I think we can safely list the Edmonton Oilers future: Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, Jesse Puljujarvi, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera, Milan Lucic, Cam Talbot, Matt Benning, Drake Caggiula. RNH and Jordan Eberle? Probably, but the money is going to be the money before too long. Question: If this team is close, at the deadline, does Peter Chiarelli add useful players?
TABERNAC SATURDAY, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers in October 2016: 7-2-0, goal differential +10
- Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2, goal differential -6
- Oilers in November 2016: 5-8-2 goal differential -3
- Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1, goal differential -9
- Oilers in December 2016: 1-0-0, goal differential +3
- Oilers after 25, 2015: 8-15-2, goal differential -16
- Oilers after 25, 2016: 13-10-2, goal differential +10
This is a strong recovery season over season, +5 in the wins aisle, +10 in points and an outstanding +26 in goal differential. These are the days of miracle and wonder, don’t cry baby don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry. G26 a year ago? Edmonton beat Boston 3-2 in a shootout.
Will it result in a playoff berth? I still can’t see it. Calgary is two points back now, still lots of problems but their goalie is goaling and there are veterans in important spots. They have spiked with the Gaudreau gone and will no doubt receive a boost when he returns. The Oilers have two games in hand, against Anaheim and Minnesota, and could stretch the lead to six. Will they? The playoffs are a long way off, but we get tells every week. Edmonton is 1-1-0 this week, can they stretch it to 3-1-0? Will it be 1-3-0?
- Sather on making trades: “I’m on the phone every day. It’s part of the business. Everybody wants the kids. Toronto wants a young defensemen, and they’d give me practically anyone I would name, or so they say. But when I name someone, it just seems to break down. I could have (Ian) Turnbull, I guess, but I’m not sure I want him. Buffalo right now, why I could pick up the phone to Scott (Bowman) and have Jim Schoenfeld and Rick Martin. Schoenfeld’s just the kind of defenseman we need, and Martin has scored 50 goals twice, and he’s been an All-Star. But they’re what, 28 or 29? and what Scotty wants in return are (Dave) Hunter and (Paul) Coffey. I could do that, sure. We could move up about four places this year, just with that trade. But in three of four years, they’d kill me. Coffey’s going to be one of the best defensemen in this league. That’s all they want: The kids. I’m going to stick with these kids even if it means finishing last.”
THEY are the fans, and it is true. Edmonton needs a backup goalie who starts more than twice in the first 25 games, and a Pisani and a RHD for the second pairing and power play. Cost? JP? First-round pick? Drake Caggiula? If it were Bogdan Yakimov, that trade would be done.
Will Edmonton buy at the deadline? And I am not talking Jerred Smithson, I am talking real help. Can I see it? Maybe. More than this, I see a Patrick Maroon style add, someone who can help now and down the line. The only barrier? Expansion draft. Still, I don’t think PC is so invested in all of the current protected list that he would not try to upgrade.
We are midway through the Top 20 prospects and if the Oilers are planning on additions, someone from the group may be heading out. Who? Ziyat Paigin? Bogdan Yakimov? Tyler Pitlick? What about draft picks?
2017 OILERS PICKS (PROJECTED)
- First Round, No. 20
- Second Round, No. 51 (belongs to Boston)
- Third Round, No. 82
- Third Round, No. 87 (arrives in Yakupov deal)
- Fourth Round, No. 113
- Fifth Round, No. 131 (arrives in Larsen deal)
- Fifth Round, No. 144
- Sixth Round, No. 175
- Seventh Round, No. 206
I spoke to Guy Flaming yesterday, and Europe, WHL and some other spots are strong but the OHL (the OHL is prospect mecca these years) does not have the usual brilliance. Would PC trade No. 20? I don’t think he will—in fact, one suspects adding a second-round pick will be of interest to the organization.
27 times 3
On Sunday night, after the Wild game, Edmonton will have completed 27 games, or roughly 33 percent of the schedule. If Edmonton wins both weekend games, they will be in the range of the playoffs (96 points) if you project it over the final two-thirds of the year. If they lose both? They project 84 points. Last year, Edmonton posted 22 points in 27 games, that would have projected them to 66 points—and they finished with 70 on the year. The range (84 to 96) is potentially encouraging, but Edmonton badly needs to find consistency, and balance is not an organizational priority at this time. McDavid and Talbot have them here, the Nuge line needs to contribute here and right soon!
Photo by Mark Williams, all rights reserved
Nick Ellis is having a great run in Bakersfield, and putting pressure on Laurent Brossoit (who pitched a shutout last night) in terms of counting numbers and save percentage:
- AHL No. 4 SP: Nick Ellis, .930
- AHL No. 5 SP: Laurent Brossoit .927
The Condors have had extended periods where they couldn’t put the puck in the ocean, but the goaltending has been quality so far. I will speak to Catherine Silverman (voodoo explainer!) at 2:20 today about Ellis, and his remarkable progress from seldom used college backup to star starter to excellent AHL backup—and where he goes from here. Interview at 2:20 today, Edmonton time, on Saturday Sports Extra.
OILERS SCORERS IN NHL TOP 60 OVERALL
- No. 1 Connor McDavid 25gp, 11-23-34
- No. 21 Leon Draisaitl 25gp, 9-11-20
- No. 29 Milan Lucic 25gp, 7-12-19
- No. 52 Jordan Eberle 25gp, 7-10-17
You can go decades without four men in the top 60 scorers, so enjoy this while you can. Completely coincidental that 97s wingers have made it into this group, I am sure. The issue for Edmonton is that their next scorers have 11 points (Nuge, Maroon) and that is not a strong number. Tighten up, in the words of the great philosopher Archie Bell.
CHECKING IN ON JUSTIN SCHULTZ
Dave Molinari has an article up for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about Justin Schultz and his defensive progress. He and Ian Cole are playing third pair for the Penguins, and Schultz has a 4.4 Corsi Rel—excellent!—early in the year. Good for him, glad it is going well. He doesn’t get much power-play time though (Letang) and hopefully that increases. I mean, why bother having JS if you aren’t using him there?
It all revolved around the HNIC game. You see, we didn’t have a game every night, in fact many times HNIC was the game of the week. My brother and I would play outside until Stampede Wrestling, beat the hell out of each other (this is me lying, he beat the hell out of me) during the Bugs Bunny Show, and then HNIC.
I remember cards and beer and cigarettes (and a cigar, my Grandpa smoked a cigar) and I would watch no matter who was playing. I was the only one in the entire family who was thrilled with an expansion team (Minnesota North Stars!), the men preferred Toronto-Montreal. Which made little sense to me, because if Montreal won they were all miserable, but I have figured it out since then.
The Oilers on Saturday night in recent seasons have been beaten soundly by my recollection, but that too shall pass. This past week, people went nuts again because the Oilers could not find a way to beat the Arizona Coyotes and their blasted defensive shell.
It will come, ladies and men. Small victories are big steps. Let’s start with a HNIC win, so at least one old man can stop his terrible habit of yelling at the TV and scaring the beJesus out of the dog. Amen.