As crazy as the start to this season has been, a strong November run would allow the Oilers to gain some ground on the long road back to the top teams in the Pacific. The problem with that plan? You can’t time turnarounds, and the problems facing Edmonton right now are more than enough to retard progress. Is there a path to success with a flawed roster? Any team with Connor McDavid has more than a puncher’s chance, but you cannot also include wobbly goaltending, poor special teams, half of the forward roster stuck and unproductive offensively. Winning consistently is a distant bell, out among the stars, for this Oilers team.
PIKES PEAK, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers in November 2015: 1-1-0, goal differential +1
- Oilers in November 2016: 0-1-1, goal differential -3
- Oilers in November 2017: 1-1-0, goal differential +2
Game three in 2015-16 November was a 4-2 loss to Chicago and last year it was a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders. If Edmonton wins this afternoon, it will represent the best start to November of the Todd McLellan era.
AFTER 12, YEAR OVER YEAR
- Oilers 15-16: 4-8-0, goal differential -7
- Oilers 16-17: 8-3-1, goal differential +7
- Oilers 17-18: 4-7-1, goal differential -9
Has the story already been written? Edmonton’s season so far holds a strong resemblance to 2015-16. G13 that season saw the Oilers win 4-2 over Philadephia. Last season was also a win (2-1 over Detroit). The Red Wings are off to a similar start season over season in terms of record, this should be an interesting game.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM NOVEMBER?
- At home to:
Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Detroit (Expected: 2-1-0) (Actual 1-1-0)
- On the road to: NYI, New Jersey, NYR, Washington (Expected: 1-2-1) (Actual: 0-0-0)
- At home to: Vegas, St. Louis (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual: 0-0-0)
- On the road to: Dallas, St. Louis, Detroit, Buffalo, Boston (Expected 2-2-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: Arizona, Toronto (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 7-7-2, 16 points in 16 games
- Current results: 1-1-0, two points in two games
So far the Oilers are exactly covering the bet made for them by this blog before the month began. I have today’s game against the Red Wings as a win for Edmonton. Detroit is running Peter Mrzaek today, he’s 1-2-0, 2.39 and .913 career against the home team.
JP VERSUS MANTHA
I’m always comparing Jesse Puljujarvi to European kids who came over early to play in the AHL, but perhaps a player like Anthony Mantha (6.05, 225 and skilled) is a better comparable. Mantha didn’t emerge as an NHL player until draft +4, although that could be partly due to the Red Wings’ established handling of their prospects. He was cooked, might have been overcooked, but they didn’t have to worry about cap bonus issues and Mantha received an education in the cities of the nation.
Using this comparable, Puljujarvi seems to be running on time and his ETA in Edmonton should be set at fall 2019. Are you all ready for this? Is Peter Chiarelli ready for this? I wonder if JP will be a long-term option if he doesn’t turn out sooner. Kailer Yamamoto ate his lunch this fall, maybe he does it again next September.
I keep having this circular discussion with an emailer that goes like this:
- Emailer: “Oilers have to move Leon Draisaitl to center and take him off the McDavid line.”
- Me: “Sure, agreed. Who plays right-wing on 97’s line.”
- Emailer: “Everyone knows Jordan Eberle’s numbers were as good as Leon’s when he played RW with McDavid.”
- Me: “Eberle is in Brooklyn.”
- Emailer: “How hard is it to find a replacement for Jordan Eberle?”
Back when I did the 16-17 pre-season RE for Eberle, I wrote the following:
- What does Eberle do well? Score goals. He scores 28 goals per 82 games, that is a dandy total in the modern era. A lot of times guys like Eberle are called complementary players, but he has shown an ability to score when not on a feature line. Now, it is a damned foolish thing to do, but Eberle could score on a line that did not boast the team’s top center.
- What does he not do well? Most of the good offensive Oilers are not what you might call two-way types. Now, that can be overstated—if you are pushing the river then deficiencies without the puck are less harmful—but 14 doesn’t interrupt sorties like Benoit Pouliot (as an example).
The Oilers haven’t replaced Jordan Eberle’s strengths nor have they upgraded on his deficiencies. I think Jesse Puljujarvi may eventually deliver what Eberle could not (solid two-way play) but am more convinced each day that the 28-goal man is going to be Kailer Yamamoto. The number one issue for Peter Chiarelli is that neither man is ready to push the river today.
CONNOR MCDAVID’S WINGERS
“The Edmonton Oilers need to move Leon Draisaitl to center. It’s a well known fact Jordan Eberle’s numbers with 97 were as good as Leon’s.” This, my friends, is a crazy conversation to be having today. I would suggest you try solving the problem that faces both Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan: Is there anyone on the roster or easily available by trade who can make Leon’s move to center conceivable this season? Suspect it is the single biggest reason Kailer Yamamoto’s NHL debut has lasted into November. The club may have had a workaround (Anton Slepyshev on the Nuge line) but the Russian got himself hurt last game. Natural Stat Trick is the source for numbers above.
— Coltron (@Coltron_1) November 5, 2017
It’s possible, Rattie is absolutely ripping up the AHL. I suspect the Oilers have always liked Rattie’s game and perhaps they believe they can unlock his game. It’s a risky bet though, because the 10 games you’re going to invest in the project need to be wins.
— TheAthletic Edmonton (@TheAthleticEDM) October 17, 2017
I think Anton Slepyshev has a chance in a feature role but his timing this year has been ghastly. The young man missed training camp completely, took time to get back to the game we know he can deliver, and is hurt again right after being elevated to the Nuge line. Talent along won’t get you to your goal, ask Murray Wilson (who had more talent than a few of the Habs who beat him out of a LW job hundreds of years ago). Slepy needs to stay healthy, if he can, Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan may be able to remain patient with Puljujarvi and Yamamoto. If Slepyshev remains unable, it’s down to Drake Caggiula and whatever the general manager can find out in the ether.