The Edmonton Oilers are getting ready to face the Anaheim Ducks this week, and at this point I see this team winning the series (in seven games). When the playoffs started, I suggested 6-6 as a playoff record (4-2SJS, 2-4 ANA), but the team showed more depth than expected and maybe there’s hockey in this city past May long. I still believe balance has not yet been achieved, but Peter Chiarelli’s moves since arrival have complemented Connor McDavid’s arrival and we are miles down the road from expectation. How far can this thing go? Don’t take any long trips until July.
LINES AGAINST SAN JOSE SHARKS
- Corsica.hockey has three lines from the initial series playing enough to show up with numbers.
- The Nuge line played 64 minutes and posted a stunning Corsi for 5×5. RNH had 17 shots, but is the only member of the line without a point. If Nuge gets 17 shots every series this spring, the goals will come.
- The two McDavid lines are about the same, but I think we may see Maroon back on the top line during the Anaheim series. He went 5, 0-5-5 against the Ducks this season, playing 87 minutes in those games. Drake Caggiula played in four games (1-0-1) and totaled 48:43 in icetime.
PAIRINGS AGAINST THE SAN JOSE SHARKS
- Klefbom-Larsson had a fabulous series, both men helping at both ends of the ice. Klefbom’s mobility, Larsson edge and battle helped defensively. Klefbom’s rocket shot tied Game 5 late and Larsson’s impressive pass got the scoring started in Game 6. Great Corsi, great Fenwick, I liked their game against SJS. We worry about Klefbom but early word has him ready for Game 1 against Anaheim.
- Sekera-Russell were under 50 percent in possession and I think a lot of the trouble came from ineffective passing and lack of creativity in exits. I don’t have a cure for it. The duo normally gets by on Sekera’s guile but the Sharks seemed to be getting in the way quite a bit.
- Nurse-Benning have had some good moments and some chaotic sorties defended, and that’s exactly what we should expect. I like Nurse’s mobility, and Benning’s too. Both men can pass and transport, both men have lapses defensively that we associate with you and inexperience. I’m a big believer in getting young players experience and this playoff series is providing it for these two men.
- Cam Talbot has a .927SP through one series, ranking him No. 7 in the NHL. He is also No. 9 in even-strength SP.
Nothing definitive, but sense coming out of today is that #CBJ RW Sam Gagner and D Kyle Quincey will test free agency this summer.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) April 25, 2017
One of the players I wonder about (David Desharnais division) for the Oilers this summer is Sam Gagner. Edmonton could use him as 4R and 1PP, and that righty shot could help keep Mark Letestu fresh. Speed would be impacted, but it’s at least worth talking about (I am leaning toward Slepyshev as being 4R for next year.
PETER CHIARELLI’S LIST
As we discussed yesterday, Peter Chiarelli’s summer is going to be a lot about cap and some about the roster. Unlike previous seasons, when the procurement could go seven or eight deep, we should see a specific, targeted summer of addition.
- Get Connor Mcdavid signed to a long-term contract.
- Get Leon Draisaitl signed to a long-term contract.
- Negotiate the expansion draft rapids without giving up a valuable piece of the future.
- Find a way to trade Benoit Pouliot off the roster.
- Find a second pairing RHD with two-way acumen.
- Find a bottom 6F who can help the offense.
- Find a way to cover off buried contracts (Fayne) and stay under the cap.
- Make enough cap room to get everyone in under the number with enough room to spare for the trade deadline.
- Unlike yesterday, we’ve shoehorned most of the players from a year ago onto the roster. Benoit Pouliot gets traded, Mark Fayne finds the minors (instead of buyout). I still think buying him out makes more sense, but a few mentioned it being a bad idea so we’ll keep him for now.
- The actual cap room is probably more, I am maxing out the bonuses for Connor McDavid, Jesse Puljujarvi and Darnell Nurse.
- I think the Oilers could get by with trading Pouliot and Fayne, to be honest. Doing those two things would turn that cap room above into $3.39M. That would allow PC to sign Kris Russell instead of Cody Franson, or even aim higher. I do like Franson, his CorsiRel ranks among the 10 best in the NHL this past season. His value is also (apparently) low coming from his Buffalo experience, he could be a value contract.
- I suspect Peter Chiarelli is preparing to trade a big salary, and further expect it will be a player who was a member of the team on the day this GM arrived.
— EP Transfers (@ep_transfers) April 25, 2017
Our man makes it to the Czech elite league starting in the fall. Plenty of talk about Edmonton losing his rights if Svoboda doesn’t sign, I’ve always had a difficult time understanding the rules on these Euro picks. In the past, when I thought a player was no longer part of the organization, someone from the team would say something vague like “we still have him on our reserve list” so I’m not certain he becomes a free agent this summer.
2016-17 NUMBERS AGAINST ANAHEIM
- One of the surprises of the first round was improved secondary scoring. As you can see, the Oilers didn’t get a lot of it during their five game (3-2 Oil) season series.
- Over 50 percent (eight of 14) of the offense funneled through the top line, we should look for some impressive boxcars from the trio. I suspect Maroon may play some or all of the series on that 1line.
- The Nuge line was impressive during the San Jose series, but badly need to provide some offense against the Ducks. Anaheim has balanced scoring, Edmonton needs the same. I will publish Anaheim v. Oilers during the regular season in tomorrow’s GDT.
- Cam Talbot’s SP (.902) isn’t stellar but five games is a small sample size.
Part I of my U18 Worlds recap is posted. Notes on key 2017-eligible players from USA, CAN, FIN, SWE, CZEhttps://t.co/KHl10ABFzX
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) April 24, 2017
Draft followers will want to read Steve Kournianos U18 recap (Volume 1). It’s a quick read but very effective in passing along the names of this year’s impact players.
— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) April 25, 2017
The reason I picked the Oilers is that Connor McDavid plays for Edmonton. He makes a helluva difference, packs a massive wallop and I do believe he’ll enter this series with something (in his mind) to prove. I’m with all who believe that elevating one’s game for the biggest contests is folly, but when you are magnificent and playing in a big game the attention is heightened. I suspect Connor McDavid is already setting his jaw, sending out that stern look of determination, and expecting to fly. Godspeed.
That article by Stephens is a dandy and contains this quote from Randy Carlyle:
- “I can remember the last game that we played against them here. On every defensive zone faceoff, he pulled Connor McDavid off the ice. So what was happening was Kesler’s group was not getting any offensive time and that can, at times, wear on players in the situation you’re in.”
I think the Oilers are about to enter a physical, more traditional series against the Ducks. Randy Carlyle is not an innovator per se, but does have impressive options at his disposal. One area Edmonton could really help themselves? Cobbling together a third line capable of scoring consistently. More on that side of the story in tomorrow’s GDT.
Here's the line matching comment from McLellan. The point about face-offs in particular is revealing. pic.twitter.com/3nvekDf6Jq
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) April 24, 2017
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
This morning at 10, TSN1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Jonathan Willis, Oilers Nation. Is Jon picking the Oilers? What kind of series will we see?
- Josh Brewster, Duck Calls. We’ll look at the Ducks as they enter their first real series.
- Scott Cullen, TSN. Around the NHL, looking at Oilers, Senators and more.
- Brad Gagnon, Bleacher Report. NFL draft.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!