
  • I can say this all depends on McDavid staying healthy, but you know that anyway. Is 82 goals a reasonable line in the sand for this line if everyone remains healthy?

klefbom capture injury

THE NO. 1  PAIRING

  • Last year, Edmonton’s top pairing (mostly) was Andrej Sekera—Mark Fayne (small, polite applause with murmuring as the bass line).
  • At 5×5/60, Fayne (44.9 percent) and Sekera (43.0 percent) were well below par in goals-for percentage.
  • The new top pairing is probably Oscar Klefbom—Adam Larsson and one hopes the numbers will be better for that crew, and for Sekera—Fayne should they play together on the second pairing.
  • Do you believe the Swedes represent a stronger pairing? Can they push the number closer to 50 percent?

I remember that trade like it was yesterday. The season was just starting, Oilers losing 9-2 to the Flames with names like Vincent Damphousse, Troy Mallette and Peter Ing replacing Glenn Anderson, Grant Fuhr and Adam Graves. I punched a hole in the wall of our house and my wife called me an idiot (deserved) when the Messier trade went public. ‘It’s about winning’ said Messier. Yes.

THE NO. 2 LINE

  • Training camp has (so far) not provided a RW for Pouliot—Nuge although there are many candidates. Eventually Jesse Puljujarvi will claim the job, but it will be very difficult to use the big Finn on this line from the start of the year. Kris Versteeg is a viable option, Nail Yakupov is not (based on his past with the Nuge) and Leon Draisaitl is a player who did have success with Nuge a year ago.
  • If we use Leon as the RW, my RE projects the line to score 52 goals this coming season. The trio posted 45 goals last season, but missed a total of 62 games. As is the case across the roster, one should be able to count on better health for the group. 52 goals reasonable?

https://twitter.com/NicholsOnHockey/status/783294094604853248

I think Leon at center makes the most sense, and we have established JP is going to be the 2R sooner than later. That said, there does seem to be a train of thought in Oilers camp that the right spot for LD this fall is on the second line.

Edmonton does have one option that solves the issues, aside from Kris Versteeg—and that is playing Nail with McDavid, Eberle with Nuge. This is not an option that has been explored by the organization this fall, and that is a tell. If you project Leon into a 2R role opening night, it follows that Maroon—Caggiula—Versteeg is a probably 3line with Hendricks—Letestu—Kassian on the 4line. Nail is the outsider, again. Injuries could change things, but that is how it looks at this time.

KHL?

  • Darren Dreger: “Pete Chiarelli tried to move Nail Yakupov leading up to the trade deadline. And I’m sure that he kicked a few tires at the draft in trying to move him again. There just isn’t – and hasn’t been to date, anyway – a market for him.” Source

I maintain the Oilers do not have enough offense to throw this player away, but the counter is eight goals in 60 games one year ago. He has scored 16 goals per 82 NHL games, and Kris Versteeg scored 15 in 77 last season—while playing a more reliable game. For me, the solution remains Nail with McDavid, and—if the organization has decided that is not an option—the right move is to lend him to the KHL and see if a deal can be made with expansion Las Vegas next offseason. If Edmonton has Jordan Eberle, Leon Draisaitl, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kris Versteeg and Zack Kassian ahead of Nail on the RW depth chart—then why keep him on the 23-man roster? I understand the idea of injury, but how many spots do the Oilers believe Nail can fill?

I have asked previously about Anton Slepyshev as a roster option as it relates to Yakupov, and honestly believe it warrants conversation. Nail Yakupov is a one-dimensional player, but that dimension is a very valuable. I see this as being down to two choices:

  • Play Nail with McDavid
  • Move him along

At some point the value is less an issue than the distraction of sitting your former no. 1 overall pick in the pressbox. The Oilers have handled No. 1 overall picks like a renewable resource and in the NHL it can be if you play your cards right (the NHL should change the draft). At some point the Oilers have to turn north, and despite some unusual decisions this summer I assume the team wants to win some hockey games this fall.

If Todd McLellan cannot find a spot for Nail, then the right thing to do is find the player a new home—even if it means a loan to the KHL. It is time. Make it so. Let this young man get on with the rest of his life. It is the right thing to do.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

At 10 this morning, TSN 1260. Scheduled to appear:

  • Jonathan Willis, Oilers Nation. Nail with McDavid, trade him, or is there another course of action?
  • Simon Boisvert, Hockey Insider. Looking for players in the Oilers system with a range of skills. How many are there?
  • Scott Cullen, TSN. Teenagers invading the NHL and one of them could be the next Calder winner. Also, Jays in the wild card game, need the bullpen and bats to deliver this October.

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!

389 comments
0

You may also like

0 0 vote
Article Rating
389 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Drew

OF17: That’s not true. Just because the qualities “McCrappish” valued aren’t enough to win hockey games doesn’t mean they don’t add value. You honestly don’t think that heart and “giving 110% in the corners” have value anymore?

Sounds more like a vendetta than a rational position to me.

Korpiskoski used to look like a good NHL’er skate, make some hits, pot a goal or two going to the hard areas. Was a steaming pile of sh1t though.

Play well first and make sure they have intangibles as well?

Pouzar

Woodguy: You never want to see anyone hurt, but Hendricks and Pakarinen on LTIR made space for better players imo.

I love Hendricks but he wasn’t NHL quality by the end of last year.

Thx for saying it. Couldn’t bring myself to. Quality dudes.

Jethro Tull

OF17: Haha so was Kessel!

Wasn’t Jordan Eberle listed as a center by NHL.com for the longest time?

Oilspill

Nhl quality? Lol. So your ability to turn slightly relevant data into the ability to judge of who is or is not NHL quality is quite funny.

Woodguy: You never want to see anyone hurt, but Hendricks and Pakarinen on LTIR made space for better players imo.

I love Hendricks but he wasn’t NHL quality by the end of last year.

striatic

OF17: “giving 110% in the corners”

The comment said “LOOKED LIKE they were giving it their 110% in the corners.”, not necessarily actually giving it their 110% in the corners. Also, even if you are “giving 110% in the corners”, you are not necessarily being effective in the corners. Hell, I could get signed by the Oilers, get out there and give 500% in the corners and be 0% effective.

500% for Zero Value!

OF17

Zelepukin: And these were the type of guys that McCrappish and Klowe loved because they blocked pucks with their face 5 times a season, dropped the mitts when anyone got hit the wrong way and always looked like they were giving it their 110% in the corners. None of these things alone add value to a team anymore. Not when 3rd and 4th lines are filled with guys who are actually good at doing things… like skating, passing, shooting.

That’s not true. Just because the qualities “McCrappish” valued aren’t enough to win hockey games doesn’t mean they don’t add value. You honestly don’t think that heart and “giving 110% in the corners” have value anymore?

Sounds more like a vendetta than a rational position to me.

BONVIE

Notable in last nights game was Zach Kassian leading the team in Penalty Kill ice time.

delooper

böök¡je,

Thanks. Didn’t get to see the game. Family time, VP debate. . . caught the highlights. I hope Yakupov pulls things together soon.

Mustard Tiger

Zelepukin: And these were the type of guys that McCrappish and Klowe loved because they blocked pucks with their face 5 times a season, dropped the mitts when anyone got hit the wrong way and always looked like they were giving it their 110% in the corners. None of these things alone add value to a team anymore. Not when 3rd and 4th lines are filled with guys who are actually good at doing things… like skating, passing, shooting.

well said
Pitlick/Khaira/Slepyshev are much better at actually playing the game while still providing enough size/aggresivess

Zelepukin

Mustard Tiger: This X1000

And these were the type of guys that McCrappish and Klowe loved because they blocked pucks with their face 5 times a season, dropped the mitts when anyone got hit the wrong way and always looked like they were giving it their 110% in the corners. None of these things alone add value to a team anymore. Not when 3rd and 4th lines are filled with guys who are actually good at doing things… like skating, passing, shooting.

Mustard Tiger

Woodguy: You never want to see anyone hurt, but Hendricks and Pakarinen on LTIR made space for better players imo.

I love Hendricks but he wasn’t NHL quality by the end of last year.

This X1000

Woogie63

Radio interview with Duane Sutter between periods. When asked what he had been up to …”getting crop off …. came in early to see the new arena …. joined the entire hockey ops team for a trip to Columbus.”

No follow-up question from the host broadcaster on that little slip.

unca miltie

Did anyone tell LT about M.A. Pouliot forgetting his skates?

OF17

Woodguy:
Feb 1 – end of season Oiler Expected GF% (min 10gp for Oilers)

PlayerRel.xGF%
BENOIT.POULIOT12.5
JORDAN.EBERLE11.54
CONNOR.MCDAVID10.11
TAYLOR.HALL5.29
ANDREJ.SEKERA3.75
BRANDON.DAVIDSON3.61
PATRICK.MAROON3.29
RYAN.NUGENT-HOPKINS3.07
ERIC.GRYBA2.89
LEON.DRAISAITL1.1
JORDAN.OESTERLE0.05
ADAM.CLENDENING-0.66
TEDDY.PURCELL-2.14
MARK.FAYNE-2.42
DARNELL.NURSE-2.98
NAIL.YAKUPOV-4.36
GRIFFIN.REINHART-5.16
ANTON.LANDER-8.01
LAURI.KORPIKOSKI-8.37
ZACK.KASSIAN-9.48
MATT.HENDRICKS-10.09
IIRO.PAKARINEN-10.62
MARK.LETESTU-11.59

Benoit Pouliot. What a gem of a player. I hope they try him with McDavid. Seems a better fit for his style, and I’d love to see Lucic and Nuge forming the most annoying Oilers line in recent history.

Speaking of, Nuge must be such a frustrating player to play against. Motor that never quits, good defensively, sneaky on steals, can burn you offensively, speedy, maneuverable. Not a bruiser but not a wallflower either. Must be a pain in the ass to play against. I love it.

Woodguy

Feb 1 – end of season Oiler Expected GF% (min 10gp for Oilers)

Player Rel.xGF%
BENOIT.POULIOT 12.5
JORDAN.EBERLE 11.54
CONNOR.MCDAVID 10.11
TAYLOR.HALL 5.29
ANDREJ.SEKERA 3.75
BRANDON.DAVIDSON 3.61
PATRICK.MAROON 3.29
RYAN.NUGENT-HOPKINS 3.07
ERIC.GRYBA 2.89
LEON.DRAISAITL 1.1
JORDAN.OESTERLE 0.05
ADAM.CLENDENING -0.66
TEDDY.PURCELL -2.14
MARK.FAYNE -2.42
DARNELL.NURSE -2.98
NAIL.YAKUPOV -4.36
GRIFFIN.REINHART -5.16
ANTON.LANDER -8.01
LAURI.KORPIKOSKI -8.37
ZACK.KASSIAN -9.48
MATT.HENDRICKS -10.09
IIRO.PAKARINEN -10.62
MARK.LETESTU -11.59

Woodguy

Professor Q: Why does this happen to us?

You never want to see anyone hurt, but Hendricks and Pakarinen on LTIR made space for better players imo.

I love Hendricks but he wasn’t NHL quality by the end of last year.

Material Elvis

Zelepukin: This. Cags looks like he can do Landers job and then some. Time to flush these guys with no real strengths but a whole lot of mediocre. Pitlick for instance should be taking Hendrick’s full time job.

If Pitlick can stay healthy he is definitely better than Hendricks at this point.

Centre of attention

Pouzar:
So Pitlick needs to clear waivers?

Yes. IMO Pitlick makes the team. Hendricks injury + Waivers status = he makes the team. Slepy doesn’t need waivers yet.

Pouzar

So Pitlick needs to clear waivers?

Zelepukin

BONVIE:
I think Caggiula earned his spot and Lander will be on waivers.

This. Cags looks like he can do Landers job and then some. Time to flush these guys with no real strengths but a whole lot of mediocre. Pitlick for instance should be taking Hendrick’s full time job.

Centre of attention

OF17: Haha so was Kessel!

With our injury luck (or lack there of), I could see Pitlick getting time at 4C.

I wish I was kidding.

BONVIE

I think Caggiula earned his spot and Lander will be on waivers.

OF17

Centre of attention: *MacT pokes his head out of his office*

“Pitlick was drafted as a center”

Haha so was Kessel!

Centre of attention

OF17: I’ve liked his game a lot. You can see he’s spent a lot of time honing his game in the AHL. Plays a very mature and pro style. If Pitlick were a center I don’t think it’d even be a debate as to whether he made the roster or not.

If they keep Caggiula, which I think is pretty likely, that leaves one spot on the opening roster for Lander, Pitlick, or Slepyshev, assuming Hendricks isn’t on IR. Wouldn’t shock me to see Hendricks traded though. The kids have played well. Caggiula-Letestu-Kassian-Pitlick-Lander is fine with me for bottom 5 forwards.

*MacT pokes his head out of his office*

“Pitlick was drafted as a center”

OF17

pocession charge:
After watching TMc’s presser, I think you can add Pitlick to the opening night roster.

I’ve liked his game a lot. You can see he’s spent a lot of time honing his game in the AHL. Plays a very mature and pro style. If Pitlick were a center I don’t think it’d even be a debate as to whether he made the roster or not.

If they keep Caggiula, which I think is pretty likely, that leaves one spot on the opening roster for Lander, Pitlick, or Slepyshev, assuming Hendricks isn’t on IR. Wouldn’t shock me to see Hendricks traded though. The kids have played well. Caggiula-Letestu-Kassian-Pitlick-Lander is fine with me for bottom 5 forwards.

Professor Q

Pouzar:
Jack Michaels ‏@EdmontonJack19s20 seconds ago
Sounds like a few more cuts coming before tomorrow’s practice. Hendricks lower body injury, “probably talking weeks.”

Why does this happen to us?

Centre of attention

Pitlick just made the team tonight IMO, all circumstances considered.

BONVIE

Ca$h-McMoney!:
I’m getting a strong sense of people over thinking a preseason game.

It doesn’t matter. It’s an illusion.

Yep, considering there was only a handful of NHL roster players on Amaheim tonight.

Nuge with three Takeaways. Seemed to be good both ways. I say seemed because my feed sucked and I couldn’t even tell who was on the ice half the time.

Pulijarvi about 5 -10 seconds too long per shift, not sure if that bad giveaway was at the end of one of those almost 1 minute long shifts. I felt Fayne should have been staying back, but Pulijarvi had a lot of open ice ahead of him and decided to force a pass into a crowd right up the middle in his own end.

Pouzar

OF17: If I had to bet, Simpson, Reinhart, and Brossoit will be among them. No sense keeping Brossoit up for October when Talbot is likely to play all but maybe a game or two.

Makes sense.

Material Elvis

After watching TMc’s presser, I think you can add Pitlick to the opening night roster.

OF17

Pouzar:
Jack Michaels ‏@EdmontonJack19s20 seconds ago
Sounds like a few more cuts coming before tomorrow’s practice. Hendricks lower body injury, “probably talking weeks.”

If I had to bet, Simpson, Reinhart, and Brossoit will be among them. No sense keeping Brossoit up for October when Talbot is likely to play all but maybe a game or two.

Pouzar

Jack Michaels ‏@EdmontonJack 19s20 seconds ago
Sounds like a few more cuts coming before tomorrow’s practice. Hendricks lower body injury, “probably talking weeks.”

Pouzar

Ca$h-McMoney!:
I’m getting a strong sense of people over thinking a preseason game.

It doesn’t matter. It’s an illusion.

One in every crowd.

Ca$h-McMoney!

I’m getting a strong sense of people over thinking a preseason game.

It doesn’t matter. It’s an illusion.

Pouzar

LMHF#1: Slepyshev should make this hockey team. Great set of skills, balanced game and size.

Decent grit/60 too. Ideal 3rd liner.

Pouzar

I know it wasn’t ANA’s A team but I don’t have many complaints from this effort.

LMHF#1

Slepyshev should make this hockey team. Great set of skills, balanced game and size.

The new rink announcer should not. Just terrible. Say the scores the right way dammit.

OF17

You can see McLellan’s influence. This is a more mature team than we’ve seen since Renney’s second year. More structure, more buy-in. They look like an honest to goodness NHL team when it comes to systems play. I bet Lars Eller won’t be calling them a junior team anymore 🙂

Nailer Yakumoto

Walk off Encarnacione

SumOil

Centre of attention,

Did you ask him if he even watches the games :p

OmJo

Chris Jericho announcing lottery winners for the Oilers? Cool.

OF17

Yak is playing the game he needs to play. Straightforward, high-energy, heavy on the forecheck. Good sign.

OmJo

tcho,

For a preseason game it’s not terrible.

Not as entertaining as the game in Vernon, but a fast paced game nonetheless.

OmJo

Lol way to put Jack Michaels on the spot like that! That was great lol.

tcho

Just me, or is this a pretty boring game?

OmJo

Fayne did come into camp in “the best shape of his life” hopefully that’s not just a cliche saying. A NJ Devils-level Fayne is a pretty good bottom 4 RD.

OF17

OmJo:
OF17,

They all look composed, calm, and confident. I try to pay attention but seems every time I do Pitlick and Slep are on the ice and I get distracted lol

Haha can’t blame you for that. Both are looking great. Good all-around players with a lot of smarts and jam.

OF17

LadiesloveSmid: I’ve been thinking of Duncan Siemens as worst case, Ryan Murphy as best case. No case is a good case.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Carolina acquired their Yakupov this summer with Teravainen.

OmJo

OF17,

They all look composed, calm, and confident. I try to pay attention but seems every time I do Pitlick and Slep are on the ice and I get distracted lol

OF17

Pouzar: He looks noticeably quicker to me. Like what I’ve seen too.

He almost doesn’t look like Mark Fayne. Looks noticeably better this year in just about every aspect of his game. Quicker, more aggressive, better passing, better puck handling. I’m not expecting him to become Klefbom overnight, but Fayne’s play is a great sign for the defense this year.